Monday, March 3, 2014

William Jesse Patton: Soldier and State Legislator

Today I received an unexpected holiday due to a sleet and snowstorm that moved through northeastern Oklahoma yesterday. What a great time to do a blog posting!

While visiting the Fayetteville National Cemetery recently, I came across this imposing memorial marking the gravesite of William Jesse Patton.

This morning, I located William Jesse Patton’s compiled service record on Typically, these service records consist of only a few pages, but Captain Patton’s was certainly an exception. He initially served in the 1st Arkansas Cavalry (Union) and that service record accounts for seventy-three pages. The records for his time in the 4th Arkansas Cavalry totaled only a few pages due to his short time in that regiment. Admittedly, I did not read through every page of his service record, but what I did read revealed some interesting facts about Soldier Patton.

He enlisted as a private soldier at age twenty-two on May 18, 1862 in Cassville, Missouri. Standing five feet nine inches tall, he had gray eyes, light hair, and a fair complexion. A farmer by occupation, he was born in Washington County, Arkansas, and managed to spend most of his military career in that county in the Fayetteville area. He was promoted within a few months to 2nd Lieutenant and eventually received a commission as Captain of Company K of the 4th Arkansas Cavalry in the spring of 1865. Here are two pages from his compiled service record outlining his activities:

However, Patton was not only a soldier. According to his service records, he was also a member of the Arkansas State Legislature and received leave to attend legislative sessions. This is the first time that I’ve encountered a service record for a soldier legislator during the war. Here is his letter asking permission for a leave of absence to attend a legislative session:

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