Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

January 16, 1863

Camp near Centerville
co D 111th Regt NYSV
Jan 16th /63

Dear Father

I wrote you a letter yesterday but could think but little News. Today I can do better.

I expected to go on Picket today with the Company, but got excused, had Corporals enough. I think it was time for me to get excused from some Duty.

It is the greatest wonder in the world for me, that the Rebels do not attack us, here we are, not more then 900 strong, with 10 Pieces of Artillery, which would be of little use in the night, especially if we were Surprised. our Pickets are no Protection to us, as they are from 1/4 to 1/2 a mile apart & then only have 3 or 4 men on a Post. I never have seen such a Foolish way of Doing Business, as they have here. For instance, the other night when we expected an attack, our Orders was to rally the Guard & resist the enemy as long as possible, [or] until the Regt could turn out, Now what in the world could 40 men do. And how quick they could cut us to pieces, before the Regt could turn out. I tell you it would take [long] time to turn out a Regt in the night, especially a green Regt, like ours.

And then our Officers. there is but few in the Regt that I would like to Fight under. The least alarm, they are Frightened to death. A man could Fight a great deal better, if he knew his officers were cool & collected. I think we can depend on our Staff Officers, but the Line Officers, are (some of them) a Shaky set. I do not think anything could Frighten our Capt, he is always cool. that is his only good Trait. We made a miserable Change in Lieuts, when we changed Moor, for Green. At least I think a great deal more of Moor the Green. It is a pity there is such a Division in our Co, we commenced well, & are just as well Drilled a Co as any on the ground. I do not know how they will ever fill up this Regt, they never can by Recruiting.

I never will have any of my Friends Enlist in this Co, or Regt, not if I know it, I would write & discourage it. I think they will have to Consolidate it with some other Regt yet. Is is [running] down real fast, by Sickness, & by Desertion. Co B alone has 25 Deserters. 14 went from this Co to the Doctors this AM, to be sure not all were sick, enough, but some are always getting excused by the Doctor when there is any Duty to do. that is something I have not done yet, though I was half a mind too [sic].

this AM it was raining & miserable day to go on Picket. There is some that can always get rid of Duty, but I can not, nor do I try. we have heard a report, here for a few days past, that England had said, she would give the South 40 days to lay down her Arms in, or else She would interfere. That She (the South) would never Conquer, & that She must close this war. Is there anything, in this report, We want no Foreign Intervention on either side. What in the world is Burnside doing now.

all the news I see, is in the Papers you send, & I am very glad to get them. I should like to send home my Diary if I could, but do not know when I could get a Chance. I think there is enough in the Co, that want to send home things, to fill the Trunk but do not know whether we will or not. I have several things to send home.

Now there is one thing that I have forgotten, that is Capts Style of Promoting. there is [P...] from Sodus, he has been Promoted, every time there has been any Promotions. He never has done a days Duty in the Co. Is that any way to do Business. Keeping his place open. He now got his Discharge.

Now I will give you our Programm[ing] for for a day. 6 AM Roll Call, 6,15 Police Call, to clean up Streets, 6,30 Sick Call, & Breakfast, 9 officers Drill, 10 to 12 Do Drill, 12 Recall from Drill. 12,30 Dinner Call, 2 PM Battallion Drill, 3,30 Recall from B Drill, 4 PM dress Parade, 6 PM Supper, 7,30 Roll Call, 8 PM Taps to Extinguished. Now when you think we have to keep our Guns just so Bright, not a speck of Rust on them, & nothing to do it with, You can see how much time we have, for ourselves.

I shall hope soon to get rid of some of this Duty before long.

7,30 PM. I got you letter at 4,30 PM, & will answer it. I think Mother is doing better now, That is what I like. I think some as she does, that there will be a Battle here, before long. This is a good place for it. Tonight at Battallion Drill The color Sergt came over to my Tent, & told me to carry the Colors that he had resigned & that he had reccomended [sic] me to the Col, so now if the Capt does not object I shall be Color Sergt, of the Bloody 111th. He may not be willing, if not then all is Duty and carrying Knapsack. I drilled with the Colors at 8 PM. I shall know pretty soon what will be done. Color Sergt is a good Position, ranks as Orderly $22 a Rank [Ca ],

There is but little news in the Camp to night, all quiet. It has been reported in Camp, today, that 17 of our Cavalry Pickets taken last night for [for] the Horses.

Jan 17th 7,20 AM. This has been the coldest night we have had, we could but keep warm no way. Mother asked me how [Sol] Crowl got his discharge. He played up sick to get it, & layed in his Tent several days. Then his Capt helped him, also Mason Smith. I never will play up sick to get my Discharge never.

Mother wanted to know, if my Face, was the reason of my joining the Army. It is not. I joined the Army, because it was my duty, & because I did not want to be the only young man left in the place. How much will a man be thought off [sic], if he had not been in Service.  I think in a few years, almost all Government offices, will be filled by Soldiers. That will be looked at. do you think a man will be thought much off [sic], that stayed at home such a time as this, that could have joined the Army. no sir I am not sorry that I am here, nor that I have been through what I have. To be sure this is not the pleasant[est] place in the world, but what of that.

Much obliged for the Papers. I think some of my letters must get [there], for I write very often.
Love to all

Manley

——————–

Camp near Centerville
11 AM jan 16th

Charlie

We are having a Specimen of Camp Life to day, It is Slightly muddy here, raining hard & everything looking miserable. Perhaps you do not know what it is, Slightly Muddy, it is mud 6 inches deep. Al & I are alone in the Tent to day, both writing Letters, Al says give Charlie my best Aspects, & to give Sarah a Smack on the cheek for him.

We have more fun in out Tent than any other on this Street. Al has an Exhibition in our Tent every night. You should come in to our Tent at night after we have all gone to bed, we lay spoon Fashion, if you know how that is, & when we turn over, we call out all together right or left. When we make up the bed all but two have to go visiting, as there is no room. Our Beds, are not such miserable ones, as you have at home. We first lay our Rubber Blankets on the Ground. (We have no Floor) then our Bed Ticks & then our blankets, Knapsacks for Pillows. We have to sleep with coats on, & have [to] lately with Boots on, It would not do here, to take our things off. the Rebs would snatch us.

I want you to take care of that revolver, keep it cleaned up with emery Paper, do not let it get rusted, oil it a little once in a while. I do not think Father need be afraid to let you carry it, if you are careful. I should think you could get Cartidges off Bennett, to fit it. When I get my Pay, I will send you home a $1,00 to get some.

Our Drummer is going to get his discharge, so then would be a chance for you, what do you think of coming. My advice to you would be stay, at home, you little know what hardships, a Soldier has to go through.

Yesterday I went all around our Camp, through the Rebel Forts & Breast Works. You can hardly look any way with out seeing some of their works. They had this place well Fortified.

I have had my Hair cut off, short, again, this is the Third time since I have been in the Service. Our Col, is very strict with the boys, he sends them to the Guard House, for Spitting in the Ranks, at Dress Parade, if their Hair is long & they dont have it cut, & for every little thing.

I saw the other day, a Bugler in the 5th NY Cavalry, only 14 years old, he had his horse to ride, & was a very big man. He would take his Gill of Whisky with the other men, the 5th Cavalry boys, charged on their Sutler, & stole three Barrels of Whiskey, they were all Drunk when they came through here. We are entitled to a Gill of whiskey every day, but our Col, will not let it be dealt out to the men. It is a good thing, though no one will Deny, it is not good for them, when on a long march. I tell you they need something then.

How is the RR Boys dont you see any thing of them, where is Hiram Vanvalkenberg, is he on the Road.  Tell Brent Foster to write & [Ca..] W. When this war is over, I am coming out here to run an Engine, Big Pay here. Tell Charlie Waterman & Charlie Latimer to write, to me, tell them it is my order, if they do not, I will send a Squad of men after them.

Now write me a good long Letter, with all the news

Probably you know my Address.
If not Direct M L Stacey
Co d 111th Regt NYSV
Washington DC
Care of Capt Holmes Co D
or to Co D
of the Bloody 111th

Dont feed your Pony, too much corn, is the prayer of your unworthy speaker, Amen

How much money do you want when I am paid off, for yourself. speak [ ][ ]
MTS

——————–

(editor’s note:  the following undated letter seems to fit here contextually)

Camp [   ]

Well Charles

I will write a short note again.

How do you like the [Idea], of your worthy Brother defending the Colors. Charlie I am glad you are not a Soldier to just get settled down & then have to move again. It is lovely.

I am hoping to get a chance to go up to Bull Run Battle Field. I have long wanted to see that Field. I should not be surprised if there should be another Battle Fought here. It was reported here yesterday that a large Force of Rebels were coming here. I hope if we do, we shall do a little better than our side did before. I do not think our Regt could turn out more than 350 men fit to fight. The Regt has been greatly reduced by Desertion. 25 have Deserted from Co B, Clyde Co. And then a great many are sick.

I wish you would write often, I like to get Just such Letters. we are now close by some Rebel Rifle [Pits] that, we drove them out of. And near here is a Fort that they Built with Wooden Canons in, We are now on top of a very high hill, with a good view of the Woods around. We get our Drinking Water from Bull Run Creek.

I think some of Resigning my position & Coming home

Write soon

Manley

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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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