Mormon Battalion mustered

Sunday, July 19, 1846:

This was the last Sabbath day for the Mormon Battalion soldiers with their families and brothers and sisters in the gospel. They were readying to march out the next day or two for Fort Leavenworth, 200 miles away.A Sabbath meeting was held at Redemption Hill at Council Bluffs. Three apostles spoke - John Taylor, Parley P. Pratt, and Wilford Woodruff. After the meeting another 30 to 40 volunteers enlisted for Company E of the battalion.

Early in the morning Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Willard Richards crossed the river to spend the Sabbath with their families. President Young's history recounts: "I spoke at some length in relation to starting a company over the mountains, getting hands to repair the river road, tend the ferry, and have herdsmen to keep the cattle out of the Indian corn [of the Omaha and Oto tribes west of the Missouri River]."

Monday, July 20:

Brigham Young spent the early morning rounding out the recruiting for Company E of the Mormon Battalion. A member of this last company, Henry Standage, wrote of his particular circumstances: "I went to Brother Ira Eldredge and besought him to permit my mother to make her home with him till I could be free to take care of her, when he agreed to be a son to my mother, and I accordingly left her with him, promising to recompense him as soon as I was able and opportunity would offer. About 9 o'clock a.m., I took my knapsack and left the Camp of Israel, leaving my wife and mother in tears, and reached the company at noon. This afternoon I received a blanket of

theT Government, and commenced to draw rations also."

The first four companies took up their line of march. Prior to leaving, the men consecrated their wages for their families and the poor in Nauvoo. Their commanding officer, James Allen, wrote a letter to Church leaders stating, "In the hurry of business connected with my immediate march upon this place I have only time to say that in all of my intercourse with the Mormons I have found them civil, polite and honest as a people. There appears to be much intelligence among them, and particularly with their principal men or leaders, to whom I feel much indebted for their active and zealous exertions to raise the volunteer force that I was authorized to ask for, for the service of the United States."

Brigham Young, who had given so much energy along with his brethren of the Twelve in recruiting soldiers, now turned his attention immediately to finding quarters for the thousands of Saints spread throughout Iowa and for means to get the poor Saints out of Nauvoo. He met with Henry Miller and his exploring company who had gone 40 miles northward up the Missouri River. They found the area no better for living than the general vicinity near Council Bluffs. President Young surmised that the best idea might indeed be to settle on Pottawatomie lands. This day he received a document from Indian Agent R. B. Mitchell certifying that it would evidently be to the advantage of both the Mormons and the Pottawatomies for the Saints to be on these lands during the coming winter. President Young had in hand a document given him by Capt. James Allen before he marched off that the Mormons could make "stopping places" wherever they needed to on Indian lands.

Tuesday, July 21:

Heavy rain and thunder plagued the marching of the Mormon Battalion. They were only able to go four miles through sand and mud.

Brigham Young and the apostles met in Parley P. Pratt's tent to call a president, "Father" Isaac Morley, and a high council to preside over the Saints on the east side of the Missouri River. The Brethren charged the council to ensure both the spiritual and temporal welfare of the Saints and to establish schools for the children. "Counsel them, that the laws of God and good order are not infringed upon, nor trampled under foot."

Leaving these men in charge would allow Brigham Young and other leaders to explore for settlement locations on the west side of the Missouri River.

Wednesday, July 22:

Brigham Young and his party of over 200 people started in the late morning for the Elkhorn River approximately 25 miles to the northwest of the ferry to look for possible headquarters. If this worked out, the Saints would not have to be so close to the Omaha and Oto Indians. They camped at the Elkhorn in the evening after looking around. Other explorers were sent to check out further possibilities at the Grand Island to the west.

Company E of the Mormon Battalion started its march in the morning. The first four companies were addressed by Jesse C. Little in the morning and then marched for 22 miles.

Thursday, July 23:

Having looked over the Elkhorn River region, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball gave instructions to the companies there about their organization and then returned to the Missouri River. In the evening they met in council with the other apostles.

The Mormon Battalion marched 25 miles in the hot, humid weather. James S. Brown wrote, "We had only a small ration of food, for it did not seem to be in the country, and we suffered much from want. . . . With less than half rations, and that badly or insufficiently cooked, from lack of proper utensils and experience, and having to lie on the ground without any bedding save one blanket each, it is a wonder the entire camp were not down sick instead of a few." Daniel Tyler recorded that the command had ordered long marches that the men were not prepared for.

Friday, July 24:

All 11 apostles prepared for their last council meeting before some of them would go separate ways. They selected an isolated hill, pitched a tent, and covered the ground with buffalo robes.

President Young set apart Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor for their mission to England and Ezra T. Benson for a proselyting mission to the states in America.

The Mormon Battalion walked another 20 miles, crossed over the Nishnabotany River, and arrived in Missouri. Capt. Allen mercifully allowed the sick to ride in the baggage wagons.

Saturday, July 25:

Brigham Young spent the day on the west side of the Missouri River where more and more people were gathering. He signed letters of appointment for Elders Hyde, Pratt, Taylor and Benson authorizing them to transact all spiritual and temporal business in their respective geographical areas of responsibility.

Sgt. Daniel Tyler, a historian of the Mormon Battalion, wrote, "On the evening of the 25th, the command being out of flour and there being none in the vicinity to purchase, many retired to bed fasting, while others made the best supper they could on parched corn; yet all seemed to be in excellent spirits in the expectation of soon having full rations."

James S. Brown concurred, "But with all this hardship there were no desertions and few complaints. Everything seemed to move harmoniously among the men."

Sources: Journal History; Manuscript History of Brigham Young, p. 266, 272-77, 590; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:61-63; A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion, p. 131-32; Mormons on the Missouri, p. 66; William G. Hartley, My Best for the Kingdom, p. 213; James S. Brown, Life of a Pioneer, p. 28; Will Bagley, ed., Frontiersman: Abner Blackburn's Narrative, p. 39.

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