Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

September 1, 1862

Camp Beardsley
Harpers Ferry
Sep 1st

I got a little too late for the mail this morning so, I concluded to write a little more. After writing my letter yesterday A couple of Contrabands came into our camp from Lowdon. Jackson was impressing all of the Negroes into the service so they concluded to run for their lives, I suppose according to the Articles of war they are free as their masters have taken up Arms against the U S.

We had a lovely time last night there was four of us, 2 on & 2 off every hour, We were right at the foot of a large mountain, covered with Trees and bushes. Our Officers came up twice to see if we were attending our duty & try & run our Guard, but could not come in. Our orders was to fire into every squad of men, as there was no telling which moment we might be attacked, nor from what quarter. I tell you it made us watchful. The countersign was only given to me, so it kept me up nearly all the time.

I heard yesterday, from a member of the 126 Regt. an [Iowa] Company, that Mary & Elizabeth Graves were both [Married]. I [meet] some from all [parts] that I know.

I [guess] you may send me a little money, as our poor living at first took more of my money. It is very warm here today, they have no rain here for two months, so it is very dry & dusty.

We brought in the Contrabands today, all the boys flocked around to see them come in, asking them all sorts of questions. One of them brought in my Knapsack. The boys thought that I was sensible having a [waiter].

While writing this, we are having a regular old soaker, the water is running all over the Tent so that we have to move all our Baggage.

Yesterday the Orderly Seargent of our Company, was reduced to 5th Corporal, Pulver1 was his name, the 5th corporal was reduced to the Ranks. I am satisfied that there will be more changes. I never saw any one more at home than Elick Williams & Barney [Francisco]2, they are at home any where, The Colonel yesterday, read the Rules and articles of War and of our Camp, over 140, how is a man to remember all these

Hoping to hear
from you

Who were “contrabands”?

1 Pulver, Charles A.–age,30 Enlisted 30 Jul 1862 at Sodus to serve three years. Promoted corporal, no date; discharged, 18 Dec 1863, at Chicago, IL.
2? Francisco, Byron–age,19 7 Aug 1862 at Lyons to serve three years. Captured in action, 1 Dec 1863, at Mine Run, VA.; paroled, no date; mustered out, 7 Jul 1865, at Elmira, NY.
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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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