"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Friday, April 23, 2021


The Mormon Volunteer

This statue of “Charlie”, a member of the Mormon Battalion, by Edward J. Fraughton is part of the Ft. Stockton Memorial at the Presidio Park, Old Town San Diego, California. A sign directs us to the nearby Mormon Battalion Historic Site and identifies the statue as Cherished “Charlie.”

Cherished Charlie is accompanied and explained by 3 bronze plaques:

Erected in Honor of 
The 500 Volunteers of the Mormon Battalion
1846 - 1848 
In the midst of preparations for their exodus to the valley of the Great Salt Lake, the Mormon Pioneers were asked by the United States Government to enlist a battalion of 500 volunteers for service in the war with Mexico. These troops started from western Iowa in July 1846, and arrived in San Diego January 29, 1847, completing the longest infantry march in history. This expedition helped win the war, prepared the way for colonization of the southwest, opened new trade routes, and strengthened distant National boundaries.

Erected as a gift to the City of San Diego during its 200 year anniversary by the National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers November 22, 1969.
 Taken from an HMdb photo by Syd Whittle

The Mormon Battalion At San Diego 

On arriving in San Diego January 29, 1847, soldiers of the Mormon Battalion occupied Fort Stockton on this site. They promptly began to improve this community, digging the first wells, creating the first pumps to draw water, building the first kiln in California, and used the brick to surface side walks, face wells and buildings. They taught irrigation and built the first blacksmith shop and bakery. When orders came for them to leave, the citizens drew up a petition signed by every adult resident requesting the governor to use his influence to keep the battalion in San Diego. Fairness and hard work earned the men of the Mormon Battalion the admiration and respect of all with whom they had contact. (see HMdb)


Services of the Mormon Battalion

 The historic march of the Mormon Battalion -- -- More than 2000 miles through the wilderness -- -- was made in fulfillment of official U.S. orders. Brigham Young, Prophet – Leader of the Mormons, personally recruited these troops. The Battalion blazed the first wagon trail to the Pacific over the Southern Route, was instrumental in acquiring the vast southwestern empire for the United States; and raised the Stars and Stripes for the first time over Fort Tucson and Fort Moore. Later some of the these men helped in the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill while working their way back to Salt Lake City to rejoin Brigham Young and their families. Lt. Col. P. St. George Cooke, not a Mormon, praised his men, saying: “History may be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry.” (see HMdb)

 A nearby mural illustrates the march of the Mormon Battalion.

No. 7
in commemoration
the heroic sacrifice and
history-making achievements
of the
Mormon Battalion
“whose march over 2000 miles
from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego
help to win California for the Union
and open a new road to the Pacific
over desert wastes”
began July 16, 1846
completed January 29, 1847.
“History may be searched in vain
for an equal march of infantry.”
-U.S. Army Records.
Sponsored by San Diego County Company
Daughters of Utah Pioneers
W.P.A. Art Project of Southern California 

The Women of the Mormon Battalion marker strikes a more personal note.

No 257
Erected 1959
Women of 
The Mormon Battalion
Mormon women were anxious to reach the glorious West and any means offered seemed an answer to prayer to help them on their way. When it was learned four laundresses would be allowed each of the five companies, the wives of the soldiers made application and twenty were chosen. Men who could meet the expenses were permitted to take their families. Hence nearly eighty women and children accompanied the Battalion. They endured the hardships of the journey knowing hunger and thirst. Four wives, Susan M. Davis, Lydia Hunter, Phoebe D. B. Brown, and Melissa B. Coray traveled the entire distance arriving in San Diego 29 January 1847. Mrs. Hunter gave birth to a son April 20, 1847, the first L.D.S. child born in San Diego. She died two weeks later.

The artwork on the marker was quite obscure when I visited in 2015.

Syd Whittle's 2006 photo (here modified by me) is much cleaner.

On the rear is this list of the Women and children who accompanied the Mormon Battalion.

They Accompanied The Mormon Battalion

Mary Brown, One Child
Eunice Brown, Five Children
Mary Button, Four Children
Celia Hunt, Six Children
Matilda Hunt, Two Children
Sarah Higgins, Five Children
Fanny Huntington, Four Children
Malinda Kelly, One Child
Sarah Kelly, One Child
Martha Sharp, One Child
Elizabeth Shelton, Five Children
Catherine Steele, One Child
Albina Williams, Three Children
Ruth Abbott             Mary Ann Hirons
Susan Adams          Phoebe Merrill
Aliza Allred              Ellen Nease
Elzadie Allred          Caroline Sargent
Jane Boscoe           Rebecca Smith
Harriet Brown          Caroline Sessions
Agnes Brown           Sarah Shure
Phoebe Brown         Sophia Tubbs
Jane Hanks              Isabella Wilkin
Emeline Hess

 Finally, all these monuments mark the site of Fort Stockton.

Fort Stockton

Fortified briefly by Carlos Carrillo in 1838. This site became Fort Dupont (July–November 1846) after American forces took Old Town during the Mexican War. Retaken and held briefly by the Californios, it fell once more to the Americans, who renamed it Fort Stockton and used it as campaign headquarters for ending the Californio Revolt in early 1847. The Mormon Battalion stayed here later that year. The post was abandoned on September 25, 1848.
California Registered Historical Landmark No. 54

First Registered December 6, 1932. Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the San Diego City Department of Parks and Recreation and Squibob Chapter, E. Clampus vitus, August 3, 1991.

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