Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

June 22, 1863

Camp Hayes Centerville
June 22d, 6,30 AM

Dear Father

I received your letter of the 17th yesterday & will reply this morning. I thought you would be in great deal of excitement at Home, so I wrote every day.

Thus far Hookers move has made but little difference to us, but my oppinion [sic], is there will be an awful Battle Fought, here on Bull Run. Everyone seems to think the Decisive Battle will be Fought There. Yesterday morning at 4 AM we were called up, to pack our Knapsacks, & get two days Rations in Haversacks & be ready to move at 6 AM. We left about 6, with 2 Days Rations, all of our Picks & Shovels, & our Ambulances.

It turned out that we were to Build & protect the Bull Run Bridge not the one you saw, but a Stone one, on the Warrenton Road. After laying there 2 or 3 Hours, we were Ordered back to Camp, except Co A, they were to stay & protect the Pioneers who were Building it. While we were laying out there, the Chap & Quartermaster, went out around to Reconoiter a little, & were driven back, We have got a big note on them, their making a charge on the Rebels. 5 Reb Cavalrymen, came up on top of a hill, not more than 3/4 of a mile from us, & watched us through their Glasses, Just as Cool as you please. There was some awful Fighting at Thorofare Gap yesterday, we could hear the Canonading, very plain, We are anxious to hear the particulars, as there is any quantity of Rumors in Camp. This Gap, is only 15 miles from us, so you can tell, how plainly we could hear it.

About 12,000 Cavalry & mounted Infantry, passed through, here, from Washington, In my Opinion, there will be an awful Fight this week & we shall have a hand in.

Our Corps, the 22d, is now the Reserve for Hookers Army, so if he meets with no Reserves, we may not get in the Fight. I will write every day, as long as there is any excitement, The Ladies are all in Camp yet. I am glad to get, your Rock Dems for the Socal [sic] news, if nothing more

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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