Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

January 20, 1863

Dear Father

I little expected to get a letter from home to night, but did not. Hope to get one tomorrow.

I think we shall be paid off this week certainly. The Paymaster sent yesterday for an Ambulance, to be sent to Fairfax Court House, well Armed, to bring him here. The Battery boys are to be paid off, tomorrow & I think we certainly shall be paid off.

The Color Sergt told me to day, that he wanted me to Carry the Colors until the Colonel made that Appointment. All I am afraid is the Capt will not let me go, if so then I am played out. It is reported here to night from pretty good Authority, that we have Marching Orders for Fairfax Station. The Sutler told us to night, that we had Marching orders, & that he had good’s at Union Mills & that he should not, move then until we got settled. Just the ways, get settled & then move.

One thin is certain, we shall not move any farther front. It will greatly surprise me, if we are in any great Battle while we are held for the Defense of W. If we moved all it will be towards W. We are expected if we are Attacked & can not hold our Position, to retreat towards Washington. I expect we shall be called up some night, on a False Alarm,, to see how quick we can rally. It will not do to play that game many times, for the boys would not turn out.

Jan 21st 8,30 AM.  Talk about your storms we have got one. About 8 PM last night it commenced to rain, & blow, & contrived to grow worse until 4,30 this AM, when our Tents blew over. You can imagine how nice it was to wake up and find our Tent down, it raining very hard, & blowing a huricane [sic]. we got our Tent fixed up the best way we could until morning & then had to sit up & Shiver the time away. Now we have Just got fixed up, it is raining hard, the wind blowing very hard, & the mud in our Tent 2 inches deep. This sort is so Clayey, that Stakes driven in the Ground 2 feet deep, will not hold the Tent, against these winds. This is what you at home would call a miserable day. Nearly Half of the Tents in the Regt blew down last night & this AM.

We shall have no Drilling today, so we shall have a little Rest. That is a great deal, as they work us very hard lately. I asked Lieut Green a few moments ago, if we had marching orders he said we had not, but expected to have, in a few days, to go in Front. This would be a little different from what we expected But, all right we can go anywhere. If we go in Front, all we are allowed is Shelter Tents, two in a Tent & Carry them on our Backs. They are the Rubber Blankets, such as we have got. They are lovely things for Protecting.

Tom Hooker is on Guard to day, I pity him. I must close this letter, as I want to get my Breakfast of Raw Pork & Hard Tack. This tastes good to a hungry Man.

The boys are all feeling good this morning, what is the use of feeling different. We in our Tent have been singing Red White & Blue & other Patriotic Songs. We have had lots of fun with Co H’s boys, Telling them we did not know they had orders to Strike their Tents, Almost all of their Tents blew down.

Barney wants to know why in the world his folks dont write. He wants them to hurry up with their Letters, or else he will not send them any Money, when he is paid off.

Love to all
Write soon

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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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