Ready? Name the longest sustained march in US military history.
Need a hint? It occurred (mostly) inside our borders in the 1800s.
Thinking the Civil War?
Nope. Give up? Answer: the March of the Mormon Battalion.
During the Mexican-American War, the US government wanted to secure its western borders and occupy California and New Mexico (just a territory then). Over 500 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) answered the call for volunteers, mustering into service on July 16, 1846, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Nearly 19 months later, on January 29, 1847, the reached San Diego, California. They’d marched roughly 2000 miles, and opened the West to settlement because of the trail they forged.
We learned about this amazing military adventure at the Mormon Battalion Monument in West Wetlands Park, Yuma, Arizona, during our visit there this past winter.
The Mormon Battalion passed through Yuma on January 9, 1847, blazing a new trail in order to cross the Colorado River. Much to the frustration of the native people, the new route meant settlers traversed the territory in higher and higher numbers.
When you think about the fact that four women and “several” children completed the entire march with the soldiers, you get an even greater appreciation of the sacrifice and determination everyone brought to the mission.
All without firing a shot. Now that’s a military march we can salute!