Mormon Battalion Historic Site
Head to 2510 Juan Street in San Diego to see the Mormon Battalion Historic Site, a historical gem. Here, you’ll relive the history of the march from Iowa to California, undertaken by the Mormon Battalion. The brand-new site features hands-on exhibits and numerous resources to find out more about this unique slice of American history and who was part of the Battalion.
To date, the Mormon Battalion is the only religious unit in the US military’s history, and was in service from July of 1846 – July 1847. Part of the Mexican-American War, the volunteer unit included around 550 men and women, and was led by LDS company officers who were commanded by Army officers. During the year of service, the battalion marched almost 2,000 miles to support the cessation from Mexico to the US.
The battalion was especially critical for the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, which took place in New Mexico and Arizona. It was also responsible for opening a wagon route to California. Before forming a battalion, LDS members were already looking for government help for migrating to Salt Lake Valley and the Rocky Mountain area. Under persecution, the battalion members found a unique way to get their journey supported after fleeing Illinois via the Mississippi River earlier in 1846.
Timing is everything. When an elder was sent to Washington DC to ask for assistance for LDS members running from Illinois mobs, he arrived just when war was declared on Mexico. Today, San Diego is home to a center showcasing just how this unprecedented agreement came to be and how Americans are still enjoying the results today.