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)
Today has been a very heavy day to me
A day in which I could not help feeling that I had something to be sad about but I have striven to bear in mind that God willeth all things well and that light follows soon after darkness. Last night Chapman’s resignation came down with his honorable discharge – The feeling that I had been denied and that he was to go through was hard bitterly hard not that I did not wish him to succeed for that I did with all my heart – but when I thought of all my cares, anxieties, and responsibilities and that I too could not go, it seemed as of a lump of lead had fallen on my head and every pulsation was oppressed
At this moment Chapman is gone forever from this regiment I now have set to work and am as diligently as I can preparing to put in my resignation too but I fear much the delays of the Resignations office and also fear lest Meade may be removed but I must still trust that the merciful father who has summoned us with blessings will only withhold I seek for a short time and that I may return to you never to part before long.
It seems to be considered that Longstreet has joined the Rebs but yet our leaders seem to be confident. It is said that Warren and French were both behind hand in the late operations or there would have been a great battle with different results. On the other hand I hear of men being 36 hours without food. Our Quartermasters department seems to think we can hardly get along in wet weather if we remain here. But here we are and from present appearances seem likely to remain. I know you will feel grieved and hurt that it is not I who have come home but dearest love let us pray to the giver of all good to rule us according to his will and lead us to happiness together at an early day. I am indeed mournful when I reflect upon my solitude. here alone without a single human being whom I knew before I entered the regiment.
Hulse is the only one of Co A and he is in detached service. Dorr was a regimental acquaintance. All our destinies are we must always remember in the hands of all wise and merciful father who when we know it least is leading us to the haven where we would be through difficulties we know not of. It may be so even now. but to think on you and my little ones and to feel that I am unreasonably deprived of the right to be with you. Oh it is a poor return for an honest desire to contribute my little mite for the cause of right and Union.
Let us hope God’s mercy will cause it to end well. Drums are all around us beating the tattoo the Dr and I are alone writing away to our homes soon expecting the mail carrier to come in for the letters. Dear wife please send my commission as Major which you have somewhere to the office. They will want it to put along with some papers I have sent them to enable them to get a small sum of money due to me from the State. I don’t know that I want anything in a physical point of view it is only in mind that I am troubled. Tom don’t write to me about our separation on the 1st next year but does about lambs he has sold which I am glad of. I hope he may sell [Airdrie?].
I trust the termination of this cruel war may be rapidly approaching and that peace will extend its blessings over the land. I did not like Stanton’s alluding to next year as a possible end of war. I see no reason why it should not be sooner. I hear Pleasanton spoken of as our next commander if we are to have a new one. God bless you dear wife and our children and dear Uncle and may he in his mercy soon bring us together again. Your loving husband
Citation: Alexander Biddle (1819-1899), autograph letter signed to Julia Williams Rush Biddle,12 December 1863. Rush IV:30:38