William Phillips Biddle
Major General, United States Marine Corps
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 15 December 1853.
Died in Nice, France, 24 February 1923.
Interred in Arlington National Cemetery, March 1923.
Major General William P. Biddle, eleventh Commandant of the Marine Corps and member of a prominent Philadelphia family, had open to him adventures in many parts of the world with his decision to become a Marine shortly after completing his studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1875. As a Marine Corps officer for 38 years, 18 of which were spent aboard warships and in foreign lands, he saw action on land and sea in both hemispheres.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in June, 1875, and after short tours of duty in Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia, he made the first of his many tours of sea duty.
After three years aboard the HARTFORD and the POWHATAN he again went ashore for duty at Philadelphia and New York. He returned to sea duty on the KEARSARGE in March, 1882, and was promoted to first lieutenant two years later. With a break of less than three years at the same domestic stations as his previous shore duty he again went to sea for three years on board the SWATARA. He returned to Philadelphia for duty in February, 1891, where he was advanced to captain three years later.
General Biddle resumed sea duty aboard the BALTIMORE in June, 1895 and was shortly afterwards transferred to the OLYMPIA on which ship he served during the Spanish-American War. He was with Admiral Dewey in the Battle on Manila Bay.
Soon after the close of the war he returned to Philadelphia for duty, but was soon called to join the Fourth Battalion of Marines, organized for duty in the Far East. With that battalion he arrived in China to take part in the famous relief expedition to Peking in 1900. After the affairs of the Boxer Rebellion had been somewhat adjusted, General Biddle was transferred with his battalion to the First Brigade of Marines, Philippine Islands where he served for more than two years. He then returned to the United States for duty at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
He was advanced to lieutenant colonel on March 23, 1903 and in December of that year he was ordered to Panama in command of the battalion of Marines on the DIXIE, which arrived in time to participated in affairs when the independence of that country was declared. He returned to the United States soon afterwards, however, and served for short tours of duty in Philadelphia and at Marine Corps Headquarters.
The general was promoted to colonel in February, 1905 and during the following year returned to the Philippine Islands where he commanded the First Brigade of Marines for approximately two years. He reported for duty at Marine Corps Headquarters in May, 1908 and was soon detailed in command of an expeditionary brigade which was organized in Philadelphia, for service in Panama to reinforce the troops protecting the construction of the Panama Canal, and for potential duty in Nicaragua.
General Biddle returned to Headquarters in April, 1910, where he continued to serve the remainder of his active duty. During the closing months of General Elliott's term as Commandant, General Biddle acted as Commandant of the Marine Corps most of the time.
He was chosen as Commandant of the Corps on February 3, 1911. His tour of duty as Commandant was a comparatively quiet, short and uneventful one. He concerned himself primarily with the routine affairs of the Marine Corps. Several minor expeditions took place, including the first intervention in Nicaragua.
Following approximately three years in office, General Biddle applied for retirement on the ground of having completed more than thirty years' service, and he was retired on February 24, 1914.
He was recalled to active duty during World
War I and served primarily on court-martial duty in San Diego, California.
Following separation from active duty after that war, he and his wife traveled
extensively, and the general died in Nice, France, exactly nine years after
his retirement. He was interred one month later in Arlington National Cemetery
with full military honors. The General is buried in Section 3 with
his wife, Martha Reynolds Biddle (25 September 1865-20 August 1949).
PHILADELPHIA, February 26, 1923 – Major General William P. Biddle, retired, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, died at Nice, France, yesterday according to a message received here today by relatives. He was in his 70th year and retired from the Corps in 1913, after thirty-eight years of service.
General Biddle commanded the Marines of Admiral Dewey’s flagship in the battle of Manila Bay and in the Boxer uprising commanded the First Regiment of Marines during the march from Tien Tsin to Pekin for the relief of the foreign legations.
General Biddle was born in Philadelphia and was a member of an old Philadelphia family. He entered the Marine Corps in 1875 as a Second Lieutenant and saw service in all parts of the world.
BIDDLE, WILLIAM PHILLIPS
BIDDLE, WILLIAM PHILLIPS
United States Marine Corps
DATE OF DEATH: 02/25/1923
BURIED AT: SECTION 3 SITE 1405-A-E
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, 1999
Updated: 24 November 2001 Updated: 20 December 2001 Updated: 9 March 2003 Updated: 18 August 2003 Updated: 3 October 2004
Updated: 2 Janaury 2006 Updated: 19 October 2007 Updated: 4 December 2007
Photo By: M. R. Patterson, October 2007
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 28 June 2003