John Biddle (United States Army general)

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John Biddle
MG John Biddle.jpg
John Biddle
Born(1859-02-02)February 2, 1859
Detroit, Michigan
DiedJanuary 18, 1936(1936-01-18) (aged 76)
San Antonio, Texas
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branchEmblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service1881–1920
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands heldSuperintendent of the United States Military Academy
Battles/warsSpanish–American War
Philippine–American War
World War I
AwardsDistinguished Service Medal
Silver Star

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

Early life[edit]

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).[1] His siblings were Dr. Andrew P. Biddle, First Lieutenant William S. Biddle, Jr. and Eliza (Lily) Biddle, wife of Episcopalian Bishop G. Mott Williams.[2]

He attended the University of Michigan but left before obtaining a degree. He then graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1881.[3]

Military career[edit]

Biddle was commissioned an engineer. Biddle was in charge of river and harbor work at Nashville, Tennessee from 1891–1898. 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.[4] From 1901–1907 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 1907–1911 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.[3][5]


Biddle died in San Antonio, Texas after a long illness.[6]

His nephew William Shepard Biddle III (1900–1981), rose to be Major General after commanding the 113th Cavalry Regiment in World War II,[7] and the 11th Constabulary Regiment in the German occupation.[8]

Awards and decorations[edit]

United Kingdom
United States


  1. ^ Owen Picton (May 2004). "Descendants of William Biddle III". Archived from the original on November 18, 2010. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  2. ^ Robert B. Ross and George B. Catlyn (1898). Landmarks of Detroit: A History of the City. p. 258.
  3. ^ a b "Col. Biddle To West Point". The New York Times. May 18, 1916. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  4. ^ Venzon, Anne Cipriano (1995). The United States in the First World War. London: Routledge. pp. 85–86. ISBN 0-8153-3353-6.
  5. ^ "Col. Biddle Going To Front" (PDF). The New York Times. June 3, 1917. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  6. ^ "Died. Major General John Biddle (retired)". Time. January 27, 1936. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  7. ^ Louis DiMarco, from text by James W. Cooke. "113th Cavalry Group". Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  8. ^ 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.


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

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Clarence Page Townsley
Superintendents of the United States Military Academy
Succeeded by
Samuel Escue Tillman