"Well Abe it look like they will haft to do something pretty soon over in Germany. The way the people is doing there, I think the war will close in 2 or 3 month..."
In his eighth letter home from Camp Lee, Virginia, dated January 30, 1918, PFC Charles “Dutch” Riggle, a WWI soldier from Wheeling, WV, tells his brother James “Abe” Riggle that Les (PFC Lester Scott) is in the hospital with the mumps, like a lot of other boys in camp. He says they are practicing on the "big guns," which "do roar when they go off." Though it's raining "like the devil," Charles has never seen a nicer winter. He's impressed that camp is "fixed up dandy," complete with a cement road to hike on, electric lights everywhere, and hot and cold water in the bathhouse. He inquires about the corn husking back home. He thinks the German people are suffering, so the war will have to end soon. Charles is writing on his birthday. He is 24 years old.
In this letter, when Charles Riggle writes about the "way the people [are] doing" in Germany, he is undoubtedly referring to the food shortages suffered by the German people in the months preceding January 2018, during which a quarter of a million people had starved to death. Also as of the end of January, more than four million workers were striking in Berlin, Dusseldorf, Kiel, Cologne, and Hamburg. The German government's reaction was swift and harsh, even as the German military dropped 14 tons of bombs on Paris. Despite its tenacity, the Germany Charles Riggle read about in the newspapers was in bleak disarray and must have appeared on the verge of inevitable collapse.
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, 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. This is his eighth letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, January 30, 1918.
Digital scans and a transcript of Charles Riggle's January 30, 1918 letter can be viewed at: www.archivingwheeling.org/blog/from-camp-lee-to-the-great-war-january-30-1918-podcast
"From Camp Lee to the Great War: The letters of Lester Scott and Charles Riggle" is brought to you by archivingwheeling.org in partnership with the Ohio County Public Library (www.ohiocountylibrary.org) and the WALS Foundation (walswheeling.com).
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.
Music: "Castle Walk," Meacham, F. W. (composer);
Dabney, [Ford] (composer); Prince's Band, 1914, courtesy Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.100010714/
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.