“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.
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February 11, 1918 Letter – Lester Scott to his sister, Minnie Riggle
at Camp Lee
Feb 11, 1918
I rec’d your letters this evening. I got back from the hospital today and I am just feeling fine. I weigh nearly as much as I did before I went to the hospital. there were six letters here for me. two from Cleo, one from Charles Gettings, one from Vincent F, two from you. Mrs. Fisher sent me a pair of wristlets. they are fine. I was over to see Tib Merriner this evening. he said Dutch started home yesturday. Well Boss I dont think I will come home. one of our Boys started home yesturday to his Brothers funeral and got as far as Washington, DC and had to come back. the trains were running so you see there wouldn’t be much use for me to start. I might get their but it would take all my time on the road. Boss every fellow that has been home yet says they wouldn’t go home no more on a five days furlough. I dont want you to think hard of me because I dont come. I certainly would like to see you all but I am just contented fine here as long as I know you are all well and I think you should be the same with me. I have been telling you the truth of everything and I just got treated fine at the hospital. had lots of fun to. the boys were all glad to see me come back. I think nearly every one shook hands with me. believe me I have plenty of friends here. I dont know what would make Bill Riggle talk that way. he is nothing but a baby anyway. I hear they are going to move us to Pennsylvania somewhere. we hear so much here we cant tell. if we do I will come home then. I see by the paper we wont go over before summer because they cant furnish no transportation to get us over. I believe it is true. Cleo is trying to appoligize now but that dont go with me. I would like for you to see the letters she wrote. they remind me of the notes the Kaiser used to use to the president. I may write to her once more. well I guess I will close for this time. you can watch for a package from me soon. will send you your present. dont get mad because I dont come home. keep in good humor and work good. you will see me home sometime when you are not expecting me.
I forgot to tell you we are having fine weather here. I will start to driving mules now.
will write more soon
Excuse writing as I have a lot more to write
watch for good news
Listen to Episode 32 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 11, 1918 episode: “Castle’s half and half,” James Reese(composer), 1916, http://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.100010715]
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.