Colonel Cooke’s Statement of the Condition of the Battalion-Paid in Checks That Could Not be Cashed-Send Them to Council Bluffs-Reason for Lieutenant Gully’s Resignation-Condition of Animals-Strict Discipline of Colonel Cooke-An Officer the First to be Punished
Of the condition and fitness of the Battalion to pursue their journey across the great American Desert, Colonel P. St. George Cooke, our new commander, very properly and truthfully remarks: “Everything conspired to discourage the extraordinary undertaking of marching this Battalion eleven hundred miles, for the much greater part through an unknown wilderness, without road or trail, and with a wagon train.
“It was enlisted too much by families; some were too old, some feeble, and some too young; it was embarrassed by many women; it was undisciplined; it was much worn by traveling on foot, and marching from Nauvoo, Illinois; their clothing was very scant; there was no money to pay them, or clothing to issue; their mules were utterly broken down; the quartermaster department was without funds, and its credit bad; and animals were scarce. Those procured were very inferior, and were deteriorating every hour for lack of forage or grazing. So every preparation must be pushed-hurried. A small party with families (Captain Higgins’ company, already mentioned) had been sent from Arkansas crossing up the river, to winter at a small settlement close to the mountains, called Pueblo. The Battalion was now inspected, and eighty-six men, found inefficient, were ordered, under two officers, with nearly all the women, to go to the same point; five wives of officers were reluctantly allowed to accompany the march, but furnished their own transportation.
“By special arrangement and consent, the Battalion was paid in checks-not very available at Santa Fe.
“With every effort, the quartermaster could only undertake to furnish rations for sixty days; and, in fact, full rations of only flour, sugar, coffee and salt; salt pork only for thirty days, and soap for twenty. To venture without pack-saddles would be grossly imprudent and so that burden was added.”
Redick N. Allred, Quartermaster Sergeant, of company A, made the purchases here mentioned.
I will here add, in relation to Colonel Cooke’s assertion that the Battalion “was much worn by traveling on foot and marching from Nauvoo, Illinois,” that while his statement is strictly correct, it was much worse “worn” by the foolish and unnecessary forced marches of Lieutenants Smith and Dykes, which utterly broke down both men and beasts, and was the prime cause of the greater part of the sickness and probably of many deaths.
I am satisfied that any other set of men but Latter-day Saints would have mutinied rather than submit to the oppressions and abuse thus heaped upon them.
About noon, October 19th, we took leave of John D. Lee and Howard Egan, who started with our checks for Council Bluffs, being accompanied by Lieutenant Samuel L. Gulley, ex-quartermaster of the Battalion, and Roswell Stevens.
The stand Lieutenant Gully took against Lieutenants Smith and Dukes and Dr. Sanderson, at Fort Leavenworth, and subsequently, had created such a prejudice among the non-Mormon officers that it was thought best for him to resign and return home. He had, however, established his character as a brave, noble-minded and undeviating friend to the Battalion, in whose memory the very name of Samuel L. Gully is associated with all the noble characteristics that grace a model officer. He would have sacrificed his life rather than be untrue to his friends.
With a hearty shake of the hand and “God bless you, Brother Gully, and give you a safe journey to the bosom of your family and the church,” we bade him adieu and never saw him after. He returned with the parties mentioned, and died the next year in crossing the plains en route for Salt Lake. Peace to his ashes.
Simultaneously with the departure of these men, the Battalion broke camp at Santa Fe and traveled six miles to Aqua Frio, the nearest point for grazing.
Under date of November 19th, the commander adds: “I have brought road tools and have determined to take through my wagons; but the experiment is not a fair one, as the mules are nearly broken down at the outset. The only good ones, about twenty, which I bought near Albuquerque, were taken for the express for Fremont’s mail-the General’s order requiring “the twenty-one best in Santa Fe.”
It is but justice to the Colonel and the command to state here that, with few exceptions, the mule and ox teams used from Santa Fe to California were the same worn-out and broken down animals that we had driven all the way from Council Bluffs and Fort Leavenworth; indeed, some of them had been driven all the way from Nauvoo the same season.
On the 20th of November, after we had traveled past every place where it would be possible to purchase provisions for a considerable length of time, to the surprise of the command the rations were reduced, as will be seen by the following:
(Orders No. 11.)
“HEAD QUARTERS MORMON BATTALION,
“Until further orders, three-fourths pound of flour, also three-fourths rations sugar and coffee will be issued. Beef one and a half pounds will be issued for a day’s ration. The commanders of companies will select a non-commissioned officer from each company. He will be reported on daily duty, whose duty it will be to issue rations and superintend the loading of the wagons and the care of the mules. They will have immediate command of the teamsters and assistants. Commanders of companies will be held strictly responsible that the issue of rations is made carefully as now ordered. The welfare and safety of the Battalion may depend on it.
(2) “Hereafter, no muskets or knapsacks will be carried in a public wagon or on a public mule without orders or express permission of the commanding officer, and no one will leave his company a quarter of a mile without permission, and no musket will be fired in camp. The officer of the day will attend to the execution of these regulations and confine under guard any one who disobeys them. At reveille all will turn out under arms. The company commanders will order turns of guard or confine those who fail. After roll call the ranks will be opened and an officer will pass down each rank and see that all are fully armed and equipped. Immediately after roll call, breakfast will be disposed of and everything packed in the wagons by a sufficient number of each mess under the acting Quartermaster Sergeants of the company, as provided for in the order. All this will be done without waiting for signals or the loss of a moment. The teams will be hitched up as the teamsters get their breakfast. Morning reports will be handed in to the Adjutant ten minutes after. Every teamster must have one or more buckets or camp kettles with which to water his team. The teams will not stop to water unless ordered by the commanding officers, as everything depends on our animals. I call all the officers as everything depends on our animals. I call all the officers and the Quartermaster Sergeants of companies and the teamsters and the assistants to do the best for them possible. The order will be read twice at the head of each company by its commanders.
“By order of
LIEUT. COL. COOKE.
(Signed) G. P. DYKES, Adjutant.”
The foregoing order was strictly observed. The officers and soldiers were brought to the letter of the law. The discipline enforced was quite as strict as that of the regular army. There was one feature about Colonel Cooke’s discipline which differed materially from that of Colonel Smith. His theory was that officers should obey first, and set the example to the men. The first breach of the regulations was by an officer, and it was promptly punished.
Captain Jesse D. Hunter, of company B, was put under arrest on the morning of the 21st of October and made to march in the rear of his company during the day, for remaining over night in Santa Fe without the knowledge or consent of the commanding officer. By this move the Battalion learned that if their new commander was strictly in his discipline, he was impartial, as officers would be held to the same accountability as soldiers. Smith’s policy was just the reverse of this, for while privates were punished by him for the merest trifles, officers could go where and do what they pleased, without any notice being taken of them.
I cannot forego the temptation to allude to a couple of incidents showing the contrast between the Battalion of “Mormons” and a portion of Price’s regiment of Missouri volunteers. Some of the latter were doubtless among those who aided, under this same Colonel Price, in driving the Saints from Missouri. I further quote from Cooke’s “Conquest of New Mexico and California:”
“At the last moment I learned that nineteen beeves and fourteen mules were missing. * * I was, of course, without mounted men to send after the missing cattle. I sent the officer of the day, and every member of the old guard in pursuit, in four parties, * * but this consumed an hour. They were all recovered.”
Under date of the 23rd, he says: “Passed the camp of a Major and three companies of Price’s regiment, who left Santa Fe, four days before the Battalion; the Major said that after a day’s march it took him two or three to collect the animals.”