“Mormon Volunteers”-Quartered in San Diego-Detachment Sent to San Luis Rey-Death of Sergeant Frost and Neal Donald-Extra Work Done By the Soldiers-Serve Longer Than They Enlisted for-Immorality Among Their Successors-Journey to Salt Lake Valley By the Southern Route
It will now be proper to return to a consideration of the members of the discharged Mormon Battalion who re-enlisted.
On the 20th of July, 1847, one company, known as “Mormon Volunteers,” made up from the rank and file of the Battalion, was mustered into the service of the United States at Cuidad de Los Angeles, California, by First Lieutenant A. J. Smith, First Dragoons, of Battalion notoriety, for a term of six months. Daniel C. Davis, former Captain of Company E, Mormon Battalion, was elected Captain of this company. The names of all officers and soldiers will be found upon the following roll which has been preserved intact:
Daniel C. Davis, Capt.
Cyrus C. Canfield, 1 st Lieut.
Ruel Barrus, 2 nd Lieut.
Robert Clift, 3 rd Lieut.
Edmund L. Brown, 1 st Sergt.
Samuel Myers, 2 nd Sergt.
Benjamin F. Mayfield 3 rd Sergt.
Henry Packard, 4 th Sergt.
Thomas Peck, 1 st Corpl.
Isaac Harrison, 2 nd Corpl.
Hiram B. Mount, 3 rd Corpl.
Edwin Walker, 4 th Corp.
Richard D. Sprague, Musicn.
Henry W. Jackson Musicn.
Boyle, Henry G.
Beckstead, Gordon S.
Carter, Philo I.
Clark, Riley P.
Clawson, John R.
Covil, John A.
Dayton, Willard Y.
Dutcher, Thomas P.
Fellows, Hiram W.
Harmon, Lorenzo F.
Peck, Edwin M.
Riser, John J.
Richards, Peter F.
Sexton, George S.
Wheeler, John L.
Williams, James V.
Workman, Andrew J.
Workman, Oliver G.
The following order was given four days after the company was mustered:
“HEADQUARTERS SOUTHERN MILITARY
CUIDAD DE LOS ANGELES,
July 24, 1847.
You will proceed to San Diego with your company and garrison that post. San Diego, San Luis and the surrounding country, will be under your command. You will be watchful and vigilant, and especially have a strict eye upon all persons passing in and out of the country, and by every mail give me such information as regards the state of the country, as well as deportment of the people towards your command. You are, whenever called upon by the civil authorities, to sustain them in the execution of the laws, and in all things to act with prudence and discretion in the performance of your duties.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. D. STEVENSON,
Col. Commanding S. M. District, Cal. Captain D. C. Davis.”
On the 25th, the company took up the line of march for San Diego, on the Gulf of California, where it arrived on the 2nd of August. It was intended as a kind of provost guard, to protect the citizens from Indian raids and to watch the movements of belligerent parties, until information of a treaty between the two governments should be received.
Soon after his arrival at San Diego, Captain Davis received the following order:
“HEAD QUARTERS S. M. DISTRICT, CALIFORNIA,
“SANTA BARBARA, August 4, 1847.
“You will immediately upon the reception of this, post at the mission of San Luis Rey twenty-seven men of your company, with one sergeant and one corporal, the whole under the command of Lieutenant Barrus, who will take charge of and prevent any depredations being committed upon the mission property. The detachment will remain at that post until further orders from district head quarters. You will receive by this mail a garrison flag which please return receipt for.
“CAPTAIN D. C. DAVIS, J. D. STEVENSON,
“SAN DIEGO. Commanding S. M. DISTRICT,
This company had very little military duty to perform. By virtue of agreement with the military commander, made before enlistment, the most of the men, when off duty, immediately turned their attention to common and mechanical labor, and San Diego again began to awake from her slumbers and deadness to life and thrift.
With a view to the sanitary and moral regulation of the garrison, the following order was issued:
“MILITARY STATION, SAN DIEGO,
August 6, 1847.
(1) A daily detail of four men and one non-commissioned officer, will be made for police, whose duty it shall be to clean the quarters and the yard in front, also the parade ground.
(2) Strict attention of all must be given to cleanliness of person and clothing, as well as a proper regard for decorum of conduct.
(3) In no case will playing at cards be allowed in quarters, either by the men belonging to the garrison or others visiting it, and all non-commissioned officers are hereby required to report immediately any violation of the above regulations.
DANIEL C. DAVIS,
It being necessary to again garrison San Luis Rey, the following order was issued:
“MILITARY POST AT SAN DIEGO,
“August 9, 1847.
“2nd Lieutenant R. Barrus, Mormon Volunteers, will proceed to-morrow, 10th inst., at 2 p. m., with twenty-five men and one sergeant and one corporal to San Luis Rey, and take charge of the mission and all other public property there, and prevent any depredation being committed by the Indians or others upon the same, and will report to me by every mail anything that transpires which at all affects the public good. You will be vigilant and act with prudence and discretion in the performance of your duties. You will make requisition upon the quartermaster for twenty days’ provisions. The wagon and team which transports the provisions, etc., you will retain at the mission until further orders.
“LIEUT. R. BARRUS, DANIEL C. DAVIS,
“1st Company, CAPT. Commanding,
“Mormon Volunteers. SAN DIEGO.”
On the 8th day of September, 1847, Sergeant Frost, the former brave Corporal, on whose memory the Battalion love to dwell, succumbed to the fell monster death. No eulogy on his character is needed; suffice it to say, he was a man of few words, but abundant in good deeds. His remains were interred a half mile south-east of town.
A vacancy being caused by the death of Sergeant Frost, the following order was issued to fill it:
“(Order No. 3.)
“September, 11, 1847.
“Private Henry Packard, of Company A, Mormon Volunteers, is hereby appointed Sergeant of said company, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Sergeant Lafayette Frost. He will be obeyed and respected accordingly.
“Approved: By order of “(Signed) J. D. STEVENSON, DANIEL C. DAVIS,
“COL. Commanding CAPT. Commanding
“S. M. DISTRICT, CAL. SAN DIEGO.”
On the 5th of November following, Brother Neal Donald, another worthy veteran, departed and was buried by the side of Sergeant Frost. The following order appears in connection with the record of the company, but without date:
“Private Thomas Morris, of the Mormon Company of Volunteers, stationed at San Diego, is hereby appointed hospital steward for that post, vice Waddell, 7th New York Volunteers, reduced. He will be obeyed and respected accordingly.
“By order of COL. STEVENSON,
“J. C. BONNYCASTLE,
“1st LIEUT. and ADJT. NEW YORK Volunteers.”
The time for which the company of “Mormon Volunteers” enlisted, expired on the 20th of Jauuary, 1848, but they were not mustered out for almost two months after that. In the meantime, they were very busily employed when not on duty. One of the men, Brother Henry G. Boyle, writing of their labors, says: “I think I whitewashed all San Diego. We did their blacksmithing, put up a bakery, made and repaired carts, and, in fine, did all we could to benefit ourselves as well as the citizens. We never had any trouble with Californians or Indians, nor they with us. The citizens became so attached to us that before our term of service expired, they got up a petition to the governor of California to use his influence to keep us in the service. The petition was signed by every citizen in the town. The governor tried hard to keep us in the service another year. Failing in that, he tried us for six months longer.” This latter offer was declined, and other volunteers took their place. The social evil spread among the soldiers under the new regime, and their condition is reported as having been simply horrible. Brother Boyle sums up the matter by saying that “civilization was fully established.”
On the 14th of March, 1848, the company’s time of enlistment having overrun nearly two months, it was disbanded at San Diego. These veterans drew their pay the day following, and, on the 21st, a company of twenty-five men, with H. G. Boyle as Captain (Captain Daniel C. Davis having declined a “third term”), started for Salt Lake Valley.
On the 31st they arrived at Williams’ rancho, and fitted out for the journey by the southern route. Those who did not join the home-bound company mostly went up the coast to the mines, towns and farms, and some of them died in that land; others returned the year following, while some still remain in California.
On the 12th of April, the little company having obtained a proper outfit, again took up the line of march. Orin Porter Rockwell and James Shaw, who had traveled the route the previous winter, were chosen pilots by and for the company. They started with only one wagon and 135 mules. Of course they were packers. They arrived at Salt Lake on the 5th of June.
Theirs was the first wagon that ever traveled the southern route. This is the only feasible route from Salt Lake, and all Utah for that matter, to travel by wagons in the winter season, to Southern California. Thus another great national wagon road was pioneered by the enterprise of a portion of this indomitable Battalion of “Mormons,” or Latter-day Saints; nor, as we shall soon discover, was this the last of their numerous pioneering successes. Like Joseph in Egypt, whatever they put their hands to prospered.
Having safely landed this little company at the capital city of the Saints, we will now bid them adieu and return and hunt up those we left on the Truckee river to return to California, and raise some money, and then come on to Salt Lake Valley in the spring or summer of 1848.