October 28, 1863: Alexander Biddle to Julia Williams Rush Biddle

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)

Rush IV-30-36 Oct 28, 1863 p1 A Biddle ALS to JWR Rush IV-30-36 Oct 28, 1863 p2 A Biddle ALS to JWR

Transcript (excerpt):

Camp at Bristow Station

Wednesday October 28th, 1863

Dear Wife,

I have had no letter from you today. We are still at this point and the movement of the army is yet uncertain as far as we know. I hardly know what to say to you—We are under orders to be ready to move and are so, but no indication of it which affects us has yet appeared. The nights have become quite cold- this morning we had about the fifth of an inch of ice covering our water bucket which had been exposed since the evening before. We have no intimation of winter quarters as yet but if this weather continues I think our leader must think of it. The RR which supplies the Corps lying at Warrenton has to wagon about 10 miles from Gainesville. You told me in one of your recent letters that Gen McCall spoke to you of me. Please remember me to all friends. I wish I could only get home to be with you again. I do think there is so much political maneuvering in this army that I sometimes think very hardly of it. I cannot but think that I see the hand of Providence in almost every step we take and that all our efforts are but vanity without his aid. Of course it must and always is so—but there is no possibility of supposing with so much apparent folly always before our eyes that any thing but interposition can shield us from evil. In other words I think and believe that the army is little better than a political machine and that Jeff Davis with his despotic power- knowledge of educated officers and military requirements has really less to encounter than we believe when the vast material and expenditure we have wasted is considered. Chapman a few moments since said to me– I really believe excepting this (our) regiment every superior and inferior commander above and below me is liable to the charge of being a drinker. So it is. Can you credit it [?]. Is it not shocking [?]. Chapman soon makes his effort to go home and hopes to succeed. We will see . I hope I shall soon follow- May God grant us a speedy return to peace and a settlement of all our troubles with a safe return to home. You cannot conceive how I long for that time to come—when I may lay aside all thoughts of war and military matters and again turn to the quiet thoughts of peace and home affairs. How the dear little ones must have grown and changed—I oftentimes think of dear Aleck and the chills—how I wish I could be with him and go over our lessons together as I used to do. I think now of that as an entertainment of which I know nothing to surpass. May God bless you dear wife and mercifully lead me soon back to you and put an end to our absence. Kiss the dear children and give love to Uncle and all at home. Your loving husband,


I must tell you a story of one of our officers who was wounded in the foot and taken prisoner in a house at Gettysburg. A Mississippi officer came in and demanded his sword, which he gave, but the officer demanded his belt too which he objected to as robbery but had to assent to—he however spoke of the circumstance next day to two Georgia officers and pointed out the Mississippian who happened to approach at the time—they both upbraided him and finally pummeled him for so doing—The same officer two days after saw the Union skirmishes enter the town and having remembered that a North Carolina Colonel had taken up his quarters next door, he although wounded in the foot hastened in to him and demanded his sword, taking him prisoner and replacing his captured weapon by the Colonel’s—Was not this pretty well done—

Citation: Alexander Biddle (1819-1899), autograph letter signed to Julia Williams Rush Biddle, 28 October 1863. Rush IV:30:36

5 Responses to “October 28, 1863: Alexander Biddle to Julia Williams Rush Biddle”

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  2. Gerard says:



  3. howard says:


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  4. michael says:


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  5. luis says:


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