Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

October 26, 1862

Camp Douglas
Co D 111 Regt
Oct 26

Dear Father

Mr Gavitt did not take the Trunk the other day as I expected, We sent the Trunk down with the Hearse & through some mistake he did not take it.  It will come however, by Cornelius Johnson, one of our men that has got his discharge.  He will bring it directly to you & you can distribute them. You will find a Knapsack for Johnson & a blanket on the outside of the Trunk.  A Knapsack for Jimmy Waddle & also Blanket & Overcoat.  A Package for Mrs Sharp & Goblet for Maggie, from me, that I brought from the Ferry, from a Secesh House, A Cane made from a Rebel Flag Staff, picked up on the Pontoon Bridge at the Ferry Dan Hutchins sent it to you.  Also [ ] belts for Charlie Hunt.  I had nothing to send home. 

A B Williams is coming home on a Furlough, as he has been sick for a week or two past, so I can send home any thing else. I think there are two or three other of our boys that will come home on a Furlough, But not me.  I suppose Mother will be, disappointed in my not coming home, I know I am.  I have given up all hopes of our Regt coming to New York now, every day things look darker, & look less like coming home. And every day I dread the more to spend the winter here.

On Saturday last we had the First Snow Storm of the Season, It snowed quite fast for a few minutes.

When Jimmy Waddle left here, we had Six Pall Bearers, march on each side of the Hearse, also a Guard of 8 men march to the Rear, with their Guns Reversed, we marched half way to the City & would have went all the way, if it had not been so late, but we found that they had got just time to get to the Depot.  There was three Corpses taken from the Ground when they took Waddle, two from our Regt.

You need not be alarmed, about my being a nurse in the Hospital where there is the Small Pox.  How can they detail me, when I am a non commissioned Officer. At any rate I would not go there.  I think there is no danger now of the Small Pox spreading, as we hear no more of it.

All the trouble now is the proposes of our staying here all winter.  Gavitt did not say a word to me about the Furlough, I was in hopes you would send me a little money by him & a few Stamps as we have no chance to get good clean Stamps here.

We had Inspection yesterday morning as usual It most generally falls on Sunday.

If the Supervisors of W County intend to get [us] home in time to Vote, they must hurry up.  We will all vote if they will bring us home.

We keep hearing the Report that the War Committee of [Britane] Seneca & Yates, intend to have the 126th come to NY State & make that their Winter Quarters.  We heard they were going to winter at [S ] Roy. I know if the 126th goes home & we do not there will be musing in Camp, as the 111th Boys will not stay.

I saw a verse that the 138th Sing in Camp & that reminds me that I have never told you what we sung at the Ferry.  The Tune Happy land of Cannan

There’s 1000 men from Cayuga & from Wayne Down to Harpers Ferry there Remaining But the Rebel’s they came there And they made us cut & clean & sent us to our Happy land of Cannan Chorus HO HO HO Dont you hear me now Our day of Retribution is a coming But will never mind the weather & we’ll all march off together And will go to our Happy land of Cannan

One of Co [ ] boys has made up a song about our Camp here that is quite amusing.

I saw a letter in last weeks Republican, about our model Doctor & Hospital, this is all a Lie & I can prove it, any one can see it was an Officer that wrote it.  A man that will write such a letter as that ought to be Shot.  I think we boys ought to know.

I am now Mail Boy fro Co D & you had ought to see the rush of the boys when I distribute it & the down cast looks, when there is no Mail for them. They will have anything to read a letter I do not know anything of importance to write But will write again as soon as I hear anything.

Love to all

 More links to the tune Happy Land of Cannan:

sheet music – Library of Congress (1)

sheet music – Library of Congress (2)


Library of Congress image

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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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