Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

November 26 to December 3, 1863 – Mine Run Campaign

Camp on the Banks of the Rapidan, opposite Germania Mills
Nov 26th 5 PM

Dear Father

I wrote you a letter this morning, but as we are advancing, I will write often. We left Camp at 6 AM, & marched, about a mile, when we rested for half and hour, Then we got the News, of Grants Victory, Our Brig Genl called us in line, & made a short speech & told us the News, & called for 3 hearty Cheers, you had better believe, we yelled. We then marched to within, 1/2 a mile of Germania Ford, when, we laid in a Hollow, for 2 or 3 hours, while the Artillery got in Position, to Shell the Rebs, out if necessary, The 1st Division of our Corps, crossed as soon as the Pontoons were laid & advanced in the Fortifications but found nothing. We then Crossed the River about 4 PM& are now laying in mass, near Lees Rifle Pits. He had a good Position, but could not hold it, as we could get a Frank Fire on him.

We are now, in a little different Country, this is Splendid Country, compared with Centerville. I do not know whether we shall Advance to Richmond, or any other place. the Cavalry say, there is no Rebs within 20 miles, if here. But I guess we shall find them. This is pretty late in the year for such a movement, I think.

Nov 27th 5 PM. Well we are in for it now. We left Camp, at 7,30 AM & marched, through a very large piece of Woods, to the Gordinsville Pike, where our Advance soon commenced Skirmishing with the Rebs, we marched, on top of a nole, where we have been Skirmishing, ever since, & at times very lively. The Rebs are just ahead of us, on another Hill in a very thick Pine Woods. We can not tell how large a Force, there is ahead of us nor do I think we shall advance on them, until, we know, what they are doing.

Our Artillery has been talking to them some today, but got no answer. This makes us very Cautious, we are afraid of Masked Batteries. Tomorrow I think the Show will commence. We will then know whether they have any Batteries or not. We have thrown up a Temporary Breast Work, today but are afraid,we shall not Profit by them. We never yet had a chance to Fight behind Breast Works, so do not know, how it will work. We have got some Heavy Size Guns, now in our Corps, some 32 Pdrs.

2.30 PM 28th. Last night all was quiet, this morning at 5,30 AM we were relieved by the 1st Corps, we then fell back, a few rods, we then got Orders, to Advance, to act as Reserves, for the Skirmishes.

Genl Hayes, called on the old 3d Brigade, to follow him & we did Through, underbrush, weeds & everything else. We drove their Skirmishes, about a mile, through a thick woods, When we came out, we saw the Rebs, all Drawn up in line of Battle, on a high ridge, about 3/4 of a mile from us. We could see their Batteries, & line very plain. We are, now getting in Position & waiting for the Ball to open.

The Rebs have got the advantage of us, this time, they have got a better Position than we had at Gettysburg. One thing is certain if we are the Attacking Party, we are Whipped here. We have go our hands full, & we know it. We are waiting anxiously, to see how things will turn out. Our Co is all right so far, I hope I can say so, tomorrow night. Sunday we must Fight again. It has rained today, or we would have been in it today. Our Line is about 3 miles, from Orange Court House.

It was reported in Camp yesterday, that our Papers had come from Washington approved, that we go Home when the Campaign is over.

5 AM Nov 29th. All was quiet last night, I slept well, but dreaded the morning work, All the Boys around the fire, at night, were talking about [war] , I hope all of Co D, will be around the fire tomorrow night. Barney could not be persuaded, but that he would be killed today. This morning at 4,30 AM, we got up & cooked Breakfast, at 6 AM we were Relieved by the 5th Corps, & Marched back to where our First Line was, where we now lay.

We are in the Reserve for [once]. On some accounts, this is a good thing & on others, it is rough. For instance if the right of the Line is pressed hard, we will have to Double Quick it there, or the Left, the same. Where our 2nd Line, was, was called Chestnut, here it is called Locust Grove. Today it is Cold & Cloudy, & will soon Rain, I think we shall soon have a 3 Days siege. Last night we drew Rations, so we again have 5 Days on hand & one day in the Waggons. If we should get Defeated here, we can easily fall back on Fredericksburg where we can give the Johnies fits. Today the 6th Corps, has Volunteered, to storm the Rebs Hights & fortification, I am glad it is not us.

I saw the English Officers yesterday, who wanted too see a Battle, I saw them get out of the way pretty lively too, when the Rebs comenced Shelling. They think the 2nd Corps, is about right, so I heard. My Opinion is some thing will be done, on this Campaign, the Johnies will not Fight unless compelled too, but now is the time, that they have got to Fight, or Die. If we Fight here, I think we shall if Victorious, follow them up, & go in again.

The only thing that troubles us is, we get no Mail. When it does come, we are all right.

1 PM Nov 30th. Well now I can write a Different story, instead of our being Reserves yesterday, we were soon sent, way to the left of our line towards, Hanover Court House, When we started, we thought, we were going to Fredericksburg, but it soon turned out, that we were trying to Flank, them. We marched very quietly, no loud talking, or noise, & through the Woods, most of the way. We Halted at Oak Shade Church for an Hour, a very pretty place about 10 minutes South of Fredericksburg. We then came up, to the line on a Double Quick. While we were Planting our Batteries, the Johnies Shelled us a little, but did no Damage.

It was last night an awful cold night. We nearly Froze. This morning at 2, 45 AM, we were called up & Ordered to be ready for a General Engagement, at 8 AM, & be ready to move. We got our Breakfast, & 20 extra rounds, of Cartidges, About 6 AM we marched, down behind a thick piece of Woods, & but a short Distance, from the Rebs, B, works.  Here our Division was massed, the 1st Brig, ahead the 2nd & then 3d. The Officers then told us, that we had got, to charge, their Works. It seems the Whole Line, was to make, the Attack, together & to charge all along the Line. This looked like an awful job to us, the Rebs had B Works, with Artillery Posted so as to Rake us all down. It would have been, a 2nd Frederickburg. I began to think about making my will. We have not charged their Line yet, though expect soon too. We have got now just 117 men for Duty in the Regt, who will go into the Fight. I am now on the Picket Line, & can plainly see, the Rebs, walking about, with our Blue Clothes on. They are all the time working & getting ready for us.

Dec 3d 7 AM. Well we are home again, Alive & well.

I was relieved, from the Skirmish line, on tuesday at 2 PM & Came to Camp, there I found that the rest of the Troops had fallen back, all except our Division, they had been Parading around, to make a big Show.  At 8 PM, we got Orders to be ready to move at 8,30 PM We were to Cover the Retreat, our Brig [Centre] of Divis.  Of all the Marching we [have] done, this was the Worst,  We marched out on the Fredericksburg Plank Road, & all thought we were going there.  Yesterday morning we Crossed the Rapidan at Culpeper Ford, & laid a few hours for rest,  We left there at 2 PM & arrived at our old Stockade Camp, near B Station about 7 PM, comletely worn out. 

This morning I feel awful stiff, & lame.  Officers & all think this is to be our Winter Quarters.  Well on this Campaign, we have run a great deal of risk & been exposed some, but we are all right yet.  This Retreat right from in under the Enemy Guns, & lose nothing but a few Men, taken Prisoners, is a big thing. 

We have had no Mail for a week, so shall wait anxiously for the Mail. 

Barney Francisco, & 2 more of our Boys have not come up yet, they were on the Skirmish Line, were not relieved until after we started, so had to follow up in our Rear. 

Hoping to hear from you Soon, With Love to all

Kiss Maggie for me

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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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