Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

March 2, 1863

Camp Hayes
March 2nd 1863

Dear Father

Now I have got some News to write, so I will commence where I left off, on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, we had Review & Inspection by Col McDougal. Saturday night I felt very tired, but could sleep but little. At midnight I heard the signal Gun at Union Mills, & knew immediately that it was an alarm. By the time our Long Roll was beat, I was in Line, No 2. We had orders to sleep with our clothes on, & the Commissioned Officers had orders to keep awake all night. Genl Tyler Telegraphed to Col McDougal, to keep a good look out, that the Pickets were Fighting at Union Mills.

The Rebs opened a Battery on us at the Mills, but we soon silenced that. we turned out in the Rain & marched East of our Camp & Formed in Line of Battle, & expected every minute to see the Rebs come on to us. We all expected a Fight, but was Disappointed. About 2 AM, we marched back to Camp & to our Quarters, with orders to be ready to turn out, at a moments notice. the Regt never Turned out, better, than that night. They got out in less than 3 minutes.

Yesterday we went on Picket, at Post No 13, in some Rebel Barracks, used by the Rebs last winter, when they had possession of this place. It was a very good Position the Banks of cub Run, a Stream that Runs, into Bull Run. Yesterday we could see the Gray Backs, their Army Wagons Rebel Cavalry, also their Signals with a Red flag. There was a House about 3/4 of a mile, from us, that had been seen waving a red flag. a Woman, had been seen, to come to the Door, & wave the Red flag, towards the Rebs. the officer of the Day, went over to this House, when we reported it to Him. He asked the man what he was doing with a Red Flag, said the Children, played with it. Very likely story. He gave us orders if we saw the Flag again, to take 6 men & go & search the House & take him to Camp.

Last night, we could see Red & White Signal Lights, & could hear the Army Wagons moving. There is no Doubt but that there is a strong force of Rebs in Front of us, & that we shall have a fight before long. Genl Tyler, said all he asked of us, was to hold the place 2 hours, & he would get 50,000 men here. You can bet, we shall do this, if Col McDougal, leads us. Commissioned Officers, have orders not to sleep, nights, but to be up & ready.

Tell Charlie that I have got a Secesh Cap, the I shall send home, if I can get a chance. Today I got a Soldiers Record, which I shall send home. I do not think you will think I wasted a $1,00 on it. when it is Framed it will look very nice, especially in years to come. I got a Letter & two papers from you this morning, on my return from Picket. I got the Receipt, for the Barrel, all right. I shall be very glad to get the things & hope we shall not have to surrender & lose it. I do not know when I shall get it as a Commissioned Officer, has to sign a Receipt for the Boxes. I shall most likely get it this week. As quick as I get the Barrel, I will write.

I shall spend no more money, for Revolvers or anything else, I have quit that. There is one thing I have forgotten, to send for, that is some small [Figgurenes] like this. Letter D & NY, also [Figgurene] 111. We have just got the orders to pack Knapsacks, & clean up our Guns, to be ready to retreat at a moments notice. Something is up, that certain.

6,30 PM. The Col has just come out in a Scout with 40 men. If I had not been up for 2 nights past, I should have gone. I had a talk with Green to night, & he wants me to write truthful account of things here now, for the Benefit of the Boys Friends at Home. Now I have nothing to do this, but you may if you choose copy what you see fit, & hand it to Frisby.

Green says, there is a force of Rebels in Front of us, & that our Cavalry have a little Skirmishing with them, once in a while but what makes me think there is no particular danger is the 5th NY Cavalry, passes thru here, to night, en route for Fairfax Court House. now if there was any particular Danger, they would be kept here. The Fact is, there is a Force ahead of us, some of which have been Seen. If we are attacked here it will be to get our Supplies not to get possession of this place. This position can be of no possible use to them, therefore, we think Supplies is all they want.

There will be so many Stories written home by the Boys, that no one can believe them all. One thing is sertain, we are not afraid of being cut off, every thing that can be done, by officers & men to prevent a Surprise, is being done. One thing we can rely on, anything that can be done for our benefit, & to hold the place, will be done. We have orders to night to have our Knapsacks packed, & Haversacks with 24 Hours Rations in, also Canteens filled with Water. I will write you every day, or as often as possible till this Row is over, as I know you will be anxious to hear.

It will be a pity if we have to make an advance, & I have to wait a month for the barrel.

Just as I am writing, this we heard a Gun go off, as a Gun fired off now, is a Signal, so it makes us very watchful. It turned out to be a man Shot in the 125th, for Runing [sic] the Guard, or going through the Lines. I have just learned that one man was Shot, & another was wounded. So much for Disobeying Orders.

Do you think I would be concerned in any of the Drawing Scrapes, from the Sutler & others. As long as I have been in the Service, I can say I never have been Guilty of Drawing the least thing. You asked me who Drew the Candles, from the Capt’s Tent, Al Hunt, was the Man, that did it, I knew he did it, & had him reported though did not do it my self. Now you say, you do not think I have done my Duty, In not reporting the Boys, when in a Scrape. Now which is the worse to have the Blame rest on your Shoulders, or to get the Ill will of the whole Co, by reporting them. I tell you a man must consult his own interests, a little here. I got the Ill will of 2 men once by reporting them, while on guard though I was compelled to do it. Then I made up my mind to turn my head, when anything was going on wrong, rather than, report anything.

I have the Credit of being the most watchful while on Guard on Picket & have the best Instructed Reliefs. The Lyons boys all want to fall out with me, on a Picket Post.

The Boys have just returned from the Scout, & report, that there is a large Force, to the north East of us. Probably they intend making a Raid on us. The Battery Boys took a Rebel Baggage Wagon to day.

the reason why I did not send any thing by Mr Baker, was he was going to Newark, instead of Lyons. I should like nothing better than to be one of the Color Sergts, but I am afraid the Capt will not consent. If I can work so as to get the place, before the Capt returns, I shall do it. If we have a fight I shall fall out as Color guard. I would rather trust myself there then in the Co, under Green.

Capt Holmes being Major is played out. Capt Lusk of Newark, is major the appointment was read on Dress Parade to night & Well, I can’t think of any thing more to write to night, so will keep the Letter open till morning, so if we have a fight, I can write about it. I have got my Knapsack to pack yet to night, so I shall not be able to write to the Children. You can give them my love.

Mar 3d 8 AM. Nothing occured during the night,, except a very heavy rain. Probably that made a difference. I do not know why, but we seem to expect a Fight, more at Night than any other time.

I wish you would send me a Watch Key in a Letter, as I have lost mine I send the Record with this, & hope you will be pleased with it. I shall have to get a Cheap Frame, to put it in.

Now you can see a specimen of Sodus work, Charles Pulver, was Discharged before these were printed, & yet he is put down as 4th Corporal. His name has not been called on the Roll, for 3 months past. Well I know of no more news to write

Love to all


Tags :

No Comments

(will not be published) (required)

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."

The Letters

Recent Comments

Friends and supporters