Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

From the collection of the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest, Illinois

August 26, 1862 – Camp Hill, Harper’s Ferry

Camp Hill
Co D
Harpers Ferry Va
Aug 26th ,62

Dear Father

You may be disappointed in not getting a letter sooner from me, but I have actually had no time to write, or no chance.

Of our trip to Albany, I suppose Mr Francisco has told you everything. It was very pleasant trip, and we have enjoyed ourselves very well, it was just cool enough. We had an awful march from the Barracks to the Depot at Auburn it was so dusty. while there I saw Leonard he said that he saw you in Lyons, We arr at Albany about 4 oclock, got our rations at the Depot, then went on board the Thaddeus Joy, to be towed down by the Ohio, Left there arr 7

Had a tip top time, all the morning, on the Upper Deck, In the afternoon windy & showers at night slept on the lower deck of the Ohio got up at 5, Arr at N Y opposite pier no 21 staid there until 1, then went to the Castle Garden, [then] took the [J] Delknap.

at 2 had a ration soup Coffee & left N Y after taking on our Arms at 5 for Amboy N J, had a splendid trip, never enjoyed a ride better in my life. Canons fired, Ladies waved their handkerchiefs, boys cheered, Arr at Amboy arr 8 PM, detailed to take care of some sick men, and get them on the Cars.

after a great deal of trouble landed at 9 PM. Got the sick on board, then took Co D car Short seats no cushions, awful ride, laid down on the Floor, and slept Arr at Camden N J at 1, too the Ferry for Philadelphia, arr there at 1,30, arched Cooper’s Volunteers. Free Lunch Shop there had a Splendid meal, then Marched to the Phila & Balt RR, left at 8 AM for Baltimore, in Cattle Cars, with seats in pretty rough trip, all the way.

Crossed a river in one place, where, a ferry Boat took the whole Train over at once, they had three tracks, The country is very rough between Philadelphia and Balt, through Penn Del & Maryland, very rough, I should not think one half was under cultivation, at any rate all along the track is Forests, One thing I noticed, I did not see a good looking house on the Road All the houses except the headquarters at the Plantations, were all little miserable shanties, I do not wonder that the Southeners call them Poor White Trash, they are the worst looking lot of People that I ever saw. You could tell that you was coming south, before you had hardly left Philadelphia, so many darkies.

Salutes were fired all along the Road Flags flying. If It had not been Sunday we would have enjoyed ourselves better. From Philadelphia to Balt, the RR Bridges are all guarded We arrived at Baltimore at 8 PM, marched a mile and a half to Balt & Ohio RR Depot to the Union Relief Association and had our supper, then we took the cars, arr 7 for Harpers Ferry 80 miles.

This road runs through a Splendid country, [right] a valley some places cut through solid rock two or three hundred feet high They had to run very slow as there is a great many curves, and they are afraid of obstructions, We go to a place called the Point of Rocks where the Rebels, a few weeks ago pryed a Rock weighing two tons loose, and let it down to obstruct the track, as good luck would have it, it went right over the track down an Embankment, At this place the night that we came, the Rebels ran an Engine off this Track which delayed us from 3 AM until 6, when we again got under weigh for H F, arr here at 8 AM. Just as we were coming [into the] we met the Regt that we take its place, leaving to Reinforce Pope.

This week, the 12th N J Militia and 87th [got] three months men leave.  Harpers Ferry is a deserted looking place, of about 2000 Inhabitants, it lies right in a hollow, surrounded on all sides by mountains from 1 to 4 thousand feet high. Everything looks hard here a great many buildings burned out We marched past the Arsenal that John Brown took, it is a deserted looking place

The 12th Militia got up a dinner for us at three PM of bread meat & cheese, I tell you it tasted good. The Cavalry are Guarding this place for 5 miles around, and today pickets were thrown out, The Boys like this as it is not confining. There is about 5000 troop altogether in this place of these about 1/2 will leave in a week or two. I heard a 100 pounder speak last night I will tell you It made a little noise.

This place is under Martial Law, lights are all ordered to be extinguished at 9 PM You can hear the Guard calling the hour all hours of the night. I hear it rumored that this is to be a camp of instruction and that 30,000 men are to be stationed here, this I rather doubt. I think that Colonel Sigoines policy is to hurry up things as much as possible, and get us into the Field, I do not care what he as long as leaves this place.

Stonewall Jackson was on the mountain, 1/2 a mile west of this camp, a week or two & I think we are liable to be attacked at any time, The woods around here are full of [Guerillals], the night before we came our boys brought in 12 of them, There are 2 Cavalry Regiments stationed in sight of our Camp When I write next I think I shall be able to send my Photographs When you write let me know how & when Charlie got home.

Hoping to hear from you soon
I remain
with love to all
Co D
111 Regt
[ ]

(note in the margin reads)
“[deliver] letter In care of
Capt Holmes
Co D
111 Regt”

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Manley Stacey

born October 29, 1842

died December 26, 1863

Written during the battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863

"When we camped last, we could see the wounded coming in, those that were able to walk, and the cavalry horses coming in riderless. This showed us that something was going on...I think this will be an awful battle very soon and of course we are in for it...It is a sad sight to see the wounded brought in on stretchers, the poor boys all covered with blood & as pale as death.

"Last night at 4 PM we were ordered to march and form in Line of battle on our left. After a great deal of confusion, we got formed and then we were ordered to advance, right in the face of the rebel guns who were firing their grape and canisters into us by wholesale...After a great deal of marching and counter marching, we were ordered to charge on a rebel battery. We were now right in front of our canons, advancing on their guns, the rebel sharpshooters in our rear picking off our officers. This was an awful time the shells taking the men down by ranks. While we were marching, a man was shot, and the Blood was spilling all over my face, it perfectly Blinded me.

"At 1 PM we were shelled by 100 guns, all concentrated on the force supporting the battery. There we laid behind a stone wall, the shells passing over us and killing the men all around me. Three men were killed and thrown across me, covering me with blood. While we were laying here, a shell struck a stone in the wall and killed a man throwing the man across my legs and the stone striking me in the back & doubling me up.

"We have got about 18 men now in the Company fit for duty and 150 in the Regiment. We went in the fight with over 400, and have yet now 150."

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