Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

December 3, 1862

Camp Chase
Near Washington
Dec 3rd /62

Dear Father

I wrote to you yesterday all the News I could hear, & more I will try again.

Yesterday afternoon We put up our Tents, They are called [Wedge] Tents & will Accomodate a Squad of 5 men. My Squad, has the following Boys in. G [W] Warren B Francisco W Waters & A Hunt.

There is a Rumor of our Going into Winter Quarters, near Alexandria. This is what, our Lieut says. You may be sure, is would please us. I think if we do, we shall go into some Fort, where the Accomodations would be better.

The 115, 125, 126 & the 39th Left here a few moments since, for Alexandria, there to take the Cars, for Manassas Cap, where they are going to do Guard Duty. The 126th got their Guns, last night at 10 PM.

We have got Marching Orders & will most likely leave here tomorrow. Our Quartermaster has gone to the City, for our Arms this AM. We are to have, the same we had before, the Springfield Rifled Musket. They are a Splendid little piece, but are hard to keep Clean & Bright.

Secretary Seward was up to our Camp, last night, his Daughter Nelly & another Lady was with him. He look [sic] a great deal older & paler than when I last saw him. He told us we must keep our Arms this time & not let them be taken away. He said [he] has furnished Arms for both Armies so far I hardly know what we shall do yet, but I think we shall pretty soon.

Our boys would not object to Guarding a Rail Road, there we could take some Comfort, & fix up a little.

We got our Horses yesterday & Baggage Waggons [sic]. we have got some old Cavalry Horses. They have not been hitched up together & make nice work. Just as I am writing this, I saw a Funeral Escort, The Band playing a March, & the boys marching with Arms Reversed. This is one of the Sadest [sic] Sights, we have to see, Bringing the Boys so far away from home. You would be surprised if I should tell you that we, our Co, only muster 44 men, fit for Duty. There is a great many of our Boys sick. And then there is another thing, four out of the Six men we have lost, both that have died & were killed, were out of my Squad at the Ferry. Little did I think so many of us would Die.

You should see me this morning, writing in Front of a Tent by a little Fire, in a pan, writing this. I tell you it is some of an Effort to write here, It is quite cold here this morning, with a cold wind Blowing. I am in a hurry, for those Boots to come. These are all, breaking out, & are not fit for muddy weather. Army Shoes are not fit for the mud here.

To day the Boys are Cooking their two days Rations. How are you going to send the Trunk, by Williams, or how will you. I do not think he would bring any thing for me. Barney I think will be one of the Buglers, I spoke to the Chief Bugler about him, & he says if he will suit he will have him. It is a nice place for a man, especially in Battle[s]

Hoping to hear from you soon


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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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