Dear Brother . . .
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. Dutch, who arrived in Petersburg, Va. on September 21, 1917, sent the below letter home to his brother James following his first week in Camp Lee.
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Letter 02: September 29, 1917
Camp lee VA
September 29 1917
I recived [sic] your letter an was glad to hear from you. I am well an feeling fine to day. we have no drill today all we have to do is to eat an look around on Sunday. we have nothing to do on wendesday [sic] after noon an sat I havent done a day labor since I came down here. less an walter toland came in last monday. they are not in the same barrack that I am in. they seam to be injoying [sic] there self fine. have you cut any corn yet. are you done sowing wheat yet. are you have good weather out there. we only had one little rain here since i came. how are they getting along over at home with the work. i supose they are done sowing wheat. i wrote home the same night i did you but I havent got any ancer [sic] yet. they are playing foot ball out in front of are barack today. I tell you it is sport to get out on a drill. we had only one march yet an it was only about 2 mile of a hike. some days we have nothing to do only clean up the yard. I am in the field arterly [sic]. this is the 3 in gun. it take six horses to draw one of these outfit. the job i got is taking care of 2 of the horses an driving 2 of them. this is not a very danger job you know. we pull these guns up to the firing line an take the horses back about a mile or to. the people down here think we will never haft to go to france. i sined the pay roll this morning an we will get are money nex week. we only get about $12 or $15 the first pay. it easy money but i would drather be back out in the West Va hills cuting corn an running foxs. how is my dogs a looking. are eats is all rite except the decert an they wont give us any sugar for it. you know how it is without it. has tom got any body to help cut the corn yet. did he try to get carter when he was out. if he cant get any body you better husle up an get yours cut an help him out. i will send money an he can pay you.
Say hello to West an Senda.
the Y.M.C.A. furnish us in writing paper pencil pens ink. they have a good time over ther at night.
Listen to Episode 2 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 September 29, 1917 episode: “Castle’s Half and Half,” James Reese(composer), 1916, https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.100010646/]
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.