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

"And were it not for the small stain in my character, which I have in Litiz, I sorry to say through the aid of a real gentleman followed me to Salem...." Sgt. John W. Keller, 20 March 1848, Mexico


[TRANSCRIPT OF LETTER WRITTEN BY JOHN W. KELLER TO HIS FATHER, FREDERICK KELLER OF LITITZ, PA]

Cerralon New Leon Mexico
March 20, 1848

My Dear Father and Mother,

Having just returned from the plaza, where we had gone at 10:00, to pay honor due the Honorable John Q. Adams, or at least so ordered by the Adjt. Genl. of Washington, and as all duties are suspended for this day, I avail myself of the opportunity to write an answer to the letter which I recieved last night at tattoo from you, dated February 22nd and happily recieved by your son in a distant land who was called upon to take up arms, and defend his country from all harms. In honor of the deceased we fired 13 guns at the break of day and fire at intervals of 1/2 hour, 1 gun until sunset, when we will fire 29 and quit.

I have but little or no news to give you at this time. Prospects of a speedy peace are bright, indeed more so than ever they have been. But I fear the American Congress. I am like the Old French Man of Orleans. He said "d--n the American Congress, cheats a poor Frenchman out of four bitte." I can find nothing new in the Ledger you sent me this time, and for this reason, this news originated in Mexico, and we knew all about it ere it reached you. And I suppose it did not reach Washington until the 21st of last month. But I am now anxiously looking for news and I can assure you nothing could give me more pleasure than to hear that Peace was actually ratified by our Government and Orders for us to leave this miserable country and its filthy population.

You may depend that a twelve month trial has taught me a lesson that I never shall forget, but do not understand me to say that I am sorry that I came to Mexico, no never. But as matters are working now, I can assure you would tire any man, let him be who he would, unless he prefered the life of a soldier to any other. That is not the way with me. The time has been, when I took some delight and pride in soldiering. But now I have enough, and would be willing to quit. I had some faint hopes fo getting an appointment in the Army.

But since I have seen that Citizens have been appointed to fill vacancies in our Regiment. And men too, who knew nothing about military tactics, I have given up all hopes there was but one man appointed in the Regiment and he was our 1st Sergt William Garrard. He is gone to Monterey to report himself in person to Col. Tibbatts. I recieved a letter from him yesterday and he stated that they had Washington papers to the 23rd of February, and that peace was undoubtedly made and Genl Wool was confident of it, at least he was making preparations for marching, so as to be in readiness, he is a particular friend of mine, I would not have written it if it were not so. He is a fine intelligent young man and deserved the appointment of 2nd Lieut. We are nearly the same age, only I am exactly eleven years the oldest, and by the time this reaches you I will be 27 years old, and six years four months from home, a long absence. But I hope it will not be much longer until we may meet again.

I was pleased to hear that Edward is doing a good business and living fine, even if his business were ever so dull. It would then be much better than soldiering. No doubt he will do well, because he was a very steady young man when I left and if he continues so, there will be no danger. I was much pleased to hear of Oliver and Hiram. As to Oliver, I had no doubt but he would make a steady man. But Hiram, I thought would be like myself, that is wild and full of fun, etc. I think you are pursuing a very good plan in letting Hiram go to Bethlehem to learn the house carpenter and cabinet business. And were it not for the small stain in my character, which I have in Litiz, I sorry to say through the aid of a real gentleman followed me to Salem. But which never molest me at any other place, a better family and venture to day could not be started.

Please accept my particular thanks for those papers which I so often receive enclosed in your letters, and I hope you will continue to send them often. Believe me, nothing gives me more pleasure and comfort in this barren country, than to receive a letter from you or anyone of litiz. I am indeed very anxious to receive a line or two from Dr. Hull, a man whom I considered a true friend to our family, and I yet believe it was through him, and by his aid that you thank God have become temperant, and are again restored to your former mind and happiness. Give him my compliments, and best wishes for his future welfare.

My friend, Aaron Trager, you say is no more. He has paid that debt which we all owe and are about to pay, and A. Miller, also. Thus they drop one-by-one, and when I return I may miss several of my old comrades. I wish you would dog Edward's memory about writing to me as I think he is rather slow about it. And, tell Hiram and Oliver to write to me frequently. Give my love to sisters and brothers and all relatives. My respects to Zitzman, Blickensderfer, Geitner, F.L. Lennert "der Hahn das dei sand-kernlein um dei ecken fliegen macht nach aller lust, und shwingt den fliegle in glariger ordnung." No more at present,

I remain your dutiful son
John W. Keller
Sgt, Co E, 16th U.S. Infantry
Cerralos, Mexico

cy to Fred Keller, Esqr

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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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