History Mormon Battalion Chapter 33 Section A


Company B At San Diego-Building a Fort-Religious Services-Literary Club-Cheap Animals-“Herding Stallions”-Death of Albert Dunham-“Stocks”-Miserable Mobocrat-Fossil Remains-Wedding-Immoral Priest-Soldiers Seeking Work-News of General Taylor’s Victory-Colonel Stevenson’s Arrival and Address-Lieutenant Clift Appointed Alcalde-First Brick Made in California-Fourth of July Celebrated-Citizens of San Diego Petition to Have the “Mormon” Soldiers Remain-Song-Return to Los Angeles

The General, and party, started on their return trip on the 13th.

Leaving the main army on the hill, it will now be in order to give an account of company B, who left the Battalion at San Luis Rey, on the 15th of March. This company was ordered to relieve the dragoons, about thirty in number, under the command of Lieutenant Stoneman, to garrison the place until further orders. The company arrived and the dragoons left for San Luis Rey on the 17th.

Next day Sergeant Hyde was appointed to take eighteen men and quarter in the fort built by the marines, on an eminence about one-fourth of a mile from the town. This fort was constructed by digging a trench on the summit of a hill, and placing a row of large logs around the same. Against these gravel and rock were thrown up, thus forming a barricade, which was thought to be invulnerable. Seventeen pieces of artillery were so arranged as to command the town and surrounding country.

Religious services were held by the detachment every Sunday, which were generally well attended by strangers, and Lieutenant Wm. Hyde, and others, delivered a number of excellent discourses and lectures, which gave general satisfaction to all parties. A society was also organized, entitled the Young Men’s Club, for the purpose of lecturing, reciting, declaiming, debating, etc., a kind of Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association.

A report being in circulation that the people of Sonora were landing arms on the coast and making other preparations for war, and that a large army was on the north side of the Colorado river, the frigate Congress sailed about the 29th to prevent their encroachments.

On the 4th of May, the company received six months’ pay, the most of which was expended, by each individual, in purchasing animals, clothing, etc., as an outfit for the return trip. It was exceedingly fortunate for the Battalion that horses and mules were so very cheap. Wild mares were from three to four dollars each, those broken, to ride, from six to twelve dollars. Gentle mares, however, seldom brought more than seven or eight dollars. Horses, unbroken, were from six to eight dollars, horses, broken to ride, from ten to twenty dollars. Good herding stallions were worth about fifty dollars each, and mules were worth about double the price of common horses.

It may be well here to explain what is meant by “herding stallions.” Each band of horses running at large in a semiwild state usually had one powerful stallion-a leading spirit among his fellows, which fought the battles for the band and also kept the animals together by chasing and biting those that lagged behind or attempted to stray away. It sometimes occurred that lame or decripid animals were bitten and kicked in a most shocking manner and occasionally even killed by these stallions. The band presided over by a stallion usually numbered about two hundred.

At 1 o’clock a. m., on the 11th, private Albert Dunham died; his death was caused by an ulcer on the brain. His sickness was only of two or three days’ duration. He was buried beside Captain Hunter’s wife.

The Indians, who were located about San Diego, occasionally stole each other’s wives. When caught, they were put in the stocks for a few days, and sometimes weeks, as a punishment. The stocks consisted of two hewn logs, one above the other, with semicircles cut in each so as to form a round hole, when joined together, large enough to go around the neck, and another smaller on each side in which to place the legs. To put culprits in, the top log had to be raised, and, after the head and feet had been put in place, it was again lowered and secured, leaving the head and feet on one side and the body on the other, resting on the ground. Sometimes only the head, and at others, only the feet, were put in the stocks.

Many of the Californian ladies dressed in silks and satins, and were exceedingly fair. As a rule, however, their reputation for morality and virtue was not the best.

Near the foreigner’s burying ground resided a miserable specimen of humanity, who stole and begged from door to door. He was one of the most forlorn of human beings. He acknowledged to having been engaged in the Haun’s Mill massacre, and begged our people to forgive him. He claimed to have been one of Fremont’s party, and said he had been among the Rocky Mountains for the last seven years.

Samuel Miles, of the Battalion, was selected as a man of legal ability and some knowledge of American law, while he remained at San Diego, to aid the Mexican alcalde, or justice of the peace, in administering the laws of the United States by getting up papers, etc., which he did to the satisfaction of the Governor, to whom all legal proceedings were submitted for approval. This is understood to have been the first administration of civil law in lower California.

An interesting fossil discovery was made on the beach by H. W. Bigler and others-the skeleton of a whale; the ribs of which were nine feet long and ten inches broad. They were bleached white, hence were very light. Two were taken to the garrison and used for seats.

On the 18th, a marriage occurred in the town, the parties to which were a sea captain and a Spanish lady. The ceremony was performed by a Catholic Priest. Cannon and musketry were fired, while the wedding procession was marching. Feasting and drinking were kept up all night. Sometimes such parties were kept up three or four days and nights in succession, and the newly married couple not allowed to sleep during that time. Such weddings frequently cost from $300 to $800. The bridegroom had all the expenses to pay.

The priest of San Diego was said to have no wife, but was the father of seventeen children. He also had the reputation of being a drunken sot, and profane in his language.

The company being permitted to take jobs of work, such as making adobes, burning brick, building houses, digging wells, and performing various other kinds of mechanical labor, many availed themselves of the chance to earn something.

A letter from San Francisco to Sergeant Hyde, received on the 30th, stated that the Saints who sailed from New York, on the ship Brooklyn, had arrived and sown 145 acres of wheat, and that Samuel Brannan had gone to meet the Saints at or near the Great Salt Lake.

On the 14th of June, news of General Taylor’s victory in Mexico arrived, and twenty rounds of artillery were fired, and the General cheered long and loud.

On the 22nd, Colonel Stevenson arrived from Los Angeles, and the following day addressed the company. He spoke in the highest terms of the industry and morals of the Battalion and of their good reputation among the Californians, and expressed a great desire to have the men re-enlist, especially the young ones. Captain Hunter followed in a short speech, in which he offered to re-enlist, for six months, on condition that the Colonel would grant the company, at the expiration of the term, pay and rations to San Francisco Bay or Bear River Valley, which proposal the Colonel readily accepted, also promising that a small detachment should be sent to meet the families, and act as pioneers for them if necessary. He further promised, that those who remained in San Diego should have the privilege of continuing to obtain work and earn money whenever off duty.

On the 24th, Lieutenant Robert Clift was appointed alcalde for the post.

On the 29th, H. W. Bigler and others cleared the first yard for moulding brick in San Diego, and, indeed, the first in California. The labor was performed for a Californian, named Bandena. Philander Colton and Rufus Stoddard laid up and burnt the kiln. About this time, G. W. Taggart made a quantity of pack-saddles for the return trip.

On the 4th of July, the roar of cannon at daybreak announced the seventieth anniversary of our nation’s birth. Henry W. Bigler’s journal of this date, in substance, says of the celebration: “These demonstrations pleased the citizens so well that they brought out all the wine and brandy we wanted, and a hundred times more.”

In the evening, Captain Jesse D. Hunter and Colonel Stevenson, with Sergeant Hyde and Corporal Horace M. Alexander, who had been to Los Angeles, arrived and were heartily cheered. The prominent citizens of the town were also enthusiastically greeted, which pleased them much. They sincerely regretted that the company were going to leave them. Mrs. Bandena, one of the most prominent ladies of the town, in an address, requested that the company take the American flag with them, as there would be no one left to defend it. Her’s was a brief, but touching and patriotic speech.

BY AZARIAH SMITH. Composed when quartered at San Diego, in the service of the United States.

In forty-six we bade adieu
To loving friends and kindred too:
For one year’s service, one and all
Enlisted at our country’s call,
In these hard times.

We onward marched until we gained
Fort Leavenworth, where we obtained
Our outfit-each a musket drew-
Canteen, knapsack, and money, too,
In these hard times.

Our Colonel died-Smith took his place,
And marched us on at rapid pace;
O’er hills and plains, we had to go,
Through herds of deer and buffalo,
In these hard times.

O’er mountains and through valleys too-
We town and villages went through;
Through forests dense, with mazes twined,
Our tedious step we had to wind,
In these hard times.

At length we came to Santa Fe,
As much fatigued as men could be;
With only ten days there to stay,
When orders came to march away,
In these hard times.

Three days and twenty we march’d down
Rio Del Norte, past many a town;
Then changed our course-resolved to go
Across the mountains, high or low,
In these hard times.

We found the mountains very high,
Our patience and our strength to try;
For, on half rations, day by day,
O’er mountain heights we made our way,
In these hard times.

Some pushed the wagons up the hill,
Some drove the teams, some pack’d the mules,
Some stood on guard by night and day,
Lest haplessly our teams should stray,
In these hard times.

We traveled twenty days or more,
Adown the Gila River’s shore-
Crossed o’er the Colorado then,
And marched upon a sandy plain,
In these hard times.

We thirsted much from day to day,
And mules were dying by the way,
When lo! to view, a glad scene burst,
Where all could quench our burning thirst,
In these hard times.

We traveled on without delay,
And quartered at San Luis Rey;
We halted there some thirty days,
And now are quartered in this place,
In these hard times.

A “Mormon” soldier band we are:
May our great Father’s watchful care
In safety kindly guide our feet,
Till we, again, our friends shall meet,
And have good times.

O yes, we trust to meet our friends
Where truth its light to all extends-
Where love prevails in every breast,
Throughout the province of the blest,
And have good times.

Orders were immediately given for the company to be in readiness to march to Los Angeles and join the remainder of the Battalion, preparatory to being discharged on th 16th.

It is proper to state here that the company, having greatly improved the town, as well as being peaceful, honest, industrious and virtuous, the citizens plead with them in the strongest terms not to leave. They had dug from fifteen to twenty good wells, the only ones in the twon, several of which were walled with brick, besides building brick houses, including a court-house, to be used for courts, schools, etc. They had paved some of the sidewalks with brick, while some, being house carpenters, had done the finishing work on the inside.

On the 6th, the citizens of San Diego sent an express to P. St. George Cooke, commander of the southern military district, requesting that another company of “Mormons” be immediately sent to take the place of Company B, stating that they did not wish any other soldiers quartered there.

Up to the time of the company leaving San Diego, Philander Colton, Henry Wilcox, Rufus Stoddard and William Garner had burnt forty thousand brick. Sidney Willis had also made several log pumps and put them into wells, which gave universal satisfaction.

On the 9th, Company B took up the line of march for Los Angeles, at which place they arrived on the 15th, and took position in line.

It will now be proper to return to a consideration of the main army, which our narrative left on the hill on the 13th of May.

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