Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

July 13, 1863

Line of Battle
Camp near
July 13th 63

Drear Father

After I wrote you the other day, from Tilmington we soon halted, & prepared to stay for the night. As bad luck would have it, I was Detailed for Picket, or rather to support Skirmishes.

After Marching an hour or two, we were posted for the night, we staid here until 3 in the morning when we were ordered to advance, as they had moved the line. Yesterday all day, we were Reserve for the Skirmishes & had to keep just so far in the rear of them. In the afternoon it got to be rather Hot, as the Sharpshooters, had pretty good Range of us.

Last night about 9 PM, I was Relieved & on my return to Camp found all my back Mail Which I was very glad to get. I suppose you are very anxious about me at home. well you may be, there is Danger here all the time Both on Picket & Skirmishing. Thus far I have come out all right, & I hope it will continue so. I shall run no needless risks but I shall do my Duty, whatever I do. There will be an awful Fight in my opinion here, if we act on the offensive, then I do not think we shall loose [sic] many men. but if we act on the Defensive, & attack them, then the men will be Slaughtered, by Wholesale.

We have a Heavy Force here & our Line of Battle completely surrounds them. This Fight will be the last for a month or so, Wither we shall win a glorious Victory, & Defeat Lee, or we shall be repulsed & have to fall back & [recruit] up. It was reported yesterday that we had 500 Pieces of Artillery here, We are all satisfied in regard to the result Though we should prefer to starve them out which we know we could do. We have got them Surrounded & they have got no chance to get Supplies. We can hold them where they are. If this Battle will (end) in the Total Defeat of Lee, & I be spared, then I shall feel, fully paid for all my Troubles. I think after the Battle, We shall rest, for a month or two so to recruit the men up, God knows they need it.

I can not tell you [how] glad I am to hear from you, now more then ever. Write just as often as possible. It does me a great deal of Good. You may be sure I shall write just as often as possible. This morning I am nearly tired out but writing home, rests me somehow. Kiss Maggie for me, Enclosed I send Maggie & Rosa a Ring. Tell them I made it for them


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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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