Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

January 7, 1863 – Centerville

On Picket 4 miles South East of Centerville
Jan 7th /63

Perhaps you may be surprised to see where this is from, but as moving is the order of the day, you will have to get used to that. Yesterday morning. Co D & H were ordered to be ready to strike our Tents at 9 AM. And to be ready to march to Centerville, with all their Baggage.

About 11,30 we started & of all the [ ] [things] I ever saw, this beats all . Very soon after we got started it began to rain, & then our Fun Commenced.

On our way, we passed some Forts built by the rebels, that they used Wooden Canons1 in, Also long lines of Earthworks, used at the Battle of Bull Run.

We are at C, about [4],30 PM, & after a little delay, Pitched our Tents, on the wet & muddy Ground. We then as Soldiers always do when camping on a new Ground went off to see what we could Draw, we soon found some Staves for a Floor, & an old kettle, with which we made a Stove. It was an awful cold night, but we managed to keep warm.

This morning we left Camp about 10 AM after a great deal of Marching & Counter Marching, we arrived at our Post. We are now on a part of the old Bull Run Field, I can see all around me now, old Gun barrels, Knapsacks, Shells & every thing belonging to a Soldier. This is the Ground where Jackson lay last winter. I see a great many things laying around here that I would like to send home if I could for Relics.

We did not succeed in sending home the Box, we expected to. I do not think we shall be able to send any now. I can not tell how long we shall stay out here, at C, probably not more than 2 weeks. Lieut [Green] told me we should yet go [back] to Washington to Guard there. I hardly think this will be so, I think we shall stay at the Mills all winter. We are in the Barrack now with 39th NYm 125 NY, 126th NY & the 151st Pa. all under De Utassi.

I have not heard from home in over a week, I am getting very anxious to hear from you. We shall get our Mail every other day, if not every day. We are on the road where Stewarts Cavalry cut themselves through our Pickets a week or two ago. The day before New Years, we heard a great deal of Firing towards the Point of rocks, if there was a Battle there,

I wish you would send me a paper with an account of it. Hoping to hear from you soon, and will write as soon as we are relieved.

Love to all


We have got to stay one day on Picket & be relieved two days. We have two Co’s from each of the Regts with us to relieve us.

1Wooden cannons or “Quaker guns” from the abandoned Confederate camp near Centreville (National Park Service photo):


Abandoned Confederate Camp at Centerville which was then used by Union soldiers (Library of Congress photo):
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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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