Head Quarters 7th Michigan Mounted Cav.
Camp on the Battle Field of the Wilderness
My Dear Mother.
I have not heard from you for some time and I suppose you have not heard from me as the mail is closed. Today is the morning of the 8th day fight of the Wilderness, and things going in pretty lively I should say by the noise. I left with the Reg our camp south of Colpeper 8 days ago and we came to Chanslerville & from there we came out into the wilderness here. We lay on picket the first night & in the morning at 10 oclock the Rebs charged on us and passed the 6 Mich but got stoped when they run into this Reg & the 1st. We then charged the Rebs 3 times and I had my horse stumble & nearly broke my leg there were some 75 in our Brigade killed & Wounded I then came back to our train where our dismounted boys stay & I have been here ever since day before Yesterday the Whole Cav-corps of this Army started for a Richmond raid to connect with Buttler & the 9th Corps follow up to hold what they gain. Where they have taken Hanover, C./ & 7 miles from Richmond. We have taken 4,000 prisoners & I have seen them and the fighting has been terible. they fought from 11 ½ oclock last night until now 7 ½ oclock in the morning & I guess by the way the canon roar they wont stop now. the fighting is almost insesent night and day. Maj Gen. Sedgwick commander of the 6 corps is killed. our Wounded go the Fredricksburg & from there come our supplies. the Rail Road from Washington to Culpeper is abandoned & we have no rear for the trains keep up within a mile or so of the Heavest fighting. the Rebs have whiped us some days & some day we have Whiped them & we have on the whole driven them some 6 or 8 miles but no one knows which will be best in the end. I guess we stand a good chance for this morning there will be 25,000 fresh troops here from Wash and old Seagel lays over to our right & has not fired a shot yet. I have been pretty lame but am getting a little better. I think it was the leg I was hurt in & so it was worse. Oh if you could only be here for a few minutes to here those heavy guns & then the Voleys of musketry and all keeping time. we call it the Ball & say in the morning the Ball is commensed! it sertainly is playing ball on an extensive scale. I have seen a good many wounded men & some that have not had their wounds dressed. last night I saw Sixty Ambulances filled with wounded go by. I suppose that before you get this you will know more about this fight though than I do. I think if we conquor the Rebelion is crushed. if not they are independant. I would not wonder if the train moved to Fredricksburg today that is the Cav Train. It rained last night & yesterday in the afternoon we had a shower which is all the Rain we have had yet a most singular thing for they say when the army of the Potomac moves it always rains. I guess we are going to whip & that is the reason. I must close now so good by write soon.
From your Aff Son Spencer F. McOmber
Curator’s Comments: Spencer’s first letter home in May reflects an individual soldier’s perspective on a major battle. He writes from a camp on the Wilderness battlefield, underlining the word. Civil War enthusiasts will immediately recognize that Spencer and the 7th Michigan Cavalry are engaged in the massive Battle of the Wilderness involving several hundred thousand soldiers in the two combined armies. Spencer is well aware that this is a major battle but all he can see is what is happening around him and, as he writes, it is terrible. He says he has seen sixty ambulances go by.
McOmber can see and hear the scope of the battle even if he is really unaware of the overall situation. It is so immense, his first major combat, that he believes that the outcome of the battle may well determine the outcome of the war. That, of course, did not happen. He closes the letter quickly when it appears an order to move out has been given.