Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

October 8, 1862

[First letter]

Camp Douglas
Oct 8th

Dear Father

I am getting anxious to get my back letters, of which I am confident, there must be several. On Tuesday morning were were ordered to pack Knapsacks, Coats & Blankets, and form a line at 10,45 for Inspection. We marched to the Square to be Inspected by Genl Tyler which lasted till one AM.

During the night, we heard the Cry of Fire, such a scrabbling the boys all taking out their things, before they knew where the Fire was, It turned out to be a pile of Rubbish opposite Co A’s Barracks, which did not amount to much.

Yesterday one of our Boys Died in the Hospital, his name was Austin [Legg]1  of [?] Berlin, he died of Intermittent Fever. Tom Hooker has been pretty sick, for the past few days, with a very bad Diareeah, Tom looks quite pale, There is but little danger in that however. Most likely you will see some of the Lyons boys home before long, as the major gave Orders, last night at Dress Parade, for every man that was not fit to do military Duty to be reported. And I know we have several.

One of the Palmyra Boys has got a Substitute by paying $111, & is expecting to leave for home this morning. Good for him. I had a talk with the Capt last night, he seems to think that we will not soon be exchanged. but that this will be our Winter Quarters, if this be so, I suppose we will see you out here, or some of the Friends, before long. I would rather be exchanged & go to Drilling again, As I think it doubtful, if we drill here. It would make a great difference to us, if we knew what we were to do.

I see there is a great deal of talk about, who was to blame about the Surrender at the Ferry. I find but one expression among all of the men not only our Regt, but all that were taken & that was that Miles was the man. Why did he order our Guns to cease Firing on Sunday morning, when we could plainly see the Rebel Signals with their white Flag, he must have known that that was not right, Some of the Artillery Boys kept Firing even after the order & it had to be repeated. All Cursed Miles & said if it had not been for him, we would not have been so. I do not think we cold have held the place over 48 hours, with out Reinforcements, even with the Hights [sic]. We were so completely Surrounded.

However this is all past now. I am not sorry now, that we have been through what we have. I do not think that I could have got in a Company, where there are better Commissioned Officers, They all seem to be Just the men for the [place] and are liked by all the boys. And we have also a Model Orderly sergeant Augustus w Green2 of Sodus. I do not think we could have been more fortunate nor do I know a man in the Company, that could do as well as he. Dan Hutchings3 tried to get it, but I would rather have given $50 than have had him in the place, he is not liked by any of the Boys, First Corporals[ ] [ ] him a great deal & what would [Ord ] do.

We are living better now. We have regular meals, & sit down to a table & live some thing like [it] & yet I miss home comforts. I am a little sorry that I brought Your Rubber Coat, it is heavy to carry, but if we stay here all winter, I presume I shall need it

Hoping to hear from you soon.


[Second letter]

Camp Douglas
Oct 8th

Dear Father

I forgot in my last letter to ask you to send me a set of Brass letters, such as they mark Bags & Boxes with, only have them separate & a Bottle of Ink in my box. Size of the letters about 3/4 of an inch or inch would be a little better. They are just what I need to mark my things with And I know I can make enough to more than pay their cost, as the boys all need their things marked And I know I can make a good thing out of it.

I will give you now, the routine we have to [ ] with every day, here in Camp. Roll call at Sunrise, breakfast at 7 AM from then until noon nothing to do but read & write, at 12 dinner At PM for four days past we were to have the Rules and articles of War read, at 5 PM Supper at 8,30 Roll Call, so you can see Just about what we have to do, We were ordered to Drill four hours a day when we came here, but the boys made so much fus [sic] about it & swore they would not, that I think they will not do it.

The boys are having it pretty much their own way now, the night before last they tore down over 50 rods of the line fence & yesterday over 40 took French leave & went down in the City, the Guard not offering to stop them, A great many of the Boys are deserting out of the Regt here, they are booking their Passage on the Boats in Buffalo & other ports,

I think I shall put up with a great deal before I leave, What good would it do to Desert if you cold not go home, & if you, you will surely be caught. The punishment of the boys that have left us is to be very light, compared to what I thought. They are to be returned to the Regt, & they pay all expenses, It will however cost them about $50.

We get mail here twice a day, at 11,30 AM and at 5 PM, I get the Daily Chicago Papers by paying 5 cts a Piece, which but few will do. I have not received the letter directed to Annapolis, to me with the $2,00 enclosed yet. I do not know what to think about it now.

Charlie asked me to describe the Revolver I have got for him. It is a small Seven Shooter weighing about a pound it is in perfect order & is a splendid looking piece & will just suit him I know, I have also got the Belt & all acoutrements. It will make his eyes water, Charlie may be glad that he never came here as he never could have stood the march,

Yesterday Some of the Ohio & Indiana Regts, three months men, were mustered out of the Service & [Recd] their back pay, it made us think of a time to come but a great way in the distance.

Yesterday we had a good time about Rations, the Quartermaster of the Ground wanted us to take some, stinking meat, and we refused to do it, so we had no dinner, he came to terms in the afternoon. You asked me in a Previous letter whether Crowl, was Company Mess Cook he was a Company Cook & a good one at that.

You also asked me if we slept out of doors. We have about a third of the time, You have heard of the heavy Dew’s here, they were so heavy that they wet our Blankets completely through In the morning, they are just like a Fog. I got used to it however and did not mind it.

Could you make out any thing with the Map of the Ferry, that I drew, it was very imperfect but then I expected to come home & then I could explain it, It would give you a good idea of how, we were situated. We are now drawing the Clothes that we lost on the march, And I think the next will be to draw our Guns & Acoutrements & then next go west.

I can think of nothing else to write, I suppose you have seen where we have to go when Exchanged.

Love to all
Boys all well


What is “French leave”? Desertion

What is a “substitute? Conscription and “substitution” in the Civil War

1 Legg, Anson A.–age,21 Enlisted 5 Aug 1862 at Rose Valley to serve three years. Died, 8 Oct 1862, at Chicago, IL.; also borne as Austin A. Legg.
2 Green, Augustus W.–age,22 Enrolled 7 Aug 1862 at Sodus to serve three years. Mustered in as sergeant Co. D, 20 Aug 1862; promoted first sergeant, no date; mustered in as first lieutenant, 28 Nov 1862; wounded in action, 5 May 1864, at The Wilderness, VA.; discharged to disability, 7 Sep 1864.
3 Hutchins, Daniel B.–age,23 Enlisted 5 Aug 1862 at Lyons to serve three years. Promoted sergeant, 1 Mar 1864; Alexandria, VA.
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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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