"I would like for you to hear the firing we have here. Some are three inch and some machine guns. They make some noise, believe me. The shells weigh 16 lbs, so you can imagine what they are like..."
In his twenty-seventh 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 during a thunderstorm. He's finally gotten a letter from Cleo (his girlfriend). She wanted her "sovallier" [Cleo may have been asking for the return of a lavaliere, a piece of jewelry, as part of the couple's ongoing relationship issues]. He sent it back. He's still on the firing line. They'll be going to Dutch Gap [a canal dug during the Civil War by freed African American workers pressed into service by Union troops] for target practice, and he's looking forward to camping out. The three-inch guns fire 16-pound shells and are noisy. He's spoken to Dutch (our second letter writer, PFC Charles Riggle), who is "happy as can be."
Elsewhere on the same day, the USS Cyclops, a US Navy Proteus-class collier carrying 11,000 tons of manganese ore (used in munitions production) mysteriously disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle. No trace of the vessel, nor any of the 306 crew and passengers, was ever found. No distress signal was sent, and Germany later denied any knowledge of the ship.
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-seventh letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, March 6, 1918.
Digital scans and a transcript of Lester Scott's March 6, 1918 letter can be viewed at: http://www.archivingwheeling.org/blog/from-camp-lee-to-the-great-war-march-6-1918-podcast
"From Camp Lee to the Great War: The letters of Lester Scott and Charles Riggle" is brought to you by http://archivingwheeling.org in partnership with the Ohio County Public Library (http://www.ohiocountylibrary.org) and the WALS Foundation (http://walswheeling.com).
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.
Music: "Porcupine Rag," Johnson, Chas. J. (composer), New York Military Band, 1915, courtesy Library of Congress: www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200035782/
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.