“Guarding is the only thing I don’t like in the army. I tell you a fellow get lonesome tramping the post…”
In his fourth letter home from Camp Lee, Virginia, dated November 24, 1917, PFC Charles “Dutch” Riggle, a WWI soldier from Wheeling, WV, tells his brother James “Abe” Riggle, about how several infantry men (including a Wheeling friend named Walter Toland) were moved to a new barracks, giving Dutch and brother-in-law Lester Scott (our other letter writing soldier) more room. Dutch notes that it has snowed and is cold for the first time since he’s been in Virginia. He talks about his disdain for guarding a barn full of mules (Lester was a mule driver), a lonely duty. Dutch seems to prefer washing dishes and peeling potatoes on KP (kitchen patrol). He reminisces about fox and raccoon hunting and speculates about whether he’ll be home for the holidays before crossing the “pond” to France.
Charles “Dutch” Riggle was drafted into the US Army in 1917 and trained at Camp Lee, Virginia, where so many Wheeling draftees and volunteers—including his sister-in-law Minnie Riggle’s brother, Lester Scott—were trained. Dutch Riggle was a Private First Class in the 314th Field Artillery Supply Company, in France. Riggle was a farm boy with little formal education who grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He spelled many of his words phonetically. His letters have been transcribed exactly as they were written. This is his fourth letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, November 24, 1917.
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November 24, 1917 Letter Home – Charles Riggle to his brother James Riggle
November 24, 1917
Camp Lee Va
Well abe i thought i would ancer your letter which i received to day an war glad to hear from you once more an was glad to know that ever body is well an gitting along good. well abe i am getting along as good as ever an feeling fine an injoying my self fine. well abe dont blame me for not ancering this letter. it was 8 days on the road. i just got it this eving. well abe there was a bunch of men move out of are barack the other day an we got lots of room here now. there was about 60 of them went up in the upper end of camp in the inferty. me an les are still where we was but they took walter toland up there to. well abe it start snow for the first time this morning. it was pretty cold today for i was on guard last night an to day. i got pretty cold with out my over coat an gloves on. i was guarding a barn last night that had 46 mules in it an maby you think i was afraid of them mules. i had to pas through once ever half hour an count them. guarding is the only thing i dont like in the army. i tell you a fellow get lonsome tramping the post. there was 25 of us on guard an we had 8 post to guard. i was on guard two hours an off for hours. a fellow get plenty of sleep. i was working in the kitchen to day. i had to wash diches & pans scrub the floor peel potoes. there is only 125 men in are bunch now an we have a good time good bed good fire to sit around an tell tails. well abe i think i will be home some time in next month. they are going to give all the fellow fur lo. i think if i know I wouldent haft to go the france I wouldent come home but i dont know that i am going to come an be sure of it. i want to have one more fox chase before i go across the pond for i wouldent have much time over there to fox hunt. i am anious to see ever body out there. any way $30.00 is some money to spend but i dont care for that. i give that much to hear a good fox chase. we get paid for the time we are gone and you see that will cut the expense down some. i dont know wheather we will haft to pay full fare or not. i think some of the fellows is going for thanksgiving an some for xmas and new years. i recond you are done husking corn by this time. i herd you lost a dandy hog. i would like to be out there. we would take a coon hunt. are they any coon out there this fall. is there any fox at the point now. well i will quit for this time an tell you all the news when i come home. i have a sack full of news to tell youns. good by
Chas E Riggle
address Battery F 314 FA camp lee PettersBurg Va
Listen to Episode 13 of “From Camp Lee to the Great War: The Letters of Lester Scott and Charles Riggle”
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From Camp Lee to the Great War: The letters of Lester Scott and Charles Riggle” is brought to you by Archiving Wheeling in partnership with the Ohio County Public Library (Wheeling, WV) and the Wheeling Academy of Law & Science (WALS) Foundation.
Vince Marshall is the voice of Charles Riggle. The letters of Lester Scott and Charles Riggle were transcribed by Jon-Erik Gilot. This podcast was edited and written by Sean Duffy, audio edited by Erin Rothenbuehler with music courtesy the Library of Congress.
[Music in November 24, 1917 episode: “Bugle Call Rag,” Metropolitan Military Band, 1915, https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200035785/]
Many thanks to Marjorie Richey for sharing family letters and the stories of her uncles, Lester Scott and Charles “Dutch” Riggle, WWI soldiers from West Virginia.