"Somewhere in France...It's is a nice country alright. It's no wonder the French is fighting so hard for it."
In his sixteenth letter home from Camp Lee, Virginia, dated June 22, 1918, PFC Charles “Dutch” Riggle, a WWI soldier from Wheeling, WV, tells his brother James “Abe” Riggle, in a letter addressed "Somewhere in France," that the weather is dandy and that he likes France just fine, but he's not sure how he will like it when he gets "into the scrap." He says the "trip across the pond" was a long one. Les got a little seasick. The Germans are getting about all they want now. He hopes to finish the war in time to make the rabbit hunt in fall.
Elsewhere on the same day, a horrific train wreck occurred near Hammond, Indiana when an engineer fell asleep, allowing his locomotive to crash into another. The Hammond Circus Train Wreck killed 86 people, many of them circus performers, in one of the worst such disasters in American history.
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 Battery F of 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 sixteenth letter from Camp Lee, dated 100 years ago today, June 22, 1918.
Digital scans and a transcript of Charles Riggle's June 22, 1918 letter can be viewed at: www.archivingwheeling.org/blog/from-camp-lee-to-the-great-war-june-22-1918-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 Valse Classique," [Europe, James Reese] (composer),
[Dabney, Ford] (composer), Metropolitan Military Band (performer), 1916, courtesy Library of Congress: www.loc.gov/item/ihas.100010721/
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.