The Battle of the Bulls

One of the strangest battles of the Mexican-American War was fought on the banks of the San Pedro. Under the leadership of Brigham Young, members of the Church of Latter-day Saints had settled in Mexico seeking a refuge from religious persecution when the Mexican-American War broke out. Young believed that if he offered the United States a company of men to help fight Mexico, he could win tolerance, transportation, and desperately needed cash. So after threatening to enlist women, children, and old people if fighting-age men didn’t volunteer, Brigham Young mustered 500 volunteers, who lined up raggedly under the command of Phillip St. George Cooke and set out to develop a road between the Rio Grande and California. Like Coronado before them, they passed through the San Pedro River valley.

On the banks of the San Pedro they fought their only battle when a herd of enraged, wild bulls attacked the wagon train. The astonished soldiers found themselves beset by scores of furious bulls, which seemed to be more enraged than hurt by bullets. The bulls, descended from cattle abandoned by the Mexicans and the Spanish, badly gored two men and killed several mules. The well-armed Mormons ultimately killed about 0 bulls and probably wounded about twice that many.