Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

February 3, 1863

Camp Hayes
Feb 3d /63

Dear Father

I received yours of the 29th last night, & was glad, to get a Good long letter from home.

Yesterday we had the Report in Camp that one of the 151st Pa Infantry Pickets had been Shot & the rest of the Post taken Prisoners. This however, was not True, it was the Cavalry, one Post was taken, & one Man that refused to surrender, was shot through the Heart. It was reported that the Rebs were throwing out Pickets, near ours, & that there was a Force of them near us. Of course this caused some Excitement, & the usual amount of trembling among the Officers. Last night 800, of the 5th NYSV 1st Virginia Cavalry, went out to Scout the Country, we have not (heard) from them yet.

We had an extra Caution last night, to be ready, to fall out at any time. I do not know what we should have done, the Major is Sick, the Colonel, gone away, so the command would have fallen on Capt Seeley, Co A. Yesterday I was regularly Detailed by the Capt, for Co, Post Master. This is not a very Desirable berth, but there is no labor.

Things are moving along in Camp about the same as ever, nothing new. It is very cold here this AM, it is snowing quite fast, they do not send out whole Cos for Pickets, it is now, 5 men from each of the 10 Cos a day, which is I think a better plan. I expect to go on Provost Guard, tomorrow, I am very anxious to go out on the Battle Field, so to get some Trophies, & see the Country.

Yesterday Green Drilled us in Skirmishing, through Snow Banks, 2 feet deep, mud & all. He could not do it, in pleasant weather. I am getting so, I dread the Co, Drills, the same thing, over & over again. I have learned it once, & do not need to practice it all the Time. there are a great many Drills, to learn yet. I some times, wish we were in the Reg Army, then we could be perfected in Drill. we have some men that never have, nor never will make Soldiers, it is not in them. In the first place, they can not keep Step, the First Principal, & the next, keep their Heads down, & eyes at their Feet, It makes me so Mad, I want to make them Drill with a Ball & Chain.

There has been some Change, in our Brigade, Officers, lately, I think we shall have D Utassi (D’Utassi) for Brig Genl yet, though we hope not. there is not a man in the Regt but what Dislikes him. He always has 5 or 6 Orderlys, riding after him where ever he goes.  Too much Style, from Commandant of Post.

No news from the PM, yet, afraid we are Sold. I took some Paper to Brown yesterday, he is in Washington now. We are getting along a little easier now the Col, is gone, I do not know whether Dreyer, will come home or not, He has expected to get Ward Master in the Hospital, but he is played out on that. they have got to do something with him, he never can do duty again. I heard why Crowl was discharged, His Capt said he would not have the Whining [Priss], in the Co, He has been continually, growling about every thing that did not go right. I have never seen a man so Home Sick in my life.

Love to all


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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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