|mail: Bill Thayer||
In the month of February, 1846, President Young, Heber C. Kimball, in company with many of the first Elders of the Church, because of persecution, left Nauvoo and took their departure into the wilderness, for the purpose of searching out a resting place for the saints, that if possible, they might dwell in peace, and be remote, and free from the turmoil and perplexity, and the persecutions which they had suffered from the hands of the Gentiles.
This first company, which was composed of men, women and children, suffered much from the severe storms which they had to encounter. But the Lord was with them, and altho seemingly in no wise fitted for the expedition, they succeeded in braving the storms and in building bridges, and in wheeling through mud and mire until they reached Council Bluffs in Iowa Territory.a
I left Nauvoo with my family the 18th of May, 1846, in company with my father and mother, also my brother Charles, and Rosel with his family, and David Grant, who was the husband of my sister Mary Ann.
We reached Council Bluffs the 12th of July.
The Government of the United States were at this time at war with Mexico, and not being satisfied with either having assisted, or by their silence acquiesedº in driving and plundering thousands of defenceless men, women and children, and driving them from their pleasant and lawful homes, and of actually murdering, or through suffering causing the death of hundreds, they must now send to our camps, (While we, like Abraham, by the commandment of Heaven were enroute for a home, we knew not where; and after having expelled us from their borders), and call upon us for five hundred young and middle aged men, the strength of our camp, to go and assist them in fighting their battles. When this news came I looked upon my family, and then upon my aged parents, and upon the situation of the camps in the midst of an uncultivated, wild Indian country, and my soul revolted. But when I came to learn the mind of the Lord, and on learning the offering had to be made, or the sequel was not yet opened between us and the Government; when our beloved Presidentb came to call upon the saints to know who among all the people were ready to be offered for the cause; I said, "Here am I, take me."
On the 16th of July I was mustered into service. Five companies were raised, consisting in all of about five hundred and twenty men. I enlisted in the second company. We had the privilege of electing our p16own officers up to the captains. Jesse D. Hunter was chosen Captain of the second company. I occupied the place of second sergeant.c We were marched to the Missouri River the same day we were mustered into service, and commenced drawing our rations and to make preparations for our departure. On the 17th I returned to the camp where my family was situated, a distance of •8 miles. The thoughts of leaving my family at this critical time are indescribable. Far from the land which we had once called civilization, with no dwelling, save a wagon, with the scorching midsummer sun to beat upon them, with the prospect of the cold December blasts finding them in the same place.
My family at this time consisted of a wife and two children, the oldest of which was but three years and a half; and the situation of my wife was such as to cause her to require if ever, the assistance and watch care of her companion. Many of the brethren left families, some in the care of relatives and some in the care of the Church, and as all supposed their hands were full before the requisition was made, they now felt that there was placed upon them a three fold charge.
On the 18th I again returned to the River, and on Sunday, the 19th, I again returned to the camp of the saints and tarried with my family until 2 o'clock p.m. And after having given them my blessing, and resigning them into the hands of God, I left them and again returned to the camp of the soldiers.
On Saturday, before taking up the line of march, President Young, H. C. Kimball, Willard Richards, John Taylor, P. P. Pratt and Wilford Woodruff met in private with the commissioned and noncommissioned officers on the bank of the River, and there gave us their last charge and blessing, with a firm promise that on condition of faithfulness on our part, our lives should be spared and our expedition result in great good, and our names be handed down in honorable rememberanceº to all generations. The officers were instructed to prove themselves fathers to the privates, and to remember their prayers, and see that the name of the Deity was revered, and also to see that chastity and cleanliness was strictly observed. They also instructed us to treat all men with kindness, and never take that which did not belong to us, not even from our worst enemy in time of war, if we could possibleº avoid it. And if we should come into battle with the enemy, and be successful, we should treat prisoners with the greatest kindness, and never take life when it could be avoided. Many more instructions were given which I did not write, but all were calculated to encourage the officers to be faithful, and prove themselves true to their trust.
We were encamped on the Missouri River until Tuesday, July the 21st. At about 12 o'clock in the day the companies were formed and took up their line of march. Went •4 miles and camped. Elder J. C. Little stopped with us over night.
On the morning of the 22nd, the companies were formed into a hollow square, and Elder Little, on being solicited by the officers, gave a short address, after which the companies again pursued their course. Traveled •22 miles. This night a young man died, belonging to the 2nd company, by the name of Samuel Bailey. He was taken sick soon after he left the camp of the saints, and I tried to prevail upon him to abandon the idea of trying to perform the expedition, but his desires were so great to continue with the company that I submitted. He was buried Thursday, the 23rd at 10 minutes before 7 in the morning.
At 9 o'clock the Battalion again took up the line of march. p17Traveled •22 miles, camped in the edge of Missouri. The weather was hot and very uncomfortable traveling. We continued our course through the State of Missouri, averaging •about 20 miles per day.
On the 29th we reached St. Joseph, at which place I saw Luke Johnson and had some conversation with him. He informed me that the people of Missouri were perfectly nonplussed at the course which the Mormons were taking. They had supposed when they heard of the requisition of the government that the Mormons, as they were pleased to call them, would only spurn at it. But when they came to see the Battalion march through their settlements with civility, and good order, they were perfectly unmanned.
On Saturday, August 1st, we reached Fort Leavenworth. On this day we received our tents in time to get them pitched for the night. Our tents numbered 100 and when properly arrayed, presented a beautiful appearance.
Sunday was spent very agreeable. All was quiet and in good order, save the humming and singing of the soldiers in their tents, which at times, would almost cause the listener to fancy himself in a Methodist camp meeting.
On Monday, the 3rd, muskets and ammunition were distributed to the companies, and on Tuesday and Wednesday the companies drew their first payment from the government, which enabled us to send back a small pittance for the assistance of our families.
On Tuesday Elders P. P. Pratt, John Taylor, O. Hyde, and J. C. Little arrived in camp from the Bluffs, or the camp of the saints, and their presence caused a general how-de‑do and rejoicing in camp.
During the time the companies were receiving their money the paymaster observed that it was different with our men from what it was with the companies from Missouri who had previously drawn their pay. When they were called upon to sign their names, there was only about one-third that could write, but when our men came up every one could write his own name. Colonel Allen was well pleased with his Battaliond and was heard to say while in conversation with some of the chief officers in the garrison that he had never been under the necessity of giving the word of command the second time, that notwithstanding we were unacquainted with the military tactics. We were willing to obey orders.
We remained at Fort Leavenworth until the 13th inst., on which day, our baggage wagons, camp equipage, knapsacks and canteens, etc., having been arranged and adjusted, we took our departure for a long and dreary march. Time and bitter experience only to reveal and open to us the future. We left the fort at any time half past 3 in the afternoon, traveled •5 miles.
The 14th the weather was very hot and sultry, the thermometer at 101 in the shade and 130 in the sun. The camp was on the move this day only about 2 hours. This night I was sergeant of the guard, which station it fell to my lot to fill once in 5 or 6 days.
On the 15th traveled •14 miles, camped on Mill Creek. This day we received word from the Bluffs by Brother Mathews, who had been sent to Fort Leavenworth on business for a young gentleman from Washington City by the name of Kane, who was at this time with the camp of the saints, and very sick. Mr. Kane was a warm friend to the saints. We learned by this express that the main body of the saints had crossed the Missouri River and journeyed up the River •some 15 or 20 miles and had taken p18up winter quarters on land owned by the Omehawº Indians, and that all were in good spirits.
On Sunday the 16th marched •12 miles and came to the Kanza or Kaw River, which is quite a large stream. Were ferried across in flat boats. Some of the Delewareº and Shawnee Indians were living near the ferry. After crossing the river we went •2 miles and camped near an Indian plantation.
The 17th laid by.
The 18th laid by as our Colonel, who was sick when the Battalion first left the fort, had not yet come up, and on that account we were making slow progress. While we were laying by the Sutler's waggons, 13 in number, came up, loaded with goods intended for the Battalion, so that when we received a penny from the pay master they might have the pleasure of pocketing it.
On the 19th we struck our tents late in the afternoon and traveled •4 miles. Before we had reached our place of encampment, we discovered a furious storm arrising in the west, and we hastened to get all things in readiness. But this was hardly done when the storm reached us, and I may with propiety say, that another such a gale I ever witnessed. Out of upwards of one hundred tents there were only 5 or 6 that were not blown down, and they were only kept standing by the strong arms of those inside. Three wagons were blown over, 2 of them heavy loaded baggage waggons and one a two horse carriage, the boxes and covers of which were badly damaged. A light carriage belonging to the 1st sergeant of the 2d company was blown •some 10 or 12 rods from where it stood when the storm commenced, himself and wife being in it at the time. The wagon covers were nearly all blown off and many of them torn to pieces. And thus were all exposed to the rain and hail which was blown with great fury. During the time that the storm lasted, which was about 20 minutes, it seemed that the very elements were at war, and from the fury of the wind, connected with rain and hail, and the lightning which streaked forth with all its forked fury, followed by loud peals of thunder, it appeared that the very prince and power of the air was coming out in all his fury against us. But all were cheerful, and withº the flying of hats, caps, and handkerchiefs, and various other articles, together with the running of horses and mules, the scenery at the close was rendered quite novel.
On the 20th two pieces of artillery passed us, accompanied by 6 or 8 load of ammunition. Each piece was drawn by 6 horses and each wagon by 6 or 8 mules. The two pieces and ammunition were intended for General Kearney,e who had marched for Santa Fe from Fort Leavenworth about two months in the advance of us. At 4 o'clock p.m. the Battalion was called together for the first time for the purpose of receiving words of instruction and comfort. There were five who took a part in speaking. I composed one of the number. We had an interesting time and the meeting brought to mind by gone days. After the close there were three baptized, two for the recovery of health and one for the remission of sins.
This day for the first time, the officers of the different companies were called together for the purpose of settling a serious difficulty between Captain Brown of the 3rd company, and the 1st and 3rd Lieutenants of the same company. After a painful and serious deliberation, and both parties had been severely reprimanded, as it appeared that both parties were more or less in fault, a settlement was effected.
The 21st we still remained at our place of encampment, which was on p19an eminent piece of ground near the forks of the road, the one leading to the Santa Fe road and the other called the Oregon road. This day three companies of horsemen passed us.
The 22d the morning was fine, and all hands were up early and making preparations for a march. At 8 o'clock were under way, traveled •9 miles, came to the Santa Fe road leading from Independence, Missouri. We here came to a halt and rested a half hour, then marched •6 miles to Elm Grove and pitched our tents.
The 25th traveled •12½ miles.
The 26th were under way at half past seven. Traveled •13 miles and encamped on the bank of a large stream, the name of which I did not learn. Soon after our tents were pitched a messenger came with the news that Colonel Allen was dead. This information struck a damper to our feelings, as we considered him a worthy man, and from the kind treatment which the Battalion had received from him, we had begun to look upon him as our friend, and a person from whom we should receive kind treatment. The Colonel had been to the Bluffs, and had witnessed the situation of the camps of the saints, and well knew the situation in which we had left our families, which was enough to melt the heart of a strong man. He had also listened to the testimony of the servants of God, and had heard them bear record to the truth of the great work in which we were engaged, and from his appearance, his feelings were enlisted in our favor. But it appeared that it was not our lot to retain him as our commander.
The 27th marched to Council Grove, distance •8 miles, crossed the creek, and went up •a half mile and encamped. This night at 15 minutes before 8, a woman died in camp by the name of Boscow. The command of the Battalion now fell upon Captain Hunt, as he was the ranking officer, unless further arrangements should be made.
On the 28th camp laid by.
On the 29th, at half past 9 a.m., the Battalion marched into the grove near by our place of encampment, for the purpose of listening to a discourse from Lieutenant Dikes, and of paying our last respects to our late deceased Colonel. The scenery was in martial order and was truly solemn. Soon after the close of the services a Lieutenant by the name of Smith of the U. S. regular service, arrived in camp from Fort Leavenworth, accompanied by the pay-master and a surgeon for the Battalion. Lieutenant Smith's object in coming to us was if possible to get the command of the Battalion, and on being asked by Captain Hunt in what particular respect the Battalion would be advantaged by receiving him in preference to one of our own number, he replied that there were some 4 months provisions in the advance of us and that by his order there were 20 loaded wagons in the rear, all of which were intended for our benefit, and they were liable to fall into other hands; that in making requisitions for the benefit of the Battalion our officers would not be known in the war department, notwithstanding, the requisitions might be just, they not having received their commissions; but in case the charge was entrusted to him he could secure the provisions, and whatever requisition he should make would be forth coming, and that the returns to Washington would be in due form, etc. The Lieutenant further stated that all he wished was the privilege of conducting the Battalion to General Kearney, and then all would be made right. Captain p20Hunt mentioned to him that we had some 12 or 15 families along, and also certain promises which had been made by Col. Allen in reference to those families, that they should be protected and have the privilege of journeying with us to California. The Lieutenant replied that all the promises which Colonel Allen had made he would see faithfully carried out, and that he would do all in his power for our comfort. The result was that the Lieutenant was received on the strength of his genteel promises, and the command of the Battalion placed in his hands. As to the result of this operation, many fears were entertained, and with all, it was a solemn day. As for myself I felt to hope for the best. I considered that if the officers (who had rights to cede up), could submit, I could try.
The 30th was mostly spent in making preparations to renew our march. At 5 o'clock p.m. Mr. Boscow died, his wife having died on the 27th as before stated. He was buried by her side. I think that neither of them belonged to the Church. They had friends in the Battalion, and on this account were along, but they were both too far advanced in years to stand the fatigues of the journey. At the time of the interment, as our last act of kindness, and to preserve the bodies of the deceased from the wolves, etc., each company marched to the bluffs near by and brought flat rocks, and under the superintendence of Elisha Everett,g a wall was built around the graves •10 feet long and 7 wide, and 2 feet high, and the center filled with rock, and the whole overlaid with beautiful flat rock. As soon as the work was completed we returned to camp, and after prayers we again wrapped ourselves in our blankets for the night.
The 31st at 7 a.m. we again took up the line of march under the dictation of our new commander. Marched •15 miles, camped at Diamond Springs. These springs afford a large supply of excellent water.
September the 1st.
The morn was clear, the sky was blue
As we our journey did pursue.
The air so pure, our armour bright
It truly was a lovely sight.
Each man so cheer his task begun,
All hears were pure, all minds were one.
The plains so wide, for miles were seen
Waving in their lovely green.
Marched •15 miles and camped at Los Springs. At this place there is no timber. We had our eatables prepared the night previous. This night there was 3 companies of horsemen camped nearby. Colonel Price with his regiment has lately passed us, and is now a short distance in the advance of us.
The 2d marched •15 miles. Camped on Cottonwood Fork. The sick in camp appear at the present to be on the mend, tho there are quite a number ailing.
The course to be pursued by our sick, as recommended by letter from President Brigham Young, was to let the surgeon and his medicine alone, and if we doctored at all, let it be in accordance with the course marked out to the saints. The position of our sick in their present situation was truly unpleasant.
Our Doc., the wicked swearing fellow
With calomel thought to make us mellow
The boys his poison spurned to take
Which made him act his father, snake! p21
He swore that dammed his soul should be
Or else a change of things he'd see
To which our feelings did assent
To have him dammed were all .
His negro boy he whipped outright
For nought but just to vent his spite.
Because the sick had not obeyed
He raved, and like a donkey brayed.
My mind on him I'd like to free
But as I'm placed I'll let him be:
Time will show his heart is rotten
And sure his name will be forgotten.
The 3rd marched •26 miles. In the course of the day Lieutenant Smith discovered some two or three sick in a wagon, who had not reported themselves to the surgeon, and he hauled them out very abruptly. The surgeon stood by holloring,º "Damn them, pull them out." The Lieutenant asked Brother Dunham, one of the sick, if he had taken any medicine. He answered that he had. The Lieutenant then asked who administered it, and on learning that it had been administered without the surgeon's orders, he swore by, that in case any man in the Battalion done the like again, he would cut his damned throat, and then turning to Brother Dunham, said that if he took medicine in the like manner again, he would tie a rope to his neck and haul him one day behind a wagon. This night the orderly sergeants were called for at the Lieutenant's markee and received orders to have the sick all report themselves next morning to the surgeon, or he would leave them on the prairie. This course of procedure looked to us to be rather tough. As the surgeon had been heard to say, while in conversation with the Lieutenant, and while pouring his wicked anathemies upon our heads, that he would send as many of us to hell as he could, thus virtually threatening the lives of all under his charge. Such language as this we had not been accustomed to, and we began to conclude that our surgeon was a correct sample of the people he had just left in Missouri who were murderers and whore mungers, and who love and make a lie, and who had stained their hands in the blood of the saints. And as to our Lieutenant in command, his course began to look very much unlike the one pursued by our late deceased Colonel Allen.
On the morning of the 4th, the sick, who were unable to travel, reported themselves to the surgeon, not only to receive his calomel, but his bitter cursings, which, however, did not amount to much. Marched •18 miles, camped on the little Kansas.
The 5th marched •20 miles. Were now in a buffalo country. The orderly sergeant in company B was sick, and his duties devolved upon me. At 8 o'clock I met, in company with Brother Levi Hancock and Father Pettigrew and others for prayer, as usual. The sick were remembered and especially the monster who supposed the sick were in his power.
The 6th marched •14 miles, mostly over a high, sandy ridge. I took supper at Lieutenant Ludington's. Had buffalo meat, which was the first I had ever tasted.
The 7th were under way at half past five, and at 11 a.m. camped at Walnut Creek. Distance •12 miles. At 5 o'clock p.m. the Battalion was mustered, and had certain points of the military law read to the soldiers. Met in council with some of my brethren at 9 a.m.h
p22 The 8th traveled •25 miles.
The 9th crossed the Pawnee Fork. Traveled •5 miles and encamped.
The 10th traveled •18 miles.
Friday, September the 11th was my birthday. Marched •12 miles and camped on the bank of the Arkansas River, and had the pleasure of doing up my little chores and of washing my clothes, which was my birthday recreation.
The 12th marched •20 miles. In the evening met with several of the brethren for the purpose of praying and counceling together. The captains of the several companies were present, also Brs. Hancock and Pettigrew.
The 13th marched •13 miles.
The 14th I had charge of the rear guard. Marched •15 miles.
The 15th marched •12 miles. Came to the last crossing of the Arkansas. At this place the road forks, the one leading to Santa Fe, and the other to Bents Fort. At this place we came up with five companies of Col. Price's regiment.
On the morning of the 16th, the families that were in company with the Battalion took their leave of us to go to Purbelo, a bit of a trading post •about 70 miles from Bents Fort, at which place our new commander thought it best for them to seek winter quarters. Ten men were detailed to guard them. This day the Battalion laid by. At 6 o'clock p.m. Brother Alva Phelps died, and was buried at 6 o'clock on the morning of the 17th. Brother Phelps suffered much from the salivating and poisonous effects of calomel, which, without doubt, was the cause of his death.
At 7 a.m. Lieutenant Pace arrived in camp direct from the camp of the saints at the Bluffs, to which place he had been sent with an express after the death of Colonel Allen. Brother Pace was accompanied by Brothers John D. Lee and Howard Egan, who brought a large number of letters to the Battalion from our families and friends. They bore with them three letters from the Presidency of the church, which were intended for the benefit of the Battalion, which contained much information in reference to the Battalion, and also our families, and the distribution of the means which we had sent back, and also the purpose to which our moneys would be applied which we were expecting to send back, which was quite satisfactory. But in reference to the officer in command, all is not in accordance with the spirit of the letters referred to above, and the prospect seems to be that the Battalion will of necessity have to taste the bitter effects of an unwise course. The Battalion marched this day, 17th, •25 miles.
The 18th marched •25 miles. Suffered much for water.
The 19th were underway at 4 in the morning. Traveled •10 miles and came to the Semirone Springs.
The 2oth marched •12 miles. At 7 p.m. met in council with the captains of companies, Brothers Pace, Lee and Egan, also Brothers Pettigrew and Hancock and others. In reference to this meeting I only have to say that I witnessed a strange sort of a time, some of our officers appear to have strange feeling in reference to their own course, etc., but as far as I am concerned I trust to be able to do right, and if our sufferings are greater than they would have been if the command of the Battalion had been retained, if the officers whose right it was to retain it, but have submitted to others, can endure, I can try.
p23 From the last date to the 30th, the Battalion marched •190 miles. On the 30th, after marching •18 miles, came to good water, as was usually the case at our places of encampment, but at this place there is no feed for animals, and consequently after resting a short time we again started and traveled •8 miles and camped for the night. Many a soldiers coat is now worn through on the shoulder by the constant rubbing of his musket, and many are now troubled with scalled or blistered shoulders, which makes it quite inconvenient to carry our muskets and cartridge boxes. But perhaps we may get annuredº to it after a while.
The 2nd traveled •27 miles. Camped on Red River.
The 3rd marched •6 miles and came to a spring at which place we again encamped. As soon as the companies had come to a halt, were informed that Lieutenant Smith had received word from General Kearney that we had to be at Santa Fe by the 10th, or we would not be permitted to continue our route to California, and the Lieutenant thought it best to take the 50 well and strong men from each company and strike out under a forceº march, and thus save the time, there being 6 days yet allotted and •140 miles to go. To this our captains assented, and at 5 p.m. the 250 men were under way with the best teams that could be picked, leaving the sick and way wournº in charge of enough who were well to keep up our guard if we posted the same men every night.
The 4th those that were left in the rear rigged up the odd portions of teams that were allotted us, and under the charge of Lieutenant Omen of Company A, and started on the track, but not without many curious reflections. We now felt lonely and gloomy in our spirits.
On the 6th we came to Spanish settlements, and on the 12th at 5 a.m. reached Santa Fe, having passed several small towns and over quite a rough, mountainous country.i
Santa Fe is situated on the Rio del norte (River of the North), and between two spurs of the Rocky Mountains. The Valley is extensive and productive. The town forms a hollow square, is built of adobes, and is of itself, a fortification against Indians, etc. There are in the place some 30 American Traders whose goods are wagoned from the Missouri River. Santa Fe is the rallying point for trade for a large scope of country.
On our reaching the place we learned that Captain Cookj of the U. S. Army was to take command of the Battalion, by order of General Kearney, who had gone in the advance of us to California. On receiving this information we had hoped that at least we should get rid of Lieutenant Smith, but in this we were disappointed. On the 13th there was an order read announcing, not only that Captain Cook was to take the command, and on account was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, but that Lieutenant Smith had received the appointment as quartermaster for the Battalion. Thus Lieutenant Gully, who had received his appointment as quartermaster from Colonel Allen, had been supplanted, and as any other man of feeling would have done, Brother Gully resigned his commission as Lieutenant and began to make preparations to return to the camp of the saints, in company with Brothers Lee and Egan.
The 16th received 1½ month's pay, a good portion of which was sent back for the benefit of our families, etc.
Sunday, the 18th, received rations for our journey. In the afternoon Captain Brown of Company C started for Purbelo, in charge of some 70 persons who were considered unable to endure the fatigues of the journey to California. This company was to join those that left us at the last crossing of the Arkansas, and with them spend the winter and pursue their journey in the spring via Fort Laramie.
On Monday, the 19th, the Battalion again took up the line of march. At the same time Brothers Lee and Egan started on their return to the Bluffs, accompanied by Lieutenant Gully and Roswell Stevens. The Battalion marched •5 miles and camped for the night. My feelings on leaving Santa Fe were of no ordinary kind. The Battalion had been divided, and thus I had been called to part with many of my brethren whose health was feeble, and also with those who had been the bearers of letters from my families and the families of my brethren, and who, in turn were to carry news to our families, which was probably the last opportunity of the kind with which we would be favoured, for at least one year. Besides I had, in company with my brethren of the Battalion, in the advance of me, a long and dreary march before we could reach the shores of the Pacific, and time only was to reveal its fatigues and hardships.
The 20th marched •15 miles. In the evening the companies were called together, and were informed that by order of Lieutenant Colonel Cook, the companies were to be reduced to ⅔ rations of flour, and ¾ of sugar and coffee and ¼ of pork.
The 21st marched •24 miles. We are now traveling down the Rio del Norte, course nearly south.
The 22nd traveled •15 miles. Passed two Spanish towns. The river bottoms continue wide and productive. The roads are sandy, which makes our traveling very fatiguing.
The 23rd marched •15 miles.
The 24th marched •15 miles. Passed several small villages. Roads still sandy.
The 25th marched •13 miles. Camped near an Indian village.
The 26th traveled •15 miles. Several in camp are afflicted with colds, tho but few are unable to travel.
The 27th traveled •12 miles.
The 28th traveled •10. This night I was Sergeant of the guard and suffered much from a severe rain storm. In this country there is but little rain except in the winter season. Crops are raised by irrigating. The inhabitants are generally of the lower class, and have but little respect for chastity or anything else that is decent.
The 29th traveled •15 miles. Camped in a beautiful cottonwood grove. Wood from Santa Fe to this place has been scarce.
The 30th marched •10 miles. Road bad; were under the necessity of leaving the River and climbing the bluffs, and of returning to the River bottoms again. Camped near a grist mill, the first I have seen in the country, but this is built on so small a scale that it is hardly worthy the name.
The 31st marched •15 miles. At 5 p.m. the Battalion was mustered, and by order of Colonel Cook, Adjutant Dikes took the command of Company D, as Captain Higgins had not returned from Purbelo, he having left the Battalion at the crossing of the Arkansas in charge of the p25families which I have before mentioned, and Lieutenant Merrill was appointed Adjutant of the Battalion in place of Lieutenant Dikes.
Sunday, November the 1st, traveled •18 miles. The health of the camp is generally good.
The 2d traveled •10 miles. This day I was Sergeant of the guard. The quartermaster bought a small drove of sheep and I stopped and assisted in counting and receiving them, etc.
The 3rd traveled •12 miles. At 5 p.m. Brother Hampton died. Brother Hampton was sick but a short time, and his death was quite unexpected. This day the Battalion received orders that they were to use only ½ rations of flour. As the roads are bad our march is rendered slow, but as yet we are hardly out of the Spanish settlements, and it appears that the reducing of our rations, as it commenced almost from the time of our leaving Santa Fe is altogether needless.
The 4th traveled •13 miles. Road very rough. Soon after we were encamped Brother Thomas Wolsey came up with us direct from Purbelo. Brother Wolsey brought word that Captain Higgins accompanied him as far as Santa Fe, but had concluded, as the privilege was granted him, to return to Purbelo, as his family was at that place. Many were sorry that Captain Higgins did not come on and take charge of his company, and felt that his place was far from being filled. This day two men were tied behind a wagon where they were forced to travel all day with heavy packs on their backs. Their offence was for not waking to receive the officer of the day when he approached the guard quarters to be on parade at the time said officer approached. The officer of the day on the present occasion was Lieutenant Dikes, now in command of Company D, and in this instance he had an opportunity for showing how much pains he would take to please Colonel Cooke. The appearance was that he regarded not the lives of his brethren, as he was willing to report against them for the most trifling offence, with a view, as it appeared, of trying to please those in charge. The present prospect seems to be that indignant feelings are arrising in the bosoms of many in the Battalion in reference to the course that Lieutenant Dykes is pursuing, which will hardly erase.
This night a report came to the camp that the Mexicans were preparing to hinder our passing the mountain in the advance of us, but to this the Colonel appeared to give no credit, but it was thought by the pilots that there was a greater prospect of our suffering for provisions before we reached the sea coast, as we had now before us a journey of •several hundred miles uninhabited and unexplored, with deserts and mountains to pass and our road to search out and make as we passed along. And our teams are now getting reduced in flesh, and some of the cattle are giving out.
The 5th laid by, and the Colonel sent back •2 or 3 miles and had an ox driven up that gave out the day before. The ox had been sprained in his shoulder and was very poor, but notwithstanding this, his bones would make soup, tho it make well men sick, and he was ordered to be butchered and divided out.
The 6th traveled •12 miles. Had rugged bluffs to pass, in places some 12 or 15 men were detailed to assist in pulling each wagon up the bluffs.
The 7th traveled about •10 miles. Road very bad. Had considerable of a mountain to cross. The men became very much fatigued lifting at wagon wheels, fixing roads, etc.
p26 The 8th advanced only •6 miles. Late in the afternoon four pilots returned to camp. They had been in the advance several days looking out the route. They reported that they considered the route almost impassable.
The 9th traveled •11 miles. Road bad. Pioneers are kept ahead as usual to clear the way. We are now in the midst of mountains, the whole face of which at present are covered with shrubby locust, which are filled with thorns and well calculated for tearing clothes. This night we were informed that there was to be another separation in the Battalion. It was already fully demonstrated that our journey was going to be tedious in the extreme, and that the number of mules was not sufficient for the baggage wagons.
The 10th we laid by, and all the sick and feeble looking were selected out of each company, who were to go back with the view of joining Captain Brown and those that had already returned, to winter in Purbelo. The number selected out of Company B was 10, the number in all was 50, or thereabouts. Lieutenant Willis of Company A was selected to return in charge of the company. This day was truly a solemn one to me, as well as to many of my brethren. It appeared to me that different arrangements should have been made before leaving the settlements, in reference to teams and provisions, but perhaps all may work out right. At 3 p.m. those selected to return were under way. The parting scenery was like cutting the threads of life. But may the God of the saints preserve my brethren that we may again meet in the flesh — and notwithstanding, the prospects to us, look dark and dreary, both in the front and in the rear of us. Yet, O God, wilt thou sustain us, and may no power beneath the Heavens prevail against us.
The 11th traveled •15 miles.
The 12th traveled •15 miles.
The 13th traveled •3 miles and came to the place where we were to leave the Rio del norte. The distance which we have now made since leaving Santa Fe as near as I am able to judge is •300 miles. After leaving the river we traveled •15 miles in a western direction and camped for the night. Water was obtained at this place from a very deep, rocky gulf. Pilots are now kept ahead to look out places of encampment, and a route through the mountains.
The 14th took up the line of march at 11:30 a.m., traveled •15 miles across a beautiful level plain, camped at a spring discovered by our guides. Near this place of encampment there is the foundation of a very ancient building, built of rock. The foundation is •36 feet square and is divided into five rooms or apartments. The country around is beautiful and has the appearance of having been settled by a people that understood the use of tools prior to the discovery of America by Columbus.
The 15th laid by in order to give the pilots an opportunity to look out the route.
The 16th traveled •15 miles. Country beautiful and in many places pieces of earthenware are to be seen, and my feelings were that I was traveling over a country which had once been inhabited, and a land that had once brought forth in its strength, but now uninhabited and desolate. At this place of encampment we were supplied with water from a spring near the foot of a mountain.
The 17th traveled •5 miles. Crossed a range of mountains called p27the Sonora mountains. Camped •one mile from water, as it was impossible to get nearer. Near this place of encampment there is a large number of mortersº molten in solid rocks, which formº the appearance of having been used for pulverizing gold mineral. There are those in the Battalion that have been accustomed to gold mining, who say that this country has every appearance of being full of the mineral.
The 18th traveled •20 miles. Crossed a beautiful plain. There were mountains or spurs of mountains on all sides in the distance. At this place of encampment we were favoured with excellent water from a large running stream, and a plenty of timber. The valley is large and land rich. This stream, I think, is called the Members.
The 19th traveled •23 miles. Camped near the road that leads from the Sonora settlements to certain copper mines, and is called the Copper Mine road. Soon after we had pitched our tents, our pilots returned, bringing the word that the country continued level as far as they had traveled, and had the appearance of continuing so to the Gila, or Heli, River, but they appeared to entertain fears in reference to water.
Early on the morning of the 20th our pilots went to the top of a small mountain near by, and raised a smoke, and in a short time two Indians or Creols came riding to camp. The object in raising this smoke was to call Indians to the camp if there were any in sight, and from the best information which the Colonel could gain, he came to the conclusion to turn his course more to the south and pass through the Sonora settlements.
On the morning of the 21st we struck our tents and took up the line of march directly south, and continued this course •nearly two miles, when the Colonel became dissatisfied with the course and swore he would continue it no further. We then left the Copper mine road and took up a line of march directly west, and traveled •12 miles. Camped between two small mountains. All were well pleased with the final conclusion of our Colonel in the morning and felt that a providential hand was in the move. The night of the 20th David Pettigrew, Levi Hancock, myself, and others had met in prayer for the purpose of asking the Lord that all might work out for our good, and in the night Father Pettigrew dreamed that he saw a person coming from the course which we had been traveling, riding on horseback in the air, saw him pass over our camp and continue on the same course. After he had passed a short distance, he turned his body upon his horse and placing a trumpet to his mouth, sounded the advance, after which he resumed his seat in his saddle and continued his course to the westward. This dream was related on the morning of the 21st before we had taken up the line of march, and when we came to start to the south there was a strong drawback to my feelings, but after marching the •2 miles as before stated, and our bugler came to sound the halt, the first thought that struck me, which I spoke aloud to Brother Hancock who was walking by my side, was that the Angel of the Lord had met the Colonel and when the advance was sounded, and the course of the Battalion turned square to the right, the idea with me, was fully ratified, that the hand of God was in the move.
The 22nd marched •18 miles. Camped without water.
The 23rd struck our tents at sunrise, crossed a valley and came to the foot of a mountain where we found a small quantity of water, but not sufficient for half the men, and we were obliged to cross the mountain p28and another valley before we could find water. Teams were from 7 o'clock the 23rd till late in the afternoon the 24th getting to water. At this place of encampment we met with a company of Spaniards from whom the Colonel obtained some 12 or 15 fresh mules. This place is called the dry pond, and will by us be long remembered. On the day we reached it the Colonel remarked to some of the privates that he had marched with his knapsack on his back, but said that his sufferings would never compare with ours.
The 25th traveled •20 miles, crossed a range of mountains, camped in a valley after dark. This day one of the pilots killed a grizzly bear.
The 26th marched •15 miles.
The 27th marched •15 miles. After we were encamped I had a tooth extracted. Had suffered much with it for several days. This night I dreamed of seeing a Temple completed and filled with the Glory of the Lord.
The 28th traveled only •5 miles. Were now on the range of mountains called by the pilots the backbone of North America. At 11 o'clock we came to a precipice, and consequently were obliged to come to a halt and camp for the day. Men are now suffering by reason of scanty rations. At this place of encampment pieces of dry hide were cut fine and boiled for soup.
The 29th the mules were packed and sent down the mountain with what they could carry.
The 30th as many mules as could be spared were again packed, and one span being hitched to each empty wagon, the whole camp again started. In passing down the mountain ropes were fastened to the hind end of each wagon by which the men were enabled to keep them from ending over onto the mules. We reached our place of encampment a little before sunset, having traveled •about 8 miles. We had not as yet reached the foot of the mountains. This was the most rugged mountain we had passed, and my reflections were that it was with propriety called the backbone of North America. It seemed that mountains were piled on the tops of mountains, and that each peak was trying to see which would outvie in towering in its majesty towards the heavens.
December the 1st passed down the canyon •7 miles. Road very bad. Some sycamore and butternut trees in the canyon.
The 2d traveled •10 miles. Camped at a place where there had once been a Spanish settlement, but as I was informed, had been destroyed by the Indians. At this place some 25 or 30 Indians of the Apache tribe came to trade with us. They had for sale some meat and some bread fruit, a sort of root with which this part of the country abounds. This is a beautiful country, and in this valley there are wild cattled in abundance.
The 3rd laid by and had a spree hunting wild cattle. Several were killed, and several wild horses were seen.
The 4th. At 12 o'clock we again struck our tents and traveled •8 miles. This is the 46th day since we left Santa Fe, and from the best information that can be obtained we are only about half way to the sea coast — living on half rations and making roads, and lifting at wagons comes very tough on the men, and many are growing faint and weary under it. This night orders were given that both the advance and rear guard should pack their knapsacks and blankets in addition to their muskets and cartridge boxes. The Colonel was notified that Company B had a p29span of mules and wagon which was private property that they had along for the purpose of conveying their blankets, etc. He replied that he didn't care a dam for that, his orders must be obeyed. This I considered a small streak in the Colonel, proportioned somewhat after the shape of his body, which was •about 6 feet in length and about the size of a mud wasp around the waist.
The 5th marched •12 miles.
The 6th marched •15 miles. Camped at a beautiful grove of ash and walnut. In the evening had a chilly storm of rain and snow.
The 7th laid by. Did up our washing, mending, etc.
The 8th traveled •18 miles. At this place of encampment we had no water except what we had in our canteens, etc.
The 9th traveled •10 miles, came to the San Pedro River. This is a beautiful stream and runs through a beautiful valley of rich land. During the day several droves of wild cattle and horses were to be seen in the distance. This stream empties into the Heli River. We crossed it and continued down the stream •about 8 miles and camped for the night.
The 10th marched •15 miles.
The 11th marched •12 miles. Had a severe time with wild bulls. There were not less than 15 killed. They pitched in among the men and mules and such a scattering is seldom seen. Sergeant Smith of Company B was thrown •some 10 or 15 feet and badly bruised, and a young man by the name of Cox was very badly gored under the thigh, and two mules were gored to death. Lieutenant Stoneman, assistant quartermaster, had his thumb blown nearly off by the bursting of a pistol, and with all, we had for a few minutes, quite a lively time.
The 12th marched •15 miles. Our course for the three last days has been nearly North. We are still on the San Pedro River. This stream abounds with fish, and the few hooks that can be raised are well employed.
The 13th marched •7 miles and encamped. Our pilots had been in advance from the time we came to this stream. Their object was to look out the best route and to visit Fort Tucson which was situated •about 50 miles from this stream. Some of the pilots had now returned with the word that the soldiers at the fort were not willing to have us pass that way. In the afternoon the Battalion was mustered, drilled about one hour, afterwards orders No. 19 was published, which read as follows:
"Camp on the River San Pedro. December 13, 1846. Orders No. 19. Thus far on our course to California we have followed the guides furnished us by the general. These guides now point to Tucson, a garrison town, as our road, and they assert that any other course is •a hundred miles out of the way and over trackless mountains, rivers and hills. We will march then to Tucson. We came not to make war on Sonora and less still to destroy an important outpost of defence against Indians, but we will take the straight road before us, and overcome all resistance. But shall I remind you the American soldier ever shows justice and kindness to the unarmed and unresisting, and the property of individuals you will hold sacred. The inhabitants of Sonora are not our enemies.
By order of Lieut.-Col. Cook,
Signed, P. C. Merrill, Adjutant."
The 14th marched •19 miles. At this place of encampment we were p30met by three soldiers from the fort. They stated, as I was informed, that according to the orders which they had received from the Governor of Sonora, they could not let us pass the garrison.
The 15th traveled •12 miles. Passed a distillery, a temporary fix-up for the purpose of manufacturing Augadent,k out of a muskal, a kind of plant that grows plentifully in the country. At our place of encampment we had no water.
The 16th, which was 5 months from the day we were mustered into service, we again took up the line of march with the Battalion in front of the wagons, and a small guard in advance of the command. Marched •16 miles and came to the fort. On our arrival we found that the soldiery had fled and that they had taken with them many of the citizens of the town. We marched through town, and went a short distance and camped. The countenances of the females showed very plain that fear had rested upon them, which reminded me of the situation in which I had seen the saints, when surrounded by the enemy and no kindness shown them. But how vastly different with the inhabitants of Tucson. Our kindness soon showed to them that they need not entertain any fears. Soon after we were encamped, the Colonel with a few others, returned to the fort and on searching, found that there was •some two or three thousand bushels of wheat on hand belonging to the soldiery, and as feed was scarce for animals, a small quantity was taken to feed the mules. But there was no provisions to be obtained for the battalion.
The 17th, some 50 or 60 volunteered to go with the Colonel on the track which the soldiers had taken. They were gone most of the day, but made no discoveries. At night picket guards were stationed on the opposite side of town from camp, and at midnight the sentinels thought they saw the advance guard of an enemy approaching, and alarm guns were fired and the Battalion was formed in quick time, and in good order, and for about one hour calmly waited for an opposing front, but no enemy appeared, and we again retired for the night.
The 18th at 10 o'clock took up the line of march. Traveled •5 miles and stopped and watered our mules. This distance was over a beautiful bottom which I should judge was •30 miles in width. After leaving this water we marched •20 miles and camped for the night, at least, that portion that was remaining, had no water.
The 19th started at sunrise, traveled •35 miles, camped at 10 o'clock p.m. Had no water at this place of encampment, and we had none through the day except a little that was fortified in two or three small mud holes. This was sipped down by the men as readily as if it had been the choicest of wine. This night the camp was scattered •4 or 5 miles, and men and beasts were suffering in the extreme. Men could be found by the way side camped two or three in a place with neither blanket nor tent, and without anything to eat or drink. My mess had nothing for supper but a little parched wheat. This day I was sergeant of the guard.
The 20th, which was Sunday, my mess with some others, succeeded in getting a little water out of a mud hole by going •3 miles, but it was filthy in the extreme. We however mixed a little flour in some but the water was too thick with mud that it would admit of but a small portion of flour being added. We cooked some and ate it, but it was like eating clay. As soon as we were done with this clay repast, the music sounded the advance. D. P. Rainey and myself started in the advance, bound for water, as this privilege was given the men to make the best p31of their way to a place where they might quench their thirst. We traveled •8 miles and to our great joy we came up with the pilots, who were seated by a small pond of water. Here we laid ourselves upon the ground by the waters edge, and after drinking and resting and again drinking and resting and continuing this operation for a time we succeeded in quenching our thirst. But on arrising from the ground we felt that we were not much less than ninety and nine years old, but we succeeded in waddling along •about 2 miles, where we reached running water, which place our guides had selected for our encampment. The men were stringing into camp for several hours. The distance that we traveled without water was not less than •70 miles across a barren desert. After we were encamped the Colonel said that he believed that any other company under like circumstances would have mutinized.º But in reference to us, he said that notwithstanding we were worn down, we were ready to obey any orders that might be given. He further stated that had he known the situation of the desert we had just crossed he would not have come onto it as he did on any account, from which it appeared that he had not been apprised that there was no water, otherwise we might have been better prepared.
The 21st we traveled •12 miles and came to the Heli river, a stream which we had long been anxious to sell. At this place we were met by about 100 Pemaw Indians. They had with them beans, corn and various other articles to see. At this place we struck the trail of General Kearney, his route had been to the north of us.
The 22nd marched •10 miles, camped in the village of the Pemaw Indians. This town contains about 4000 wariours.º They are peaceable and inoffencive.º They raise considerable grain. They raise cotton and manufacture blankets.
The 23rd marched •12 miles. This night the Colonel gave orders to have all the provisions which had been purchased by different individuals in camp left on the ground or be conveyed by the owners, as the roads were bad and he wished to preserve the strength of the mules. This night had a large watermelon. Several were brought into camp by the Indians.
The 24th camp laid by. A large number of Indians came in to trade. The quartermaster bought •some 60 or 70 bushels of corn and a little meal. The corn was bought for the mules.
The 25th. Took up the line of march at 10 a.m. Traveled •20 miles, camped without water. This day I was sergeant of the guard, and with all it was rather a strange Christmas to me. My situation with my family in days gone by was called to mind and contrasted with my present situation, at present, on the sandy deserts through which pass the Heli and Colorado rivers — growing faint and weary for want of those comforts which nature requires to give strength and vigor to the body, and also suffering much at time for water. But still pressing forward with parched lips and scalled shoulders, with weary limbs and blistered feet, with worn out shoes and tattered clothes. But with me, the prospect of the result of my present toils cheers me on.
The 27th traveled •8 miles. The sand here is so deep that it is almost impossible to get along.
The 28th traveled only •8 miles.
p32 The 29th traveled •12 miles. Crossed a rise of ground a short distance from the River. Near the summit is a quantity of rock that are covered with characters and hyroglyphics.º They are cut in the rocks, and appear to be of long standing.
The 30th traveled •16 miles. This night the air was very chilly.
The 31st. The Battalion was mustered at sunrise, it being customary to muster on the last day of each month. At 9 a.m. took up the line of march, •traveled 10 miles, camped one mile and a half from water.
January 1st, 1847. Struck our tents at sunrise. Traveled •12 miles, camped on the bank of the Heli. At 1:30 p.m. new years supper was composed of a little bread and coffee, and a little flour gravy.
The 2nd. Traveled •12 miles. This day two water tight wagon boxes were taken off and put into the River, and loaded with flour. It was thought that the boxes could be floated with the flour and meet with the wagons at the crossing of the Colorado, but this proved a failure as the sand bars would not admit of the boxes floating, and the flour was mostly lost.
The 3rd. Marched •12 miles.
The 4th. Traveled •8 miles. Roads still bad.
The 5th. Traveled •14 miles. This night orders were given that our rations should be reduced •one ounce. This was occasioned by the loss on the River. Orders had previously been given that there should be no corn used by the men, and very small losses were by us, painfully realized.
The 6th. Traveled •12 miles.
The 7th. Traveled •8 miles. I had charge of the guard. The road was very bad. Points of the mountains made down to the River, and made it very bad to get along. The mules were herded across the river.1
The 8th traveled •15 miles. Camped near the month of the Heli River.
The 9th. Traveled •10 miles and came to the crossing of the Colorado. Before reaching the River we crossed a wide sandy bottom.
The 10th. Men were detailed to gather muskeetº to take along for the mules. This is a kind of bud that grows on small trees or bushes which resemble the Locust tree. Some of the messes ground some of the buds to mix with their flour in order to enlarge their rations as we were allotedº only eight ounces per day, but the flour of the muskeet bud was a very poor substitute. At 4 p.m. Company B commenced crossing the river. Ferry Boats were rigged out of wagon boxes which answered a very good purpose on the present occasion. The River at this place, as near as we could judge, is •about one mile wide. The boats were kept running all night by the different companies.
The 11th. In the morning the mules were driven across. At 10 a.m. left the River and traveled •15 miles across a deep sandy bottom. Three wagons were left by the way, also several mules gave out and were left. At this place of encampment we got water from a well dug by General Kearney.
The 12th. Took up a line of march at a quarter before 12. Traveled •10 miles. This night we had no water, only what we had taken with us from the well. My health had now been very poor for several days, but still I performed my daily task without complaining. The idea of p33my coming under the care of our surgeon was out of the question. Consequently I toiled on, sick or well.
The 13th. Traveled •14 miles. At this place we dug a well, in addition to one we found on our arrival. From these we obtained about half rations of water.
The 14th. Traveled •18 miles. Camped without water.
The 15th. Traveled •10 miles. Came to another well which afforded a little water, but not half enough for some of the men, to say nothing about the teams. At this place we were met by one of the guides. He had with him a small supply of fresh mules and 10 head of beef cattle from the settlements. The guide brought us the news that General Kearney had had an engagement with the Californians, and that he had lost 18 privates and one captain. The enemy had decidedly the advantage and numbered 500, whereas the Generals men only numbered 130. The battle took place in the midst of a rain storm, and as the General was on the march the guns were wet, and consequently did not perform well. His mules were also worn down and refused to act. The General with his men fled a short distance and got upon the top of a small hill, which was afterwards known by the name of mule hill,º as the General was here hemmed in by the enemy for three days, during which time himself and men lived upon mule flesh. After the elapse of three days Commodore Stockton with some 250 or 300 marines hove in sight from San Diego, a person having been sent in the night time through the ranks of the enemy, for the Commodore's assistance. Just before the Commodore came in sight, the General having come to the conclusion that his runner had been killed in attempting to pass the guards of the army, as the time had been delayed by the Commodore in getting his artillery from the ship, had ordered his men to burn their saddles, bridles, and blankets, etc., that nothing might fall into the hands of the enemy. This was done, and their swords were girdled on and every possible preparation made for a desperate struggle for their lives just as the Commodore appeared in view. At whose appearance the enemy fled. But I will now leave this subject and return to the Battalion on the deserts of the Colorado. After resting a while at the place where we were met by the guide, we started on. Traveled •12 miles and encamped. Had no water.
The 16th were up and off at 1 in the morning. Traveled •20 miles and came to running water. The men were from 11 a.m. till 10 p.m. getting to camp, and many of them were entirely done out. Several mules gave out and were left by the way. We had now marched •about 100 miles from the Colorado, across a barren desert, about one-half the distance deep sand, a portion of the distance had the appearance of good soil, but the want of rain rendered it useless.
The 17th. Traveled •18 miles. Camped in a pass between the mountains. This night we learned that General Kearney had had another battle with the Spaniards of California, and that he had gained a decided victory, also the Spaniards had left their forts and fled, and it was someº expected that we should meet them as it was anticipated that they would flee to Sonora.
The 18th. Laid by and cleaned up our arms. At sunset the Battalion was paraded and inspected.
The 19th. Traveled •13 miles. Crossed a very steep, high mountain. At sunset passed through a narrow rocky canyon, too narrow for our wagons. Were obliged to cut away the rock with our axes and to take off the mules and lift the wagons through by hand. Camp this p34night without water.
The 20th. Traveled •7 miles and came to water. Here we met Mr. Shabinaw,l one of our guides, and others from San Diego. We stopped at this place and rested three hours, and then traveled •8 miles and camped near a beautiful grove of live oak.
The 21st. Traveled •12 miles and came to Hormer's Ranch. The sight of the cabins and the herds of cattle scattered over this large and commodious ranch2 with the beautiful stream rippling its way through the valley, was cheering beyond description to the weary and fainting soldiers.
The 22nd laid by. At 3 p.m. the battalion was paraded for inspection of arms and drill. For the last 3 or 4 days the men have had nothing to eat but beef, and not half rations of that, and several of the men parted with many of their clothes to get a small pitanceº of corn from the Indians on the ranch. And one man in Company B even sold his last shirt to get a small trifle of flour from the Indians. Two orderly sergeants, Brothers N. V. Jones and William Coray, and myself bought a pig of Mr. Horner, which we cooked and in company with others had a feast that revived our spirits.
The 23rd. Marched •20 miles. Just as we were encamped, it commenced raining and continued to rain hard all night. In the morning all were drenched through.
The 24th. It continued to rain hard nearly all day. Camp proceeded only •3 miles.
The 25th. Traveled •12 miles, camped in a beautiful valley. Just before we reached our place of encampment, we discovered a large company of Indians paraded in battle line ahead of us. At first we supposed them to be an enemy and prepared ourselves accordingly, but on our arrival we found them to be a company of friendly Indians that had paraded to salute us, and were ready to assist us if further trouble with the Spaniards should require. But their assistance was not required as on our arrival the trouble was over. President Young stated at the time of our enlistment that the fighting would all be done up just ahead of us. This we found to be the case both in Santa Fe and throughout New Mexico, as well as in California. At sunset a messenger came into camp from San Diego with orders from General Kearnyº to Colonel Cooke for the battalion to be marched directly to San Diego, and also bringing the news that a treaty of peace had been ratified between the General and California. The Battalion was at this time enroute for Pueblo de los Angelos,º which was at present the capital of California, and not knowing that the war was at an end, and supposing that General Kearney was at, or near that place, the object was to assist him. But on receiving the information that the war was over, and that the General was at San Diego, quite a pleasant censation ran through the camp.
The 26th. Traveled •16 miles, and as our course was now turned to the south, we were obliged to cross a low range of mountains, after which we descended into a beautiful valley with beautiful feed. This night we camped on a large stream called the San Luis.
The 27th. Marched •20 miles. At 12 we came to the San Luis Mission.
The 28th. Traveled •16 miles. The valley in which we encamped was covered with wild oats, as was the case with many others we had passed through.
p35 The 29th. Traveled •20 miles. Camped at a Catholic Mission, built by St. Diego, situated •9 miles from the sea coast, and •5 miles from the village of San Diego. At this place we took up our quarters for a short time, and were glad, truly glad, to find any kind of a place where the half clad, and barefooted soldiers could rest themselves from the fatigues of a long and dreary march. Connected with this mission is a large olive grove and a grape vineyard.
The 30th. General Kearney sailed for San Francisco.
The 31st. I went, in company with others, to the village of San Diego and thence to the coast. At this place there is a tolerable good harbour. There were four vessels laying at anchor.
February the 1st. We took up a line of march to return to the San Luis Mission, accompanied by the regulars that had been with General Kearney.
The 2nd. Passed Mule Hill, the place where the General had his first battle with the Spaniards.
And on the 3rd at 12, reached the mission, having traveled a different route from the one we took on our route to San Diego.
The mission of San Luis is beautifully situated. The chapel and all the buildings connected with it enclose, I should judge, •five or six acres of land. The buildings form a square in the center of which are orange trees. Connected with this mission is a beautiful grape vineyard and an orange orchard, also pepper and cocoa trees. This place is situated in plain view of the ocean, the shore of which is •some five or six miles in the distance. The mission of San Luis had been built and occupied by the Catholics, but at the commencement of the war, this, with many others in California, had been vacated, and had fallen into the hands of the United States government, as public property.
The 4th. Men were detailed to slick up the square and repair and cleanse our quarters. At 5 p.m. the Battalion was formed and the following orders read by the adjutant:
Headquarters Mormon battalion
Mission of San Luis Rey, 30th January, 1847.
The Lieutenant Colonel commanding, congratulates the Battalion on their safe arrival on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, and the conclusion of its march of over two thousand miles. History may be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry.m Nine-tenths of it has been through a wilderness where nothing but Indians 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, which the future traveler will enjoy. Without a guide who had traversed them, we have ventured into trackless prairies, where water was not found for several marches: with crowbar, and pick, and axe in hand we have worked our way over mountains which seemed to defy oughtº save the wild goat, and hewed a passage through a chasm of living rocks more narrow than our wagons, to bring these first wagons to the Pacific. We have preserved the strength of our mules by herding them over even large tracts, which you have laboriously guarded without loss. The garrison of four precediosº of Sonora, concentrated withinº the walls 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 p36animals, we have discovered and made a road of great value for our country. Arrived at the first settlements of California, after a single days rest, you cheerfully turned off from the route to this point of promised repose to winter upon a campaign, and meet, as we believed, the approach of the enemy, and this too, without even salt to season our sole subsistance of fresh meat. Lieutenants A. J. Smith and George Stoneman of the 1st dragoons have shared and given valuable aid in all these labours. Thus, Volunteers, you have exhibited some high and essential qualities of veterans. But much remains undone. Soon you will turn your strict attention to the drill, to system and order, to forms also, which are all necessary to the soldier.
By order of Lieut. Col. P. S. George Cooke.
P. C. Merrill, Adjutant."
The Colonel in the above orders, has given the Battalion, in part, that praise which was their just due, and his acknowledgements are correct, which we were glad to hear from him.
The 5th. An order was read touching upon the course to pursue by soldiers when stationed at any post, the times of parade, the slicking up of arms and clothes,º and the cutting of hair, etc., which was very good.
The 6th. General health in camp. All was quiet. Plenty of beef allotted the men but no flour or groceries, as none has, as yet, been obtained.
The 7th. Had drill and general inspection.
The 8th. Commenced to learn the drill. The colonel and Lieutenant Stoneman commenced at 9 a.m. drilling the commissioned and non-commissioned officers. The drill was kept up one hour after which the different companies were divided into squads and drilled one hour in the forenoon and one hour in the afternoon, by their respective officers. I had a company of 10 allotted to me. This drill was kept up from day to day during our stay at the mission.
The 20th. •Ten ounces of flour and two gills of beans were dealt to each man per day. This day news came that Major Sword,3 had returned from the Sandwich Islands with a shipload of flour and provisions.
And on the 21st teams were sent to San Diego to bring up loads.
The 26th. The teams returned with flour, sugar and coffee.
Sunday, the 28th, was general muster and inspection, which is the case every sabbath with the United States soldiery when stationed at any post.
March the 1st. Weather warm. Oats are heading out. Some 10 or 12 men were sent back to get the wagons that were left on the desert this side of the Colorado river.
The 13th. Weather warm. The time is spent as agreeably as possible, drilling days, and debating schools nights.
The 14th. Captain Turner came to camp from Mont Era. He is of General Kearney's aid. The General tarried at Mont Era contrary to our expectations. Captain Turner brought orders for the disposition of the Battalion, which were far from meeting our expectations, as we were looking very anxiouslyº for orders for us to be shipped to Mont Era. But instead of this, orders were read in the evening, notifying Company B that they were to be ready the next morning to take up a line of march for San Diego to take charge of that place. Companies C, D and E were p37soon after notified that they were to go to Pueblo de Los Angeles, leaving Company A at San Luis.
Monday, the 15th. We took up the line of march, and at 8 on Wednesday arrived in San Diego.
The 18th I was appointed to take charge of the fort which is situated on a hill, •between a quarter and a half mile from the town. Accordingly, I took with me 18 men and proceeded to the garrison, where we took up our quarters and made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would admit. The remaining portion of the Company took up their quarters in town. Soon after, Company A left San Luis Rey for Pueblo. Thus, Company B was separated from the other companies a distance of •150 miles. Company B remained in San Diego for three months, during which time we busied ourselves as best we could. Several jobs were taken, such as finishing houses, building picket fences, and digging wells, etc., which were finished in such a manner as to meet the full satisfaction of the people. Brother Philander Coltron and others built a large brick kiln, which was said to be the first kiln burnt in Upper California, and out of a portion of the brick burnt in this kiln, Brother Jacob Houghines built a court house in San Diego, which was said to be the first house built of burnt brick in Upper California. On the day that the walls of the house was completed, a feast was prepared by the citizens. The house was named and withall, a very great parade made over it. The course pursued by Company B in San Diego met with the general approbation of the people, and when we came to leave the place they seemed to cling to us, as tho' they had been parting with their own children.
The 22nd of June. Colonel Stevenson arrived in San Diego from Pueblo. General Kearney and Colonel Cook having left for the states, Colonel Stevenson came in command throughout this section of the country. Soon after his arrival in San Diego, we found that it was his intention, if possible, to get the Battalion to reenlist for another year, and that favourable inducements were offered to Captain Hunt, who was the ranking officer in the Battalion, and also to others. The Colonel also used much flattery to the Battalion. Said that by our wise and judicious course of conduct we had gained, and justly, an excellent name in California, and thought that it would result in a great good if we would reenlist.
On the 24th I started, in company with Colonel Stevenson, Captain Hunter and Brother Alexander, for Pueblo. Reached the city the 28th.
The 29th. The Battalion was called together and a speech was made by the Colonel, and every possible argument used to induce us to again place ourselves under the control of the wicked. But with me, his arguments had no effect further than it greevedº me to see some of our officers seeking after power and filthy lucre at the bitter expense of their brethren. My conclusions were if Captain Hunt and others wanted power, they should have claimed it at the death of Colonel Allen at which time it was their right to claim it, and would have been in accordance with the expectations of the Battalion. But now, for us to enter service for another year for the purpose of gratifying the selfish feelings of any man or set of men, was entirely repugnant to my feelings. We had already served our enemies one year and offered our lives as a sacrifice to save the people of God, according to the council which we had received from those that had a right to council, and we had faithfully fulfilled the requirement. And seeing the cake was p38well baked, it was my mind that the lid be taken off and let it come to the air. Several speeches were made by Captain Hunt and others in favour of our reenlistment, and after considering that everything was arranged to their liking, liberty was given for remarks. It fell to my lot to be the first to break the silence. I remarked that from the best information which we could gain, the government, in whose service we had been, was satisfied with our service, and the Presidency under whose council we had entered service was satisfied, and every feeling of my heart said that all Heaven was satisfied, and as for me, let others do as they may, God being my helper, I shall return to my family and to headquarters. I was followed by Father Pettigrew and Brother Daniel Tyler and others, and in their remarks the Spirit of God was manifest, and the eyes of those that wished to see were opened, and their situation plainly manifest. And the musical instruments of those that were in favour of reenlisting, were entirely unstrung.
July 1st. Captain Hunter, Corporal Alexander and myself started on our return to San Diego. Reached the place on the 4th. On our arrival we found that the company had been celebrating the day by firing cannon, etc. On our arrival we were saluted by firing guns, and three cheers for each of us, and to cheer the hearts of the company still further, we brought forward as much of the juice of the grape as the company could wish.
On the 9th the company took up the line of march for the City of Pueblo de Los Angelos.º Reached the place on the 15th.
July the 16th. The Battalion was mustered out of service. Soon after, we commenced making arrangements to start on our return to Council Bluffs, at least, as many as chose to go. We chose for our place of encampment a beautiful place for water and feed for animals, three miles from Pueblo.
2 (or range)
Thayer's Note: The editor's first reading was the right one, apparently. Kevin Henson, a student of the Mormon Battalion and related topics — and a man who walked its route himself, under period conditions! — writes me (I adjust very slightly):
William is referring here to "Warner's Ranch" — or Agua Caliente (Spanish for "Hot Springs") of San Diego County, California. This was the first "anglo-owned property in the early days of the American period for California. Warner's life is well documented in: The History of Warner's Ranch and its environs by Joseph J. Hill, with a preface by Herbert E. Bolton and two etchings by Loren Barton (1927).
Thayer's Note: Another error by the L. D. S. transcriber, here too caught by Kevin Henson (see previous note): the paymaster was Major Cloud. Major Thomas Swords (the proper spelling) was the quartermaster.
a An important place in L. D. S. history: see The Mormon Settlements in the Missouri Valley; and the good site by the Pottawatomie County Genealogical Society on that county's Mormon Heritage (linked in the navigation bar at the foot of this page).
b As always in the Journal, the reference is hardly to the President of the United States (at the time: James Polk), but to the President of the Church, Brigham Young. The President of the United States is referred to once in the Journal, as "Chief Executive of the Nation" (p67).
There is clear evidence in the Journal that others made the trek, either partway or to the end: they include women, male civilians, and at least one black man or boy, who may have been a slave. No complete roster of the entire group is online, because it is not known: but people are working on it, and we may be approaching one. Kevin Henson, prominent in my notes on this page, alerts me to Carl Larson's A Database of the Mormon Battalion.
d James Allen was the commander of the Mormon Battalion, which one might never guess from the diary, at least while he was alive: once he had died, as we will see (most noticeably in the entries for Aug. 26 and Sep. 3) Hyde realized the effect of the commander. Captain Allen seems to have been the best kind of leader: getting the job done, leading with a light hand, and taking care of his people.
e Gen. Stephen Kearny, to give him his usual spelling.
f Or better, 110‑Mile Creek. Clearly named from a distance to some important point of departure: here, the important Army base at Fort Leavenworth. (Thanks to Kevin Henson for identifying the place.)
Such names occur in the Old World as well, as for example the village of Pontecentesimo in Umbria, central Italy, the 2000‑year‑old name of which records that it was the site of a bridge of the Via Flaminia, a major road, at exactly 100 Roman miles N of Rome.
h This smells of a barely avoided mutiny; the only other source available to me, Taggart (q.v.), confirms both the illness in the Battalion and the truculence of Surgeon Sanderson, but mentions no reading of the military law.
Thayer's Note: Kevin Henson, a student of the Mormon Battalion and related topics, promises a paper on this topic soon, and writes me (I adjust slightly):
Sherman Fleek (LTC, U. S. Army, retired: currently historian at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point), in his "History May Be Searched in Vain — A Military History of the Mormon Battalion" treats these issues in detail. As to mutiny, Daniel Taylor in his 1880 "Comprehensive History of the Mormon Battalion" alludes to a near mutiny about this same date. John D. Lee, Mormon leader who later was responsible for the "Mountain Meadows Massacre" in Utah was traveling with the Battalion for a few weeks. Lee, feeling Lt. Smith (temporary replacement for Captain/Colonel Allen) had been pushing the men and not dealing justly with them, created all kinds of havoc for the Army leaders. In short, Lee was way out of order. This prompted Smith to read "certain points of the military law" to the men. They had, by law, already had some of the "Articles of War" read to them at Leavenworth. Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, following correct military protocol, conducts the same business after he takes command. At least one journalist indicates it was the first time he had heard the law, but in fact, that's not true. Law required the Articles to be read within six days of enlisting.
i The things people skip; it makes you wonder what else they might have skipped. (According to Kevin Henson, "the Battalion's experiences are contained in no less than 80 contemporary journals or life stories written after the fact, making it, according to Sherman Fleek, the best documented U. S. Army battalion-sized group of history.") Here, at any rate, is George Washington Taggart's lively account of the same few days, in A Short Sketch of his Travels with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — his Mormon Battalion journal — as transcribed by his grandson Spencer L. Taggart and published on the website of the George Washington Taggart Family Organization (spellings as on that site):
We again encamped for the night on the Morning of the 9th Lieut Omer the oficer in command of the 2d division gave orders to strike tents and pursue our march, but in consequence of Lieut Ludington getting his wagon broke the Night before •about 5 miles from camp He was terefore not in a situation to obey the order but had to go back and repair His wagon before He could go forward, Lieut Omen However gave orders to Seargent William Hyde to take charge of Ludingtons Company and proceed forward contrary to Ludingtons orders notwithstanding, this however Seargent Hyde refused to do, and Omen was not disposed to stop and see Lieut Ludington under way consequently there was another division took place, Omen went forward of the 4 Companyes and left Ludington and Company B to get along the best way they could, Myself with eight or ten others of Company B started forward on a slow pace expecting to be overtaken by the rest of the company in the course of a day, however in this We were disapointed for We travelled slowly all day and were not overtaken neither did We overtake the companyes in advance, We travelled until about 7 oclock in the evening when We concluded to light up a fire and wait until the rest of the Company came up, this We did, and the next day about 3 oclock Lieut Ludington came up with the rear of the Company, We were all very much pleased to get togather again and We would not scatter of any more but keep togather, We travelled •2 miles after getting togather and encamped for the Night, on the 11th and 12th We traveled through amon the Mountains and on the Evening of the 12th We went into the long looked for Citty of Santifee, We were about six hours behind Lieutenant Omen . . .
k Here the typescript inserts (whisky), which is not so much an emendation as a brief explanation, almost certainly the editor's rather than Hyde's. The average American reader must not imagine actual whisky, however: this is aguardiente, a colorless raw spirit nothing remotely like whisky — notice that the stuff is distilled from mezcal — common thruout much of South America, and usually flavored, today at any rate, with anis.
l Kevin Henson writes me:
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (there are variant spellings), young infant "Pomp" of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805. John (as he preferred to be called in later life) was the son of Sacajawea and about 42 years old at the time he guided the Battalion west from the Rio Grande. He was an experienced guide, very well educated, had spent years in Germany as an employee of a German Duke, spoke several languages and in general, was a hell of a man. That the Battalion had John Charbonneau and other well qualified guides was a tremendous benefit to their journey.
m At over two thousand miles (3200 kilometers), the march of the Mormon Battalion was indeed one of the longest military marches in history, and Cooke's characterization was accurate. It covered roughly twice the distance marched by Xenophon's army retreating out of Persia, which was the longest march in classical Antiquity; and it was exceeded in our own time only by the 6000‑km Long March of the Chinese Communists under Mao Zedong in 1934‑1935.
It is not altogether ungermane to remember, though, that countless thousands of civilians, far outnumbering the Mormon Battalion, made the same types of arduous treks across the continent. Many were Mormons, many others were not; all became part of our history.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
G. W. Taggart
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two **asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 27 Apr 16