Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

October 1, 1862

Camp Douglas
Co D 111 Regt
Oct 1st /62
3 PM

Dear Father

I have just received your letter from Lieut Moon, and was very glad to hear again, as it is the first that I have heard form You, since, the letter by Lieut Granger, I have read the letter by Lieut Moon, but not the other I presume it will be sent on here.

You ask me about Disbro1, I guess I can tell you as much as any one, about him, as I stood near him when he fell, and helped bury him. It is a mistake, his being shot by one of his own Company, as after he was dead, one of our Balls were tried to put into the hole in his head, & would not go. It was a Pistol Shot from a horse Pistol, in all probability by some of the Rebel Cavaraly, as we have no such arms. It is almost positive that, he was shot by one of the Rebel Cavalry which attacked us in our Rear. It would be dreadful to think of his being Shot by one of his own comomrades. It is universaly [sic] acknowledged that he was shot by some of the Rebel Cavalry.

He lived about 15 minutes after he was found the Sunday night of the Battle, The next morning I took a Squad of men, some of our Friends, and went down to bury him. We dug his grave, in the most retired and Shady place that we could find, right at the foot of a large Oak .  We buried him, wrapped in up in his Blanket and Overcoat & Cap with the hole in it. I cut his name on a Board, like This J Disbro Co, D 111 Regt, and placed it at the head of his grave, So that he could be found, if wanted. All of us could go right to the Spot in a moment.

Disbro was Shot right over the left Eye, the Ball coming out at the Back of the Head. Disrbo was in the same Mess with me and I thought a great deal of him, as also did the other Boys, He was always kind and obliging, especialy [sic] when I was sick, offering to do any thing in his power for me. I do not know that I can tell you any thing more Except, that I knew the [Plan] of his Grave & took some little Trinkets out of his Pockets, which was sent him by Mr Cookingham. He was always the first to do his duty, always volunteering, never having to be detailed,

I am glad you got the money, for my Watch, & would be glad if you get a good chance if you would get me another, & send it to me, as I need it a great deal, especially when on Guard, I can hardly get along with out it then, I want a Hunter Watch. If you get a good chance buy two just alike one for Charlie I guess you can get good ones for $15 a Piece. I have made $12 on that [there] Watch, now it only cost me $13 last winter.

I suppose you Received that Package I sent by Mr Cookingham, those few things to Charlie, if I had known I should have had as good chance to send home as that, I should, have had more.

You say that it was reported the we were coming home on a Furlough, we all expected that in Camp, but there is no such thing in store for us, we will either be Exchanged soon or we will, be sent to the Frontier, The Dailies for several days past, say that is our destination. For my part I do not want to stay here long. Our Major told us last Sunday night at Dress Parade, that he should do all in his power, to have us soon exchanged. You had ought to see us Scrabble when the Mail comes in, and in the morning when the Daily Papers come in to see what our Destination is & see what they say about us. There will be trouble if they undertake to make us drill, before we are Exchanged, I for one will not do it, & break our Parole so.

The 9th Vermont had a Row here yesterday and refused to take up arms, even to go on Guard, Some of the militia have to be Called out to Compel them to. The other day we had [ ] [ ] on the Ground, One of the Sutlers called our Boys Harpers Ferry Cowards, the Boys took everything he had & broke everything to pieces. Served him right. I never saw boys so mad in my life.

I saw Simeon Reynolds here yesterday here, he is in business here now, We are very glad to see any body from home here. We are quite comfortable here now considering, our Quarters, The boys say that there is lice here, but I doubt it some, If you & Mrs Williams send a Box, a can or two or Preserves would come very acceptable, to eat on our Bread as any Bread goes tough when sick.

I have not been very well since I have been here, our ride wore us all out, as there is no rest when Traveling, as we do. If we go out west we will have to march over 80 miles, that is the only trouble. Time alone will show what we will do. I would like very much [ ] fate of the Republicans since I left as we care more for Home News than any thing else,

Tomorrow I am going to have a Pass & and go down in the City, when I shall get a chance to see the Place It is rumored that the Rebel Companies are on the way to Washington to propose terms of Peace, I hope this is not so, as it will not do any thing Honorable. The Boys are all pretty well Hoping to hear from you soon.

With love to all

M T Stacey

1 Disbrow, John M.–age,18. Enlisted 6 Aug 1862 at Galen to serve three years. Died , no date.

Who were Sutlers?  They men who sold a variety of goods and stock out of wagons. They set up shop mainly to sell to soldiers, and very often exploited them by charging exorbitant prices. It was an uneasy relationship between the soldiers and the Sutlers, and conflicts often occured.

Camp Douglas, Chicago:

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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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