Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

September 17, 1862 – Monocacy Junction

Moncachy (Monocacy) Junction
Sep 17th 62

Dear Father

I know you must be very anxious to hear the particulars of our late Battles at the Ferry.

On saturday morning last, we heard firing on Maryland High commencing about 8 AM, lasting two or three hours, Our Regt was not engaged in that fight About two PM, we observed Signals on the mountain opposite called Lowden Hights [sic], to the Rebel at the west of us. Our Siege Guns commenced shelling them from all points,

At 4,30 the [Long] Roll was beat, & we were ordered into Line, at 6 PM, we marched behind the Breastworks on two the Ferry. There we loaded our Gun & camped on the Ground, fully expecting an attack, in our front & that they would Shell our Camp. At 9 PM we were again called into line and marched back to the Camp again, At 3,30 AM on Sun Morn, we we were called into line & ordered to get 48 hours rations ready, & be ready to move at a moments notice.

Everything went along all night until 1,30 PM, when the Rebels opened on us from 4 different Batteries three in the opposite mountain & one on Maryland Heights, The shelling was terrific, the Shells bursting all around us. We were then ordered to retreat to the Side of the hill, at the rear of our Camp. This had been a thick woods but had been cut down since we camped there. About 3 [the] Batteries opened on us from that side, And the way the Balls whistled, was a caution, If ever I was afraid it was then, balls bursting within a few feet of you & coming from all sides,

At 6 PM we marched to the foot of the hill, in an open lot, & formed in a line of battle, Expecting to be attacked in the course of the night. About 8 PM we changed our position a little, moving to the right when some Rebel Cavalry charged from the woods down on us, causing a complete stampeed [sic], the whole Regt broke some of the Companies [turned], & fired into the others, It was an awful time, I fired my Gun & then ran a short distance & fell on back & loaded & fired again. The firing lasted about 20 minutes when order was again established. Some say it was an Infantry Charge & others it was nothing at all, but more say that it was Cavalry.

There was about 10 killed & 15 wounded, two were killed out of our Company. Knight & [Disbro]. We were not disturbed through the night again. The next morning about 6 the Rebels again opened on us, right in front, Shells were flying & bursting all around, I never shall forget it. About 7, Colonel [ ssi] Came and ordered us to form in line of Battle one [sic] the hill, stack our arms & Surrender, as they had no flags of Truce up.

Talk about swearing, I never heard more, than when the Boys were told that we had surrendered, some acctualy [sic] cried, We then rested on the Ground and in the evening they paroled us.

At 9 AM we left the Ferry for Fredrick MD. we marched 16 miles yesterday camping about 5 miles from our present Camp, we arrived here this morning at 10 AM together with the rest of the 12000 prisoners that were paroled, how long we shall stay here, we can not tell, probably not long. We have got to go either in Balt or Washington & report, then what, I can not tell, We were paroled with the understanding that we should go home, it is doubtful whether we go or not. It is a wonder that our Regt escaped with so little loss.

I saw Jackson, he does not look as I expected he would. he dresses so poorly. I never saw such a miserable set in my life, to call themselves Soldiers. To day we are all here except Crowl. he is nurse in the General Hospital, most likely he will [come] on, I told you about having lost my watch, I have got it again all right Waters was taken prisoner & was paroled, [Just] as soon as I get settled I will let you know where to write to me. I have not heard from you in two weeks very anxious to hear

Best love to all


Stacey’s sketch of Harper’s Ferry battleground

Other information on the battle at Harpers Ferry:

What is “paroled”? It is a release, or exchange, of prisoners of war.

Today in the Civil War:
The battle of Antietam, the War’s bloodiest battle

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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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