The Battalion began to move from Fort Leavenworth on the 12th of August. You may see their line of march by looking at the map on page 128. After suffering much hardship, they reached Santa Fe, October 9th. Here Colonel Cooke took the command. As many of the soldiers as were too sick to go on were sent to Pueblo, where they remained all winter, and traveled to Salt Lake valley the next summer. The main body of the Battalion left Santa Fe, October 19th, for California. At Tucson they expected to have a battle with some Mexican soldiers, and prepared for it, but they marched through the city without being disturbed. From Tucson they continued over the deserts, and arrived at San Diego, January 29, 1847, where they saw the broad, blue, ocean, many of them for the first time.
The Battalion remained in and around San Diego for about two weeks. As there was no fighting to be done, the men built houses, dug wells, made brick, and helped build up the town. On March 19th most of them marched to Los Angeles, and on the 16th of July they were mustered out, having served their full time—one year.
Of this great march Colonel Cooke their commander wrote:
“History may be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry; nine-tenths of it through a wilderness, where nothing but savages and wild beasts are found, or deserts, where for want of water, there is no living creature. There, with almost hopeless labor we have dug deep wells. Without a guide we have crossed the wilderness, we have ventured into trackless prairies, where water was not found for several marches. With crowbar and pickax in hand we have worked our way over mountains, which seemed to defy aught but the wild goat, and hewed a passage through a chasm of rock, more narrow than our wagons.”
After their release, most of the men took up their march for home. Perhaps it would be more correct to say to find their families and friends, as they did not have any home yet. They journeyed northward in California and then crossed the mountains to Salt Lake valley where most of them arrived in October, 1847. From there many went right on to Winter Quarters to their families.
A number of the Battalion men remained in California to earn a little money. Some got work with a Captain Sutter who had a large ranch on the American fork of the Sacramento river. The “Mormons” with some others were set to work building a mill, and it was here while digging in the mill race that gold was discovered in California. Some of the brethren carried away a few hundred dollars’ worth when they went to Salt Lake Valley the next summer.
Topics.—1. The call for the Mormon Battalion. 2. Its march. 3. Discovery of Gold.
Questions and Review.—1. Who was Captain James Allen? 2. What did he want of the “Mormons?” 3. What was the Battalion wanted for? 4. What did President Young say? 5. What did many of the Saints think of the call? 6. Why was it a hardship on the Saints at that time to furnish five hundred soldiers? 7. Describe the line of march of the Battalion. 8. How long did it take them? 9. How far was it? 10. What kind of journey was it? 11. What did Colonel Cooke say about it? 12. What did the Battalion men do in California? 13. What happened at Nauvoo in the summer of 1846, when the Battalion was on the march?