Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

October 28, 1862

(first letter)

Camp Douglas
Chicago Illinois
Co D 111 Regt NYSV
Oct 28th

Dear Father

I sent you a letter yesterday, but have heard a little more news, so will write again.  Now I can write a little more hopeful.

Yesterday morning there was a Dispatch in the Chicago Times, that the War Department had ordered us to return to our own State, or the New York Troops that were taken Prisoners at Harpers Ferry.  You can imagine what excitement this caused among the boys, before all looked dark & now things look bright again, I hope we will not be disappointed.  Last night a Lieutenant in the 126th told me that as soon as they can get Conveyances for us, I think it is positive.  The [Sergeant] told the Orderly that it was a sure thing.  So you may expect us in NY in the course of a week.

They are making out the pay & muster Roll now so I think we will some money.  I think we will do Garrison duty some where in New York, any where only get away from here.

Yesterday I got a pass & went down in the city in the morning looked around a little, then went to Mrs Stones about 2,30 PM.  There I got a Splendid Lunch & had a tip top visit.  I gave Althea Yager that Lyons Paper that you sent me, She thought that was a splendid letter, so did Mrs Stone. When I got ready to leave, Mrs S gave me a nice jar of Pickles cucumbers, a basket of Sweet Potatoes & some nice Fruit Cake & then to finish it, she brought me up to Camp, with my things.  I never shall forget her Kindness to me & all she has done for me.  She is very anxious to have me come out & stay all day & night.  If we do not leave here, I think I shall, for it would feel good to sleep in a good bed again, as I have not slept in a bed in three months.  The only trouble with Mrs Stone, she flatters me too much, she says, she enjoy herself more in my Company than in any of the other Boys. I never have enjoyed myself better since enlisting than at her house. She gave me a pile of old Magazines in the bargain.

I am so excited that I cannot write, it is all I am going home, that is enough for me.  Today our Regt goes on Guard again, I get clear of it by being on Guard the night before, that is the way I work it, when I do not want to do duty.  I could hardly get my Photographs taken in time, I shall hope to send them next time.  The rest of them look a considerable better.  I could not get a Picture taken of any kind with out showing the Pity in my Face.  One thing is certain if I get clear of this, I shall come right back here to work in the [Roads].  I do not know any more news to write

Love to all


(second letter)

Camp Douglas
Chicago Illinois
Co D 111 Regt NYSV
Oct 28th /62

Dear Father

I received yours of the 26th this AM, & will try to answer it, though have but little news to write.

Of course you have seen Gavitt before this, & found out my Fate, which is to say with the Regt.  I was disappointed in Gavitt’s not taking the Trunk with him, I do not see what he did while he was here, I saw him but twice & no talk with him at all, he did not mention Furlough.

You asked me whether the Small Pox was spreading or not. We do not hear anything about it now, so think there is no danger.  You asked if there was anything the matter with me.  There is nothing but a bad Cough. I have felt quite well, ever since I have been here, more so than any one else.  Almost all of the boy’s have been troubled with something. Aleck has been quite sick for a week or two past, & has run down a great deal, he look’s very white & poor.  Tom Hooker has not been very well, but is all right now.

To day the Regt is on Guard but I being on Guard last night have not got to be on. The only reason that I do not write oftener is that I can find no news.  Perhaps you think there must be some news, among 10 or 12000 men but then a great deal would not interest you.  I see in your last, that You think I am getting sick of the Service, this is not so, I am tired of being used the way we have been, but not sick by any means of the Service.  I do not want you to think that I am sorry for what I have done.  not so.

there is one thing that I have always forgotten to write, that is an expression used, both South & West, it is Right Smart, such as, that is a right Smart Horse etc.  It sounded very odd to me at first.  There are a great many more that I have forgotten.

All that is talked about in Camp now is Going Home, Our Quartermaster, told our Sergeant that draws Rations, today, that we would draw but a few more Rations here.  The boys heard the Major say that it was a settled thing that we were going home.  They all say that we shall go as soon as they can get Transportation for us.  There is Four men from as many different Rail Road Companies, trying to get the job of carrying us. It is reported that Gen Wadsworth is here to see about our leaving.  They say that we are to do Guard Duty on the Frontier in NY somewhere, we do not care as long as we go to NY.  There is about 11000 different rumors about our leaving, so I can not tell anything positive. That is one reason why I have not written more, I did not want to write unless I was positive.

29th 6 AM.  I was on Guard last night, so feel but little like writing.

I must tell you an order given by the Rebel Lieutenant, that was heard by one of our Officers, It is this instead of saying Two Ranks into four Ranks march, it was Two Rows into Four Rows Right Smart Git, what do you think of that for an order Capt said last night.  My Opinion we shall all Go home in a day or two.

All are well
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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