Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

July 16 & 17, 1863 – near Maryland Heights

Camp near Maryland Hights
1 mile from Harpers Ferry
July 16th 8,45 AM

Dear Father

I suppose you will be very anxious to hear from me by this time, but I have positively had no time to write before. I think the last I wrote you, was when we were in Line of Battle near [Hagers] town (Hagerstown). I am in no mood to write this morning, I have been too provoked. The [performance’s] of the past few weeks, has completely upset me.

I was in hopes, the Battle at Gettysburg & what would soon follow, would finish the Rebel army of the Potomac. Talk about the Army being in fine spirits, it is a Lie, They are all discouraged. I am played out. If there is an Honorable way of getting rid of Marching & Fighting I shall do it. If I had thought, this was the way it was going to end, I never would have marched as far as I did. There we were with double his Force, had him Surrounded & had 500 pieces of Artillery. All we waited for was the Order to Advance. But no, that would not do. At 3 AM, the morning that Lee crossed the last of his Force over, we were called up, & stacked our Guns, they were afraid we would be attacked. Then we had been laying 4 Days, the Enemy crossing all the time. They kept up a Strong Skirmish Line, to deceive us. The Fortifications that they had thrown up, amounted to nothing at all.

We left the Line of Battle at 11 AM, yesterday morning on the 14th, and marched nearly to Falling Waters, where we Camped for the night & drew Rations. Yesterday morning at 6, we started again, for the Ferry by the way of Sharpsburg. It was awful warm, I saw men Drop out, that were Sun Struck. We halted last night, about a mile from the Ferry, on the Ma side, & this morning marched opposite the Ferry, though did not cross the Pontoons. The place looks natural. We have now Halted, a little off, the Frederick Road, about a mile from the Ferry. Most likely we shall remain all day, then where no one knows. I heard we were to cross at Point of Rocks, but of course can not tell. I am Just about played out on Marching now, & shall soon stop.

I should not be surprised, if we yet turn up at Centreville. I do not know what Mead intends to do, or what he can do now, I have lost about 15 lbs since We left Centerville, & am about half starved, for a good meal, Hard Tack & Coffee, is hard feed, to march on.

I am in hopes, we shall get our Mail today & the Clothes we want. I want you to write just as often as possible, & I will do the same. Do not think I have no time to read Papers, for (I) do & very glad to get them.

Give my love to all


July 17th 7 AM
As good luck would have it, we do not march today. It is raining hard & is of course very pleasant, in Cotton Tents. Yesterday we drew, 3 Days Rations & the Clothing. This morning I am going with Green to help make out our Muster Rolls, at a House near here, I shall get my Dinner by it, which is a great deal now Days. I am in hopes we shall soon get our pay again. I shall not promise how much I shall send home, When a man is marching around the country the way we are, he cant live on half Govt Rations.

Hoping ro hear from you soon

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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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