July 3, 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-30-32 p1 A. Biddle ALS to Julia William Rush, July 3 Rush IV-30-32 p2 A. Biddle ALS to Julia William Rush, July 3


Bivouac on the field near Gettysburg
Friday 3rd of July 1863

Dear Julia
Yesterday and up to this time to day we have been in battle, at times under very sharp shelling but holding the reserve position – we are formed on a line of hills nearly in the form of a “U” about two miles round. the dot is about where we are and where we have been since the battle of the first – we have moved about 200 yds with the various changes ordered but always within a short distance of our first position We are now facing westward with a barricade of rails in front of us and beyond are two regiments of our brigade and still further out our skirmishers, who are only occasionally firing. Yesterday we had sharp attacks at 4 different periods of the day on every point of our position without impression on us. To day we have had very sharp shelling and a heavy attack on our right which is now quiet. guns are heard in the distance towards York. Our loss has been great and so has that of our adversaries greater I think than our own – they fought beautifully with great judgment but I think will be well satisfied with their foe as worthy of their best efforts – the Rebel general Barksdale was brought in last evening and died in our hands, shot in the breast and both legs – You have heard that we lost Reynolds on the 1st I am getting along very well Chapman now commands the regiment – General Newton having been ordered to take command of the 1st Army Corps which sends Doubleday back to Division Rowley to Brigade Chapman to Regiment and myself to my Majority– I am a little in trouble just now as I have no horse. yesterday evening about six Oclock our position was violently shelled which caused us to get ready to receive an attack and black boys and horses disappeared together with the provisions so that we have no horses and nothing to eat we have got along pretty well by assistance from other regiment God bless and preserve you dear wife and grant us his merciful aid without which efforts of men avail naught and lead this awful war to an early and useful end Love to Uncle and our darlings.
Your loving Alexander

After writing this, about 4 O’clock in the afternoon our position was violently shelled – Doubleday & Rowley both said they never heard more violent shelling. every minute they burst or solid shot ricocheted over us After this they drove in our skirmishers and pushed up to the brow of a hill on our right, for a moment they took a battery but it was immediately retaken. the result is Longstreet wounded and a prisoner – Garrett wounded lying on the field.Gibbons division took 14 stand of Colors, on our front they were repulsed. I think I have seen some 2000 prisoners pass us during the day Their shelling still continues at intervals, sometimes severely. To day is certainly a great success – for which thank the mercy of God to us and our suffering Country.

Your loving AB

Citation: Alexander Biddle (1819-1899), autograph letter signed to Julia Williams Rush Biddle, 3 July 1863. Rush IV:30:33

5 Responses to “July 3, 1863: Alexander Biddle to Julia Williams Rush Biddle”

  1. richard says:


    tnx for info!…

  2. Ricky says:



  3. Norman says:



  4. Hector says:


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  5. Greg says:



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