"You were wanting to know if I ever play the violin. I sure do. Some of boys come up from the infirmary with a violin and banjo and guitar. We have regular old stag dances..."
In his twenty-sixth 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 surprised to learn of the death of Bill Riggle. Les has been firing guns at the target range all week. He hasn't heard from Cleo (his girlfriend), but says he doesn't care if she doesn't write anymore. A soldier named Harry Crow has deserted. Les thinks he'll be caught, court-martialed, and executed or imprisoned for life. Les wishes he'd enlisted in the cavalry or the Marines. He plays stag dances with his violin. Another soldier plays the banjo and another the guitar. He'll visit home when he finds out when he'll be sent to France. Those who say it's unconstitutional to send the boys overseas are badly mistaken, Les believes. Dutch [Charles Riggle] is doing fine. Les is off to a "big entertainment" at the YWCA.
Elsewhere on the same day, a Treaty of Peace and Amity was signed between the Finnish Social Republic of Workmen and the Russian Federal Soviet Republic. This was part of the Finnish quest for independence launched the previous December and the Finnish Civil War between the "Whites" (conservatives) and "Reds" (socialists, inspired by Russian Bolsheviks). The Whites would prevail.
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-sixth letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, March 1, 1918.
Digital scans and a transcript of Lester Scott's March 1, 1918 letter can be viewed at: http://www.archivingwheeling.org/blog/from-camp-lee-to-the-great-war-march-1-1918-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: "Castle Valse Classique," [Europe, James Reese] (composer),
[Dabney, Ford] (composer), Metropolitan Military Band (performer), 1916, courtesy Library of Congress: www.loc.gov/item/ihas.100010721/