Some readers may be surprised upon seeing Fitz-John Porter’s testimony before the JCCW on Robert Patterson’s activities in the Shenandoah Valley at the time of First Bull Run. Yes, he was on Patterson’s staff. Most historians fail to mention Porter’s presence there, with the notable exception of Russel Beatie. Perhaps more attention should be focused here?
Put together these several puzzle pieces: Robert Patterson, contrary to popular perception, had spent a total of about five years in military service prior to becoming a Major General of PA militia in April, 1861. Those five years consisted of three in the war of 1812, and two in the war with Mexico; Scott gave Patterson explicit instructions to consult with and take the advice of the regular army officers with him; Porter’s JCCW testimony is almost a mirror image of Patterson’s.
Hmmm…you know, George “Slow Trot” Thomas was also one of the regular army officers whose advice was available to Patterson.