John Paterson – Continental Army Officer – Massachusetts


John Paterson (often spelled Patterson; 1744 – July 19, 1808) was a major general of the Continental Army under George Washington, and later a U.S. Congressman from New York.


He was born in New Britain, Connecticut and graduated from Yale in 1762. After graduation John practiced law, and was a justice of the peace at New Britain until 1774 when he moved to Lenox, Massachusetts. He married Elizabeth Lee and had at least one son and one daughter. He was elected to the Massachusetts General Court in both October of that year and in 1775.

In April 1775 when work reached the Berkshires, Col. John Paterson marched with his militia unit to besiege the British Army at Boston, Massachusetts. Col. Paterson regiment now called the 1st Massachusetts Regiment saw action at the Battle of Bunker Hill. After the British evacuation of Boston, Col. Paterson and his regiment were ordered to take part in the Invasion of Canada and the battles of Trenton and Princeton in New Jersey. On February 21, 1777 John Paterson was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General in the Continental Army.

In 1777 during the Saratoga Campaign Gen. Paterson commanded a brigade of General Horatio Gates’ army consisting of the 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th Massachusetts Regiments and 1st Berkshire County Militia Regiment that joined as reinforcements.

General Paterson served under George Washington at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. In September 1783, at the end of the war, he was brevetted a major general in the Continental Army.

During Shays’s Rebellion in 1786 Paterson, a major general in the Massachusetts militia, commanded a unit of militia that stayed loyal to Massachusetts. Afterwards he removed to Lisle, New York. He was a member of the New York State Assembly (Tioga Co.) in 1793; and a member of the 8th United States Congress, holding office from March 4, 1803, to March 3, 1805. He died in Lisle on July 19, 1808.

Congressman Thomas J. Paterson (1805–1885) and State Senator John E. Paterson (born 1800) were his grandsons.