Camp of Israel: On the pioneer trail

This is another in a weekly series of day-by-day summaries of what transpired during the Saints' 1846-47 trek from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley. The compiler, Bruce A. Van Orden, is a member of the Church Pioneer Sesquicentennial Committee and a BYU associate professor of Church History and Doctrine.

Sunday, May 31, 1846:

The Camp of Israel met in conference at Mount Pisgah. More than 500 wagons were now part of the camp, not including the several hundred Saints left behind at Garden Grove. Seven members of the Twelve, including Brigham Young, were together again in the camp. Orson Hyde and Wilford Woodruff were expected in a few days.

Brigham Young offered several items of counsel. He thought it prudent that the Saints not forget their obligation to preach the gospel to the world, even "in this time of scarcity and trouble." Accordingly, later in the day the Twelve called three missionaries to depart on missions: Lorenzo D. Butler and Henry B. Jacobs to England and Oliver B. Huntington to the eastern United States.

The conference ended when a rainstorm hit the camp. The rest of the day was spent by the leading brethren in council meetings designed to carry out instructions for the future. Brigham Young charged the stake presidency of Mount Pisgah to divide the farm, after it was fenced, into lots of five, 10 and 20 acres. The Saints would then cast lots for the land. The Twelve also made plans for leaving early in the week for the Missouri River. Only those who were properly outfitted would accompany the Twelve at this time.

Monday, June 1:

It continued to rain until 9 a.m. But it dried sufficiently in the afternoon so the first 50 could cross the middle fork of the Grand River in the last leg of the journey across Iowa.

Hosea Stout arrived in Mount Pisgah. He reported: "The whole woods & prairie seemed alive to business & a continual stream of emigration pouring in which looked like the entire country would be inhabited as a city in a short time."

Eliza R. Snow wrote at length in her diary on this day. She noted that "the month

of JuneT commences with a volley of nature's tears" and that it was quite cold.

Tuesday, June 2:

Brigham Young crossed over the river and went four miles to join his company preparing to make their way to the Council Bluffs. Even though it was June, it was a cold day. For many it was a sad farewell once again to part company.

In Washington, D.C., Elder Jesse C. Little, president of the Eastern States Mission, received word from Amos Kendall, the adviser to President James K. Polk, that his many appeals to have a personal audience with the president would finally be respected. Mr. Kendall visited Elder Little at his lodgings and invited him to the White House the next day. Elder Little had made several applications to the Polk administration for the Latter-day Saints to have some role along the trail routes to the West.

Wednesday, June 3:

Brigham Young and his vanguard company traveled seven miles today in the direction of the Missouri River. They crossed over the west fork of the Grand River and camped on the prairie. They experienced a thunder shower at 10 a.m.

At the White House in Washington, Elder Little met with President Polk in company with Amos Kendall. "

The presidentT said he had no prejudice against the Mormons, but believed us good citizens; and was willing to do us all the good that was in his power consistently; said our people should be protected - that he had full confidence in me from information he had received. . . . He would do something for me, but did not decide [yet]."

Thursday, June 4:

Brigham Young and his group made 20 miles this day. It rained in the evening, and many witnessed a beautiful rainbow.

Back at Mount Pisgah, numerous wagons arrived each day.

Friday, June 5:

Elder Orson Hyde of the Twelve arrived at Mount Pisgah with his company. He had only been about 19 days in Iowa. Clearly it was easier to travel in the late spring rather than late winter as the earlier companies had done. Brigham Young and the vanguard company to the west traveled another 14 miles and camped near Shoal Creek. Fortunately, they discovered the Indian trail to Council Bluffs, which made the next several days' journey easier and faster.

Elder Jesse Little met again with President Polk to hear the latter's decision regarding the Latter-day Saints. "He informed me," reported Brother Little, "that we should be protected in California, and that five hundred or one thousand of our people should be taken into the service [to participate in the war with Mexico], officered by our own men; said that I should have letters from him, and from the secretary of the navy to the squadron [assigned to conquer California from the sea]." Elder Little considered the proposal throughout the afternoon, and then sent a letter in the evening accepting the offer in behalf of the Church. Brigham Young had authorized Elder Little to accept any reasonable offer from the federal government. This agreement between the Church and government led to the creation of the Mormon Battalion. (See related story on page 7.)

Saturday, June 6:

Today, most of the wagons that were en route to the Missouri River came together in a circle after traveling through the day. Brigham Young went 15 miles.

In Carthage, Ill., a meeting of citizens from Hancock County took place. The group was disturbed that some Saints were still in Nauvoo, supposedly out of harmony with an alleged agreement that all Mormons would have vacated the area by May 1. The group decided to send an armed expedition to Golden's Point, about six miles from Nauvoo, to pressure the remaining Mormons to leave. This action had the effect of further devaluing property in Nauvoo.

Sources: Journal History; Manuscript History of Brigham Young (MHBY), pp. 172-79, 582-83; The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, p. 135-36; Leland H. Gentry, "The Mormon Way Stations," BYU Studies (21:4:456-57); Mormons at the Missouri, p. 44; The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1:164-65; CHC, 3:67-74; The Journals of William Clayton, pp. 278-79; Autobiography of James S. Brown, p. 22; Exodus of Modern Israel from the Diary of Orson Pratt (comp. N. B. Lundwall), p. 26.

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