Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

December 5, 1863 – Camp near Union Mills

Camp near Union Mills
Dec 5th 1863

Dear Father

I am anxious to hear from you what to do in regard to Joining the Color Guard. I am waiting to hear what you think of it. I shall do nothing till I hear from you. I do not know as this is a good deal more Dangerous position than in the Ranks, at any rate I am willing to try it. I was ordered last night to fall out with the Colors, in case of an attack, during the night. One Corporal from this Co, must go, & if the Capt asks me to go, then I shall be willing to go. But if he comes & Detailed me to go, then I shall refuse. I have always been the first to do Duty, have done more Duty, than any other Corporal. And this is the pay, I get for it. One reason why I want to join the Colors, is to get out of the Co, I then should have no Duty to do in the Co.

This Regt is getting played out, Officers & men are Drunk all the Time. I have never seen the Col, Drunk, But I have seen the Doctor (Hopkins) Drunk. And then there is our own Capt, he Drinks a great deal lately, He went over to Washington tonite [to] the other Camp & was pretty Tight when he came home. I do not want you to tell of this, to any one, however true it is.

You have no Idea how this Co has run down, since leaving home. Then there is one thing that makes trouble in this Co, that is part are from Sodus & part from Lyons. The Co is divided & always will be. Things look now like the Capt being Promoted, then Green will be Capt. Then Sodus will run the Company. We had Service yesterday afternoon at 3, Just after Dress Parade. They read the Official notice of the Exchange for the first time yesterday afternoon. Better late than never, but we think it had ought to have been done before.

We are now, the 3d Regt, in 3 Brigade Caseys Division. Col De Utassi is the Brigadier. We have not been ordered out on Picket yet, but expect too soon. This is a hot place to go on Picket, as the Rebels, have Scouts & Pickets not far from here. By Joining the Colors, I get rid of that.

I think a great deal of my Pants, they look & wear well. My Diary is just the Thing I wanted I did not know half the things that belonged to me, Did Mother send me a Shirt, I would like to know. I got a can of Peaches & a Can of Plums. The things were used in Common. I think we shall have to fix up Winter Quarters again, I know one thing I shall fix up no more. The Picket Duty here is every 24 hours. & stay on 24 hours to a time. There is no Mail until Wednesday, it goes out every day & after that it will come every day. That is if communication is not cut off between here & Alexandria. And there is but little danger of that, for if it is necessary all of the Regts will Guard the Track.

I am anxious to hear from home

Love to all
Manley Stacey

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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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