Mormon Battalion Monument
On this spot on October 9, 1846, the Mormon Battalion stopped here and encamped as they awaited a new officer to take command on their way to Tucson, AZ and eventually to both San Diego and Los Angeles, CA during the Mexican War. This stop near Santa Fe was part of the battalion's march that is now the longest military march in U.S. Military History. The monument was erected in 1940 by the Committee for the Erection of the Mormon Battalion Monument in New Mexico and the Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association.
Backstory and Context
In southwestern Kansas many ill members of the battalion and some family split off headed for Fort Pueblo in modern day Colorado, while the rest continued to Santa Fe. Arriving on Oct. 9, they were greeted by a one-hundred-gun salute by Col. Alexander Donaphin, a friend and defender during the tumultuous Missouri years in LDS church history. There, Donaphin was a officer for a local Missouri, but refused to enact the Governor's "Mormon Extermination Order" as well as refusing to allow a firing squad to fire on Joseph Smith and others. Donaphin threatened to take his superior to court for murder if the execution was followed through. He was successful in staying the order and befriended the LDS church until his death.
While in Santa Fe and just outside it from the 9th to 18th, the Battalion received a new commander, Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke, who would lead the Battalion to Tucson, San Diego and Los Angeles. The monument marks where the main camp stayed when Cooke took command.
The Battalion was instrumental in the building up of San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Gold was discovered by members in Sutter's Mill. After the war, 81 men chose to re-enlist and stayed in California for a time before heading to the Salt Lake Valley. The Battalion during their march also worked to open passes that helped link the many trials to California. The rest, in 1847, headed back to rejoin the after a stop in Idaho, before meeting up with the wagon train in eastern Wyoming.
The Battalion covered over 2000 miles, the longest in US military history, lost a few men to sickness and did not take part in any skirmish or battles with Mexican forces, for the latter would retreat as the Battalion came near. Today throughout Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah, the Battalion is remembered for their exploits by LDS members and non-members alike.