Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

July 19, 1863 – near Snickers Gap, Va

Camp near Snickers Gab Va
July 19th 8 AM

Dear Father

I wrote you yesterday from near Maryland Hights which hope you will get all right. Yesterday morning, we left Camp & marched, over the Pontoons, through the Ferry, & across the Shenandoah, around Lowdon Hights. The Ferry looks a great deal more Desolate, than it did, when we left, everything going to Ruins. I noticed the Engine House, that John Brown Fortified, that is still in good Order. By the side of it, is Thousands of Gun Berrels, the Guns having been burned.

We had a very easy march yesterday resting often. We halted last night, about 4, at one of the Best Grounds we have ever had. The Fields are covered with Blackberries, the creeping Vines I have never seen such a Sight. I picked my Hat & all my Cups full, in no time. You should have seen the Boys, come back loaded, Caps, pails & Hdkfs full. We now are feasting on them. I have put some down in a Bottle that I shall carry to eat on Hard Tack. This day seems to me the nost like Sunday than any I have seen in a long time. I do not think we shall march today. Some of the Boys are visiting Home, some cleaning their Guns, rejoicing on account of the rest. We have all had a good Wash, & of course feel much better. I must confess, I am Homesick this morning, I would give a great deal to go to church, this morning.

I think now we have got to Lee, in a great deal tighter Fix, than we had him at Williamsport. He wants to cross the mountains & get to Richmond, There are two places where he can cross, Snickers & Ashbys Gap. We have got Possession of both these & our Army lays, all along, this side the mountain, between here & Richmond. All I hope is, we shall now clean him out, completely. I am afraid he will get out, however, just as he did before.

I am in hopes we shall get our mail again today & I shall hear from you. Some way or other, I expect a letter every time the mail comes. The last letter I got from you, Mother asked me how bad, my Back was Hurt. That is all right, it only made me lame, for a Day or two. I soon got over that.

As bad luck would have it, I have just heard, we have got to move, I do not think we shall go a great way however, I thought it would be too much good luck, to lay still on Sunday. we are having rather warm weather down here now, when it does not Rain. It rains however almost every day here & had done, every since we left Centreville. I have just heard we were going to Warrenton Though of course, can not tell how True it is, If so we have got some Marching to do. I think we shall keep between Lee & Washington, whatever we do.

I would like to have you send me a Hdkf, if you can. When we get settled again, I shall send for a Small Towel,

7,15 PM Sunday. Instead of our Rest as I expected, we were ordered to fall in & left Camp at 10 AM, we marched about 2 miles, then Halted an hour & a half, for Dinner. We have marched about 8 miles in all taking it as cool as possible for an awful Hot day. We are now, near Snickersville, where that Darky retreated from, last fall, that I captured at the Ferry. This is a splendid Country, through which we are marching, though the People have to suffer. We have, [] Mutton or a chicken every night, for supper. We have also, Wheat to sleep on every night. Not half the wheat is gathered yet.

(ed’s note:  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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