Mormon Battalion History


Join us, as we follow the Mormon Battlion through California in the year 1847. The Battalion enters the state in January and marches for the Pueblo de Los Angeles but is detoured to San Luis Rey and San Diego. Eventually, the Battalion resumes its march to Los Angeles, arriving there March 23. They build a fort (Fort Moore) and raise the first U.S. flag over Los Angeles on July 4, 1847.

From the journal of 1st Sergeant Nathaniel V. Jones, Company D:

January 21

Came to Warners about two in the afternoon, the first settlement in California. Here we found one white man and about three hundred Indians.

January 23

Started on our journey. In the morning before we started it was concluded that we would go to the Pueblo de Los Angeles to meet Gen. Kearney. We camped in a small valley close in by the side of a small mountain. It commenced raining just at night and continued to rain all night. There was an Indian came to us that night who appeared very friendly and he would not leave us that night, but laid all night on the ground before our tent, and it rained and the wind blew a gale until morning, then we gave him some meat for which he appeared very thankful. The Indians, a few days before we came to Warners had taken eleven Spaniards and killed them in cold blood, the spaniards had killed some forty of the Indians for it. They probably thought that we were their friends and would kill off the Spaniards.

January 25

The weather was fine this morning. We traveled over the mountains all day, except the last four or five miles. At night we passed through the valley of Indians. I call it this because the Indians turned out of their village to salute us and paraded themselves before us in single file across the valley. We came down the valley about five miles and found it very beautiful. It would average from three to four miles in width. The soil was beautiful--no timber. We found the grass eight or nine inches high, fresh and green.

January 26

In the evening of the day before there was an express come to us from San Diego from Gen. Kearney for us to turn back that way. It came by a man by the name of Walker, a Dane who had lived in this country three years. Accordingly in the morning we set off for San Diego. Traveled all day over a mountainous road and camped on San Luis River.

January 27

Traveled down the river in a beautiful valley until about twelve in the day, when we came to the San Luis Mission of which I shall hereafter give a description. We went about one mile below the mission and turned upon the bluffs. There for the first time my natural eyes looked upon the ocean. Here we were about three miles from the great Pacific. We went six miles from there and camped three miles from the coast in a small valley close to a ranch.

January 28

We traveled all day over a rough broken country. Here I saw the wild oats of California, that I had heard so much talk about. The hills were covered with them and the flats with clover. No timber at all.

February 1

We continued our march over the same kind of country. At about four in the afternoon we came to the San Diego Mission. Gen. Kearney started for Monterey, and he agreed to see us in the course of three or four weeks at the San Luis Mission. With this promise he left us with orders for us to march to the San Luis Mission.

We started for San Luis Rey Mission accompanied by one company of the dragoons. We went a different road from which we came. It was very much such a country rough, broken and but very little land suitable for cultivation. Camped at night by a small spring where there were a few trees and brush.

Feburary 2

Continued our march, about eleven in the day we came to the hill where Gen. Kearney was besieged two days, during which time they burnt up all his public stores and was obliged to live on mule meat. They were surrounded by four hundred Spaniards and there were only one hundred of them. They were relieved from this situation by about one hundred and fifty Mexicans from San Diego, under the command of Commodore Stockton.

San Luis Mission. At night we camped on a branch of the San Luis River, and about two in the afternoon we arrived safe at San Luis Mission.

February 4

There was a police of eighty men detailed to clean up the square and buildings. A standing guard of eighteen men every morning.

February 13

Today there was a detachment started for some flour about seventy miles north of here to a Frenchman's by the name of Ronbado. We drilled every day until the twentieth, though on the nineteenth the Quartermaster had bought twelve fanages of beans, and on the twentieth the detachment came back which had been after flour, with twenty-three hundred weight of smashed wheat. Four days rations of that and the beans were issued to us in the evening. Ten ounces of the coarse flour and two-thirds of a grill of beans for a day's rations.

February 21

There was a detachment sent to San Diego for provisions, and returned on the twenty-fifty, with flour, sugar, coffee, soap and candles.

February 28

There was a detachment sent to the Colorado for the wagons that were left by us when we came through, but the Spaniards under the command of Florence, when on the retreat to Sonora, had burnt all except one at the Biceto.

This day we were mustered for the first time in California.

March 1

Nothing of importance from this to the 15th, except Melissa unwell for several days. On the 16th Co. B left San Luis for San Diego.

March 17

There was a great deal of dissatisfaction in consequence of the rations.

March 18

Dykes carried false reports to the Col. and through his false reports broke me of my office, which he had purposed on doing from the first, and had bragged of it.

March 19

Today the 19th we left for Pueblo De Los Angeles. We left the sick and some well ones to take care of the public animals. We traveled up the coast all day over broken country and camped eight rods from the beach. The next day (20) traveled all forenoon along the coast. In the afternoon over a broken country and camped after night at a ranch on the edge of the plains of Domingo.

March 21

Traveled a fine country. The best I have seen since I have left the States. It was covered with cattle and horses. Camped at night on the plains.

In Los Angeles

March 22

Traveled all day over the plains. Camped on the San Graveale River. In the morning of the 23rd we crossed over the river and on to the plains of Mene, about two miles below where Gen. Kearney fought the Spaniards on the 28th and 29th of January last. At noon we came to the Pueblo De Los Angeles, camped at the east edge of the town. The dragoons that came with us quartered in the town.

April 2

This morning there was an Indian sent to San Luis Rey to have that detachment come to this place.

April 6th

Nothing of importance until today there was a petition formed to be presented to our officers for our discharge. It was signed by a majority of the Battalion present, though the most part of our officers went strongly against it. . . A meeting was called an of three or four weeks at the San Luis Mission. With this promise he left us with orders for us to march to the San Luis Mission.

We started for San Luis Rey Mission accompanied by one company of the dragoons. We went a different road from which wt of first dragoons gave us the praise of being the best volunteers of any he had ever seen in the manual of arms. This afternoon the detachment came in from San Luis Rey. One of their number had died at San Luis and was buried in the garden between the building and the church as you go through the Tally Port in the northeast corner. His name was Smith. He belonged to Co. C.

April 13

Co. C was ordered out east to guard a pass in the mountains about sixty miles from this place with nineteen days' rations.

April 18

Today there was a meeting called of all the seventies, and President H. John was chosen to preside. He then stated the object of the meeting. They then organized themselves into a quorum and proceeded to business, the first was John Allen, and he was cut off without a dissenting voice. Then went strongly against the business of shading public property, and went against all kind of wickedness. Gave us good advice and dismissed us.

April 21

There was a detachment ordered out to relieve Co. C, and let them come in and get their pay. . .taken from each company.

April 23

This morning they started with Lieut. Pace at their head. They had bought themselves some horses and Cooke came out just at the time they were starting, and ordered them all back, took all their horses from them, sent them off on foot and ordered their horses sold to the highest bidder, which was done accordingly. Moved camp on the flat close to the river.

April 25

Today there was a considerable excitement about the Spaniards. It was said they were coming to give us a charge in the night. We were up neaerly all night long, but nothing of the kind happened.

April 26

This morning the order came for us to go down to get our pay. We drew for six months. Last night there was an express sent out to Do. C, Lieut. Pace's detachment, to come in. At twelve o'clock we had orders to move camp. We moved on the hill on the north side of town which has the command of the town, this day Co. A went to work building a fort on the hill. They had moved the day before. The express came in from Co. C. after having traveled one-hundred twenty milees in sixteen hours.

April 28

Today there was twenty-eight men ordered out to work on the fort, from this company. Today C. Company came in and Lieut. Pace.

April 30

We mustered and continued our work on the fort. There are now eighteen men detailed from each Co. They work four days and are released.


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