The first division of the Battalion approached Santa Fe on October 9, 1846. Colonel Alexander Doniphan ordered a one-hundred-gun salute in their honor. At Santa Fe, Smith was relieved of his command by Lt. Colonel Philip St. George Cooke.
Aware of the rugged trail between Santa Fe and California and also aware that one sick detachment had already been sent from the Arkansas River to Fort Pueblo in Colorado, Cooke ordered the remaining women and children (yes, a few women and children accompanied the march) to go with the sick of the battalion to Pueblo for the winter. Three detachments consisting of 273 people eventually were sent to Pueblo for the winter of 1846-47.
The remaining soldiers, with four wives of officers, left Santa Fe for California on October 19, 1846. They journeyed down the Rio Grande del Norte and eventually crossed the Continental Divide on November 28, 1846. While moving up the San Pedro River in what is now Arizona, their column was attacked by a herd of wild cattle. In the ensuing fight, a number of bulls were killed and two men were wounded.
Following the "Battle of the Bulls," the battalion continued their march toward Tucson, where they anticipated a possible battle with the Mexican soldiers stationed there. At Tucson, the Mexican defenders temporarily abandoned their positions.