Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

December 7, 1862 – Camp Casey

Camp Casey
Co D 111 Regt NYSV
Dec 7th /62

Mr Charles Stacey

Dear Sir

As yesterday was your Birthday, I wish you many happy returns of the day.  And I hope you, enjoyed yourself better than I did.

I wrote to Father, last Thursday morning Just as we was leaving Camp Chase, & Suppose you have got that.  We left the Camp about 9,30 AM, & marched, South towards Fairfax Seminary, we marched past the Seminary, (a Splendid Building, now used for a Hospital) to our present Camp, but a very Short distance, from it arriving there, about 3 PM,

We had no sooner, broke Ranks, when our Co was Detailed to go on Picket, about 5 miles west, towards Fairfax Court House.  You may be sure this did not set well, as we had no Rations, to take with us, & was tired out.  We left the Camp & after a very tedious March, got there about 8 PM,  We were assigned a post about a mile north & dragged ourselves to the Post, & worried the night away as best we could.

The next morning about 9 AM it commenced to rain & soon to Snow, Then our Troubles, began we had no Shelter, right out in an open Field. 

In the afternoon I found out a Farm House & got me a Dinner, that did me a great deal of good. There I learned how to make Hoe Cake, They make a large Cake & bake it right on top of the Stove, with out Griddle.

At night we [drew] the Pickets in towards a Large Woods, there we [made] us houses of our Blankets & built up large Fires.  But it was so cold we could not sleep.  Yesterday afternoon we were relieved after being out 48 hours & Right Glad we were to come back to Camp.

We got here again about 8 PM, & built up some fire in a Stove in our Tent but it is so cold here, that we can hardly keep from freezing.  Our Camp is on the top of a hill, about [9] miles west of Alexandria . But what makes things worse, our QM traded our Tents off & we got the [Sibly] Tents, holding 15,  They are poor miserable ones & if this is to be Winter Quarters, a great many will not see Spring.

While on Picket, all the Rations we had was a Loaf of Bread apiece for 48 hours.  This we would not have had, had it not been for our Colonel, who bought it himself & sent it to us.  Our QM, has been off on a Drunk & has not been seen here until yesterday. What kind of a state of things do you call this, here we are within 12 miles from Washington & can not Draw Rations.

I will not deny that on Friday night & yesterday, I was homesick & totally discouraged. I do not like being used like this.  When it is unnecsary [sic].  It is a great shame.  And then to be sent off on Picket, 5 miles, without Rations & no Ammunition, Suppose we had been Attacked that night or while there, what could we have done.  Our Pickets have been fired into on the Post & it is, a rather responsible one.  It was the most foolish thing I ever saw.

While on Picket we arrested a Spy & sent him to Washington. He did not pretend

(editor’s note: rest of this letter is missing)

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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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