“I will wait and see if I have to go to France but I have begin to think I will never get to go over…”
In his ninth letter home from Camp Lee, Virginia, to his sister Minnie Riggle, US Army Wagoner (mule team driver) Lester Scott, a World War I soldier from Wheeling, West Virginia, writes about his dinner of fresh pork and tomato catsup, how hot it remains in Virginia, his mule driving prowess, the insurance he plans to purchase in case “anything should happen,” how he has quit smoking cigarettes in favor of his pipe, and how easy he has it around camp. Interestingly, he asks Minnie what she thinks of the Germans “surrendering” to France. This could be a reference to the minor French victory at La Malmaison in late October 1917, during which the French forced a six-mile retreat of the German 7th Army, which suffered twice as many casualties as their opponents. The Germans recaptured the position a few months later.
Lester Scott was drafted in 1917 and trained at Camp Lee, where so many Wheeling soldiers were trained. And, like so many of his Ohio Valley comrades, he served in the 314th Field Artillery Supply Company, Battery “A,” 80th (Blue Ridge) Division in France. This is his eighth letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, November 18, 1917.