Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

September 23, 1863

Barracks No 3
Elmira Sep 23d

Dear Father

I have just returned from New York having left here, on Friday last. We left here friday night at 5 PM, & went as far as Susquahanah, where we had to lay, until Saturday afternoon at 2 PM, owing to the Track being washed away. We arrived at Jersy City, 10 PM, Sunday morning at 6, when we took the Ferry, for NY. We got back from the Island, at 1 PM & left the City, last night at 5 PM. We had 11 Guards & 92 men mostly Substitutes. We got through with, out losing but one man though we had a considerable trouble as they were Determined to break the Guard.

Now with regard to a book you said you found, that I left at home, I now [sic] nothing in regard to this book, I am no such a man, I have something better to do than go to anysuch places. I have never been guilty, of any such thing as you accuse me of. I can not imagine how I ever had such a book for I am sure, I have never seen it. Now I want this to settle it, I never have been guilty of any such thing, I think too much of myself.

It is reported here, today, that we are all ordered back to our Regts, & that we shall leave here, in a day or two, I do not know how true it is, but I am going to make sure of it, by sending to Francisco, for the things I am going to take back. If we do not go now I do not think I shall be able, to come Home again. Furloughs & 3 day passes are played out. I shall be glad to come, but am afraid I shall not be able. Things do not look now, like our staying here, I think we shall get back in time for, the next Fight, I do not think we shall get our pay here, I am afraid it is played out.

I shall hope to hear from you soon

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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