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)
Camp near Belle Plains Virg
Head Qrs 121 Reg PV.
April 12th 1863 Sunday.
Yesterday I concluded my three days tour of picket duty which began on the 8th and ended yesterday morning – it was a stupid business being with detachments of new regiments who have to be instructed in every thing. I was obliged to visit the whole picket line three times in each 24 hours and to do it as I thought it ought to be done took from ½ to three hours – I had very pleasant weather however – two of my Lieutenants Dorr and Raymond were with me for the first 31 hours but after they went to their outposts and the old ones became the reserves I had a very different set – the best one of the new officers told me he had been a child in the upper part of Schuylkill County that as a boy for many years he worked on the Schuylkill Canal boats have since been farmer horse dealer butcher tavern keeper billiard table keeper and said everything would have slipped through his fingers had it not been for a good wife – he spoke to me quite feelingly of how he used to sell a glass of liquor for 5 cents to a man whom he knew ought to spend it on bread for his children and how after discussing the matter with his wife he gave up the business – he also told a straightforward story of how he sold a nearly blind horse to a farmer and seemed to relish how he took him in greatly – when I say this man was one of the best of these officers you may imagine the tone of the rest – one I find playing cards with five or six of his men – at one of the outposts at night I walked off with four muskets before any one knew I was there and the man who first found it out didn’t know where they had gone to I was stopped three times from passing the posts in broad daylight by sentinels I had spoken to – who had not yet got to comprehend that any body in the world could do anything with them but their Captain…
Citation: Alexander Biddle (1819-1899), autograph letter signed to Julia Williams Rush Biddle, 12 April 1863. Rush IV:30:30