The Mormon Battalion
Battalion statue
Mormon Battalion Statue-San Diego
The first Mormons in southern California were members of the United States Army of the West. This Mormon Battalion was formed in Iowa in 1846 to march to California in support of a planned naval attack on San Diego.

The United States' War with Mexico was all but over by the time the Battalion arrived. The Army of the West became an occupying force, manning garrisons in the San Diego and Los Angeles in 1847.

The first Mormons to visit the San Bernardino valley were assigned to guard the Cajon Pass and Issac Williams' Rancho Chino.

During the Battle of Chino, Williams had been taken prisoner. Angry Californios ran off over 1,200 horses and took household goods, carts and wagons in his absence.

US War Dept. Map, 1853 (Library of Congress)
After the war, Williams was hoping the American occupation force would protect him from his neighbors. Mormon soldiers were dispatched from Los Angeles to protect his remaining property.

Another group of Mormon soldiers was stationed at the southern end of the Cajon Pass. Pahutes from the Great Basin had long used the Pass on their way to steal cattle from the Ranchos of Southern California. These soldiers were sent to stop these raids.