Autobiography and journal of John W. Hess, circa 1887-1895, 8-9.
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About the 15th of April, 1847, we started due north for Fort Laramine [Laramie], three hundred miles distant, on the California road, at which place we expected to find or hear of the Pioneer Company that was expected to fit out and go to find a location for the Saints but on our way we were met by Amasa Lyman and others who had come from the Pioneers' Camp. This was a happy meeting, and to get news of our loved ones greatly relieved our anxieties, as we then learned that the Camp was ahead of us, led by President Brigham Young, and he led by revelation. So we pushed on with fresh courage and finally struck their trail about two weeks ahead of us. We followed their trail, but did not overtake them as we expected to.
The pioneers reached Salt Lake Valley July 24th, and the Detachment on the 28th of July, 1847, and on the same day we were discharged from the service of the United States, and I became a free man once more.
I feel that the year’s service described above, is one of the noblest and grandest acts of my life, for the reason that Israel was on the alter of sacrifice, and the “Mormon Battalion”, of which I was a member, went as the “Ram in the Thicket”, and Israel was saved.