Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

June 27, 1863 – Edward’s Ferry, Md

Edwards Ferry Md
3d Brigade, & Division
2nd Army Corps, Co D 111th Regt
June 27th 1863

Dear Father

I suppose you will be anxious to hear, from me by this time, so I embrace the first opportunity, of writing a letter.

We left Centerville, at 3 PM for Gum Spring, the order, for our moving to Thorofare Gap, having been Countermanded. After a pretty good march, of 9 miles, most of it through the Rain, we arr about 6 PM. We then pitched our Shelter Tents & prepared for the night. By this time it had settled into a steady Drizzling Rain. I had just got settled down, for a good sleep, being pretty tired, when the Orderly came, around, saying Stacey, Detailed for Picket tonight, report with 5 men. You can imagine how pleasant this was, to a man tired out, Raining hard, at 10 oclock, at night. About 11 PM, we left Camp, & after a great deal marching, was posted, at midnight.

This was one of the, most interesting, nights I have ever spent, sitting under a Tree, in a thick woods, wet through, & through. We marched to Camp, the next morning about 7 AM & found the Regt had struck Tents & were about to move. I just got had time to make my Cup of Tea, when we had to fall in. We marched, about a mile, & halted to let the Artillery & Baggage Trains, pass us, We left then at 11 AM. for Edwards Ferry. Distance 12 miles. This was the roughest days march I ever had, my Feet, got Blistered, so I could hardly step, & if it had not been for the kindness, of the Chap. & Dr Vosburg, I could not have got through. They both helped me along, on Horseback.

We Pitched our Tents, at Goose Creek, about 6 PM, & Bunked in for the night. At 10 PM, we were ordered to strike Tents, & get ready to move immediately. It was reported that, a Rebel, force was in our Rear, & were coming up, so we were ordered to cross the River. After a long & tedious march through the Thickest mud I have ever seen, & over the Pontoon Bridge, we arrived at the Ferry, from there we marched about 3 miles, arriving about 3,30 AM, Here we Camped, & I can tell you it took us but a short time to lay out Blankets & get to sleep.

This morning at 9 AM we were ordered to fall in, for Inspection, to see that the Guns, were, in Fighting Condition, then we fell in again, for a march, We marched about a mile, upon a hill, we are at present laying. I think we shall lay here until Monday, unless something turns up. We can not tell however. From here we go to Frederick City, from there no one knows, where ever the Fight is. Yesterday they told us all along the Line, that Lee had crossed over the Road, with a large Force & is now on this side the River. A Capt told me this morning that, our Corps & the 6th were Hookers Reserve & would be kept, in the Rear of the Army. Hooker now is in the Front, of Lee & we are in his Rear, there is also a Rebel Force, in the Rear of us.

The next letter, I shall write, about the Fight most likely, for I think we shall soon have one & a desperate one at that. I suppose you have heard [   ] this of our Troops leaving Centerville & Burning up the Church, with the Property turned over to be stored. You will not hear from me as often as formerly though I shall write as often as possible & shall be more anxious to hear from home than ever before. I shall keep you posted in Regard to our movements. Marching is now the Order of the Day, & we are on it.

Our Corps Badge is now, a Clover Leaf, I shall send home a Pattern & get Mother to make me one, our Color Blue, Red, for the first Division. White 2nd, Blue 3d.

We are now but a very short distance from Balls Bluff, so we can see it plain. The Gurillas are following, up our Army, & picking up the straglers & paroling them. If we stay here, today, I think we shall get some Mail. I think I shall write my letters, like a Diary, a little every day, then send it when I can.

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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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