Newark Dec 7th 1864
My Dear Mother
I have received no letters from you in about two weeks and can not think why you have not writen. I have writen twice since I received your last letter. are you all sick or what is the matter. I am pretty well with the exception of a hard coald. I still am writing for the Dr and am feeling pretty well. there were about 90 went to the Front today. I am at present reading medicine in all my leasure hours & have a splendid chance for I have axcess to all the Book I wish. They say they intend to make a Dr of me. I have been wishing for some time to visit some of the Disecting rooms in N. Y. City & I guess I shall go Saturday evening & see them Disect all night. We had a man die in our Ward last week of Pnumonia he was sick only 4 days & all from the effects of a very hard cold. the Dr is examineing the Hospital today & will be tomorrow for —- Discharges but says I am all-together to usefull a man to Discharge. I have had a present of a very fine set of chess men & boad by a lady of Newark for favors I done the ladies on the Thanksgiving day when we received our big dinner. I also received the compliment of being a Gentleman evry way & evry inch a Soldier. Well all I did for the above ladies was to show them around the Hospital & introduce them to our Dr & dance with them in the Ballroom for after the dinner the officers, and a few favored ones, had the music, & Lades, all to ourselves until the preformance was over. Well I have just been & Called the Roll of the 5th Ward & it is now Nine oclock evening at 11 I shall start with the Medical Cadet & the Officer of the day & visit all the Wards in the Hospital & evry bed in the wards which will take till 1 oclock & I have this to do every other night and am busy all day long so you see my time is all occupied some nights though I get time to visit the Theater or some lecture here in the city or to go to N. Y. I go to Niblows Gardens in N.Y. to theater as it is better than the New or Old Bowery. I some times go to Van Amburgs Menagerie for they say that this Winter it is better than it ever has been before. I have a splendid Gold ring & a black one with a gold Dimond set in it —- which I am keeping for Sombody & Probally always shall Keep that I got Thanksgiving & guess I shall send one home next letter. Well dont know of much more to writte if I did I have not got the time to write it so I guess I will close. Please write as soon as you get this & tell why you could not write before. tell sis to be a good girl for I am going to send her something nice one of these days. So good by. from your Aff Son
S. F. McOmber
Chief Clerk in
Ward Genl Hospl
Newark N. J.
P.S. Direct letters as before.
Ward 5 Ward Genl Hosp
Newark N. J.
Curator’s Comments: This rather lengthy letter from Spencer starts with a complaint that he has not heard from his mother although he claims to have written several letters. His health is good except for a cold. Then, Spencer opens up and describes his life at the hospital in Newark. What a different life it is than he has talked about in earlier letters.
McOmber has become so deeply involved in the medical care at the hospital that he is considering visiting dissecting rooms in the New York area. With access to medical books, he seems to be suggesting that he might make a career in medicine, perhaps as a doctor.
Spencer then reveals that, perhaps as a result of his role in working with the hospital’s doctors, he was able to attend a Thanksgiving dinner and dance. He so impressed the ladies that one of them gave him a very nice chess set.
When he is not working at the hospital, Spencer has free evenings to go into New York to attend lectures, theater (Niblo’s Gardens), opera, or Van Amburgh’s Menagerie. And for someone who was struggling to find the money to buy underwear and boots in late October, McOmber now boasts he has two fine rings, a gold one and another with a diamond setting.