“What could be more gratifying than what we enjoyed of the blessings of heaven while passing through these trying scenes? It would be impossible, and therefore it is useless to attempt a description of what we passed through; for never since the days of Adam did a set of men live, and I may say perhaps never will live and pass through such a scene as we did in the Battalion; leaving our wives and children to the care of Him who careth for all, out upon the broad plains, and nothing to preserve them from the cold, searching winds; they were in the care of their heavenly Father. But brethren, what was their faith and confidence in God? They had a promise from our leader that He would protect them, and they were satisfied that all would be well.
“After all this we are assembled together among the mountains, to worship our God, and do that which our consciences teach us is right in the sight of high heaven.
Mr. David Wilkin said:
“If I should undertake to express my feelings this evening, I should make a complete failure; for I feel far more than I can express. I am full of pleasure and delight when I look upon so many with whom I had the honor of walking, with the knapsack and musket. I say that a braver set of men never lived, and thank heaven that we live and enjoy what the United States by its liberal constitution has bequeathed to us. We are the living monuments of our Father’s mercy; He has made us to participate in the rich blessings of His kingdom, and may He prolong our lives to a good old age. I did not think of occupying two minutes when I got up here, for I know my brethren’s hearts are full to overflowing, and I feel assured that if a vote was called, every one would readily manifest their full and entire satisfaction with the enjoyments of this festival. Brethren, while I look upon the countenances before me I feel to rejoice in the joy and pleasure that seem to beam forth from them; I contrast the scenery with the past, and compare it with what we have previously experienced.
“The motto before us-the richest gem that we can transmit to our children and children’s children. This people appreciate the sacrifice and offering of the “ram in the thicket.” Ancient Israel had their paschal lamb, and so have modern Israel.”
J. M. King was then called upon to make a few remarks; he said:
The last two days have been the happiest I ever spent upon the earth, and as has been said by others respecting the time when we parted, I also felt it to be a trying time. I left my wife and family at Pisgah, one of the sickliest parts in that district of country, and indeed it was a trying time to me. I can truly say that I feel to rejoice in the present company, in the society of my brethren and sisters.
“It was my lot to return to the States and tarry there four years before I could get to this place again, but I now rejoice that I have the privilege of being with those who have waded through “thick and thin.”
I have proved the leaders of this kingdom to be prophets of the most high God, and I am ready to support and uphold them. I well remember the evening that Brother Brigham called for recruits, and I also recollect that he promised inasmuch as we would go forth and do the best we could we should live to enjoy the society of the Saints again, and I feel to rejoice that we have the opportunity of realizing a fulfillment of the promise.
David Garner said:
“I feel thankful for this opportunity of meeting with you. I have not had such a happy time in my life as this. I will sing a few verses to cheer up you hearts.” Mr. Garner then sang “Come, come away” with much spirit and energy.
Brother Durphy said:
“I wish to present one of the blest of the Mormon Battalion before you. There are but a very few that know me now, I presume, owing to the great change that has taken place in me since we were in the service of the United States, for there is now more health and strength, and nerve in me than there was at that time, or ever was before. You all know that I was a poor hump-backed, peaky-faced, long, scrawny, kind of a man, and when we were about to leave the Bluffs, I was told that I should never see California, but thank God I have been and returned, and am now full of life and spirit, and I feel that I am one of the blest of the Lord in every respect.”
Brother Tippets next addressed the company:
He rejoiced in the pleasures of this festival, and often thought of what the brave men of the Battalion had endured. He spoke of Brother and Sister Williams’ boy being raised up from sickness by the power of God. When he went in the service of the United States, he was supposed to be in a consumption; at that time he only weighed one hundred and twenty-three pounds, but after traveling and passing through trials for nine months with the Battalion he weighed upwards of one hundred and fifty pounds.
Brother John Hess said:
“There is a feeling within me that I cannot express, but it has got my coat off. I feel to rejoice insomuch that I cannot find language to express the feeling of gratitude in my heart. I am thankful for what I enjoy from the hands of our heavenly Father. Could this feeling be bought? No, money would not begin to buy what I enjoy were it possible to sell it.
“We have felt and experienced during this festival, (saying nothing of what we have passed through in days gone by,) that the Lord is with us by his power, to protect us and do us good. It is true it was not always pleasant to have to pass through those trials, but it was for our good, and will be in future, therefore, let us be determined to never flinch so long as there is a button to the coat. I say I have rejoiced beyond anything that I could express while in the society of my brethren, and I do hope that this will not be the last time the members of this Battalion will have to mingle together.”
Singing and dancing were then freely indulged in, a spirit of charity, order and peace, governing and controlling the whole proceedings. The house was next called to order, when William Hawk came forward and made the following remarks, with much spirit and energy:
“Brethren and Sisters-I want to bear testimony to one saying that has been thrown out here, viz: that the President promised this Battalion, that inasmuch as they would go forth and do right there should not be a ball shot at them; and I can say for one, that I realize the truth of that saying; I have experienced it-I have seen those words fulfilled and that promise verified to the very letter, when placed in the midst of my enemies with nothing but these little MALLETS to defend myself with, (the speaker here exhibited his fists,) and they were well armed with bows and arrows, knives and rifles, but they burnt the priming, the powder flashing in the pan, and not a gun aimed at me went off, and their arrows broke.
“When Brigham Young said he wanted us to go I put my name down to go for one, and the Indians did not kill me. I had to leave my family at the Bluffs, my wife in a very weakly state of health. I had five children, and the oldest went with me to California, and he is now in Sacramento city. On my return, I brought my wife and was coming to this place, and she got killed at Ash Hollow, in a stampede, and her body is laid by the road side. I wish to make honorable mention of her, for she was a noble woman. The rest of my family are here and rejoicing in the truth, and I feel thankful for the blessings that have attended me; and I feel to wish I may ever pour out my soul to God for a continuance of His blessings. And I do not wish my services in that Battalion to be the last good deed of my life; I want to be ready, and to be on hand come what will.”