HistoryIn May and June 1846, the services of the Mormon people—en route to the west—were officially tendered to the United States government, then at war with Mexico.
President James K. Polk authorized Colonel Stephen W. Kearney, Commander of the Army of the West, to enlist five hundred Mormon volunteers and march to California. Captain James Allen, who was detailed to make the enlistment, arrived at the Mormon camps June 26.
After three weeks recruiting with the aid of Brigham Young and other officials of the Mormon Church, the Battalion was mustered into the United States Service at Council Bluffs, Iowa, July 16.
The march was via Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas; thence to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the Battalion arrived in two divisions in October. Here Lieutenant-Colonel P. St. George Cooke was given command.
The Battalion left Santa Fe October 19 and marched southward down the Rio del Norte to 32?41' North latitude; thence south and westward to near the headwaters of the San Pedro; north and westward to Tucson; and so to the Pacific. The march of over two thousand miles ended at San Diego, January 29, 1947.
The Battalion served in garrison duty in San Diego, San Luis Rey and Los Angeles, and in outpost duty at Cajon Pass until the term of enlistment ended July 16, 1947.
Eighty-one members of the Battalion re-enlisted for six months additional service and were known as "The Mormon Volunteers"
"Headquarters Mormon Battalion
Mission of San Diego
January 30, 1947"
"Order No. 1"
"History may be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry···through a wilderness, where nothing but savages and wild beasts are found, or deserts where, for want of water, there is no living creature.···We have dug deep wells, which the future traveler will enjoy.···Ventured into trackless tablelands where water was not found for several marches.···Worked our way over mountains and hewed a pass through a chasm of living rock···to bring these first wagons to the Pacific···The garrison···of Tucson, gave us no pause, we drove them out with their artillery, but our intercourse with the citizens was unmarked by a single act of injustice, thus, marching half naked and half fed, and living upon wild animals, we have discovered and made a road of great value to our country.···
By order Lieut-Colonel P. St. George Cooke, P. C. Merrill, Adjutant"
Seven members of the Battalion participated in the discovery of gold in California, January 24, 1948
Detachments of the Battalion that had been invalided to Pueblo on the Arkansas—numbering one hundred fifty men—joined Brigham Young's original pioneer company, and participated in founding the Commonwealth of Utah
By their justice to the conquered, by their courage and endurance, and by their patriotic devotion, the members of the Mormon Battalion brought lasting honor to their people, to the state of Utah and to their nation