Elder Christofferson Honors the Mormon Battalion on the 175th Anniversary of their arrival in San Diego
By: Rebecca Ellefsen
The Mormon Battalion story is one of faith, courage, and personal sacrifice. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints honored their service by speaking at various events on the weekend of January 29th, 2022 in San Diego.
Their story begins as the saints migrated in 1846. After being forced out of Nauvoo, Illinois, the prophet Brigham Young encouraged the men to join the U.S. army. Approximately 500 men enlisted to protect the interests of the United States against Mexico. Five brave women journeyed with the enlisted. They chose to send their salary allotment back to support the saints as they traveled across the plains.
The Battalion marched approximately 2000 miles by foot and horseback. They left Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 16th, 1846 with little food, water, clothing, and resources, and marched into San Diego, California on January 29th, 1847. The Battalion was the only religious group ever formed to protect the United States and one of the longest marches ever recorded.
Their impact was significant to California and beyond. The Battalion built bridges, roads, and buildings. Southern California grew due to their new water systems for developing communities. Most importantly, they established friendships with kindness and hard work.
Upon their discharge, some members traveled directly back to their families scattered across the west. Other members contributed to the growth of San Francisco, married daughters of the Ship Brooklyn, and taught the love of the Savior Jesus Christ. Journal entries recorded Battalion members who witnessed Marshall as he discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill.
Battalion members blazed the Carson Pass as they returned home to their families and established Utah and other areas.
Announcement of Historic Trail Preservation
On the eve of the 175th Anniversary of the arrival of the Battalion into San Diego, Elder Christofferson addressed members of the Oregon-California Trails Association at the San Diego Historic Trails Symposium, he spoke of the new collaborations of the church and other entities such as the Bureau of Land Management in trail preservation.
Since the pioneers first migrated across the west, they have been honored for establishing an “ensign for the nations.” 26 miles of trail have been identified and will be preserved throughout agricultural areas, towns, and urban trails. These areas will be actively restored and made available for recreational use.
Pioneer treks give a great opportunity to educate and inspire the love of legacy. To protect these areas for years to come, reservations and permits will be required. Instruction will be available to leaders as to how to protect this precious resource as they travel the path of our ancestors.
Old Town San Diego Celebration
On Saturday, January 29th, 2022, thousands of visitors lined the streets. They witnessed hundreds of Mormon Battalion reenactors in period clothing march their way from the Mormon Battalion Historic Site Visitors Center through Old Town San Diego, California.
Elder Christofferson spoke of the far-reaching impact of the faith of the Mormon Battalion. In attendance was Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh of the California State Senate, President Dennis Holland of the California Living History Mission, Jay Pimentel, Area Communication Director for the church, and several leaders of the Oregon-California Trails Association.
Festivities that followed in the plaza included games, food demonstrations, and making essentials for pioneer life. Visitors enjoyed music and dance performances representing southern cultures.
On Sunday, January 30th, local missionaries, and missionaries from the California Living History Mission had the privilege to listen to Elder Christofferson in an early morning conference.
Elder Christofferson stated, “As you stand here in their place, you are heirs of that great legacy, you too are capable of that kind of faith, sacrifice, and service. You too are capable of doing hard things. You too have great things to do. Now, go forth and make a difference.”
Mormon Battalion Trail