“Cleo is trying to apologize now but that don’t go with me. I would like for you to see the letters she wrote. They remind me of the notes the Kaiser used to [send] to the president…”
In his twenty-fourth 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 that he’s out of the hospital, feels fine, weighs the same, has lots of friends in camp, and probably won’t be coming home. A five-day furlough just isn’t enough time. He hears they might be moving the troops to Pennsylvania. They won’t be going overseas at least until summer. Les got two letters from Cleo, who is trying to apologize. But Les isn’t buying it. Minnie will see him when she’s not expecting him.
Elsewhere on the same day, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a Joint Session of Congress, assessing the Central Powers’s reaction to his Fourteen Points, and adding what are now known as the “Four Principles,” which included “adjustments as are most likely to bring a peace that will be permanent;” “that peoples and provinces are not to be bartered about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were mere chattels and pawns in a game;” that “every territorial settlement involved in this war must be made in the interest and for the benefit of the populations concerned;” and “that all well-defined national aspirations shall be accorded the utmost satisfaction that can be accorded them without introducing new or perpetuating old elements of discord and antagonism that would be likely in time to break the peace of Europe and consequently of the world.”
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 twenty-fourth letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, February 11, 1918.