Clio Logo

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.


  • Mormon Battalion Monument today
  • As it looked in 1941
  • Map detailing march of the Battalion
  • George Ottinger paiting of the Battalion in AZ
  • Brigham Young mustering the Mormon Battalion in Council Bluffs, Iowa
  • Lt. Col. Cooke during the Civil War. He took command of the Battalion in Santa Fe.
  • First flag of the Battalion
  • Col. James Allen. The first commander of the Battalion. Fell ill and died near Fort Leavenworth, KS. Courtesy of Iowa State Historical Society.
The Mormon Battalion was formally organized July 16, 1846 near Council Bluffs, Iowa as the LDS/Mormon church was headed to the Salt Lake Valley. Much consternation first occurred when the U.S. military located the Saints, given that just two years before the church lost its leader and his brother to a mob near Nauvoo, Illinois and sought refuge from persecution out west. It was felt that the U.S. government was keeping the Saints close for further persecution, but after Brigham Young held a meeting with the military officials, the latter promised that the Saints would be left alone on their trek west and that some supplies would be given. In return 500 men volunteered. They were under the command of Col. James Allen who, after marching to Fort Leavenworth, KS, fell ill and died. The Battalion was outfitted, armed and supplied and marched to the scenes of the Mexican War in Arizona and California under the temporary command of Lt. A.J. Smith.

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.