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The Command and Staff in the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War

Utah Historical Quarterly

Vol. XX, 1952, No. 4



MUCH has already been written about the Mormon Battalion and its famous march from Council Bluffs, Iowa, via Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, to San Diego, California, in the War with Mexico in 1846-47. Accordingly the people of Utah are fairly familiar with the personnel of the officers, non-commissioned officers, and enlisted men who constituted the five companies of the Battalion. Some of them reached Salt Lake Valley July 29, 1847, only five days behind the original company of Pioneers, after having spent the previous winter at Pueblo, Colorado. The remainder, almost without exception, returned to Utah to rejoin their families and co-religionists when they were discharged from the service of the United States at "Ciudad de Los Angeles," California, July 16, 1847. All of them contributed substantially to the settlement and early growth of Utah and the adjoining states, especially Arizona. But too little is known of the regular army officers who recruited and commanded the Battalion. Who were these officers and what were their subsequent professional and personal accomplishments?


Shortly after the outbreak of the Mexican War, President James K. Polk met with his cabinet on June 2, 1846, to outline the over-all strategy of the conflict. It was decided that three armies should be organized. One of these was the Army of the West, to be commanded by Colonel Stephen Watts Kearny,  with the assigned mission of conquering New Mexico and Upper California. As part of his forces, Kearny "was also authorized to receive into service as volunteers a few hundred of the Mormons who are now on their way to California, with a view to conciliate them, attach them to our country, & prevent them from taking part against us." 

At that time Colonel Kearny was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in command of the 1st Dragoons. Among the officers of the regiment were Captain Philip St. George Cooke, Captain James Allen, 1st Lieutenant Andrew J. Smith, and 2nd Lieutenant George Stoneman. There Kearny received a letter of instructions from Secretary of War W. L. Marcy, dated June 3, 1846, which designated him commanding general of the Army of the West; outlined his mission to the Southwest and to the Pacific Coast; and authorized him to activate a force consisting primarily of the 1st Dragoons, two regiments of mounted volunteers from Missouri, and a battalion of infantry to be raised from the scattered Mormon settlements in Iowa. As to the last organization, the letter stated in part: "You are hereby authorized to muster into service such as can be induced to volunteer, not, however, to a number exceeding one third of your entire force. Should they enter the service they will be paid as other volunteers and you can allow them to designate as far as it can be properly done, the persons to act as officers thereof." 

Late in June Kearny moved out of Fort Leavenworth after issuing the necessary orders to Captain Allen to recruit a battalion from the Latter-day Saints. He received the one star of a brigadier general while marching along the Santa Fe Trail. The Army of the West occupied Santa Fe August 18, 1846, without opposition and the general set up a military government for New Mexico, which then included Arizona. Leaving Santa Fe September 25, with a small force from the 1st Dragoons, including Captain Cooke's Company K, General Kearny arrived in California early in December. After two numerically small but fierce engagements with the native Californians, he obtained their surrender on January 13, 1847. Then ensued a bitter controversy with Brevet Lieutenant Colonel John C. Fremont over the military governorship.


In the meantime Captain Allen had organized the Mormon Battalion. James Allen was born in 1806 in Ohio, but was appointed to West Point from his residence in Indiana in 1825. In his class of 1829 were two men who played illustrious roles in the Army of the Confederate States of America in the Civil War. Foremost was Robert E. Lee, of Virginia, number 2 in the class, of which Allen rated number 35 out of 46 graduates. Lee, of the Corps of Engineers, served later as superintendent of the Military Academy, and at the outbreak of the War Between the States was colonel, 1st Cavalry. He decided to offer his sword to his native state and eventually became the commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia and the outstanding commander of the South. Another classmate was Joseph E. Johnston, also a Virginian. In 1861 Johnston held the rank of brigadier general, U. S. Army, and acted as the quartermaster for the service. He also followed the South and held some of the most important commands in the Confederate Army. Philip St. George Cooke was two years ahead of Allen in the class of 1827.

Allen's first assignment was as 2d lieutenant, 5th Infantry, but on November 4, 1833, he joined the 1st Dragoons, eight months after it was organized, and remained during his entire service as a cavalryman. On May 31, 1835, he was promoted to his first lieutenancy in the regiment and received his two bars as a captain June 30, 1837. Almost his entire career was on the frontier, especially at Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth, where he was stationed with the 1st Dragoons early in 1846.

Pursuant to his instructions from the War Department, Colonel Stephen W. Kearny issued this order:

Headquarters, Army of the West, Fort Leavenworth,

June 19, 1846.


It is understood that there is a large body of Mormons who are desirous of emigrating to California, for the purpose of settling in that country, and I have, therefore, to direct that you will proceed to their camps and endeavor to raise from among them four or five companies of volunteers to join me in my expedition to that country, each company to consist of any number between seventy-three and one hundred and nine; the officers of each company will be a captain, first lieutenant and second lieutenant, who will be elected by the privates and subject to your approval, and the captains then to appoint the non-commissioned officers, also subject to your approval. The companies, upon being thus organized, will be mustered by you into the service of the United States, and from that day will commence to receive the pay, rations and other allowances given to the other infantry volunteers, each according to his rank. You will, upon mustering into service the fourth company, be considered as having the rank, pay and emoluments of a lieutenant-colonel of infantry, and are authorized to appoint an adjutant, sergeant-major and quartermaster-sergeant for the battalion.

The companies, after being organized, will be marched to this post, where they will be armed and prepared for the field, after which they will, under your command, follow on my trail in the direction of Santa Fe, and where you will receive further orders from me. . . .

You will have the Mormons distinctly to understand that I wish to have them as volunteers for twelve months; that they will be marched to California, receiving pay and allowances during the above time, and at its expiration they will be discharged, and allowed to retain, as their private property, the guns and accoutrements furnished to them at this post.

Each company will be allowed four women as laundresses, who will travel with the company, receiving rations and other allowances given to the laundresses of our army.

With the foregoing conditions, which are hereby pledged to the Mormons, and which will be faithfully kept by me and other officers on behalf of the government of the United States, I cannot doubt but that you will, in a few days, be able to raise five hundred young and efficient men for this expedition.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

(Signed) S. W. KEARNY,

Colonel of First Dragoons. To Captain JAMES ALLEN, First Reg. Dragoons, Fort Leavenworth. 

Allen immediately proceeded to the winter camps of the Latter-day Saints in Iowa to recruit the proposed Battalion. On June 26, 1846, at Mount Pisgah, he issued a circular to the Mormons explaining his mission as a recruiting officer. The response was immediate and favorable. Not only did President Brigham Young assist personally and officially in securing the necessary officers and enlisted men to complete the required roster, but he sent his closest Church associates to the several camps of the Mormons to help in the enterprise. Finally five companies were mustered into the service of the United States at Council Bluffs on July 16, 1846. They numbered 549 and included several families of women and children and additional servants. 

In accordance with Colonel Kearny's orders. Captain Allen, after the mustering in of the Battalion, became brevet lieutenant colonel, U. S. Army. He marched his command from Council Bluffs along the Missouri River to Fort Leavenworth where the soldiers received equipment and arms, but drew a money allowance for their uniforms, which they sent back to their Church leaders.

The Battalion departed from Fort Leavenworth about August 13, 1846, to join the Army of the West at Santa Fe. The route was along the well-established Santa Fe Trail.

Unfortunately, on August 23, Colonel Allen died. Third Lieutenant Samuel L. Gully of Company E, in a letter to President Brigham Young, expressed the sincere feelings of the entire Battalion: "The colonel has many warm friends here and many more in the army."  So ended an army career which might have equalled the future achievements of the other regular officers of the Mormon Battalion.

Upon orders of Lieutenant Colonel Clifton Wharton, then commanding officer of Fort Leavenworth, 1 st Lieutenant Andrew J. Smith, 1st Dragoons, took over temporary command of the Battalion with the practically unanimous consent of the officers. The march to Santa Fe was completed October 9 to 12, 1846.


Philip St. George Cooke was born near Leesburg, in Loudoun County, Virginia, June 13, 1809. He entered the United States Military Academy in 1823, when he was barely 14 years old, being the youngest member of the class of 1827.  At that time the Corps of Cadets was relatively small, so Cooke had opportunity to become personally acquainted with the members of the classes of 1824 to 1830, which furnished many outstanding officers in the Mexican and Civil Wars.

From the class of 1825 came Robert Anderson, defender of Fort Sumpter, and Charles F. Smith, who was with Cooke later in the Utah Expedition of 1857-61. Albert Sidney Johnston graduated in 1826. He was the commanding general of the Utah Expedition, and at the Battle of Shiloh in the Civil War, and while in command of the Confederate forces as a general, fell of mortal wounds. A member of the class of 1828, one year after Cooke, Jefferson Davis later became President of the Confederate States of America.

Cooke graduated from West Point in 1827 as number 23 in a class of 38, and received a commission as brevet 2d lieutenant of infantry. He reported to the 6th Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis.  Two years later, under Major Bennet Riley, he made the first of many trips on the Santa Fe Trail. A later expedition, in 1843, was an assignment to guard the annual traders' caravan along the trail. In 1845 he marched with the 1st Dragoons from Fort Leavenworth and followed the Oregon Trail, which he later traversed several times, as far as the South Pass in the Rocky Mountains. In fact by far the greater part of Cooke's service was on the frontier. In 1832 he participated in the Black Hawk War against the Sac Indians in Illinois, in which his fellow West Pointer, Jefferson Davis, and, it is interesting to note, a lanky captain of Illinois Volunteers named Abraham Lincoln, also served. In the course of the years Cooke established a reputation as one of the army's foremost Indian campaigners, having been active in numerous expeditions and battles against the redskins, both before and after the Civil War.

On March 4, 1833, he was promoted 1st lieutenant, 1st Dragoons, when that first cavalry regiment in the army was organized. His entire service thereafter was with the cavalry, the "Long Knives," as the Indians called them. Much later he wrote a text on cavalry tactics which was adopted for that arm of the service. Cooke's next promotion came May 31, 1835, to captain, 1st Dragoons.

When the Mexican War started. Captain Cooke was stationed with Company K, 1st Dragoons, at Fort Crawford, Wisconsin, although the main regiment was at Fort Leavenworth. Upon being "ordered to the seat of war at the South," he took Company K by boat to St. Louis and there met Company G, under Captain E. V. Sumner, which had similarly been stationed at Fort Atkinson, Iowa. They were then ordered to join Colonel Kearny at Fort Leavenworth, after he had made strong representations to Brigadier General George W. Brooke, commanding the Third Military District at St. Louis, that the two companies rejoin their outfit. Taking steamship on the Missouri River at St. Louis, June 28, they arrived at Fort Leavenworth July 3, only to find that Kearny had left three days earlier. Hastening from the Fort on July 6, the two companies, by forced marches, rejoined their regiment at Bent's Fort, Colorado, on the Arkansas River, July 31. Soon afterwards Cooke was sent to Santa Fe in advance of the main body with 12 selected men from Company K, but failed to make arrangements for its surrender.  He and his Company K were designated as part of Kearny's expedition of 300 dragoons towards the Pacific. They left Santa Fe September 25, 1846.

Seven days later the small advance element of the Army of the West was camped on the Rio Grande at "La Joya Ciboletta, the "jewel of a little bull,' " wrote Cooke. "An express has arrived from Santa Fe; Colonel Price reports his arrival; he confirms the death of Colonel Allen of the Mormon Volunteers. And now, at night, I have been selected to succeed him; which, of course, must turn my face to Santa Fe tomorrow." 

General Kearny's order to take command of the Battalion stated:

Head Qrs Army of the West Camp on the Rio del Norte near Joya October 2d 1846.

Orders. ) No. 33. )

I . . . The melancholy information of the death of Capt. Allen 1st Drags., having been this day received, Capt. Cooke, 1st Drags, will return to Santa Fe, and assume command of the Battalion of Mormons on its arrival at that place, and of Capt. Hudson's Mounted Company: which force he will conduct to Upper California, following the route now being taken by the Dragoons. Capt. Cooke will be furnished with a copy of the instructions given to the late Captain Allen and will be governed by them.

By order of Brig. Gen. S. W. Kearny (Signed) H. S. Turner

Capt. A. A. A. Gen. 

Writing on October 3, Cooke said: "About noon, accompanied by my bugler, I left camp for Santa Fe . . . and on the 7th reached Santa Fe. . . . The battalion had not arrived." As already noted, it came in between October 9 and 12. "The rear of the battalion arrived last evening," wrote Cooke in his journal on October 13, "and this morning I assumed command; it is four hundred and eighty-six strong; but about sixty are invalids, or unfit for service, . . ." His first official act was toissue the following order:

Orders No. 7

Head Quarters Mormon Battalion Santa Fe

October 13, 1846

By virtue of my appointment, as Lieutenant Colonel of the Battalion of Volunteers, by the General commanding the Army of the West, and pursuant to his instructions contained in Order No. 33, of the 2nd of October, I hereby assume command of that Battalion now encamped in this city.

First Lieutenant A. J. Smith, 1st dragoons, will receive actg. A. C. L. from Captain Grier, 1st dragoons, A. A. C. L., eight hundred dollars of specie funds belonging to the subsistence department.

Brevet Second Lieutenant George Stoneman, 1st dragoons, will perform the duties of Assistant Quartermaster on the expedition to Upper California. He will give the proper receipts for transportation, etc., not issued to the captains of companies.

(Signed) P. St. George Cooke Lieutenant Colonel Commanding. 

The new commanding officer also noted others belonging to his staff. "Assistant Surgeon George Sanderson, of Missouri, is attached to the battalion .... My guide is a Mr. Weaver, sent to me by the general."  Other guides who joined later were Dr. Stephen C. Foster, Charbonneau, and Leroux.

Upon his taking over command of the Battalion, Cooke automatically became brevet lieutenant colonel under General Kearny's authority, although that official rank was not bestowed upon him by the War Department until February 20, 1847, "for meritorious conduct in California." 

One of Cooke's earliest actions was to weed out the incapacitated soldiers and practically all the women.

Captain Higgins and a small detachment were sent from the crossing of the Arkansas in charge of a large number of women and children, who are to winter at a temporary settlement of the Mormons at Pueblo, near its headwaters; nevertheless, there are here twenty five women and many children. Colonel Doniphan, commanding in New Mexico, has ordered those pronounced by the surgeons unfit for the march to be sent to winter at Pueblo; and as I believe women would be exposed to great hardships on my exploring winter march (besides being a serious encumbrance) and many of them being willing, I have ordered all the laundresses to accompany the detachment for the Arkansas. Captain Brown will command it, and it will consist of First Lieutenant Luddington and eighty-six rank and file, embracing only a few efficient men— husbands of the twenty laundresses. Captain Higgins was order to join the battalion here with his party.

Four women, wives of officers, accompanied the Battalion throughout its entire march.

On November 9, Lieutenant Colonel Cooke recorded:

. . . Twenty-two men are on the sick report; quite a number have been transported in the wagons, and the knapsacks and arms of others. Many of the men are weakly or old or debilitated or trifling. Beside all this, my rations are insufficient.
I have then ordered that fifty-five of the sick and least efficient men shall return to Santa Fe. 

But personnel problems were not the only difficulties Colonel Cooke faced. He wrote 32 years later:

Every thing 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 . . . 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 mules 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. . . .
By special arrangement and consent, the battalion 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. 

One of Cooke's principal missions was assigned to him by General Kearny after the Battalion was actually under way. The general, in order to speed his arrival in California, decided on October 15 to abandon his wagons on the Rio Grande and leave to Cooke "the task of opening a wagon road to the Pacific." 

The saga of the march of the Mormon Battalion is too well known to detail here. Leaving Santa Fe afoot on October 19, 1846, they followed down the Rio Grande to what is now Rincon, New Mexico, then headed southwestward into the deserts of that state and Arizona. They passed near Albuquerque and arrived at Tucson December 16, but found the Mexican garrison had evacuated the place. From Tucson the Battalion moved in a northwesterly direction to the Gila River and followed that to the Colorado and thence into California. They arrived at the San Diego Mission January 29, 1847.

"The evening of this day of the march," wrote Cooke, "I rode down, by moonlight, and reported to the General in San Diego."

The Battalion seemed to have deserved, and cheered heartily the following order:

Order Number 1 Headquarters Mormon Battalion

Mission of San Diego, January 30, 1847

The lieutenant-colonel commanding congratulates the battalion on their safe arrival on the shore of the Pacific ocean, and the conclusion of the march of over two thousand miles. History may be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry. Nine-tenths of it has been through a wilderness where nothing but savages and wild beasts are found, or deserts where, for want of water, there is no living creature. There, with almost hopeless labor, we have dug deep wells which the future traveler will enjoy. Without a guide who had traversed them, we have ventured into trackless prairies where water was not found for several marches. With crowbar and pick and ax in hand, we have worked our way over mountains, which seemed to defy aught save the wild goat, and hewed a passage through a chasm of living rock more narrow than our wagons. To bring these first wagons to the Pacific, we have preserved the strength of our mules by herding them ever over large tracts, which you have laboriously guarded without loss. The garrisons of four presidios of Sonora, concentrated within the walls of Tucson, gave us no pause. We drove them out with our artillery, but our intercourse with the citizens was unmarked by a single act of injustice. Thus, marching half naked and half fed, and living upon wild animals, we have discovered and made a road of great value to our country. Arrived at the first settlement of California after a single day's rest, you cheerfully turned off from the route to this point of promised repose to enter upon a campaign, and meet, as we believed, the approach of the enemy; and this, too, without even salt to season your sole subsistence of fresh meat. Lieutenants A. J. Smith and George Stoneman, of the First dragoons, have shared and given valuable aid in all these labors. Thus, volunteers, you have exhibited some high and essential qualities of veterans. But much remains undone. Soon, you will turn your strict attention to the drill, to system and order, to forms also, which are all necessary to the soldier.
By order of Lieutenant-colonel P. St. Geo. Cooke, P. C. Merrill, Adjutant 

This rather unprecedented praise from a very conservative professional soldier, who had not had too high an opinion of the Battalion when he took command, is indeed well deserved. An eminent American historian has termed this overland march "one of the half dozen most extraordinary episodes of the War."  The wagon road which the Battalion reconnoitered and established was traveled later by thousands of emigrants and two great transcontinental railroads, the Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific, constructed their tracks on parts of it.

At San Luis Rey, California, February 5, 1847, Cooke submitted a short written report to General Kearny, and on May 13, at his own request in order to get to Mexico, he was relieved from command of the Battalion. The unit was discharged July 16, 1847, at Los Angeles. Cooke loyally supported General Kearny in the latter's

controversy with Fremont. Finally the "Pathfinder" was placed under arrest and Kearny and Cooke conducted him under guard in June to Fort Leavenworth. It is of interest that this guard was composed chiefly of Mormon Battalion men under command of Sergeant Nathaniel V. Jones. At the subsequent courtmartial of Fremont in Washington, which rocked the capital for weeks, Cooke was one of the principal witnesses for Kearny. 

Cooke had been promoted major, 2d Dragoons, February 16, 1847, while he was still in California, but he did not join the regiment until 1852 at Fort Mason, Texas. In the meantime he had first commanded a regiment in the garrison of Mexico City, and then for four years was recruiting officer and commandant of the Cavalry School at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Shortly after his promotion to lieutenant colonel, 2d Dragoons, July 15, 1853, he reported at Fort Union, New Mexico. In that territory he led two successful expeditions against the Apaches in 1854. The next year, in Nebraska, he was in command of the mounted forces which inflicted a crushing defeat on the Brule Sioux at the Battle of Blue Water, September 3, 1855. During the turbulent times in "Bleeding Kansas" in 1856 and 1857, he was in command of the regular army field forces which helped to pacify conditions. This duty delayed the 2d Dragoons in joining the Utah Expedition in 1857. Starting late in the season from Fort Leavenworth, Cooke marched his regiment under terribly adverse weather conditions in so efficient a manner as to win commendation both from the War Department and Brevet Brigadier General Albert Sidney Johnston. He arrived at Fort Bridger November 19, 1857, and spent the winter in the mountains there. The Expedition marched through Salt Lake City on June 26, 1858, and established Camp Floyd in Cedar Valley. Cooke had been promoted to the eagles of a full colonel on June 14, but he did not receive word of it for some time. He did not remain long at Camp Floyd, but went on leave to complete his "Cavalry Tactics" and then spent a year in observation and study in Europe. He returned to command the Department of Utah August 20, 1860, and his first act was to change the name of the camp to Fort Crittenden. The post was abandoned August 8, 1861, and Cooke marched the garrison overland to Fort Leavenworth and then took the 2d Dragoons to Washington, D. C.

The outbreak of the Civil War brought Colonel Cooke face to face with a serious personal problem. All the regular army officers from Virginia had declared for the South except Winfield Scott and George Thomas. The Cooke family was completely divided in its loyalties. The only son, John R. Cooke, a Harvard graduate, fought in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and became a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army. The eldest daughter, Flora, had married a young Virginia cavalry officer, J. E. B. Stuart, who attained the rank of major general, C. S. A., and with it the renown of being the ablest cavalry leader in the Southern armies. Another daughter, Maria, was married to Lee's surgeon general. Doctor Brewer, and a third, Julia, was the wife of Major Sharpe, who became a general officer in the Federal Army. In this heartbreaking situation Cooke affirmed his allegiance to the Union.

His elevation to the permanent rank of brigadier general, U. S. Army, soon followed, dating from November 12, 1861. His first assignment was to command a brigade of regular cavalry in the defense of Washington. Then on March 24, 1862, he became the commanding general, cavalry division, Army of the Potomac, the top cavalry post in the Union Army. In the Virginia Peninsular Campaign of that year he was engaged in the siege of Yorktown and, among others, in the battles of Williamsburg, Gaines' Mill, and Glendale. During this campaign his son-in-law, "Jeb" Stuart, led a force of Rebel cavalry during the night completely around the Union Army.  Whether this exploit adversely affected Cooke's standing does not appear, but he ceased to be the federal chief of cavalry July 5, 1862, after four months in that command, and was assigned to courtmartial duty for the next 14 months. Then on October 13, 1863, he was appointed commanding general of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, military district, and in May of the next year became general superintendent of the recruiting service of the army and functioned as such until March 19, 1866. He was elevated to brevet major general, U. S. Army, March 13, 1865, "for gallant and meritorious services during the Rebellion."

After the Civil War, General Cooke served almost entirely in the West, including considerable Indian fighting. He was in turn commanding general of the departments of the Platte, the Cumberland, and the Lakes. When he retired in 1873 he had served continuously for 46 years, longer than any other officer then in the army. He died at Detroit, Michigan, March 20, 1895, at 86 years of age. 

In World War II Camp Cooke, on the Pacific shore in northern California, was named after the commanding officer of the Mormon Battalion, as was Camp Kearny, in southern California in World War I, for the commander of the Army of the West.


Andrew Jackson Smith was appointed to the United States Military Academy from Pennsylvania, where he was born April 28, 1815. He graduated with the class of 1838 and was commissioned 2d lieutenant, 1st Dragoons. Practically all his service before 1846 was with that regiment in the West. He was promoted 1st lieutenant, 1st Dragoons, March 4, 1845, and one year later was stationed at Fort Leavenworth. It has already been pointed out that upon Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Allen's death in August, 1846, Lieutenant Smith took over temporary command of the Mormon Battalion and continued its march to Santa Fe. When Cooke succeeded Allen October 13, he appointed Smith as Battalion quartermaster and commissary officer. In that capacity Smith accompanied the Battalion to San Diego. Shortly after their arrival in California he was promoted to captain, 1st Dragoons, February 16, 1847.

When the War Between the States started he was stationed in California as major, 1st Dragoons. For a month, late in 1861, he acted as colonel, 2d California Volunteer Cavalry, but hastened back to Missouri in November. There he became chief of cavalry for Major General Henry W. Halleck. He was elevated to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers, March 17, 1862. During that year he led his cavalrymen in the Corinth Campaign and at Chickasaw Bluffs. In 1863 he commanded the Cavalry Division, XIII Corps, and later the 6th Division and the 3rd Division, XVI Corps, successively, including the siege of Vicksburg. He was promoted major general, U. S. Volunteers, March 12, 1864, and participated in the Red River Campaign and the Battle of Nashville during that year. Probably his most notable achievement was his brilliant defeat of the famous Confederate general, Nathan B. Forrest, in the Battle of Tupelo in July, 1864. He commanded the XVI Corps for the first half of 1865, having been confirmed as brevet major general, U. S. Army. As such he took part in the Mobile Campaign. His cavalry moved around in the Mississippi Valley so rapidly that he referred to them as "the lost tribes of Israel." He was mustered out of the volunteer service January 15, 1866; reverted then to his permanent rank in the regular army as lieutenant colonel; and on the following July 28 was promoted to colonel, 7th Cavalry. In that and the following year he commanded the Department of the Upper Arkansas. He resigned from the army May 6, 1869.

In later civilian life General Smith was appointed postmaster of St. Louis for a number of years and acted as city auditor from 1877 to 1889. In the latter year, on January 22, Congress passed a special act retiring him as a full colonel. He died January 30, 1897, at the age of 82.

General Cooke thought very highly of the young 1st lieutenant who served on his staff with the Mormon Battalion. In 1878 he wrote: "As Smith is not a very distinctive name, it may be interesting to mention that this one, now of St. Louis, became a very distinguished Major General." 


Born August 8, 1822, George Stoneman was appointed to West Point from New York. He had several colleagues in the class of 1846 who distinguished themselves in the Civil War, among them George B. McClellan, who was the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac in the Peninsular Campaign of 1862, and Thomas J. ("Stonewall") Jackson, on the Southern side, who developed into Lee's ablest strategist and who was accidentally killed by his own men at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Upon graduation Stoneman was commissioned 2d lieutenant, 1st Dragoons. He joined the Mormon Battalion in October, and when Cooke assumed command he appointed Stoneman assistant quartermaster. Thus he found himself on the march from Santa Fe to California when he had been out of West Point only three months. After the Mexican War he served with the cavalry in the West.

When the war clouds gathered in 1861 Stoneman had already established himself as one of the outstanding cavalry officers in the United States Army. So, early in 1862, he was assigned to take over General Cooke's former command as chief of cavalry in the Federal Army of the Potomac. Later he became commanding general, 1st Division, III Corps, and finally of the HI Corps. As such he fought in a number of raids and battles in the Peninsular Campaign. He was very soon promoted to major general, U. S. Volunteers, November 29, 1862. When General Hooker took command of the Army of the Potomac, Stoneman received the direction of a cavalry corps of 10,000 men, the largest in American history up to that time. In 1863 he was assigned as chief of the cavalry bureau at Washington. After that tour he was sent out to the Army of the Ohio and served under General William Tecumseh Sherman as commanding general of a cavalry corps and of the XXIII Corps. He participated in the move on Atlanta and was captured at Clinton, Georgia, in August, 1864, but he was exchanged and two months later resumed his services with the Union cavalry. He was among the few federal officers to receive the permanent rank of major general, U. S. Army, which was awarded him March 13, 1865. Thus the young 2d lieutenant of the staff of the Mormon Battalion achieved higher professional rank than any of his colleagues.

After the war, General Stoneman commanded the District of Petersburg and then the Department of Arizona. While in this post he retired for disability in August, 1871, and established his residence in Los Angeles, which he had first seen as a small Mexican village in 1847. His "magnificent estate . . . Los Robles" was one of the show places of southern California. In 1883 he was elected governor of California for a four-year term. He died September 5, 1894, aged 72.

In World War II Camp Stoneman on San Francisco Bay at Oakland was named after him. It was the most important outfitting camp and port of embarkation on the Pacific Coast.

General Stoneman's outstanding accomplishments in the Civil War as a federal cavalry commander won him a place second only to General Philip H. Sheridan in that arm of the service.


Very little is known of the battalion surgeon. Doctor George B. Sanderson, except as he was mentioned in official army orders and in the diaries of enlisted men. From all available evidence, including the order appointing him and likewise the general practice then prevailing in the army, he did not hold a commission in the United States Army, but was hired as a civilian contract surgeon. His appointment, dated August 1, 1846, referred to him as a Missourian. During the Battalion's march from Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fe, Dr. Sanderson found himself in continuous bitter controversy with the soldiers, who accused him of a hostile attitude toward them, of inhuman methods of treatment, and of dispensing vile medicine. But when Cooke assumed command, nothing further was heard of such matters; the doctor's name appears only twice in the Cooke journal and then solely as to non-medical matters. He resigned August 31, 1847, and nothing is known of him afterwards.


Other than Lieutenants Smith and Stoneman of the regular army and Dr. Sanderson, the entire staff of the Mormon Battalion was drawn from the five companies.

The first and most important position to be filled was that of Battalion adjutant. On the recommendation of President Brigham Young, 1st Lieutenant George P. Dykes was appointed by Colonel Allen on July 16, 1846. He served until November 1, when, at his own request in order to return to Company D, in which Captain Nelson V. Higgins was absent, the Battalion commander directed his release with "the thanks of his commanding officer for the faithful performance of his duties." Second Lieutenant Philemon C. Merrill was designated to take Dyke's place.

James H. Glines of Company A had acted as Battalion sergeant major until a few days before it left Santa Fe, when he was removed and James Ferguson appointed.

Another removal at Santa Fe was that of 3rd Lieutenant Samuel L. Gully, who had been named Battalion quartermaster at Fort Leavenworth on August 6. First Lieutenant Andrew J. Smith, 1st Dragoons, was then assigned to that post. Nevertheless Gully resigned in a huff and left for the Missouri River. Captains Jefferson Hunt, Daniel C. Davis, and Jesse D. Hunter, together with 2d Lieutenant William S. S. Willes, felt impelled to complain to "Pres. B. Young and Council" about the matter. Similar incidents show that the Battalion suffered its share of internal dissension, as is inevitably the case in a new and unsolder, disciplined organization of volunteers. Under Cooke they grew out of such "rookie" displays.

Looking back after a century of great progress in medical science, it is observed that the practitioners of two diverging schools in the Battalion supply a delightfully humorous sidelight, even though both were deadly serious at the time. Lieutenant Colonel Allen had early designated William L. Mclntyre as "assistant surgeon." He was not a member of the unit, but, according to Tyler, functioned as something in the nature of an "herb doctor." Doctor Sanderson believed strongly in calomel and arsenic. "So," says Tyler, Mclntyre "must not administer the herbs to his afflicted friends and brethren unless ordered to do so by the mineral quack who was his superior in office." So rank prevailed over prescription! Under this handicap Mc- Intyre's subsequent medical ministrations must have been quite unobtrusive, because Cooke does not even mention him in the journal.


Such is the record of the command and staff of the Mormon Battalion. Three of the regular army line officers—Cooke, Smith, and Stoneman—carved out brilliant careers and attained the high rank of major general. Allen might have done so if he had been spared. The subordinate volunteers on the staff also acquitted themselves with great credit. "All honor to their names."

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