Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

November 25, 1862

Please post these letters for me, I am out of stamps

Camp Douglas
Chicago Ill
Nov 26th
8 PM

Dear Father

We are still in Camp here, but expect to leave here tomorrow afternoon. On Sunday night at Dress Parade the Order for our moving from here, was contramanded, until further orders.

The 126th left here yesterday at 2 PM. It is very singular that our Regt is always been & always will be behind, all the rest. We are now the only New York Regt here. We are to have Pass [cars] & are to be divided into Squads of 48 men to a car & are not allowed to leave the Cars on the Road.

We have now settled down to the belief that we are Exchanged & that we are to get our Arms at Washington & will then go into the Field. I should have liked, to have come home, before we were Exchanged, but of course we can not now.

I think the boys will not go into the Field with as good Courage as they did before, but they have good reason, for not [feeling] better, they have been so misused, I sincerely hope we will join [Banks] & go to Texas, then we should have a splendid chance to see the country. And I do not think we should have as long marches, as we would if we went to Virginia.

We have had perfect liberty for the past few days to go and come when we choose. I have seen a great deal of the City for the past few days. most likely we shall spend our Thanksgiving on the Road, with Salt Bacon and Hard Tack for our Dinner. [This] will not seem like home. If we stay at Washington, I shall hope to have some things from home.

One of our Boys died in the Hospital last night Wm Pierce1 of Sodus, He died with the Diphtheria. Tom Hooker is better, but I do not think he or A Hunt will go with us.

My Promotion has not been read yet, nor will it be until we get settled again. I think it will be 4th Seargeant, pay $11 a month.

5 PM. Just read Marching Orders for Washington, tomorrow at 3 PM. We are to go by Cleveland Harrisburg & Baltimore. when we get to Washington we are to [report] to Maj Genl Halleck, for further orders.

They are going to be very strict with us [on] the Road for fear that we shall Desert. When I Desert it will be when I can not possibly live, in the service. If we remain in Washington long I hope to see you there.

Please send me a watch & some Paper & Envelopes. I wish you would [ ] some of them as it is hard to get Ink here.

I am now perfectly contented & now we know what we are to do. Tell Mother not to worry about Me, I shall take care of myself.

I hope we shall go where, there will be Mail Communications so that I can write often. I will write to you Immediately on our arrival [   ] & as soon as we know what we are to do as I know you will be anxious to hear.  With love to all & sorry I could not have seen you

I remain Your Son

The boys are feeling tip tip about leaving here. They little know what they have got to go through

1Pierce, William–age,18 Enlisted 29 Jul 1862 at Sodus to serve three years. died, 27 Nov 1862, at Chicago, IL. (ed’s note:  This letter corrects the offical death date as being Nov 25.)

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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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