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 of the 121st Regt P.V.
On Broad Run Virginia
June 19th 1863
I sent on a letter last night dated at the place which I then supposed to be Goose Creek on the Road to Leesburg. It now seems that our last march was a botch as usual, that instead of reaching Goose Creek we wandered off to the eastward, finally reaching Herndon Station (not Farmwell which was intended to be our destination). our next day’s march was to Broad Run not Goose Creek, our original destination — you will perceive from this that we marched parts of two days to reach this point and are still here whilst our destination could have been reached, if guides were worth anything, in one. this is of a piece with all our movements — to reach this point from opposite Fredericksburg I suppose we have marched nearly twenty unnecessary miles on exceedingly hot days. with this exposition is it any wonder that the rebels move faster than we do. We are encamped on a flat, the tents all on the open ground, ours on the edge of the wood whilst we have the shade of the woods in the day — a bird had its nest just back of my tent, with four young ones nearly fledged — on the march the day before yesterday we Came on a partridge’s nest with 14 eggs in it, which was not disturbed. I sent by mail a little package with a Ferrotype which enclosed one for Mrs J Allan Ramsay, our Doctor’s wife, which I told him I would ask you to send to 1602 Filbert Street where his wife resides — we were all Ferrotyped at the same time and are sending home our respective purchases. We heard of an action at Aldie about ten miles west of us — we heard cannon and on the picket line they reported sharp musketry firing — but we know nothing definitively. We also hear of there being a great fright in Pennsylvania. I trust not much damage will be done and if it only stirs up the people to the reality of a determined foe being close at hand it will do some good. So much for army and matters connected therewith. I think mine is a real case of unnecessary rigidity on the part of Govt. I do not feel as if I was doing any good — indeed it is almost an absurdity with a regiment that scarcely furnishes 200 muskets at the close of a day’s march to retain two field officers in the service — but so it is. I shall seize the first chance that falls in my way to again present my resignation which I hope will be under more favorable circumstances for its acceptance. I am inclined to think that I may do better when present excitement is blown over. I have not had a line from you since the 3rd inst. I hear that 16 mail bags were at Union Mills for us but that they were all sent back to Washington. Of course I know nothing of dear Uncle about whom I feel exceedingly solicitous and trust God will mercifully restore him to health and strength — my dear little ones too I constantly think about. Aleck’s bright face and smile is before me now as when I handed him the egg shell turned upside down — Dear Harry and Winny winsome too. Julia is a bright little ray of light; may she give as much happiness to all around her as he good mother, whom I trust will be safe from all trouble and harm through our heavenly father’s goodness. Louis is yet to show himself but I well know he Can make himself heard. Everything is very stupid in camp — we have some difficulty in getting food and indeed one of the most wretched portions of the Army system is the entire absence of all provision for officers. the men rob or forage for mutton, beef, chickens, turkeys, milk &c — which we can hardly buy. we are ordered often to take eight or ten days rations and then have no means of getting it — were it not for my extra horse I dont know what I should do — but I hope I may soon be permitted to return to you and leave to younger men the duties I have assumed so unwisely. Good bye dear wife. God bless and preserve you.
You loving husband
Citation: Alexander Biddle (1819-1899), autograph letter signed to Julia Williams Rush Biddle, 19 June 1863. Rush IV:30:32