Plans dropped to reach west this year

Sunday, June 28, 1846:

A severe storm of wind and rain began in the middle of the night. The wind blew down many tents. Fortunately the storm ended in the morning and the day became pleasant.At 11:30, a meeting of 300 Saints convened. President Brigham Young gave a lengthy address about gathering Israel home in the Rocky Mountains and building up the Kingdom of God there. Still clinging to the hope of sending a vanguard company to fulfill a "mountain mission" this season, President Young called for men to volunteer to go without their families, leaving the women and children in the care of older men and boys.

"The season is so far advanced that there must be something done and that quickly!"

Forty men volunteered; Church leaders reckoned that others in Pisgah or on the road would also be able to join them. They would take mules, horses, and swift cattle that would travel 30 miles a day. All the Twelve Apostles would go so they could set up the standard for the Kingdom of God this year.

In the evening an invitation was sent throughout the camp to attend the launching of the new ferry boat at the Missouri River at 2 p.m. the next day.

Monday, June 29:

The members of the Twelve Apostles met in council this morning. They approved Ezra T. Benson to take the place in the quorum of John E. Page, who had fallen away. Elder Benson was then serving as a member of the presidency at Mount Pisgah.

Tuesday, June 30:

Now that the ferry boat was functioning, the leading brethren moved their families down from the bluffs to the flats next to the river with the prospect of moving across to the west side. All this activity was hindered by a shower in the early afternoon.

Thomas Grover arrived at the new headquarters and informed the council that Capt. James Allen had arrived on the bluffs and wanted to discuss recruiting the Mormon men to fight in the war against Mexico. An appointment was made for 10 a.m. the next day. Brigham Young met with his advisers in the evening, and they made their final conclusion to raise the men that the U.S. Army wanted.

Wednesday, July 1:

The leading brethren met at John Taylor's camp on the bluffs with Captain Allen and two other officers from Fort Leavenworth. Capt. Allen presented his credentials and the orders from Col. Stephen W. Kearny. He asked for an immediate 12-month enlistment of 500 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 45. Recruits in each of the proposed five companies would be free to choose their own officers. They would be expected to march to California to help conquer that region for the United States. They would be given a uniform allowance, and at the end of their year's service, the men would be permitted to retain their guns and other equipment furnished them along the way.

The discussion between the army officers and Church leaders was brief. Brigham Young agreed to recruit the necessary men. As part of the bargain, however, Capt. Allen agreed that the Mormons could winter on federal Indian lands. A call was made for all the men of the camp to assemble. Capt. Allen explained that he was sent by Col. Kearny through the benevolence of President James K. Polk, who ordered that Mormons be recruited over hundreds of thousands of volunteers in the east.

President Young spoke to the men. He wished them to make a distinction between this helpful action of the federal government and the former oppressions in Missouri and Illinois. He promised that all the families of the men who went into the army would be taken care of and properly fed. As the meeting ended, Brigham Young and Willard Richards went forward recruiting sergeants and took several names as volunteers.

Ironically, Parley P. Pratt arrived this day at Mount Pisgah to recruit 400 to 500 men to cross the mountains this season. Elder Pratt was unaware of the army recruitment. He bore news that Elder Ezra T. Benson was being called to the Twelve Apostles and that Isaac Morley was to be called to replace Brother Benson in the presidency at Pisgah.

Thursday, July 2:

Brigham Young spent the day taking his teams and belongings across the Missouri River on the new ferry boat. Others made plans to do the same. President Young concluded that the next day he and Elders Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards would leave for Mount Pisgah as recruiting sergeants to enlist men for the U.S. Army. An official agreement was also struck between the Mormons and the Pottawattamie Indians that the Saints would be allowed to use the tribe's lands for cultivation and improvements as long as the tribe retained possession of the land, the Mormons would not give any annoyance to the Indians, and that the settlements were not considered to be permanent.

Friday, July 3:

Brigham Young and many other brethren left the Bluffs at 9 a.m. in President Young's carriage. They traveled 34 miles and had a cheerful ride. They met 108 wagons of Saints heading west in several small companies. Hosea Stout, who had lost yet another child to death this week, was cheered by seeing these brethren. "Their presence seemed to give new life to all the camp who flocked around them." When President Young camped at night, he conversed with leading brethren until midnight about recruiting for the Mormon Battalion.

Saturday, July 4:

This day Elders Young, Kimball and Richards encountered the party of Parley P. Pratt, Wilford Woodruff and Ezra T. Benson. It was a happy reunion for Wilford Woodruff, who had not seen these, his close colleagues from the Twelve Apostles, for two years since he departed for his mission presidency in Britain. "I rejoiced to once more strike hands with those noble men," recorded Elder Woodruff.

The brethren, consisting of these six apostles, were able to converse together about the implications of recruiting the Mormon Battalion. Parley P. Pratt wrote in his autobiography, "The lateness of the season, the poverty of the people, and, above all, the taking away of five hundred of our best men, finally compelled us to abandon any further progress westward till the return of another spring."

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