Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

March 4, 1863

Camp Hayes
March 4th 1863
6 PM

Dear Father

I received your kind note of the 28th, this PM, & will answer.

Well we have had no Fighting yet, & I do not think it looks any more like it now than it did a week ago. there are Rebels around us, I know as we keep taking Prisoners, one or two at a time every night. I do not think there is a large Force, nearer than Warrenton, that is 22 miles from here. Yesterday & today, we have seen or heard nothing new. they have had the best chance in the world, to come in here for the past week, if they wished too. We send out Reserves, every night, all around us, to prevent surprise, so I am no more afraid of their riding right on us, unawares.

Today had been a very cold & windy, the most unpleasant day in a long time. This morning at Co Drill, we Drilled in Skirmishing. I wish you could see a Good Skirmish Drill, it is the most exciting Drill of all, & when well done, looks well. The object of Skirmishes is to prevent surprises, & when a battle is expected, they are always through out. the Drill is mostly, in Firing, then laying on the Back to Load, then Springing to the Feet, Firing &c. Co A & B, is the Co’s that generaly [sic] do the Skirmishing, but all Co’s are Drilled in it.

This PM, we had Review given too Major Knapp, of the 9th Artillery then Drilled in Firings, with blank Cartridges. It was awful cold, I thought at one time I had Frozen my Fingers. I believe the Col would Drill us in 6 feet of Snow. The Col Lieut Col, & Major Knapp, was all [Fight], so they put us through. Tomorrow I expect to go on Guard, & saturday on Picket.

I do not think what the Col told some of the Boys will come true. He said we should either whip or get Whipped like H-ll. We see no right for it now.

I have not need the Barrel yet, nor do I know when I shall. I have been waiting, to see whether, we are [driven] from this place or not. I should hate to get the Things here & lose them. I shall get the things just as soon, as the QM, brings the Express Boxes again, probably some time this week. I could get a pass for Alexandria & get it myself but I do not want to go to that expense. I was a little Disapointed in not getting some money tonight, but suppose you did not get my letter in which I asked for $5,00, until Pay Day.

We hear nothing this week about being Paid off, though I think we shall get it soon.

Philip Clouse returned to the Co, last night. He looks a great deal better than I expected he would. he will not be marked at all.

I hope you will receive the Record all right. I suppose you will not find anything interesting in my Diary, as I have written home most of it.

I wrote you the other day, about a man being Shot in the 125th, for Running the guard. I was mistaken. One of the guards was handling his Gun very Carelessly, & aimed it toward the Sergt, thinking it was not Loaded. The Gun went off, Shooting him through the Head. This afternoon was his Funeral, the whole Right wing of the Regt, following him to his resting place. One thing I liked to see, the Col & Major, in the Procession.

I spoke to the Color Sergt, to day, about my being in the Color guard, & told him if there was a Battle he might depend on me for his right hand man. He said he wanted me, with him there, as he knew me. I think when the Col, makes the Detail, I shall be all right.

I would like to have you send the Revolver, for poor as it is, It [will] afford me some protection, especially on Picket. the I can sell it if I want but for more than I gave for it. It is not Emery Cloth that I can buy, for 5cts a Sheet, But emery Papers, & very poor at that.

I never shall ask a favor of Capt Holmes, never, nor will I ask for a Promotion. If he says anything to me, then I shall, not with out. I am too much of a Stacey for that.

I received the Envelopes in the Paper. If you come here to see us, if you let me know I will come to Alexandria to meet you, & show you around.

there is no Denying that I have felt a little timid about going into the First Battle, who would not, seeing so many Guns pointed towards you; But for the past few days I have got over that, & have rather wished for a Fight. there is one Great trouble with this Regt, They Lost Their First Battle, that makes a great difference; had we won the first Battle, we could then go into another with a great deal more courage.

I agree with you in regard to L Dreyer’s making the trouble between Lyons & Sodus, in the Co he is the man.

I have got quite a cold again, my Lungs feels quite sore. I shall soon get over that, however. If there is anything you would like to know, any Questions to ask, I wish you would tell me. I try to write about everything, but think I forget some things

[2]5th. Nothing occurred during the night. Hope to hear from you soon

Love to all

Manley 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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