Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

October 10, 1862

Camp Douglas
Chicago Oct 10th 7 AM

Dear Father

I received your letter on Thursday, & I was glad to hear that we was so soon to have a Box from home. It was not so what Williams wrote home, about we having all that is needed.

You can judge for Yourself, we have Coffee & Bread & sometimes Beef & that [is] none to tender nor is any to [sic] fresh, half the time it is not fit to eat. Suppose the Beef was good, at supper I think. Coffee & Bread is quite dry. I can not drink the Coffee since I was sick at the Ferry. I am sure I shall be glad to get a few things.

9 AM Billy Waters just arrived & brought our things, all right except the Honey, that run all over the Trunk. I am very much obliged for my things, I tell you they are just what we need I do not care who says any thing to the contrary. I can tell you that it will taste good to me.

I guess William is sorry he did not send for any thing, but he will not make any thing out of me. Williams is noted for his tall lying, it is acknowledged to be the tallest Liar in the Company. When on the march he steals everything he can lay his hand on, or draw as they call it. On the Road from Harrisburg to Pittsburg, he with a lot of others, got off at a Station, & went in to a poor Widow’s & took over 30 cans of Preserves & Fruit, from her Cup board, right before her eyes, he is a hard case, though a good natured boy.

Who sent the pears loose in the Trunk, Williams claimed them. You asked me about my Boots. They wear tip top & will last me two months yet with a little fixing yet. I am more determined than ever, not to wear Army Shoes. I just got a letter from you directed too [sic] Harpers Ferry, but have not got the one Directed to Annapolis yet, but I think I shall yet.

Yesterday morning Mrs Stone & Althea Yager drove to the Barracks to see me and to the 126th to see the Clifton Boys. they both gave me a Cordial Invitation to come out & see them & spend the day, They live only about a Mile from our Camp. I shall most certainly do it as it will be quite a change.

It is very cold here to day, so that we need our Over Coats. We are but a Short distance west of the lake, & the wind blows very Cold. I think it will be lovely here in winter. I shall be glad to get the Gloves & Hat, even if we stay here whether we will or not.

The boys organized a Debating School on Wednesday night last. Subject of Debate Resolved that the work’s of Nature attract man, more than the works of Art. Decission [sic] in favor of the Affirmative. the meeting was postponed until last eve, but that got played out as one of the Learning Debates,

Thomas Hunter was in the Guard House for getting drunk, Last night the boys had a dance in our Barracks, and enjoyed themselves tip top. During the Day, you can see the boys playing Ball, Running Races & at all sorts of Games, in which some of the Officers join in.

The Ladies of Chicago, are very good to our sick boys, bringing them in, in their Carriages, a great many Delicacies, I will tell you how I got sold yesterday when I was talking to Miss Yager, one of the Soldiers Stepped up and asked Mrs Stone if she had any milk, supposing it was some of the ladies, that brought in things, I felt mean.

You asked me if I went out to meeting, last Sunday. How could I, I can not get a pass, only when my turn comes. Mr Brown came on Sunday but had no service.

Sat 7 AM We have just had the Coldest night of the Season, we have just got a stove up in the Barracks.

I am very much obliged to Rosa and Maggie, for the Cakes & letter. I hardly know what to make of our life here. Yesterday it was reported that, we were going to New York State to be held as reserves, until exchanged, but of Course we do not believe it unless we hear it positive.

last night we had a fire on the Ground, two Baracks & a Cook House was burned up, & do not know what occasioned it.

I have got a very bad cold now, but will soon get over that.

You said that A Williams writes such long letters, does he send more news than I do In the course of the week. This makes the 4th letter this week. I try to send you all the News. The reason why A B Williams wrote home that we are living so well was, he had just got a letter from home with money in it & he did not draw rations.  it was the same Case with Barny.

I think a great deal of Francisco, he is a little Gentleman, & is always the Same, So is Hunt, I am Disappointed in Williams. I see the Advantage of Being a Corporal now, I have no duty to perform at all here, such as Carrying Water & Cleaning up Barracks. I Bunk with our 2nd Sergeant, Charlie Cookingham1, Son of the Gentleman that Brought those things home to you.

It is reported that Mr. Gavitt is coming out here in the course of a week, if so you could send my watch by him. You did not say whether you were going to buy Charlie one Just like mine, I [hope] will. I will send Charlies Revolver Home as soon as I get a good Chance, Its a Beauty, but he must keep it dry & keep a little grease on it, and be sure and not let it rust.

We had a very heavy back mail from Harpers Ferry, yesterday, In which I got several papers. I am glad to get the Lyons Republican, if you will send me that is all I ask. That story that Williams wrote about that Dutchman jumping down a Bank, 150 feet high is no such thing. No one knew when he Jumped off or whether he was killed or not.

I suppose you have heard a great deal about drawing things, it is no more nor less than taking things with out lease. I am glad they can not say that I have been concerned in it, I have kept clean of all such things. I do not see any use in your giving me so many lectures, on keeping out of the Rows here, I should think you knew me better than to think I would be engaged in any such things.

I think with out exception our Co has the roughest name in the Regt, I do not think they would disgrace when engaged in Battle, & I [think it] is there they will make them selves heard, & that for good.

I saw Mr Bronson yesterday from Lyons.

Our Camp lies about 4 miles west of the the City, right between the Illinois Central & Lake Shore RR. The Street Cars run right past the Camp so it is but a few moments ride to the Center of the City.

I tell you what I would like, that is a couple of Flannel Shirts, something that would not Show dirt very easy, & yet look nice, Something like, what was sent to Barny in the Box, I think we will need two Shirts here, and have the Army shirt underneath.

We have got several men in our Company, that are playing up sick in order to get discharged. I despise such actions.

Hoping to hear from you soon


1 Cookingham, Charles L.–age,18. Enlisted 6 Aug 1862 at Galen. Wounded in action 3 Jul 1863, at Gettysburg, PA.; killed in action 5 May 1864, at The Wilderness, VA.
Tags :

No Comments

(will not be published) (required)

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."

The Letters

Recent Comments

Friends and supporters