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 st Regt P.V.
Camp Near W O Church
June 3rd 1863
I have but little to tell you except that I have been doing quite as well as I expected. General Reynolds has gone to Washington for a few days, General Doubleday is Corps Commander, General Rowley is not very well and Chapman is acting as Brigadier. I therefore am in command of the regiment but I have not done anything beyond issue the necessary orders. I have not had the regiment under arms at all nor have I been out on parade, contenting myself with exercising a general supervision – Today I had an unusual duty to perform – Reading the burial service out of your little prayer book over an unfortunate man named Washington Farr who died yesterday – it was a new step in my duty and I hope I performed it well- I am sure from my own feeling of regret for the loss of the poor fellow and from my desire to do him all the reverence I could do him that I ought to have succeeded and I don’t think I failed- I have not forgotten my intention of resigning but as General Reynolds does not return until tomorrow or next day to whom it must go I have waited until it could reach him without delay- I have it sketched in pencil in my pocket The Regiment is sadly reduced We had not more than 100 men on evening parade but a good many are absent on picket duty to day.We are on a slightly elevated spot of ground on a large rolling plain lately covered with trees upon which the dust from the roads made in every direction by Army wagon trains and horsemen sometimes indeed frequently is blown with much violence powdering everything with a fine dust.
I think there is a strong feeling in the Army against Hooker.Officers say “why didn’t we win at Chancellorsville”- We only had three Corps in action and then the question is asked Why were not the others engaged and the impression seems to be that Hooker was not collected enough to manage them. I have heard it said that Hooker gave express orders to Stoneman not to go into Richmond in any event they say he thought he would go there himself and that he did send after and stop Averell and that the only reason why he did not stop Stoneman was because he had got beyond his reach. Much is said about a new general and I think that the Army is looking to Meade or Reynolds as it’s next leader- Collis of the Zouaves is now undergoing a trial by Court Martial for some alleged misconduct in the last battle.- I do not say much of myself I got some quinine pills in Washington and have taken one every morning fever seems to be affecting our men a good deal but I think I am nearly free from any such symptoms. We are awaiting news from Vicksburg but rather fearful of want of success. I can now only beloved wife hope and trust that I may soon return to you and that God will bless and keep you, dear Uncle and the children in peace health strength and happiness- Clem was kindness itself to me on the way down.
Citation: Alexander Biddle (1819-1899), autograph letter signed to Julia Williams Rush Biddle,3 June 1863. Rush IV:30:32