Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

March 7, 1863

Camp Hayes
March 7th 1863

Dear Charles

Well Sonnie I have got to go on Picket again this morning, & it rains as usual. I did not want to wait till Monday, before I wrote, so thought I would write a Short note this AM.

We are still in the Land of the Living. On Picket Post no 13, 3 Division

9PM. Well Charlie, I found out I had not news enough, to write a Respectable Letter, so concluded, to wait. As usual when we go on Picket, it commenced raining, & even now, I can hear the gentle Patter on the Roof. (Post Byron). I am again on the 3 Section, the same post where I was on Sunday Last. Tonight it is darker than Pitch, & just one of the nights for a Rebel Raid, or if they want some Guns, to take us Prisoners. But let them come, we are ready.

Charlie, I must beg your Pardon, for not sending you more money, when we was last paid off, but realy [sic] Charlie you must excuse me holding such a Position as I do in the Army you will see, I must necessarily, have a great many expenses. There is some talk of Paying us off, up to the 1st of March. Lieut Green told me today, that we should be paid off, in a few days, & up to the 1st of March. If we are then I shall have $52,00 coming that looks large for a Soldier Boy. when that happens Charles, then I can do better. but before that happens, I want a few more letters from you. why can’t you sit down & write me a long Letter. Now if you never see your Honored Brother 4th Corporal of Co D, you will be sorry you have not written oftener.

Charlie you must excuse this letter, I have got a Big Dutchman Ritter from Lyons (perhaps you know him,) is singing Dutch Songs, so you can imagine how well I can write. Every thing is quiet along the Lines so far tonight.

This morning, after we had been posted, about half an hour, a Big thick set Negro Woman, came to our Post, I will relate her Story. She told the Lieut, that a man had come to her house, & had Beaten, her & Showed us the scars, & Bruises. She wanted the Lieut to go over to her house & order him out. she said it was only, Half a mile just over this (yese) here hill. So the Lieut took 4 men & myself, & we started towards her house. When we got on a hill a little way from our Post, we could see the house full 2 miles from our Post, outside our Lines. Then she said just please [st..] over Lieut it to only 2 miles from here. Here the Lieut hesitated he thought & so did I, that it was a decoy, to get us outside the Lines, but for all that we determined to see what was up, so off we trudged through the mud 6 inches deep.

when we got to the House we asked the Man what was up, then he commenced, his Story was, he was working outside the House, & the Woman (which proved to be his mother in Law) ordered him to do some thing & he refused (telling us he never had been ordered about by a Woman, since he left his Mother & he never would be) so they had some words, & she (his words) jabbed a pair or Shears into him, then he struck her, & I supposed they had a Free Fight, 10cts a Side. Now for the Daughter’s Story. She said one was her Mother, & one her Husband, so she would not [Lie] on either side. she said both was to blame. she had a Girl about 3 years old & the old woman had one 5 years old, the Daughter said, this yere Child (pointing to the oldest) keeps striking this yere Child, (pointing to her Child) & then this yere Child, strikes this yere child, & I wont have this yere Child strike this yere child.

So you see it was a good note on us going 2 miles outside the Lines, to settle a Family Quarrel. We could not settle this. While we were there the old woman wanted us to wait until she throwed his things out. I told the man, if they had another Fight I would hang him to a Tree. The best of all, the woman, said the man was no relation to her, he married her Daughter. So endeth the Dashing Raid by Lieut Green, & his brave followers.

I am going to try & get a pass to go out on the Battle Field, in a few days, then I shall have some trophies. Enclosed I send in this a piece of a Secesh Sergts Pants, same as worn by all.

8 March 1 PM. Charlie, we got relieved this morning at 10 AM, & trudged to Camp, through the mud. I hope you will now take care of the Horse, if you have got one to suit you keep her in good condition, till my return.

give my love to Rosa & tell her I will send her & Maggie a Cross next Letter

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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