Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

February 26, 1863

(written in the top margin)
It is reported that we have got [1500] Cavalry here

Camp Hayes Centerville Va
Feb 26th 1863
6,30 PM

Dear Father

Well we have had no fighting yet, though we are hourly expecting a little Brush. It was reported this morning that there was 13 Regts, of Infantry, but a few miles from here. 40 of our Cavalry were taken Prisoners, last night. We do not know whether there is any thing more than Gurillas, probably there is. To day about 7 Regts came in from Washington. They were all Cavalry. To night they are going out on a Scout, then we shall know, whether there is any thing up, or not. Tonight, all the guards are Doubled & Strengthened, all seem to think we shall see some fighting.

Well if they do not come in the night, we shall not care as much, but if they come on to us in the night, we shall have some fun. We are so Situated that, we can be very easily cut off, from all Reinforcments. The Rebs can come right around our Pickets & rush right in on us, if that is done then we must look out. If they make a Raid here, I think they will come, between us & Union Mills, & Fairfax Court House, so as to cut us off, Then we shall have to Fight, as there will be no chance for Falling Back. From present appearances, you need not be surprised to hear the 111th Regt, are taken Prisoners again. We can not hold this place, against a Large force, there is only 3 Regts of Infantry & 12, 6 [P…s], of Light Artillery here, If they make a Dash here, they will most likely be backed by Artillery & Infantry. Well Time will Show. They are posted in Regard to this Post, we have passed men, out & in our Lines, all the Time. And then we have Secesh any quantity of them, living around here.

There is but little news in Camp, except we are to be mustered Saturday, & paid off, next week, if the Rebs do not disturb us. Last night the right & Left wings had a Battle, with Snow Balls. the Lieut Col Comanded the Left, & the Col the Right. After some pretty Sharp Shooting, the Left succeeded in, out Flanking us, & soon drove us from our position. Had our men kept together there would have been no trouble to Holding our Ground, but they scattered too much. The Officers of both wings, were out cheering the Boys on. The Col says he shall have this, out yet. We are to be Drawn up in Line of Battle, in some field where Snow is plenty, & the Col says he will Shave the Head of the first men that runs. We had the best time last night that we have had in a long time. When this comes off, we shall have, a good time. It would have been today, but it rained too hard.

They have changed out Time Table a little. Now Revilee, is at 5,30 AM. I have Call at 545, Sick Call at 6 AM, Breakfast at 6,30, guard Mounting at 8 AM, Co Drill from 9 to 11AM. Dinner at 12,30, Battallion Drill from 2 to 430, Dress Parade at 5 PM Tattoo at 8 AM [sic], Taps at 8,30. This gives us a 1/2 hour longer at night, which we are glad to get, but we do not fancy, getting up at 5,30 AM. Sunday we go on Picket again.

Tell Charlie I have got a nice Song for him, I will send it in my next.

One of out Lieuts of Co G, I believe, was out on Picket last week, & at night, he took 2 men & went around to the Posts, to see, if the men were doing their Duty. He came up to Post, & when challenged, who comes There, answered a Rebel, he then marched up to the man, & had the 2 men with him Aim at the man on the Post & told him to Surrender, or he would Blow his Brains out. This so frightened the man, that he gave up his Gun. I would like to have, that Lient, answer me so, when challenged, I would shoot him, If I was shot the next minute. They have got the man in the Guard House now, & are going to Court Martial him. I made a mistake in the Time Table, that is to be it, after the first of April.

Feb 27th 8 AM. Well we have had no Fighting yet. A squad of Cavalry went out last night, to Build bridges over at Bull Run Creek, so to take our Artillery over. Is is reported, that the Cavalry & Artillery are to advance, if so we shall go to support them. Well Time will show, what is to be done.

Today we shall be busy all day preparing for the Inspection, tomorrow, by Genl Hayes. I am rather anxious to get the Revolver, it will be nice thing, on Picket, or in a Hand to Hand fight, if we ever are in one.

well I must close
Love to all


I will write every day, till this war is over

M T Stacey

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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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