Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

September 25, 1863

Barracks No 3
Elmira Sep 25th

Dear Father

Since I wrote you last, we have had several changes, all the old Detachments have been organized into 4 Co’s, & now have Roll Calls in the morning. Co Drills for 3 hours a Day. In fact, the Col has got the strictest kind of Dicipline [sic] in Camp.

It looks but very little now like, going back to the Regt, I have heard several of the Officers say, that we should stay here most of the winter. I hope not for it is a great deal worse here, than in the Regt, the Boys are all anxious to go back for they know they are better off, in the Regt.

I am in hopes this thing will play out, I can not see what would keep us here all winter, unless they have another Draft.

There is no signs of our getting our Pay. I do not know the reason, unless, it be through the neglijence [sic] of our Officers. If I do not get my pay, I shall have to send home for 2 under shirts the same as I wore on the RR, & pair of Boots. It is awful cold, in our Barracks today, Have to lay in bed to keep warm

I will write you as often as anything occurs

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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