Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

February 23, 1863

On Picket, 9 PM
Manassas Gap RR
Bridge Post No 18
Feb 23d 1863

Dear Father

Well here I am on Picket again, at Post No 18, on a Signal Post, used more, to give Signals than any thing else. Well we are keeping a good look out, as the Capt in Command, says he intends trying us, to night, & If I am not mistaken, we shall be ready for him. It is a Fact that the Guards on Picket, look out more, for our Officers than they do even, for the Enemy. the Boys all say look out for the Grand Rounds.

For fear that you may not know, what Grand Rounds is, I will explain it. the Grand Rounds is the Officer of the Out Posts, & it is his Duty, to go around & see that all are doing their Duty, once in the Day time, & once after midnight. So you see it keeps the Boys on the look out for them. The Challenge for Guard Rounds, is, Halt. Who Comes. There. And, Guard Rounds, the Guards, turn out the Guard, then Dismount Sergeant of the Guard Rounds, advance & give the Countersign, if the Countersign is right then Countersign is correct, Advance Rounds. Then the Corporal, is expected to have his men in Line, report the No of his Post, No of men & if anything has been seen out of the way to report it. the guard Rounds, was never smart enough to catch me yet.

We will not have as many poor Corporals in a Short time, as all are to be examined & the ignorant ones thrown out.

This is a pretty rough looking letter, but I am writing it on my diary, & by a poor fire. We are lucky here, in being allowed to have Fires on Picket, if it were not for that, we should suffer.

Today we had a lovely walk out here. the Snow is about 6 inches Deep on the Level, & in some places here pretty Badly Drifted. We had to break, the Roads, that made it worse. We are now, the very outside Picket, as the Cavalry Pickets, have been taken up, so that alone would make us, watchful. Now what in the world would I do, with 4 men, against any Force, with the Reserves a half a mile from me. You can just bet any thing, I shall not Fire into a Force of men, if I see I can not hold the Place. I dont risk my life that way.

As to our being off by the Reb’s, by Shooting, I am not in the least afraid of that, that is played out. I have got on my Post Wheeler, a Brother, to Oscar Reynolds Wife & a first rate Fellow he is too & knows his Business.

Did I ever tell you how Co’s were located in a Regt if not I will. Co A F D & C is the Right Wing & Co H E, K, G B, the Left. so you can always tell what Wing a Co, is in.

Tell mother to send me the Recipe for making Fried Cakes the easiest way. I want to make. the way, they make Hoe Cake here, is mix Indian Meat & Water, with a little Salt, & Bake on the Stove Griddles.

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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