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  • ID: I72088
  • Name: Rebecca SMITH
  • Given Name: Rebecca
  • Surname: SMITH
  • Suffix: , U.S. Mormon Battalion
  • Sex: F
  • _UID: FB724E6CB261044B96D5EBD9346C8027FFE9
  • Change Date: 11 MAY 2014
  • Note:


    Rebecca Smith was the wife of Elisha Smith who was a teamster hired by Captain Daniel Davis to drive his wagon on the Battalion march. They were an older couple. Rebecca went to winter at Fort Pueblo with the Brown Detachment in October of 1846 and her husband went on with Captain Davis. While traveling, the Battalion camped in a grove of ash, oak, and black walnut trees. The men called the stream "Ash Creek." It was here that Elisha became ill and died. During the night large wolves, smelling the scent of a corps, stayed the night, howling. Elisha was buried there. The men piled brush and pieces of wood upon the grave to protect it was much as possible from the wolves. Levi Hancock wrote a song in Elisha's memory. It depicted his death and burial, and was entitled. "Death And The Wolves." (Tyler, 215-217).

    Rebecca, who did not hear of Elisha's death until later, came to Salt Lake Valley with the James Brown Company in 1847. At some time she married Thomas Burns, who claimed to be a descendant of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. He was also a member of Company E and went with the Willis Detachment in November 1846. They lived in Utah; however, very little is known about Rebecca after her Battalion experience.
    Carr, Elmer. History. US. Mormon Battalion, Salt Lake City, Utah.
    from Women of the Mormon Battalion
    Compiled and edited by Carl V. Larson and Shirley N. Maynes
    keyed to digital by Renda Taylor Feb 2005

    According to Nauvoo Land and Records Rebecca Smith was born 5 Dec 1815 in Niagara Co. New York. As such Stephen D. Smith/Nancy Parrott are NOT the parents of this Rebecca Smith.

    One Elisha Smith and Rebecca of 1804 was from Southampton Twp, Bedford, Pennsylvania.

    Another IGI entry was for the wrong Rebecca Smith b. abt 1810 d. 1889 married an Elisha Smith who died 1884.

    Our Elisha Smith on the IGI was born 15 July 1798 in Milton, Tioga, New York. Susan Black of BYU reported to me that Elisha Smith was born 15 July 1798 and Rebecca Smith was born 5 Dec 1815. I found no matches for Thomas R. Burns.

    Brigham Young promised that the efforts of the Mormon Battalion would be remembered. One monument reads, "In memory of the Mormon Battalion whose members made the longest military march in U.S. History of over 2,000 miles from Iowa to San Diego in 1846-1847 during the war with Mexico." But some of the individual members of the Battalion are being lost and forgotten. Even though the parents may be incorrect for the Rebecca Smith of the U.S. Mormon Battalion, this is a place to link her and her husbands, and to collect their stories.

    Elisha Smith was a teamster and servant to Capt. Davis of Company E. He died 6 Dec 1846 twelve miles west of Douglas, Cochise, Arizona. A tombstone has been placed at his resting place. His wife Rebecca (Smith) was traveling with him until her departure with one of the detachments of sick bound for Pueblo Colorado. After his death in Arizona, the battle of the bulls occurred just a few days later. The two men wounded at the battle of the bulls must have continued on to California.

    It's likely that Rebecca Smith met and grew acquainted with her future husband Thomas R. Burns while wintering at Pueblo, Colorado.

    The following relates the difficult travel, experiences, and death of Elisha Smith. Levi Hancock wrote a poem about the loathsome wolves and how they hid Elisha's grave from the wolves and Indians. --Vern Taylor
    Upon their arrival at Santa Fe, Col. George Cook took command of the Battalion and of them wrote "Some are too old, some are too feeble and some are too young. They are undisciplined, much worn by traveling on foot and marching from Nauvoo with clothing scant, no money and their mules utterly broke down. Their animals are scarce and inferior and deteriorating every hour for lack of forage. The Battalion broke camp at Santa Fe and traveled six miles to Agua Frio and then down the Rio Grande Del Norte and camped on the 10th of November. On the 11th, they marched about 15 miles and where water and grass was plentiful. On the 13th they turned off to the right and left the Rio Grande Del Norte and traveled in a southwesterly direction. On Sunday, the 15th of November, an old white ox which had been seen at least a dozen summers and which had been driven all the way from Fort Leavenworth, having given out the day before a few miles back, was brought into camp, dressed and issued as rations. He was a mere skeleton and his small amount of remaining flesh was more like sickly jelly than raw meat.

    The valley in which they encamped on this day they named "White Ox Valley" and the little rivulet they named White Ox.

    The condition of their larder by this time may be imagined from the lines of Levi Ward Hancock, descriptive of their plight

    "We sometimes now lack for bread
    are less than quarter rations fed
    and soon expect, for all of meat
    Naught less than broke down mules to eat."
    This version from A SHORT SKETCH of the HANCOCK AND ADAMS FAMILIES seems to be the original:
    On the 16, they came to a spring in a narrow canyon which they named Cook's Spring" which name it still bears. On the 17 they reached the copper mine road leading from the mine to Yamos. Along this they marched 18 miles over a gradually ascending prairie to Ojo De Vaca or Cow Spring, with courage undaunted they marched on, poorly clad and food diminished, crossed to the Continental Divide and on the 28 they reached the back bone of North America. Here they found plenty of deer, bear, and antelope and small game in the Sugar Loaf mountains. Grass was tall and at places tracts for the wagons were made by marching files of men ahead to tramp down the grass in ruts wherein the wheels might run. In places from the top of the Divide the wagons were lowered with ropes by hand to the bottom of the canyons while the animals were driven below. While crossing this mountainous region the Battalion had gone without water for 48 hours and each day their food grew less. On Dec. 2 they reached the ruins of the rancho San Bernardino and here the first wild cattle were found. They traveled to a stream called Ash Creek and there one of their number Elisha Smith, dies and was buried. The night was made hideous with the howls of large wolves. Descriptive of this event Levi W. Hancock wrote:

    When our army had camped beside the green grove
    Where the pure water ran from the mountain above
    When our hunters, returned from chasing the bulls
    We listened to the howls of the loathsome roving wolves.

    When the guards were all stationed to their points around
    On the top of the hills where the wild bull is found;
    The wind blowed higher and approached us so cold
    As we listened to the howls of the loathsome roving wolves.

    Then the groans of the dying was heard in the camp
    And the cold chilling frost was seen on the tents
    Then the thoughts of our hearts can never be told
    As we listened to the howls of the loathsome wolves.

    Then we dug a deep grave and buried him there
    All alone by the grove, not a mark to tell where,
    We piled brush and wood and burnt over his grave,
    As a cheat for the red man and loathsome howling wolves.

    We arose in the morning as soon as 'twas day.
    The fifes and drummers had played reveille,
    Soon the mules were brought up, our baggage to pull
    We then bid good-by to the loathsome howling wolves.

    From Ash Creek they marched 17 miles northwest and camped without food or water. Patiently they journeyed on to the San Pedro valley then a distance of ten miles to San Pedro Creek and then 6 miles down the stream. In the valley of the San Pedro on the 11th they camped in a canyon. Here they found grass tall and thick. Wild animals bedded in this grass. Unaccustomed to the intrusion for this was the first trail made through this country, the wild bulls resented any infringement upon their privacy. The soldiers who went out in advance of the command passed along the bluffs on each side of the stream and came upon hundreds of wild cattle. As the wagons and mules marched upon them it was a challenge for conflict. The animals gathered on the line of march to gratify their curiosity and marched toward the train of wagons and soldiers as if bent upon finding who dared to intrude upon their quiet retreat. Their terrible forms and majestic appearance was impressive. Every man alone loaded his musket and the battle was on. The roar of guns heard from one end of the line to the other mingled with the roar and bellows of the wild bulls was terrorizing. One of the team mules was gored to death, several tossed into the air and the two pack mules were killed. Wagons were damaged and the sick were frightened. Hideous bellows and roars were resounded, men yelled and screamed and confusion prevailed. Some threw themselves down and allowed the beasts to run over them, others fired and dodged behind mesquite brush to re-load their guns, while the beasts kept coming at them. Others climbed up small trees and others on top of the wagon tops. Amos Cox, a member of the Battalion, was thrown about 10 feet into the air with a gore cut in his thigh from which he suffered all his life. Albert Smith of Co. B. was run over by a wounded bull and had three ribs broken. The bulls were finally subdued and those not killed is not known but probably sixty were either killed or wounded. One writer records 81 were killed and many more wounded. The encampment pressed on to the Tucson fort, arriving on the 14 Dec. tarrying for a brief bloodless battle in taking the ancient Pueblo.
  • _TMPLT:
  • FIELD:
  • Name: Page
  • VALUE: p. 45 1
  • _TMPLT:
  • FIELD:
  • Name: Page 2
  • Birth: 5 DEC 1815 in Niagara County, New York
  • Event: as family of two soldiers Military 1846
  • _SDATE: 1 JUL 1846
  • Death: Y

    Father: unrelated U.S. Mormon BATTALION

    Marriage 1 Thomas R. BURNS b: 18 AUG 1824
    • Married: ABT 1847

    Marriage 2 Elisha SMITH b: 15 JUL 1798 in Milton, Tioga, New York
    • Married: AFT 1830

    1. Abbrev: Database of the Mormon Battalion
      Title: Carl V. Larson, compiler, Database of the Mormon Battalion (251 West SR 198, Salem, Utah, 84653: U.S. Mormon Battalion Inc., Second Editon 1997)est SR 198, Salem, Utah, 84653: U.S. Mormon Battalion Inc., Second Editon 1997.
      Name: Footnoteest SR 198, Salem, Utah, 84653: U.S. Mormon Battalion Inc., Second Editon 1997)
      Name: ShortFootnote
      Name: Bibliographyest SR 198, Salem, Utah, 84653: U.S. Mormon Battalion Inc., Second Editon 1997.
      Page: p. 45
    2. Abbrev: LDS Historical database by Vern Taylor
      Title: LDS Historical database compiled by Vern Taylor Dec 2003
      Name: Footnote
      Name: ShortFootnote
      Name: Bibliography
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