Mormon Battalion Monument (Colorado)
This monument erected in 1946 commemorates the centennial of the winter encampment of a portion of the Mormon Battalion that stayed on this spot and in nearby old Fort Pueblo during the 1846-47 winter. This Battalion was formed during the Mexican War in Iowa and was heading to California after going through modern-day New Mexico and Arizona. This portion, or detachment, contained many ill members of the Battalion needing a place of refuge and recuperation as well as a containing some women and children. They helped establish a permanent LDS presence in the territory, then state, of Colorado as well as helping both members and nonmembers as they headed west to either the Salt Lake Valley or California.
Backstory and Context
Arriving in Fort Pueblo, these members also came across other members of their faith, these having come from parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. This group of pioneers, largely known as the "Mississippi Saints" left their homes and headed west to join the rest of the church when they learned the main body was forced from their homes in Illinois after the murders of the church's founder and prophet, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. The Mississippi Saints had planned on joining the main body under Brigham Young along the Platte River near Fort Laramie. However, upon arriving at this spot, they learned that weather, illness and being stopped by the US Army (which interruption was made for the purpose of organizing the Mormon Battalion), the main body was stopped along the Missouri River. Needing a place to stay as they wait for the main body, especially as winter approached, these southern Mormons were guided to Fort Pueblo. Among this body were a few African-Americans, many already members, or whom would later join. Together, the Mississippi Saints and the detachment of the Mormon Battalion stayed for the winter before the former joined Brigham Young and became the first to into the Salt Lake Valley, while the latter continued their march west and joined the Battalion in California.
The winter encampment of both the Mormon Battalion and the Mississippi Saints played key roles in establishing a LDS presence in Colorado and helping in the opening and expanding of emigrant trails to the west coast.
This 1946 monument was made possible by The State Historical Society of Colorado and members of the LDS church in Colorado. This location is actually the second location for the monument. The original location was in an area deemed "poor" and "inconspicuous", whereas this new and permanent location was declared by the State Historical Society as the spot where the detachment made their camp. It was moved in 1993 and rededicated during a big Pueblo Pioneer Days celebration.