“I have been saying all the time that this summer will end it for the working class over their and the socialists are raising the devil now. Anyone would know they are nearly starving to death…”
In his twenty-second 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 his mumps are gone and he’s feeling fine. He’s gotten a letter from his girlfriend, Cleo, and it seems they’ve had a falling out of sorts. Cleo is apparently also upset with her friend Minnie. Les wants Minnie to see Cleo’s letter. He thinks the war is almost over, but fears he will have to go overseas anyway. As Charles Riggle wrote a couple of days earlier, Les talks about how the German people are starving and says the “socialists are raising the devil.” He says the war will be four years old in August, making it as long as any war. He says when he is sent over, he won’t have time to write. Minnie will receive a cablegram. He closes with, “Watch Cleo don’t pull your hair…”
Elsewhere on the same day, the Central Powers recognized the Ukraine Republic as an independent state and the labor strikes in Germany began to collapse.
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-second letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, February 1, 1918.
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February 1, 1918 Letter – Lester Scott to his sister, Minnie Riggle
Recd your letter yesturday and was glad to hear from you. I am feeling fine. my mumps are all gone now. I recd a letter from Cleo to. she says she isnt going back over to No 2 any more. she also says hers and my picture hangs on the wall no more. I wonder if any body cares. She told me of going to church to. she says you did something to her before she left wouldn’t tell what it was. she says if wouldn’t get mad she wouldn’t do it any more. mabe I am not going to tell her a few. I knew you and her would have trouble. you dont need to think I care in the least. tell me all about it when you write. I dont blame Charles M. any. I would of done the same thing if I could. I got a letter from Edd Fisher yesturday to. dont say anything to Charles about what I said. I would like for you to see the letter she wrote. I haft to laugh when I read it. she says she is out all around now. I will bring the letter up when I come home on my pass. she says she hopes to hear for better worse from me. I amigine it will be worse. I am glad to know you are going to have the war to close so soon. I see by the mornings paper that the president says this year will end it. you dont need to be on easy about us going over for a month or so. But I really think we are going over. I have been telling you we wasn’t but I suppose you know as much about the situation as I do. you may not have as much time to read as I do but that hasn’t any thing to do with it. I have been saying all the time that this summer will end it for the working class over their and the socialists are raising the devil now. any one would know they are nearly starving to death. it will be four years next august since the war broke out. that is as long as any ever lasted yest I think you was speaking of Teagarden. I can remember of him saying up at No 2 school house before I left that this was only the begining of this great war. our Chapline was in to see me the other day. he reminds me of Teagarden some. I didn’t know what he could want when he came. thought mabe he was going to give me a honorable discharge. there are two more of our Co. in the hospital now. Charles Lewis and Adam Magner from Triadelphia, and there are eight in quarters not able to work. the people up at dallas must know more about us going over than we do. when we do go we wont have time to let any one know it if we land safe. there will be a cablegram scent back to let you know it. you wanted to know (line missing) and have a good straw tick on them and two wool blanckets and one heavy comfort and no sheet. I will show the style we make them when I come back. I have two pillows too. I suppose Dutch is home now. I got another sweater coat and helmet from the red Cross yesturday. tell Jim I will bring him one when I come out. I guess I have some pulse warmers to I will bring and a helmet. it is fine. I will go to dinner now (will write after dinner)
well I have had my dinner now. had baked beans rice meat and coffee. I sure eat some too. I am not near so far as I was and I dont want to be either. I am about the same size I was when I left. we have inspection every day here. I dont expect you to know what I mean. we haft to have our bunks just so and shaved, floor clean, mess kits shined, and such stuff as that. I have forgot to tell you what the weather is like here. there is about three inches of snow on and warm and cloudy and ice froze all over the trees. I forgot to tell you that Oliver Moss has one side of his face paralized and cant shut his eye. Edd Fisher told me. Edd is on jury now. has to walk to the Grove. the roads are drifted so he said. he saw Tom Conrad sporting his little wife up the street when he was home. it must have been dave. tom hasnt been home yet.
Well I will close this time. will write more soon. you can look for me home soon as I get out of here.
Watch Cleo dont pull your hair
Listen to Episode 30 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.
[Music for February 1, 1918 episode: “Hungarian Rag,” New York Military Band (performer), 1914, http://www.loc.gov/item/00694028/]
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.