Daniel Todd Patterson was born on Long Island, New York on March 6, 1786.
He joined US Sloop of War Delaware as an Acting Midshipman on June 11, 1799, and sailed in her to the West Indies Station, returning to the United States in August 1800.
On August 20, 1800, Daniel Todd Patterson was appointed a Midshipman in the US Navy. Warrant of that date forwarded under cover to RK Griffith. (In a statement made by Patterson in 1815, he says that the warrant was altered subsequently to take rank from the date of his original entry – June 11, 1799.) He accepted the appointment on August 30. In October 1800, he again sailed in the Delaware for the West Indies Station and remained attached to that vessel until she was sold at the end of the Quasi-War with France in 1801.
Daniel T. Patterson was one of the Midshipmen retained in the Navy under the Peace Establishment Act of 1801. He was furloughed by General Smith at Baltimore from the 26th of May to the 15th of October, 1801, then ordered to join the Chesapeake which orders were later revoked.
On December 26, 1801, he was ordered for the US Frigate Constellation, which sailed for the Mediterranean in February 1802 and returned to the United States in March 1803. On March 22, 1803 he was furloughed until called upon.
On May 24, 1803 ordered to USS Philadelphia, Captain Bainbridge, sailing for the Mediterranean in July. On October 31, taken prisoner when the Philadelphia was stranded and captured by the Tripolitans. During the long imprisonment he and the other younger officers profited by the excellent tutelage of Captain Bainbridge and Lieutenants Porter and Jones. While in prison, a commission as Lieutenant dated May 18, 1804 was issued for him and sent to the Commanding Officer of the Mediterranean Squadron to be numbered and delivered. It was apparently never delivered to him. On June 3, 1805, the prisoners were liberated and Midshipman Patterson returned to the United States on board USS President.
He was ordered to repair to Washington on November 25, 1805, but later returned to his home in Philadelphia.
On January 20, 1806, he was ordered to report on board USS Franklin for duty under command of Captain Shaw, with whom he proceeded to the New Orleans Station. Captain Shaw was made Commandant of that Station.
Lieutenant Patterson was ordered to the New Orleans Station under command of Captain David Porter on March 21, 1808. From about January 1810 to February 1811 he was in semi-independent command of twelve gunboats stationed at Natchez and operating on the Gulf. These gunboats transferred most of the troops for the occupation of Baton Rouge in 1810.
He was commissioned Master Commandant under confirmation of the Senate on July 24, 1813, and on October 18 ordered to succeed Commodore Shaw in command of the Naval Station at New Orleans. In September 1814 he commanded the flotilla of gunboats that destroyed the fortifications of the pirate Jean Lafitte at Barataria Bay, La. The pirates fled without putting up any resistance, having behind many guns, six schooners and several smaller craft.
During 1814-15 the naval forces under Commodore Patterson cooperated with General Jackson in the defense of New Orleans. The gunboat action on Lake Borgne, although resulting in the capture of the gunboats, served to delay the British and aided the final Victory. Commodore Patterson was on board the Carolina during the bombardment of the British encampment on December 23, and on January 8, 1815, commanded a battery of naval guns on the west bank of the river.
On February 28, 1815, he was promoted to be a Captain, commission numbered 24 and sent to him at New Orleans. Commodore Patterson, his officers and men received a vote of thanks from Congress for their part in the Battle of New Orleans. He continued in command of the New Orleans Station.
He was detached from that station on June 23, 1824, and ordered to Norfolk and then to USS North Carolina, to serve as Fleet Captain in the Mediterranean Squadron of Commodore John Rodgers. On October 21, 1825 he was assigned to the command of USS Constitution, also in the Mediterranean, to relieve Captain Macdonough who was being sent home on account of ill health. The Constitution remained in the Mediterranean until May 30, 1828. On July 26, Captain Patterson was detached from that vessel having been granted unlimited leave.
On March 19, 1829 he was appointed one of the three commissioners of the US Navy, commission dated March 13. He served in this capacity until May 21, 1832 when he was ordered to the command of the Mediterranean Squadron. Commodore Patterson was appointed to the command of the Navy Yard at Washington, D.C. on March 1, 1836, remaining there until his death on August 25, 1839. He was buried on the Congressional Cemetery at Washington, DC.