Alexander Biddle was a member of the prominent Philadelphia Biddle family and was married to Julia Williams Rush, the granddaughter of Dr. Benjamin Rush. Biddle served with the 121st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, beginning in September 1862. Starting out as a major, he would participate in Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, among other engagements, and would leave the service as a lieutenant colonel. (He was commissioned, but never mustered, as colonel)
Head Qrs 121 Reg P.V.
Camp near Belleplains Virginia
March 20th 1863
I have this afternoon by the mail and by Hall who with Dr Ramsay returned this afternoon your two pencil notes of 17th & 19th – You dear good naughty girl – not to tell me about yourself in bed & suffering, painful as it would have been to have been to have thought you suffering I now feel as if I had done a sort of wrong in feeling cheerful because I thought you well I am very very stupid I ought to have known better – I now feel like a very great goose as I am – if there is any good in me it is of your producing and I don’t know where I can find a better example than by initiating the beautiful behavior which always charms me in all you say and do – it was indeed Heaven’s best gift to me in giving me such a wife such a friend, such a counselor and such a pattern not to dwell on the gentle maiden whom I so much loved but dear wife I truly love you better now. May God who so showers upon us his good gifts continue them to us in giving you health and strength in your trial and gently lead us in his paths to meet again in happiness – The box with the Chickens turkey eggs &c is charming – it has been opened in perfect order and will adorn our breakfast table tomorrow – I think Tom will come all right again it is one of his vagaries – I think he is a little scared and feels dependent on Peale (You recollect about the impudent marriage lecture, it nearly makes me laugh to think of the new phase he has gotten into) – Peale is a very good young man but if Tom don’t take care he will excite hopes and create ideas of the future which he has no right to, which may produce the very effect Tom evidently fears – that of quitting the office and leaving Tom helpless and alone. I have written Tom a long letter – I have given him a sketch of how I think I could carry on the business were he sick and I in his position which I hope may serve as a hint to him and diminish his ideas of difficulty in managing the business – the fact I think is we are inseparable from the trusts & estate matters in which we have a joint interest – to get another person mixed up makes the jumble more bothering and does no good but I wait to see what comes of it To day it has been snowing all day about two to four inches remaining – cold hazy and cheerless – Yesterday we had a Brigade drill – After the drill we (three Regiments 142nd, 121st, 151st) were drawn up in three lines six paces apart – The Colonel Commdg Brig (Porter) told his Adj to read the report of Averill’s Cavalry success which had been received from Head Qrs – and then he proposed in a loud voice “three cheers for the Army of the Potomac” men not what a regular would do they dont like it even – they were given with a will – They were hardly over when one of my scamps proposed three cheers for Major Biddle – which were given with a yell & tug in afterwards – another man in the left wing immediately called out three more and they gave three more with a will – Some one in another regiment called out three cheers for Col Porter – there was an exceedingly faint response – Some one of the 151st called three for Col Allen which the 151st gave heartily – I hardly know what they were about until the thing was over it passed so quickly but Col Porters little effort at popular sympathy just didn’t do what he wanted the 142nd and 121st are sometimes now called veterans and I think I can sometimes see in our men the lightheartedness which I used to admire in the Old Bucktails whom we usually relieved when they were with us – New troops unaccustomed to rough it have a dull look when alongside of old ones who have gone through the vicissitudes of Camp life and who take all changes with cheerfulness there was another little piece of fun on the way home – the 151st tried to pass us whilst we were marching slowly through the woods We had a little race at double quick and carried our point in getting through the wood first the men moving altogether without a gap like a party of school boys just out of school wild with laughter but keeping their ranks so that nothing could pass through them just before the 151st at the point where they enter their camp – obliging them to wait until we got by…
Citation: Alexander Biddle (1819-1899), autograph letters signed to Julia Williams Rush Biddle. 20 March1863. Rush IV:30:29