Poor Biddle (October 6, 1864)

Once more, Meade’s aide James C. Biddle, provides some laughs at the expense of his dignity. Fortunately the laughs came unaccompanied by wounds. In this letter, Theodore Lyman also notes the arrival of more international visitors. In his journal (edited by David. W. Lowe and published in 2007 as Meade’s Army: The Private Notebooks of Lt. Col. Theodore Lyman), he adds a few more observations of Lord Mahon and Captain Hayter. “The former rather a soft subject, with a feeble aquiline nose. The latter rather dull, apparently, and good natured, with a certain air like Peel–both in the guards.”

Poor Biddle! I always begin his name with “poor.” He was detailed to examine the trenches occupied by the 2d Corps, and see that the pickets were properly arranged. This part of the works is much exposed to fire in many parts, being near the enemy; so that you have to stoop a good deal of the way. What did Biddle do but ride out by a road to the works, on horseback! In consequence of which the whole skirmish line opened on him, and he returned, after his inspection, quite gasping with excitement. As he was not hit, it was very funny. If there is a wrong road, he’s sure to take it. Lord Mahon (son of the Earl of Stanhope, who presided at that literary dinner I went to at London) and Captain Hayter, both of the Guards, were down here — Spoons rather, especially the nobil Lord.

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 241. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

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