Charles “Dutch” Riggle to his brother, James: “Dear sir…”
In his second letter home, dated October 20, 1917, PFC Charles “Dutch” Riggle tells his brother James about the drilling at Camp Lee, how farming suits him better than Army life, how he misses the sounds of the fox hunts, and how everything is overpriced at camp.
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, Battery “A,” 80th (Blue Ridge) Division 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 second letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, October 20, 1917.
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Letter 05: October 20, 1917
From Duch to J.D.R.
Sat Oct 20th 1917
Camp Lee Va.
Mr. James Riggle
i received your letter a few days ago and was glad to hear frome [sic] you an was glad to hear that every Body is able to kick around these lines leaves me in good health and hope when these lines come to hand they will find you the same. we are getting along fine with are [sic] drilling. well abe it was pretty hard for me to get ust [sic] to be a way from home but i am getting ust [sic] to it now it hant [sic] so bad since less an Walter come. we run on to one another every day. Well abe it seemed funy [sic] for me to not be cutting corn this fall. gee who bet i would like to be out there to help husk the corn But i dont expect i will husk any corn this fall and maby [sic] not next fall but i hope i will. farming sute [sic] me better than this job but this job is a job we cant quit when ever we want to. it a good study job while you talk. gee but i would like to heare [sic] a good fox race now. you get the dogs an go out an have a race an listen some fore me and send me the sound of old spud to me in a letter an i will be tickled to death. tom has got old flidge keeping her fore me. mom said oll said she was feeling good. i hant a bit afraid but what she will be well fed. how did the colts stand the work this fall. did you put all of your wheet [sic] in whith [sic] them. are you done carting corn yet. have you got your potatoes all dug yet. how are they this fall. did the corn get very sound this fall. gee i wish i had a couple of bushel of them apples you pick to chew at these [illegible]. apples is 2 for a nickle [sic] here. orange are a nickle [sic] a peace [sic] here. i cant get a bite of any thing here for a nickle [sic]. i going to quit buy any thing here except my tobaco [sic] an stamps. i can only get 2 stamps for a nickle [sic] here. they try to get all of the mony [sic] back of the boys. Walter Toland i think spend his first pay in a coule of days then he wouldnt get much. i glad tom got chrissy to help do the work for he couldent [sic] never done all that work his self. i supose [sic] they are about done cuting. did David worry very much about me coming here. well i will quit for this time for i expect you will get tired of this foolish letter before you get it read. for ever your brother
Battery D 314 F.A.
Camp lee Petersburg Va.
Listen to Episode 5 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 for October 20, 1917 episode: “True to the Flag March,” United States Marine Band, 1922, https://www.loc.gov/item/00694039/]
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.