Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

March 10, 1863

Camp Hayes
March 10th 1863
8,30 AM

Dear Father

I little expected another letter last night from you but read none.

Yesterday morning one of the Biggest things of the War, happened at the Post. On the Fairfax Road we have reserved Pickets posted every night it is not a [reg....] Picket Post, but Reserve Pickets are posted every night, as they are on all the roads around here. The force on these Roads is about 24 men. Yesterday morning the Lieut having charge of the Reserve Picket on this Road, came in to Camp, before 4 AM instead of waiting, till after Revilee at 530 AM, as he had ought to have done.

It seems that, that night, a Squad of Rebel Cavalry, between 25 or 30, went to Fairfax Station, rode up to a Camp, rode up to the guard, threatened to shoot every man if they made the Least noise, or did not Surrender. They then captured Brig Gnl Stoughton, & Staff, & got the Countersign, from the Generals Pocket, for 4 or 5 days ahead, they then got about 30 Horses, rode from there till they came to our Reserve Picket Post, where one man crept up, & watched us, so that just as soon, as the Pickets left, they rode within 20 Rods of a Fort close to the 39th Camp, near enough to be halted by them. They then rode right around our Pickets, Posts No 1, 2, 3, being halted by every one, but paying no attention to them, they rode through, between two Posts, & so on, through to the Braddock Road, where, they went into their Lines.

This was a pretty thing all around, what made it worse, for us it was our Regt, that was on Picket. The Lieut, that had the charge of the reserves, will be Cashiered. If this Lieut had attended to his business we would have had them cornered, this was the only way for them to get out, & we would have had them certain. These Cavalry were dressed just like our men. This has caused a great deal of Excitement in Camp, to think we have been so foolish. I think the North will own up before long that the south is more of a Match for them, in Skill & Planning. Who ever heard of our men doing this.

There is nothing else of any interest going on in this Camp. I have not need the Barrel yet, do not know when the Teams, will go for them.

Yesterday I acted as Sergt, all day, much to the Chagrin, of Brothers Hutchins. Probably you know old Eldridge, that the Papers made so much fun about his bringing Whisky to our Camp, he has got his Son discharged, & says he does not want his boy in the Regt. If we had done right, we would have Drummed him out of Camp. I should not think Crowl, would have cheek enough to come to Lyons, I would not. He is a Regular Slink. You will never find me Home [as] such a Discharge.

Well I have no more time to write. Love to all

Manley

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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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