Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

October 17, 1862

Camp Douglas
Oct 17th

Dear Charlie

Father seems to think that he can not trust you to carry a Revolver. I think there is but little danger in carrying one as long as you are careful The Revolver is a little Beauty, in prime Order, it was brought from New York & never was taken from the Rebels. There was lots of chances to get them the day we surrendered, but we were afraid, they would scratch it. I saw lots of Revolvers broke up. I even went as far as to cut a hole in my Coat, to hide my money.

Things begin to look brighter at the Camp now. All seem to think that we are going home, one of our Sergeants asked the Ajutant [sic] for a Furlough & he said he would get one soon enough.

Another thing, that I don’t want to be told, Augustus Green, our Orderly has applied for the Lock Berlin School & still another, we had drawn part of our Clothes, but were ordered not to draw any more until we knew whether we were to be Exchanged or Discharged.

And still another Genl Tyler, said that we would be soon Exchanged or Discharged into the State Service. One of the Boys, had a letter from Auburn & they say the are cleaning up the Barracks, for us, If we are Discharged into the State Service & sent to Auburn, I do not think we will be held there. The Boys are all Betting on their going home in two weeks, That is too soon, I do not think we will go until about the middle of next month, as our Officers do not get their Commissions until they have been in Service three months, & that will be the 7th of November. I should prefer being Exchanged too [sic] going to, Auburn & laying all of the three Years Though I should not object to going to my own State, or to going Home. If we are Discharged I shall go on the Road again,

If I can get on Father has not said whether he has bought you a watch or not, or perhaps you do not want one. I received a letter from Father yesterday, In which he says he had not heard from me, about the Trunk, I wrote Just as soon as Billy arrived here.

The Boys are bound it seems to disobey Orders, in every way possible. At our Dress Parades 5 PM, we are ordered to Present Arms, or give the Military Salute to the Commanding Officer. The Boys obeyed to simply placing the back of the right hand against the Front Piece of their Cap, until the order, Shoulder Arms. Not one third of the Company will do it. Last night the boys turned out to Dress Parade at 4 PM & had to drill for an hour, a great many of the Boys protest that they will not Drill until Exchanged. I think there will be trouble when they compel the 111th to Drill. I can not see, but what we are breaking our Parole, if we Drill. For my part I should prefer to drill an hour or two if it was [r]ight, but I can not care about getting into trouble, But of course we have got to obey every Officer over us no matter who it is, or whether right or wrong.

We see nothing of Chap Brown, & do not know where he keeps himself. I hope Mr Gavitt will come out here & succeed in getting me a Furlough. I think it would be safer to come by 2d class by RR than to come by the Lake this Season of the year. We can see a little of the Lake here.

I hope you will succeed in getting you a nice Drum. Have you joined Millers Band yet, or why do you not.

We had a Fire on the Ground last night. 12 company Barracks & Cook Houses were burned to the Ground & men are reported to be killed, The boys lost almost everything. The Fire broke out among the new Illinois Troops & burnt out Two or three Regt. Of course it is laid to the Harper Ferry Cowards. The 659 [83] Illinois are the toughest Regt, that were paroled & are always in to trouble. You should go over the Ground after the Fire as I did this morning at 5,30, There were bushels of dead rats laying all over the Ground & such large one’s.

It is reported here this morning that, we were to be paid off & Discharged, If this is so Most likely we shall see New York again. The Companies Sergeant offered to bet $20 that we spend but three Sundays more in this place. He is one that would be apt to know things look that ways now.

Ask Father what he paid for his Rubber Coat. I have had a great many offers for it, but did not know,

Our boys have great Times here, there are a few who make a practice of going out & getting Drunk, & raising a Row & disturbing us all, they seem to think they can do as they please which is a great mistake.

We have got a very cold Barracks here, but do not intend to fix them up, until we know what is to be done. I got nearly a pound of splendid Black Tea, the other day of Althea Yager, which tastes tip top as the Quartermaster furnishes [furnishes] us no Tea now, he is trying to see how cheap he can board us. he has got down to 16 cts, therefore makes 30 cts clean on every man

Love to all


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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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