Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

May 14, 1863

On Fatigue Duty
near Centerville Va
3d Brigade, Abercrombies
Division, 22 Army Corps
Defense of Washington
111th Regt. NYSV
May 14th 1863 4 PM

Dear Charlie

Having a little liesure time, I thought I would write the long promised letter, Subject Soldiers Duty. This is an old Subject, but it will bear writing about. Now I suppose you want the whole, so I will commence, at Revilee, First we are awakened by the Drummers Call at 4,45, which is for them to turn out & beat the Revilee, then the Revillee is beat, when every man that is able, is expected to answer to his name. There is no evading this for if a man is absent, it is known, & a satisfactory reason given, or he has to Police the Streets, or do some extra Duty, if it is reported then he is Reported to the Col,

Immediately after Revliee, we have to shake our Blankets, & (if the weather be not storm) hang them out to air. At 5,30 Police Call, to sweep the Streets, & in front of our Tents, then woe be to all offenders, for that is their duty. 5,45 Sick Call, When the Sick & those desirous of being excused wend their way to the Doctors Tent, where their Portion of Quinine, is dealt out to them. It is here you see the long faces, Were a Stranger to step in at this time & judge the Whole Regt, by these, he would think there was hardly a disease, but what was represented.

At 6 AM Breakfast When we Draw our Rations of Coffee & Hard Tack. And once in awhile Pototatoes & meat, just to let us know, that such things, are in use. From 6 to 7, those that go on Guard, Black their Boots, clean their Brass & Buttons, & rub up their Howitzer Guns a little. Those on Picket, get their Rations of Pork, Coffee & Sugar, & Roll up their Blanket. 7 AM Guard mounting, when the Guards Amunition [sic] & Arms are Inspected, & the Guard are Reviewed by the Officer of the Day.

8 AM Co Drill, by [ ] of the Commissioned Officers, now Principally in Skirmishing. 10 AM Recall from Drill. Then the boys amuse themselves as they choose till 3,45 When the Drum Beats for Battallion Drill, we then march out to the Parade Ground, form in line of Battle, Present Arms to the Col, then Drill, for an hour & a half. 5,30 PM Recall from Drill, which strange to say we are never sorry to hear. 6 PM Dress Parade, we Form in Line of Battle, Present Arms to Col & go through a few movements in the Manual of Arms, we then are brought to an Order Arms, & stand at the Position of Attention, while the Orderly Sergt, report the Co, whether, all are present, or have many absent. The Officers are then called to the Front & Center & the Parade is Dismissed, we then are marched to Quarters.

6,30 PM Supper Hard Tack & Coffee. 8,30 Tattoo, or fall out, with Haversacks, with 3 days Rations, & Canteens filled with Water, ready for any thing during the night. 9 PM, Taps when noise cease in Quarters. Now I have given you a little history of one day, which will apply equally well to all,

Now for Amusements. First, & I am sorry to say it is Card Playing, which is carried to a fearful extent, The excuse is, just to pass away time, then Reading, everything in the Reading Line, is eagerly sought for, Then Playing Ball, Rough & Tumbling, Foot Races, Walking around the country, & calling on the Boys, for a few moments chat, on the War & [Diverse] other subjects.

On Picket it is Draw all you can & live well, make things pay as they go. Talking about Drawing, that seems to be the motive everywhere, the Boys seem to think, a man can not be a Soldier, unless he can Draw, that is the Army word for Stealing. But we have a little variation

(editor’s note:  this may be the end, or the rest of this letter is missing)


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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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