“There are big bets up here now that we will never go over. Some think [the war] is over now. Some think it will over in two months. Others think will last two years. Judge for yourself is the way I do…”
In his nineteenth 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 pretty much given up on getting to come home until maybe the spring when the farm boys get leave to help with the crops. He thinks his girlfriend Cleo’s hair might be too short and he’s planning to write her soon. He thinks they may never go over to France. Many think the war will be over soon. He’s spending his time in classes on military courtesy, first aid, and signaling.
Elsewhere on the same day, the Bolsheviks (under Vladimir Lenin), forcibly dissolved the democratically elected Russian Constituent Assembly that was meeting to draft a constitution in the wake of the October 1917 Revolution. This action ensured Bolshevik control of the new Soviet Union.
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 nineteenth letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, January 19, 1918.
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January 19, 1918 Letter – Lester Scott to his sister, Minnie Riggle
Jan 19 1918
will try to ans your welcome letter which I rec’d yesturday and surely was glad to hear from you. I am feeling fine now. we had some snow here last night but it is melting fast today. I dont know wether to ans. Cleo’s letter or not. dont wether she will be their or not. think if she would of cut much more of her hair off she wouldnt have any left. I am certainly sorrow you made so many trips after me but it cant be helped now. I am not able to say yet wether there will be any more passes issued or not. I have been studying wether to come or not. it is such a long trip for two days at home. I am contented as long as a I know you are all well and you dont need to worry about me for you know I will take care of myself. I will tell you about the army life when I come back to stay and it is possible that I will be send back to help on the farm for awhile. there is some talk of it now. you will never need to worry about Jim having to leave for I feel sure there will be no more farmers taken and otherwise do not think they will be needed. there are big bets up here now that we will never go over. some think it is over now. some think it will over in two months. others think will last two years. judge for your self is the way I do. we are have three kinds of school every night now. one is military courtesy another first aid, signaling, and singing. Also I havent saw walter for some time. I have one of the shells he shoots. will bring it out if I come if it should be possible we ever go over. I have a trunk I will scend home. I also have something nice for you to. if Cleo is still their tell her I will write as soon as I know where she is. how is Bill getting along. will close for this time. ans soon and tell me all the news.
give dad and all my friends my best. good by good luck
Listen to Episode 26 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 January 19, 1918 episode: “Medley of Southern airs,” Fred J. Bacon, banjo, 1920, http://www.loc.gov/item/00694032/ ]
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.