Mormon Battalion

Mormon Battalion The Mormon Battalion was a group of about 500 Latter-day Saints who joined the United States Army in 1846, during the Mexican-American War, to help provide financial support for their families and other Mormon pioneers.

Serving under the direction of army officers from July 1846 to July 1847, the Mormon Battalion marched nearly 2,000 miles across the southwestern United States from Council Bluffs, IA to San Diego, CA. Although the battalion never engaged in battle, 20 members died during the journey west.
This was the only military unit in the U.S. Army based on a religion.

For many years, the Mormon community had been persecuted, forcing them to almost continuously move farther west to escape their tormentors, good Christian Americans. Thus, they had no love for the U.S. Government. However, the U.S. Government offered to compensate these Mormons for their efforts in the war with Mexico. Such compensation would be sufficient to move the entire Mormon community to Utah, which is where they wanted to settle.

In 1846, the battalion marched or rode 1800 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego, CA where they intended to keep the Mexican Army out of California.
Mormon Battalion Tucson (interesting fact)The quickest, easiest route was through Tucson. However, garrisoned at the Tucson Presidio was at most 200 viable Mexican soldiers. Remember, between 1820 and 1854, Tucson was located in Sonora, Mexico.
As about 360 Mormon troops approached Tucson, the Mexican commander rode out to tell them they were not welcome in Tucson. The commander of the Mormon Battalion decided to go through Tucson regardless of the wishes of the Mexican soldiers.
Realizing his Mexican troops were outnumbered and the Mormons had superior weapons, the commander abandoned Tucson and took his men to Mission San Xavier nine miles up stream to avoid a fight.
The Mormons entered Tucson and assured the residents, almost all 400 of whom were Hispanic, that they wanted no trouble and would just be passing through. The two groups started to trade. The Mormons had items of interest to the Mexican civilians, such as sewing needles, pins and cloth. The Mexicans had items of interest to the Mormons, such as fresh meat, fruits and vegetables. All went well and in 36 hours the Mormons left Tucson for San Diego without incident.