Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

December 28, 1862

Camp Pomeroy
Dec 28th 1862

Dear Father

As usual we had Inspection this AM. We had a very Rigid Inspection of Arms, & then of Knapsacks & then of Quarters. We have lovely times keeping our Guns bright & clean, with out anything to clean them with. Those that had not got their Guns perfectly Clean, were sent to the Guard House. Two from our Co were sent up. We have now a Daily Inspection. There are rushing things. I do not know how they can expect men to keep everything, when they have to on on Duty every day, from [7],30 to 5 PM.

We have seen nothing of either of Trunks yet, & are getting almost tired of waiting. I shall get a pass tomorrow & Go to Washington, for the one Aleck, brought. I shall then see Peter Crowl & can look around a little, but can not much as I can only get a pass for a Day. I want to go the the Capitol, for one place certain.

There is no News, of any importance in Camp. All seem to think we are to remain here. We hear nothing more about being Paid off. I think we shall be Mustered First.

On Picket 12,30 PM, about 4 miles west of Camp Pomeroy. After I had written the above yesterday, we had pretty shining times in Camp. About 4 PM, yesterday, we were ordered to have 40 Rounds of Cartridges in our Boxes & 40 in our pockets. Then we were ordered into line, in tight marching order, About 5,30 we started out to Reinforce the Pickets. Before we left, the chaplain Prayed with us & said that most likely we should be engaged in Battle. The Lieut Col, Said Boys, We shall most likely be engaged in Battle. I want you all to fight until Death. This is what I expect of you.

We then started with the orders, Not a man to speak out loud. We had a silent march, through the mud. Double Quick almost all the way. Before we left the color Sergt, came to our Co, for a Color guard, I immediately Volunteered. the Color Guard’s duty it to protect the Color Bearer & take the Colors if he is wounded, & not to fire but to protect them.

We got out here about 7,30, & then formed in line, across a Road, where the rebels would most likely come. Then we had orders to keep in Ranks Arms in hand, ready for anything.

We are on the Road towards [Dum….]. The Rebels had driven in our Cavalry Pickets, & the Reports were that they were coming in to Washington. You may be sure, there was no little Excitement among the Boys. every little while during the night, Cavalry men would come, half scared to death, some without hats. Some would report that 8000 Rebels were on the way & other[s] that all of the Cavalry men had been taken. The last report we got this AM, was that they had not been within 8 miles of here. At any rate, we all expected an attack, a man came in this AM & said we should be lucky if we were not attacked to day.

I have heard some Musketry firing this AM, But I do not believe we shall see anything of the Rebs now. It was reported here this AM, that the Citizens of Alexandria were packing up & leaving, in anticipation of an Attack. Some of the boys were pretty well frightened, last night. We had two alarms during the night, but they did not amount to anything.

Just as I am writing this, 9 of the 12th Illinois Cavalry have just passed here & say they were attacked yesterday & that they are all that are left, they state that, there is about 8000 Cavalry & Artillery, & that they have fell back today. We can hear heavy Canonading west of this, & think they have attacked some of our Forces west of this. I think we shall have to stay out here on Picket, till Friday.

We have heard nothing From the Trunks yet, I did intend going to Washington, but got [slipped] up on that. You need not be alarmed about us, I think we shall get along all right now. I will write as often as possible until this is over

Love to all
Will write soon


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One Comment so far ...

1. Emma

Thank you so much for posting this! It’s quite interesting, and it might help me with knowledge of ways of speach for those in that time. I’m writing a Civil War story. Thank you again, this topic interests me a great deal!

Comment on July 19, 2013 06:00 am
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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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