Lester Scott to Minnie Riggle: “How are you all…”
In his third 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, inquires about seasonal activates at home, in this case, the annual corn cutting and rabbit hunting. He also talks about the relatively new phenomenon of electric lighting and details some of the drilling, training, and educational activities taking place at the camp. The content of this letter is a good example of a typical American soldier’s letter home regardless of the era. From the Revolutionary War through the present – the familiar is what is most missed.
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 letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, October 8, 1917.
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Letter 04: October 8, 1917
How are you all. I am just fine. got your letter yesturday [sic] and sure was glad to hear from you. how is jim getting along with his work. suppose he has some corn cut by this time. the corn was cut down here Before we came here. have you been having any rain out there. it has just rained one day since we came here. it gets hot here in the day and cold at night. you was asking if we had any lights here. at night we have electric lights and the buildings are so close together that they make lots of light out side. I will send you some pictures of the place as soon as can get some. there are new Buildings going up every day. I am getting along fine drilling. we had foot drill and body exersise [sic]. today we had three squads. one was the awkward, and the dumb, and the good. I got to stay in the good, and Carter also the Lieutenant put him out of ranks the other day and I told him he was rotten. I have learned more in the two weeks I have been here than I did all the time I went to school. you can take up history or geography or any thing you want. I have signed for penmanship. it does not cost anything. I take that in the evening. Walter has took up type writing. I guess dutch is going on the carpenter gang. that is a pretty good job here. him and I are going to take a walk next Sunday. he seems as well contented as any one here. he has [illegible] rubbing snuff he chews now. tell jim I dreamed that I was showing him how to shoot rabbits last night. I guess they are plenty here. I guess your potatoes must of turned pretty good. tell jim not to be in to mutch [sic] of a hurry to husk his corn. mabe [sic] I will be out to help. well I guess this is all so good By. ans soon.
your Big Brother
Supply Co. 314 F.A.
Petersburd [sic] VA; Camp Lee.
Listen to Episode 4 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.
Jeremy Richter is the voice of Lester Scott. 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.
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.