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John W. Keller
Sgt.
16th Infantry U.S.A.

"When we first arrived here at Cerralon last August the 11th, there were some two or five hundred lancers lurking around this neighborhood waiting for an opportunity to give us thunder and rub it in, which made us keep our eyes skinned..." 17 Feb. 1848 Sgt. John W. Kelle, Mexico


[This is the transcript of a letter from John W. Keller to his brother, Frederick Hiram Keller of Lititz, PA.When J.W. says "unconscious of anything that had happened or was then going on" he was again referencing the issue of his conduct that caused him to hastily leave PA. His brother Hiram, to whom this letter is directed, later moved to Williamsport where he was a carpenter and served two terms as mayor in the 1880's]

CERRALON, NEW LEON,
MEXICO
FEBRURY 17 1848

Dear Hiram,

I received your welcome letter in due time and was happy to hear of your health, etc. Your occupation may suit you very well, probably you need a little "sweetening" occasionally. It may be your intention to follow it for a livelihood, it is a profitable business and you may do well at it. I am sorry to inform you that I cannot give you anything worthy of communication, nothing of importance has transpired since we have been at this place and I do not believe that there ever will be another regular battle in Mexico, we may have some little guerrilla fighting occasionally, but not shortly, because there are no Mexicans on this line that will fight, or they would have attacked us long since. When we first arrived here at Cerralon last August the 11th, there were some two or five hundred lancers lurking around this neighborhood waiting for an opportunity to give us thunder and rub it in, which made us keep our eyes skinned. Well, one evening about 5 O'clock sometime in Dec, the alarm was given that 400 lancers were within half a mile of us. Well, we all flew to arms and in two minutes we were ready for action. Every American not belonging to our army in Cerralon armed himself and waited the attack. Two companies of Rangers and two of Infantry went up the road to meet them while the remainders stayed in town to defend our commissary stores, etc. As it happened, there was a train coming in from Monterrey that evening and they had attacked that about one mile from town and succeeded in driving off some sixty pack mules. But when our Rangers came in sight of them, they fled taking what plunder they could and making their way into the Chaparall. But our brave Yankee boys pursued them so close that they let all holds go and left everything behind. So that was the last of the fight at or near Cerralon.

All I can tell you now is that we are here, inactive, and doing nothing and anxious for peace or war, one of the two. But I had rather hear of an honorable peace, than to receive any present whatever because I am tired of this inactive life and would be glad to change it and what is more this miserable hot country. The filthy Mexicans and their ignorance. I do think that if ever I return to the states again I shall thank myself fortunate and will try and stay there. I always was fond of curiosities and I had a desire to come to Mexico and try warfare, to see what virtue there was in soldiering.

But my word for it, I found none and shall never forget the twelfth of April 1847, the day I bound myself to Uncle Sam for "Daring." I will here add, that I would not advise you to follow my example in that respect, for if you do you will surely rue. But if I should be so fortunate as to return in three or four months from this, I shall never regret my trip to Mexico for it will be worth more to me than I would have made in the States in the same length of time.

You have no doubt heard that Gen Scott is recalled and I think it perfectly right. I never was in favor of him, and never will be. There is one thing pretty certain, and that is if the administration is of one party and the commanding generals of the other, things will not work well. My opinion is that if Democratic Generals would have had the command in Mexico, they would have managed things in a different way to what they have been managed and the war would now be closed. Notwithstanding prospects of peace are somewhat flattering in these diggings. But I can see nothing to that effect in the slips that father sends me so regularly, for which I am very thankful. I believe I have received every letter that he has sent me since I landed at Brazoo. And must acknowledge that I have been rather careless and negligent about answering them. But I hope he will excuse me and pardon me, for he knows all about life of a soldier in the States and that is nothing to compare with a soldier's life.

I supose Edward is not satisfied and contented. Give him and his lady my love and tell them that I expect to see them ere long in a flourishing condition. I wrote to Oliver some two months ago. I hope he received my letter and will not fail to answer it. By this time he is a free man and from all accounts a very steady young man. May he continue so. Father seems to be well pleased with Oliver and I hope he will have the pleasure of saying the same of you. I often have to think of the last time I saw Oliver, with Martin in his arms, and when I left the room for the south you were at school unconcious of anything that had happened or was then going on. But I supose you soon learned what was to pass. However it is all over and the least said is the soonest mended.

I must now close hoping that this may find you in good health. My health is very good and has been ever since Dec. Give my love to Father, Mother, Sisters and brothers and all relatives. My best respects to Mr Raurd, and family, Frank Lennerss, George Greider, Charles and Agustus Sturgis, Mr Zeltzman and Captain Blickenderfer and all inquiring friends and tell them to write me. You will not forget to write soon.

I remain your affectionate Brother
John W. Keller
Sgt Co e 16th U.S. Infantry

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Submitter Roland Keller
These are a series of letters written by John W. Keller to his father, Frederick Keller of Lititz, Pennsylvania and to his brother Hiram. At this point, John had "joined the US army" to fight in the War with Mexico. He served in a Company of "Kentuckians", all of whom I believe would trace to the n.e. regions of that state. Also see three subsequent letters written by John W. Keller detailing his experiences in Mexico during the war

Lorine's note: Read more about the US-Mexican War

Read the Keller letters: 10 May 1847 | 15 June 1847 | 17 Feb 1848 | 20 March 1847

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