Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

January 23, 1863

Camp near Centerville
Jan 23d 7 PM

Dear Mother

I read a letter from you to day, with 5cts in Stamps & a fine Tooth Comb. The comb I needed, though I an thankful to say, I have not seen a Louse on me since I have been in the Service & know I have none.

The money I needed also, as when I was on Picket the other night I had the misfortune to burn a hole in the toe of my Boot. Which was no wonder, Considering the [fare] One side of [me] was Thawed & the other was Frozen. Now I can get them fixed up, again. Thanks to you.

You ask me if You buy a Farm if, I will work it. All I have to say is Try it and see. I think after this is over I shall settle down. So if you buy the Farm I will work it. I think I could make more than $[13] a month out of it.

I have not washed my clothes yet, I can get them washed for 6 cents a piece. We have no Conveniences for washing. I have 5 shirts now all I, need. If we move again I shall not carry much.

You ask me how [Dryer] got his discharge he has not got it yet. I think he is playing up. He has not felt well since he found out he could not get the Lieutenancy. There has been a great many reports in Camp to day, One was this AM, that our Col had his choice, to be transfered into Heavy Artillery & be Lieut Col, or to be Col, of this Regt. there is a great deal of talk, of our being turned into Heavy Artillery, Though there may be nothing in it. Dont we hope it is so.

I would not care about having to stay the three years Another that we were to be paid off, Immediately. I am afraid it will not be so. I hear nothing about the Color sergt, I shall know in a few days.

Barney, Aleck, Al Hunt, have been out to day, with a Man that wanted to get his Brother, who was killed in the Last Bull Run Battle. There was 12 men went out under a Flag of Truce, with Guns. The most foolish thing I have ever heard of, going under a Flag of Truce, with Arms. the boys saw hundreds of graves. I would give $10 to go there, it is outside of our Lines. I shall go there if such a thing is possible, then I shall have some Trophies.

I have got to go on Picket tomorrow. There is a talk of Calling us up on a False alarm, to see how quick we can turn out. So I must go prepare. I must close, so as to make up my Bed, almost Taps

Jan 24th 7 AM. for some reason or other we was not called up last night, though a better night could not have been found. We have Variable weather here, one day it is cold & windy, the next warm & pleasant. Did you mean if you settled down, to settle on my 160 acres of Government Land, on a Farm in NY. I should want to know first.

Give my Love to Maggie & ask her if she will work for me, if work on a Farm, I should want her to live with me. I told Tom, you sent him your best Expects [sic]. Tom is getting very Fat & stout, Just like me.

Hoping to hear from you soon

Love to all


The House wife is Just what I wanted to carry my Paper in
Much Obliged for it

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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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