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Picturing history: The Mormon Battalion at Tucson

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Heading northwest from the San Pedro River, the Mormon Battalion approached the Presidio at the Mexican outpost of Tucson, now in Arizona, on Dec. 16, 1846.

They had learned there was a garrison of some 200 men stationed at Tucson, so battalion commander Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke had the men prepare for the possibility of combat.

However, Cooke sent word to Mexican leaders indicating it was his desire to avoid any confrontation since his primary objective was to get to California as quickly as possible.

Nearing Tucson, the battalion learned the post had been evacuated. The Mexican troops and most of the other inhabitants had fled, allowing battalion members to get some water, rest and food.

Cooke assured the few remaining residents that the battalion would preserve the town and property as it passed through. Battalion members were grateful that Tucson “fell without the loss of blood.”