Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

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

About these transcriptions

There are somewhere between 200 and 225 separate letters in this collection. The majority of the letters are written on pages of about 8-1/2 by 11 inches, on very light weight paper. Most are written in pencil and are faint to read.

Most letters are dated, however there are several undated portions (probably separate letters to other family members, which had been included in the same mailing of other letters of the same dates) which have become separated.

There are also several fragmented pages that have become separated. Some of these can be reunited with the main portion of the letters from which they are separated, by their content, and/or matching similar paper and writing, when possible.

The letters were removed from their envelopes years ago. Only two detached envelopes remain in the collection.

The letters are now stored, in order of date, in archival plastic sleeves and in binders to minimize handling and allow reading.

All letters are being scanned one at a time at a medium-high resolution of 300 dpi, and stored digitally. This resolution adequately captures all details, and allows for good print reproductions.

From those scans, the visual contrast is enhanced (in Adobe PhotoShop) to make them easier to read, and those are also saved digitally.

The transcriptions are being read from those enhanced scans, and can be enlarged on an illuminated computer screen, which greatly eases reading the documents.

Reductions of 20% of the original scans are also made, in the interest of saving space, and those are the facsimiles that are posted on the web pages under the text transcriptions.

The letters are being transcribed verbatim. For example, misspellings are left, upper and lower cases used as in the letters, periods and commas also as in the letters. Stacey often used commas in the place of periods, and also employed commas in abundance in non-grammatical usage, but these indicate where he may have paused in writing down his thoughts, and can therefore enhance our insight while reading these letters.

There are many individual words, or letter portions that are difficult or impossible to make out. In a few instances, this is because of extreme fading or damage to portions of the document. When a word cannot be read, a blank space is left inside brackets [ ]. When a word or phrase is guessed at, it will be written inside brackets “[guessed phrase]“. “[sic]” is used to show a misspelling or such is not a transcription error. The letters mostly lack paragraphing, probably to save space on the paper, so to make them easier to read here I have created paragraphs where it seems they should be. I have also added periods where they are missing at the obvious ends of sentences.

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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."

The Letters

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