Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

September 6, 1862

Garibaldi Brigade
Camp Beardsly
Harpers Ferry Va
Sep 6th

Dear Father

After writing to Charlie, yesterday, telling him that we should soon be into action, little did I think how near we were to it. At three PM yesterday we had orders to pack our Knapsacks, strike our Tents, & get ready to march at a moments notice. You can Imagine the confusion, of 1000 men getting ready to move at a moments notice, At 4,30 we marched to the mess house to get 24 hours Rations of hard Crackers, at 5,30 we bid farewell to our Camp Ground, Marching about a mile west of our former Ground, on to a very high hill commanding the whole of the place. It was the most wearisome of all the marches it was so warm.

Our Brigade is to be called the Garibaldi Brigade. As we stand now, on our right, is the 60th Vermont Vols, the 126 N Y S V], on our Front the 8th N Y Cavalry. On our Right the 113th N Y S V, the Garibaldi Cavalry and some other Troops that I do not know the No of,

Last night when we arrived at our present Camping ground, we were drawn up in a Line of Battle, all our Guns were lowered, & we were ordered to sleep near enough to our Arms to seize them at a moments notice. We then Camped out with our Overcoats on & our Blankets over us, It was not so very bad if there was a heavy [ ], This morning we had a good appetite for our Crackers and water. I was Appointed Corporal of the New Guard this morning, but was excused, & was very glad to be, Now we are laying around, some writing, some singing & some reading All trying to take it cool.

The reason we left our former position it was reported that the Rebels were coming up the Valley, in force, how true it is I can not tell, but this I know There was Shells fired into our Camp Ground last night. I think we shall have our hands full very soon now, things look like it now.

Sunday 2 PM. As I could get no chance to send this yesterday, I concluded to fill it up till I get a chance. We have had no mail communiction with Baltimore in several days On account of some Rail Road Bridge, I think. This morning we were drawn up into line, for Inspection, We were Introduced to our Brigadier General Colonel [ ], A Frenchman I think, as he talks very broken. He Complimented us very highly, also our Colonel, He said that led on by such a Colonel as ours we could not help but successful, He said he was proud to have such a Regt in his Brigade. After the Inspection we marched down to meeting, together with the 8th Ohio. This Regt, commenced with 1050 men & have now not more than 800, having lost all of those men in Battle, they are a rough looking set, Almost all Germans.

Chaplain Brown preached us a short sermon. He looks like Quite a Military man with his Sword & Sash. There has been a great many Axidents [sic] since we have been here, owing a great deal to carelessness. For instance a Boy next to our tent, this noon was cleaning his Gun, when carelessly lifting it, it went off, discharging the Ram Rod through the Tent. It was a wonder no one was hurt. One or two have broken their arms. And one man in the 126 Regt, cut his throat the other night, because he heard that, the Girl that he was engaged to be married to had been married, since he left.

I have got a pretty Position now, this morning I was appointed one of the Color Guarding the Colors & the Color Bearer. The Color Bearer, is Seargent in Co C, he had been in the Army 15 years, he is the man that drills us in the morning at the Officers Drill.

The report that, the Rebels were coming here, arose from this, Gen Siegel, crossed the Potomac about 10 miles east of here, at the Point of Rock, with 30,000 men I shall not be surprised if we get marching orders from here very soon, It was reported that we had got, but I do not believe it. I am sure I do not care, how soon, all I want is to get to work. I think our Regt has done Nobly, as [far] Drilling goes. I know that I have learned a great deal. This is a rough sort of a life but I am not sorry that I came here, I expected some privations, and should have been disappointed if we did not have some.

A man by the name of John Dyer, dropped out of the Ranks this morning, I think he was Sun Struck. he is now very sick, the Doctor & Chaplain are both with him. He is an Irishman I think from Lyons. I am very glad that I have kept so well, I think my Sickness in Auburn helped me. Yesterday we pitched our tents & are again Quite comfortable again. I am now laying in, my tent, my Boots and stockings off & coat, with my Blanket spread out, my Portfolio on my Knapsack, writing, with a nice cool breeze.

There is one trouble about this life, there is no Sunday[s] To be sure, all the Drilling we have today is [?]Inspection at 8,30 AM Dress Parade 6,15. I would give a great deal if Charlie had come with me now, I think he could fare better, than I thought he could, our Drummer is the poorest in the Company.

Please send me my Razor & Brush when you send me any things, as I need to shave the boys. Send me an old Tooth Brush to clean my Buttons with & if you have a chance let me have one of those papers of Cleaning Powder in the Shed, to clean my Gun. I do not think of any thing else.

It has been reported for several days that we have marching orders Cincinatti [sic] Ohio Soldiers, this I very much [in] doubt. Today one of our men was shot in the legs by the carelessness of one of the Guard. Tonight the Colonel put a stop to that he has forbid any private Fire arms to be carried, at all, To night we were on Battallion [sic] drill from 3 to 5, the Colonel told us that we did better, for the time that we have been drilled than any Regt that he has seen. It is reported that 60,000 Rebels are on the way here. I dont believe it.

Write soon
Love to all
Maggie Rosa Mother
& Charlie


In the Civil War timeline

September 4th to 9th: Lee headed North towards Harpers Ferry with an invasion force of 50,000 troops.

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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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