Money. If there is one word that describes the primary theme running through Spencer’s letters during October. On one hand, he writes that he has not been paid and is anxiously awaiting pay. He is so poor that he has no money for a stamp or paper on which to write to his mother. On the other, he reacts defensively to what apparently are his mother’s requests that he send money to her as he had promised.
A second theme is McOmber’s health. He is still assigned to a hospital in Newark where he has spent the past several months. Although the injury he suffered when he fell in front of a wagon seems to have healed, he complains of both malaria (the ague) and tuberculosis (consumption). He spends his time dispensing medications at the hospital while awaiting reassignment to his unit.