Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

December 21, 1862

Camp Vermont
Dec 21st /62

Dear Father

Yesterday we went out on Fatigue1 Duty, but got excused about 9 AM.  It was a very cold day, a great deal like winter. To day it is nice & warm. I never saw such changable weather in my life, one day it is very cold & the next it is just as warm.

This morning a part of the Regt were out on Picket. Our Co did not have to go this time. The boys have Just gone over to the Seminary, to bring one of our men John Johnson2. He is Father to that man, that was Discharged, & brought his things home in my Trunk. He was over 60 Years old & has alwasy been Sick.

No more of the boys have come down with the Small Pox yet, though I think some more have been Exposed. Clouse is getting along finely, he has not been very Sick. I should go over & see him, but they would raise a row about it.

Sunday night 7 PM. To night at Dress Parade, our Ambulance corp was read, we have two men in our Co, Their Duty is to pick up the Dead on the Field of Battle & bury them. Not a very Desirable situation,

I think While I am writing this one of the boys Tents are burning up, the boys are getting very careless, three of Co Bs boys Tents burnt up last night. A fire in Camp, causes as much Excitement, as a Fire home does.

We have got not more Picket Duty to do for the Present, we have Fatigue Duty for a while This will be easy for me. The Mail has not come in yet & I am most afraid it will not come in to night.

Monday morning 6,30 AM. We got no mail as usual last night. It is 20 miles from this Camp to Washington, to far for a horse to go every day. They are trying to make arrangements to have the Mail come to Alexandria, if not to go from Alexandria to W, by boat. I do not care how they fix it if we only get the Mail every day. We feel lonesome without the Mail. Fatigue Duty again to day.

Why in the World dont Aleck come, I thought he was to leave home, last wednesday. the boys are getting to see him.

 Everything looks now like our making this our Winter Quarters. Of course we hope it is. The QM is doing a little better with the Rations, Yesterday we drew Potatoes [sic]

Hoping to hear from You very Soon


1 What is “fatigue duty”?:  Any non military related duty of any kind: cleaning, digging, building, etc..

2 Johnson, John–age,44 Enlisted 23 Jul 1862 at Sodus to serve three years. Died, 21 Dec 1862, at FairfaxSeminary, VA.
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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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