Sept. 14, 1863 we drove the Rebs out of Colpeper


On the Rapidan near Ceder Creek.  on the battle field yesterday we drove the Rebs out of Colpeper.  I just received your letter of the 24th.  one of the Sergts of Co M that left the Rappids with me was shot & killed.  his name is Taber from Scholcraft  he was in the battles of Fort Donalson & Island  no ten & shilow.  & lotts of others.  he got a discharge and came to Kal & enlisted.  Remember my telling you of a soldier that I saw have a fit in the Kal-zoo H—House.  he enlisted with his brother the man that was with Cap Doug—when father first saw him.  stood by when I was sworn into the service.  We have now just now dodged a shell that burst & killed a horse  oh we are going to have a hot time here before we get out.  will answer some of your questions  that Lieut owes me $65.  I helped guard the pay master to the rear.  we will not get our pay untill we get over fighting.  I got that letter you sent to Cap Douglass.  I am better.  my sore throat I got but little cough now & feel fine if we whip the rebs here & we get Charleston the war is over.  I guess we will not fight much today but dont know.  I dont think of more to write now so wait till next time.

S.F. McOmber

Curatorial Commentary:

This undated letter was almost certainly written on September 14, 1863 because McOmber tells his mother that his unit had defeated a Confederate unit at Culpepper, Virginia. That battle took place on September 13. Three Union cavalrymen were killed in the battle, although only one was from the 7th Michigan.

That soldier was Winfield S. Taber, a 22 year-old man from Schoolcraft who had enlisted just 4 months previous. Spencer says Taber had seen action in several other major battles and then re-enlisted in the 7th Michigan Cavalry in May 1863. However, it is not clear from Civil War records that Taber actually fought in the battles that he claimed. Could this be a case of wishful boasting by a young man trying to impress his comrades?

The other odd note in this letter is that McOmber says that a shell just hit nearby, killed a horse, and he expects the unit could see a hot time. But then he closes by saying he doubts they’ll fight today. The short note raises more questions than it answers!

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