About Manley Stacey
Manley Stacey was born October 29, 1842, which would make him nineteen years old at the time of the first letter. A Corporal in the Union Army, he served in the 111th New York Volunteer Infantry, Company D. Stacey was a mechanic by trade and lived in Lyons New York.
Manley Stacey was typical of most soldiers fighting the Civil war – on both sides. He was not a storybook hero, or a high ranking officer. He fought at Gettysburg but did not die in that battle or in any famous battles of the War, and would have certainly been completely forgotten, like most other soldiers of past wars, if his family had not preserved these letters and a diary which he wrote simultaneously (and which has found its way into the Pearce Civil War collection at Navarro College in Texas). Stacey didn’t seem to have deep awareness of what the whole War was about. He joined because, like young men in that and other wars, he may have thought it would be an adventure.
There are no great revelations in these letters. There is no great prose, and are no profound insights. Likely nothing will be gleaned here that will be news to historians about an event in American history that has been more exhaustively researched than any other.
However, what these letters do offer, because they are, in effect, an almost daily diary, is a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a soldier in the Civil War. Not valuable for any individual letter, the collection, taken as a whole, has its value in being able to offer us a perspective and a window into the daily life of an individual in his time and place. These letters tell an “every man” story. What is presented here is simply history unvarnished.
According to records extracted from the Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1903 , Stacey was accidentally shot and killed on December 26, 1863.