July 1863

In June 1863, Spencer McOmber and Company of the 7th Michigan Cavalry L were transferred from training in Grand Rapids to duty with the rest of the regiment near Washington DC. On July 10th, he writes home for the first time to update his family on his whereabouts. As his three July letters indicate, McOmber and his unit were quickly engaged in combat.

It’s July 1863 and General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia are retreating following their defeat at Gettysburg. Union and Confederate forces engage in a series of skirmishes and battles during the retreat. McOmber and the 7th Michigan Cavalry are in the midst of three of these encounters in western Maryland. Spencer describes these battles at Hagerstown, Boonesboro, and Falling Waters in his letters home as well as reporting on the fate of some Michigan soldiers.

McOmber appears to have been in the thick of both major battles and isolated incidents. His letters are a vivid depiction of the experience of combat.


McOmber’s letters will be posted on July 10, July 18, and July 27, 2013.

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