Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

Letter from L. M. Stout to Stacey – March 9, 1863

Watkins March 19th 1863

My Dear Friend Manley

For months past I have been intending to write to you. not because I have had anything specially interesting to write, but I have thought that amid the weary monotony of camp life perhaps a few lines from any friend would be acceptable and help to while away the long hours which the soldier spends far from home and its loved ones.

Long as I have thought of and defered writing doubtless my letter takes you by surprise and is what you were least looking for. I hear from your Father occasionally and through him from you, I can imagine how much of a sacrifice you must have made when you chose a soldiers lot and became for the present a willing exile from the home and friends so dear to you, but thousands of the noblest bravest of America’s sons have made like sacrifices, and their memories shall be forever enshrined in the hearts of the loyal mothers and sisters of the North. Every soldier is dear to me, and a uniform bespeaks for any one a hearty welcome here, perhaps I had better qualify that sentence a little, there are those among the officers course tryanical brutal men, without one spark of tru patriotism, without regard for their men, or one virtuous principle, such men I scorn, and turn with loathing from, the contemplation of their acts of injustice. I hope you are blest with good officers who have the welfare of their men at heart, for there are hardships enough to be endured in a soldiers life at the best & judging from what I know of your career since you enlisted I presume you know already more of the sufferings of a life in camp than I am able to imagine.

My Brother who was among the first volunteers is now 8 miles below Acquia at Belle Plain the Brigade (Gen Patricks) are Provost Guards, their duty is hard as they come on guard every third day & night but their time of service expires the middle of May and they are full of anticipations of a return to home and friends, but death even in this short space of time may call for some of them, and while we hope we also fear,

Doubtless you miss very much the religious priveliges which you have always enjoyed, but the Presence of God is every where and I hope you hold fast your christian integrity and faithfully serve Him to whom in youth you gave your heart, remembering that His promise is “I will never have nor forsake you,” Now this is a poor attempt at a letter, but I would very much like to hear from you, about your mess mates officers, Chaplain and should read with very great interest your daily experience in camp life, I would like to keep track of your wanderings while you are in the army, Are you among the three years men? Now I must bid you Good night, hoping you will excuse the liberty I have taken and answer my scrawl. May God Bless & protect you is the prayer of Your true Friend

L. M. Stout

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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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