Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

February 18, 1863

Camp Hayes
do you know what Company
I belong too, if not, it is
L ro Z. Feb 18th

Dear Father

Prehaps [sic] you may think this is a singular Heading to a Letter, but it struck me, so I wrote it. I received you letter of 13th, this PM & will reply immediately, I found enclosed 25 cts & 10 stamps, for which am much obliged.

I am feeling a great deal better to day, & should have done Duty, had it not been so Stormy. In the morning it Drizzled & this afternoon it Rains very hard, & is a most uncomfortable kind of Day. We have just got some wood to Burn, been with out most of the Day. Not very pleasant being without wood this Weather. We are having now regular Winter weather, Snowing one day & raining the next, so of course we have no Drilling, & were it not for the Picket & Guard Duty, we could get along well enough.

I suppose before this reaches you, you will have seen Capt Holmes, & had a talk with him. If he has any Fault to find with me ther reason he did not Promote me, remember, & not believe it all. There is Spyes [sic] in this Co, waiting to report every thing, & when so reported, it is alwasy magnified 10 Fold.

Sodus is just out of Lyons & of any one from there, so you see before this last Promotion came off, it was to their intrest [sic], to Ellect [sic] their man. Now there is not a Man that came from Lyons, but what knows I was entitled to the Place. I wish you would have a talk with Dreyer, he is better posted in regard to the Company than even the Capt. He will tell you how the Matter was. the Capt thinks I have written home all sorts of Stories about him, this I know some one has written home about him & have given me the Credit for it. If I had chosen to report every thing I have seen out of the way in Capt Holmes, I should have had my hands full. I have seen Capt Holmes so Drunk, that he hardly knew what, he was doing, now I never have reported any of this. Nor did I intend too. All I have to say is place some degree of allowance, in what you hear.

I meant no disrespect to Mother, when I said had not heard from you for several days, far from it, I love to get letters from her, but I missed your good long Letters. I hope Mother will not take offence & not write any more. I shall be glad to get the Collars & Gloves, as I like to look well on Inspection, though I do not like to have you keep paying so much Express Charges. The Emery Cloth I shall be glad to get. I do not know but you will think I am asking a great deal, sending home for so many things, & only sending $15 home, which will not near pay what you have sent me, but then I hope to make it square some day.

I know of no reason why they did not pay us up, except it be short of money, I am sure we should have prefered 4 months pay. We have given up all idea of Heavy Artillery now, that is played out with us.

You asked me if I reported the Spy on my Picket Post No 15, I did not as I found but he had been reported once. This reminds me, Yesterday two men came to our Camp, & wanted the Officer of the Day (Capt Coe of Clyde) to pass them in & let them buy some of the Surplus Coffee of the Co’s, as they always have some on hand, & he would not do it, as he did not like their looks. They then openly Bragged of being Seceshionists, & said they had a pass & had been all through Washington, they were allowed to go on their way. If you mention this, tell no names. I have sent the diary home by mail, yesterday, as soon as you get it, let me know, for I would hate to loose [sic] it.

I have nothing now to send Home, If I get any thing, I will try & send it as you Directed. I suppose, you have got Mrs Williams Card by this time, so you would know when to write. I presume you will see Mrs Brown, as I hear she has returned Home. I presume I have written some awful letters, short & disconnected, but can do no better in the Army. I shall have to close for the night more Anon. To night I can lay & hear the rain patter on the Tent, & if I do not keep my [mouth] closed, prehaps [sic] catch some in my mouth.

Feb 19th 1863

It has rained hard all night, & is a lovely old night. the Cavalry Scouts, out side of our Pickets are Drawn off, so our Pickets have to keep a great deal better look out, there is a great deal more responsibility on the men. No more news about moving, though I should not be surprised if we had to at any time. I do not what makes you think we shall move, we will have to be put in another, Division. we are now in the 22nd Army corps, for the Defence of Washington, How could we Defend Washington by going to Warrenton, I would like to know. I would like to leave here now, we have been here long enough now, we begin to feel uneasy if we stay more than 2 weeks in a place.

We have got fixed up more comfortable now than we have before, here at any time. We have made a Requisition on the Sutler for nice [Ha...] & I bought a lb of Fresh Pork & Fried it, I tell you it tasted good. Only 18cts a lb. Blagona [sic] Sausage under 5 cts, 5cts for 33 small boxes of matches, 5 cts for 2 small papers of Pepper. So you can see just how reasonable things are.

Did I ever Describe this So East to north West. There was formerly 2 churches, one Stone, the other wood, both used now a Barns. There was also 3 Hotels, or what they called Hotels. We can see the remains of a Stream Grist Mill

(ed’s note: the rest of this letter is missing)

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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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