Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

February 1 & 2, 1863

This is Camp Hayes, after this

Camp Hayes
Feb 1st /63
6,30 PM

Dear Mother

I received your last letter yesterday, while on guard, & will now answer it. I would have answered it before, to day, but have felt but little like writing.

Our Col, has gone to Albany to see the Governor, probably with Reference to his being Col. It is currently reported here, that we soon are to be relieved from Picket Duty here & are to move towards Washington. A great many still think we shall be turned into Heavy Artillery. the only trouble with this would be, we would have to stay the three Years, while if we were Infantry, we would most likely, be sooner discharged. For my Post I would rather stay the 3 Years, & be in Heavy Artillery. then most likely we should stay near W. the P[PM], has not made us a visit yet, & we are a little afraid he will not come, though all expect him. I certainly hope he will come.

Yesterday the Regt was Inspected by Genl Hayes, I got rid of it, by being on guard. I never saw the Regt, look better, all had white Gloves on. Our Col, tried to make the boys buy White Gloves, only 50cts a pair. Now when I pay 50cts a pair for white Gloves, which only can be worn once or twice, they will know it. I wish you would find out how much, I could buy, these Gloves for a Day, Aleck says you can get them for 15cts a Day, if so I shall have to send for some. I shall have to get two or three [Day] white Paper Garoote (ed’s note: garrote?) Collars, with a small Box to carry them in. They look so nice, on Inspection and then on Sundays they make a man feel Cleaner. Here you know we have no change of clothes. You need not be alarmed about my getting so very dirty, Our Squad is very fortunate in having a Wash Dish, we think more of that, than any thing else. A Tin Cup comes next.

I have thought a great many times, I would write you just how we live, but get no time, to go into all the particulars, I will try it some day. Do not think we do not have some Sunny Hours, far from it. amid all our Duties, & Trials, we always find a Bright Cloud.

Did I ever tell you, about our Bed’s, how we make them, if not I will. First we spread our Rubber Blankets down on the Ground, then our Bed Ticks, & then our Woolen Blankets, Knapsacks for Pillows, Remember no Straw in the Bed Ticks. Now I can lay down & sleep, just as Sound as I could in a Bed at Home, though I must confess, I wish I could sleep in a Good Bed one night. The first night I get home, I expect I shall take my Knapsack for a Pillow, & wrap my Blanket around me & sleep on the Floor. It would be no hardship to sleep on the Floor after this.

I do not know how I should feel to go home & wear Civilians clothes again.  If I do say so, I know I make a Good Looking Soldier. Our Drilling here, makes us walk erect, & so we have to throw our chests out & hold our heads up. And then this Good living in the Army, is making me Grow Fat, I think I will weigh 150 easy now.

Your Letter did me a great deal of Good, when I know you are not worrying about me & that you think I am right in being where I am. Now I can do my duties more cheerfully. I could have but little courage when you were, worrying about me. I am glad to hear you write so cheerful, be assured that your son will never disgrace him self, in Battle, as in time of Peace. My Mottoe is Duty first, Pleasure afterwards. Perhaps you think I am talking rather wild for a man of my age, but remember I am 21, next Aug. You need never look for me until I can come home, honorably, so that I can look men in the Face, with the Conciousness of having Done my Duty.

This has seemed like Sunday, though we have had no Services.  it has been raining most of the PM. If you should go through this Camp to night, you would hear Singing all through the companies, all seem happy & contented. We have some splendid Singers in Camp, & every night you can hear some a singing.

If there is any thing in the Report, about our Going to Washington, we shall most likely see, some we know, there.

Sergt Granger has got his Sword again, I do not know whether anything will be done with him or not, I hope there will.

Green laid him self liable, a week or two ago to be Court Martialed, he was on Picket, & left his Post & went to a House to get his Dinner, & there The Officer of the Day found him. Catlin the Sergt lately Promoted, came near being Reduced today, He took off, his Equipments, Contrary to Orders, & left his Post, If the Col, had been here, he would have been Reduced.

I had the Praise last night, of having the best trained of the Three Reliefs on Guard, & of attending to my Business better than the other Corps, by the Officer of the Guard.

Quite a Laughable incident occured while I was giving the Relief the Countersign. the Countersign was Saragossa, I gave it to one of the Men, & he did not understand it & asked me if it was Sarah Cross Eyes, he thought he was right.

Williams had Bunked with us ever since he returned, he never has mentioned the Letter, we get along all right, though I am careful of him. Taps, so I must make up my Bed & blow out the Light.

Feb 2nd 6,30 AM.

All quiet during the night. Tomorrow we go on Picket, for 24 hours. We like Picket Duty well enough, but do not like the walk out and back. It is the worst Road I ever saw. I have been there when the Mud, was from 8 to 10 inches deep, no mistake. Our Winter is about over here, the Farmers will soon commence to Plow. when it is warm weather, Soldiers life will be Easier.

Shall hope to hear from you Soon, Love to all


Miss Rosa

Much obliged to you for the $10 sent me to get my Discharge, Though I do not think it best to come home Just yet. You do not want me to come home until I have Shot 20 or 30 Rebs do you. Dont you want me to Shoot two or three for you. I have not seen a little Girl (White I mean) since I left Alexandria, You can see little Colored Contrabands, laying all around. Dont you want a little one to wait on you, if so I will send one in a box. You could sit still, & say Venus, bring me my Shoes & put them on, & Venus do this & that for me.

Tell Maggie, that I think of her often & would like to take her for a Ride. by the time I get home, it will be good Waggoning, then we can take a long Ride. Kiss her for me & tell her to be a good Girl, & not to forget her Brother Manley.

Charles Henry Augustus


Do you wish me to think that you have given up, Miss Sarah, if so, who is the Lucky woman, answer my Question, or report Yourself to the Officer of the Guard & tell him I sent You.

Charlie do you want to know how we draw our meat from the QM, we get it out side ot the Commisary, then go ahead of it & Whistle, it follows us, right to our Co. our Hard Tack is getting Softer now, we bite right through, Crackers, worms & all. Two thirds of the Hard Tack is wormy. When we take our clothes to wash, all we have to do it tell them File Right & Left, & the Animals understand their Business.

the Government Horses are so Poor, that when the wind Blows, they have to Detail 4 men from a Co, to walk each side of them to hold them up, if they did not the wind would blow them to pieces.

This is an awful Country to Grow niggers. the boys use them for Targets. There are more Blacks here than Law allows.

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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