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John Biddle
Major General John Biddle during World War I
Born(1859-02-02)February 2, 1859
Detroit, Michigan, United States
DiedJanuary 18, 1936(1936-01-18) (aged 76)
San Antonio, Texas, United States
West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York, United States
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1881–1920
Rank Major General
Service number0-13130
Unit Corps of Engineers
Commands held Superintendent of the United States Military Academy
Battles/wars Spanish–American War
Philippine–American War
World War I
Awards Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Alma mater University of Michigan
Engineer Commissioner of the District of Columbia
In office
November 1, 1901 – May 2, 1907 [1]
Preceded by Lansing Hoskins Beach
Succeeded by Jay J. Morrow

Major General John Biddle (February 2, 1859 – January 18, 1936) was a career United States Army officer who became superintendent of the United States Military Academy.

Early life

Biddle was born in Detroit, Michigan. His father was William Shepard Biddle (1830–1902) and mother was Susan Dayton Ogden (1831–1878). His Biddle family included many political and military leaders, including grandfather John Biddle (1792–1859) and great-grandfather Charles Biddle (1745–1821). [2] His maternal great-grandfather, Aaron Ogden, served as governor of New Jersey. [3] His maternal grandfather, Elias B. D. Ogden, served as associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. [3]

His siblings were Dr. Andrew P. Biddle, First Lieutenant William S. Biddle Jr. and Eliza (Lily) Biddle, wife of Episcopal Bishop G. Mott Williams. [4]

Biddle was raised outside the United States until he was a teenager, and he attended schools in Geneva and Heidelberg. He then attended the University of Michigan for a year, where he became a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, [5] but left to attend the United States Military Academy. He graduated in 1881, ranked second of 53. [6] His high class ranking earned him a second lieutenant's commission in the first choice of most top graduates, the Corps of Engineers.

Military career

Brigadier General John Biddle and staff in charge of the railway regiments of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at the light railway works at Boisleux-au-Mont, September 2, 1917

Biddle was commissioned an engineer. Biddle was in charge of river and harbor work at Nashville, Tennessee from 1891 to 1898. When the Spanish–American War broke out, he became Chief Engineer of Volunteers, serving in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines. He was awarded the Silver Star. [7] From 1901 to 1907 he was Engineer-Commissioner in charge of public works in Washington, D.C. Subsequently, he was in charge of river and harbor work in San Francisco from 1907 to 1911 and then served as an observer with the Austro-Hungarian Army on the Eastern Front from November 1914 to June 1915. He then was in charge of river and harbor improvements in Baltimore, Maryland. Biddle served as the superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point from July 1916 to June 1917. When the United States entered World War I, he commanded a brigade of engineer regiments, then served as acting United States Army Chief of Staff in Washington while Chief of Staff Tasker Bliss was in London. In 1918 he was again sent overseas to take charge of American troops in Great Britain and Ireland. [6] [8]


Biddle died in San Antonio, Texas after a long illness. [9]

His nephew William Shepard Biddle III (1900–1981), rose to be major general after commanding the 113th Cavalry Regiment in World War II, [10] and the 11th Constabulary Regiment in the German occupation. [11]

Awards and decorations

United Kingdom
United States

The citation for his Army DSM reads:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Major General John Biddle, United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I. In command of American troops in England, by his tact and diplomacy in handling intricate problems, General Biddle made possible the successful transshipment of many thousands of men to France. To his executive ability and efficient handling, control, and dispatch of casual troops through England is largely due. [12]


  1. ^ "DCPL: MLK: Washingtoniana Division: FAQs: DC Commissioners". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved October 6, 2015.{{ cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL ( link)
  2. ^ Owen Picton (May 2004). "Descendants of William Biddle III". Archived from the original on November 18, 2010. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Wheeler, William Ogden (1907). The Ogden Family In America: Elizabethtown Branch. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott. pp. 254–255 – via Internet Archive.
  4. ^ Robert B. Ross and George B. Catlyn (1898). Landmarks of Detroit: A History of the City. p. 258.
  5. ^ fraternity records
  6. ^ a b "Col. Biddle To West Point". The New York Times. May 18, 1916. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  7. ^ Venzon, Anne Cipriano (1995). The United States in the First World War. London: Routledge. pp. 85–86. ISBN  0-8153-3353-6.
  8. ^ "Col. Biddle Going To Front" (PDF). The New York Times. June 3, 1917. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  9. ^ "Died. Major General John Biddle (retired)". Time. January 27, 1936. Archived from the original on December 15, 2008. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  10. ^ Louis DiMarco, from text by James W. Cooke. "113th Cavalry Group". Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  11. ^ George F. Hofmann (October 2007). "Cold War Mounted Warriors: U.S. Constabulary in Occupied Germany". Armor Magazine. Fort Knox. 116 (5): 26–35. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  12. ^ "Valor awards for John Biddle". Military Times.


  • Davis, Henry Blaine Jr. (1998). Generals in Khaki. Raleigh, NC: Pentland Press. pp. 34–35. ISBN  1-57197-088-6.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by Superintendents of the United States Military Academy
Succeeded by