Newark. Sept 2nd 1864
My Dear Mother
I think I will write you this morning a few lines. I do not get better very fast but still think I am on the gain. I understand there is to be a General examination of the Patients this morning to send to the front our Surgeon in charge here it is found was connected with the Gen Hammond who was Surgeon General since — removed from his office & dishonorably Discharged. & now they have sent Dr Taylor to Washington to be examined by Court Martial. Yesterday there was an inspection by Gen Dix’s Staff and Medical Directors of the Department of the East. Those who do not go to the front today will muster Tomorrow under Dr Mills our future Surgeon in charge. I play chess evry day & can play better than I ever could. I can beat any one in the Hospital. I have a chess book I am studying when I feel well enough. Saturday Night. Tonight I feel pretty well. I have been out on a short walk in the city. There was a light Collaps (as we call it) on the rail-road bridge here today. The draw was opened for a scooner and she knocked the draw off of its foundation. I was on the bridge at the time & we made some tall tracks for shore you may imagine but no one was hurt & all the damage done was the delay of a couple of trains half an hour to fix the draw. We have not yet mustered I do not know when we will. Sunday Morning. It rains this morning and it feels very refreshing. Today as it is — Sunday the Dr’s think they will have us mustered as thay can not afford — to spend time week days as that might intefere with some pleasure plan of theirs so they take Sunday to save time & trouble to themselves. I think I shall open a Diary on the 1st of next month & continue It for one year. of course it will begin on or about the time I leave for the front. We have some very fine sights — from the Hos – looking on the river at the ships sloops sconners & skiffs that are all the time in motion some very fine Steamboats & tugs are here all of the time. I wish sis could be here for a short time. she would see in one day enough to talk of for a month. I can think of no more at present so good by. Write soon
This is from your
S. F. McOmber
Curator’s comments: Spencer’s first September letter is his longest. He touches on several issues.
First, there has been some shake-up of the medical staff at the hospital where he remains a patient. A new superintendent has been appointed and the previous director has been court martialed. Spencer’s mother was probably as confused as the modern reader is about the reasons for this turmoil but it appears to have some political motivation.
Spencer offers some account of his time. He has become a very good chess player and studies up on the game in his spare time. He also describes an accident when a ship hits a drawbridge which he and some friends happen to be crossing. Spencer escapes injury although they all made quick tracks to get off the bridge.
Spencer also discusses his thoughts about starting a diary. In the meantime, he wishes his sister were with him to see all the boats and ships that are visible from the hospital.