A Young Folks' History of the Church
The Mormon Battalion
During the summer of 1846 the United States was at war with the republic of Mexico. A
number of battles had been fought in Texas. What is now California, Nevada, Utah, and
Arizona belonged to Mexico, and as President Polk desired to get this large district of
country for the United States, he sent soldiers westward to the Pacific ocean.
The "Mormon" people traveling from Nauvoo had asked President Polk for assistance in
their journey to the west. They said they wanted to remain under the protection of the
government, and were willing to aid in holding the western country for the United States.
In the month of June, 1846, Captain James Allen, an officer of the United States army
arrived at Mount Pisgah, Iowa. What he wanted was five hundred men with which to
form a battalion and march across the continent to California, and take part in the war
This was startling news indeed. The Saints had not expected this kind of "help" in their
journeying through the wilderness. Many of the Saints looked upon the call as a plan to
destroy them. You can hardly blame them for that, can you, knowing some of their past
But President Young and the leading brethren told the officer he should have his men.
They thought it was a test to see if they were true to their country. Though it was a pretty
hard test, thus to take their best and strongest men away from such a camp as theirs, yet
the "Mormon" people would show to the government and to the whole world that they
were loyal to their country, even though that country had failed to protect them in their
rights to live in peace and worship God.
At a meeting held at Council Bluffs it was decided to raise the men asked for. Brigham
Young and the Twelve took an active part in getting volunteers. Word was sent to the
different settlements of the Saints. The stars and stripes were hoisted to a tree top, and the
work of enrollment began. Within three days the little army was organized and ready for
the march. Then they had a grand farewell party, held, not in some beautifully lighted ball
room, but in a bowery, where the ground had been packed hard by the tread of many feet.
There fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and sweethearts said their goodbyes to
And then the long, dreary march began. The story of that march would fill a book, so of
course very little of it can be told here. If you would like to read more about it, you will
find it in Brother Tyler's "History of the Mormon Battalion."
There were five hundred and forty-nine souls in the Battalion. Captain James Allen was
the commander. They started on their march July 20, 1846, to Fort Leavenworth, where
they received their guns and other things necessary for an army. At this point Captain
Allen died, which made the men feel bad, as he was a good, kind officer.
The Battalion began to move from Fort Leavenworth on the 12th of August. You may see
their line of march by looking at the map on page 128. After suffering much hardship,
they reached Santa Fe, October 9th. Here Colonel Cooke took the command. As many of
the soldiers as were too sick to go on were sent to Pueblo, where they remained all
winter, and traveled to Salt Lake valley the next summer. The main body of the Battalion