Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Pvt Riley Garner Clark of the Mormon Battalion

From the Biography of Riley Garner Clark, Sr. husband of Amanda Williams who was daughter of Marcy Jane Lucus and John Williams.

The call was made for five hundred Mormon volunteers to serve their country in the war with Mexico, and Riley Garner and his oldest brother, Joseph, enlisted in Company A, Iowa Mormon Battalion Volunteers, July 16, 1846, under the command of General Kearney. President Brigham Young promised the Mormon boys who enlisted in the army that if they would be faithful to their God, they would not be required to fight, which promise was fulfilled. Thus, the fighting was either ahead of or behind them. White on their march to San Diego, California, they endured many hardships. At one time they marched all day, both men and teams, without water. The last of their provisions gone, beefs were killed and that was their only food. Great suffering was experienced by the Battalion boys through exposure as many were poorly clad and destitute of tents and wagon covers. Sickness was prevalent in the camps and great numbers of them died, but they never wavered in their purpose. A song “The Lonesome Howling Wolves” was composed by one of the members of the group and was sung over the graves of those that had died. The chorus was as follows: “We burnt ashes and coal over the graves to hide them from the savages and the lonesome howling wolves.” Father used to sing this to his children. As he sang the chorus he used the carpenter saw, and by running his fingers up the blade, he demonstrated the howling of the wolves. Father also sang the chorus of another song which went: “How hard to starve and wear us out upon this sandy desert route.” I was only eight years old when my father died, but I can remember well his being a kind and loving father, telling us children stories about his adventures in the Battalion and singing us the songs which were composed while there. After a long and perilous journey they arrived in California January 29, 1847. Their camp was located a mile below the Catholic Mission and some four or five miles from the seaport town of San Diego. They served one year in San Diego, after which they were honorably released. While there, they were permitted to visit many places of interest; among them were the old mission home at San Diego, the old San Gabriel Mission at Los Angeles, and other such places. General Kearney was more than pleased with his Mormon boys. He lifted his hat with martial pride and said, “Over the Alps Napoleon went, but these men crossed the Continent.” It was the greatest mark of infantry in the history of the world. Their return trip was made by way of the Southern route. Here again they endured many hardships. While crossing the desert they suffered so from the heat and lack of water that their tongues would become dry, parched, and swollen. After a rain, which was welcomed happily, they would run to puddles of water, lie down and drink to quench their burning thirst. Their feet became sore and bleeding, which made it very difficult to travel. Riley Garner Clark and his brother Joseph joined their parents who had immigrated to Utah in Heber C. Kimball’s company in Provo on September 24, 1848.

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