"What has become of Cleo?"
In his thirty-fifth 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, says he's done some excellent firing at rifle practice, hitting four bulls eyes from 100 yards left-handed. Then he got seven out of ten hits right-handed. They have to shoot different distances from different positions. He shoulder was sore the next day. He got 18 out of 60 total shots in the bullseye. Les is unsure if he'll get that furlough. Les now has a helper who has to do whatever Les tells him. He talks too much. Les says Jim is welcome to wear any clothes he left behind. Les wants to know what has become of his girlfriend Cleo.
Two days earlier on May 16, 1918, the U.S. Congress passed the Sedition Act, which prohibited "any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States ... or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy." A serious challenge to the First Amendment, the Sedition Act was repealed in 1921. Elsewhere on May 18, 1918, British planes made air raids against German towns and a TNT explosion at the Aetna Chemical Co. in Oakdale, Pennsylvania killed 200 people.
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 thirty-fifth letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, May 18, 1918.
Digital scans and a transcript of Lester Scott's May 18, 1918 letter can be viewed at: http://www.archivingwheeling.org/blog/from-camp-lee-to-the-great-war-may-18-1918-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: "Hungarian Rag," New York Military Band (performer), 1914, courtesy Library of Congress: www.loc.gov/item/00694028/
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.