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Prophet calls for battalion recruits

Sunday, July 5, 1846:

Brigham Young and his party of leaders continued their carriage journey back to Mount Pisgah to recruit young men for the Mormon Battalion.Back at Council Bluffs, the Camp of Israel held a Sabbath service under the direction of Elder Orson Hyde whom Brigham Young had placed in charge of the camp in his absence. Hosea Stout, captain of the guards, reached Council Bluffs and took time to consult with Captain James Allen of the U.S. Army. Hosea was pleased that Capt. Allen was unassuming and didn't strut around like most army officers he had seen.

Monday, July 6:

Brigham Young and his companions arose at 4 a.m. so they could get an early start and make Mount Pisgah by nightfall. The pleasant day made for easy traveling. The president met many friends from Nauvoo on their way to the Missouri River. At night when he reached Mount Pisgah and made his lodging with William Huntington, President Young tallied all the Mormon wagons and carriages he had seen in the last few days. "I met two hundred and forty one wagons, besides sixty three encamped on the creek opposite Mount Pisgah, making in all between the encampment at the bluffs and Mount Pisgah eight hundred wagons and carriages." These many wagons were part of the massive spring migration from Nauvoo. The spring migration of April, May and early June had upwards of 1,200 wagons scattered throughout Iowa and more than 7,000 people.

Back at the Missouri River, a number of men explored on the west bank of the river and opposite the ferry landing that the brethren had constructed. They found a deep ravine and high hills on the west side. They explored through the heavy brush to find the best spot to blaze a new road. This new area would in a few months become the famous Winter Quarters.

Tuesday, July 7:

Brigham Young and his advisers held a recruiting meeting at the white oak grove in Mount Pisgah. President Young, Heber C. Kimball and Jesse C. Little spoke. Sixty-six men volunteered that day. But the Brethren were still anxious about obtaining the requisite 500 recruits.

James S. Brown, who had just celebrated his 18th birthday, was one of those recruited. He had not as yet been baptized, but was headed west with family members who were Latter-day Saints. He was so moved by the speaking of Brigham Young that he went to the Grand River and was baptized. Then he also felt "the spirit to enlist" in the army. He wrote in his memoirs: "This done [my baptism], the happiest feeling of my life came over me. . . .

Wednesday, July 8:

This day was hot, but pleasant. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards went from house to house and tent to tent in Mount Pisgah checking on the circumstances of their friends and co-laborers. They stopped to give priesthood blessings for a few sufferers. They spread good cheer wherever they visited. Lorenzo Snow, who had lain ill in Pisgah for weeks, was urged to get out of the area as soon as he could for the sake of his health. The volunteers for the Mormon Battalion took off for Council Bluffs after receiving military advice from Charles C. Rich who had been a general in the Nauvoo Legion.

Thursday, July 9:

Brigham Young and his party left Mount Pisgah, having finished their business of recruiting as many men as they could there for the Mormon Battalion and sending word to Garden Grove for more young men. They left at 2:40 p.m. and rode until midnight, a distance of 33 miles. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards were referred to as the "Presidency" in the official history. They certainly had been acting as such, even though there was not as yet a new official First Presidency.

Wilford Woodruff and his party arrived at Council Bluffs. He met with the apostles who were present. Together they prepared a circular to spread throughout the camp urging more recruits to join the army. A hard rain hit the camp in the evening.

Friday, July 10:

The rain continued in torrents in western Iowa. Brigham Young and his party continued on their way to the bluffs. A Fox Indian Chief named Powsheek met with Brigham Young, "the Mormon Chief," to learn more of the Mormons' movements and intentions. The meeting was friendly and would lead to Powsheek and his braves visiting several of the Mormon camps enroute to the bluffs and dancing for them and eating with them.

Capt. James Allen and Indian Agent R. B. Mitchell issued a proclamation at Council Bluffs granting permission to the Mormons to have a portion of them reside on Pottawattamie lands. Capt. Allen did this in the name of the President of the United States. The proclamation acknowledged that many of the men would have to leave their families behind, thus necessitating this action.

Saturday, July 11:

Brigham Young met again with Chief Powsheek. The two men got along very well. Powsheek referred fondly to his previous pleasant conversations with Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. President Young and the Indian chief spoke of coming together later for mutual assistance in the Rocky Mountains. President Young and his party resumed their journey west and got within 33 miles of Council Bluffs.

At Council Bluffs the apostles spent the day recruiting more men for the army. Col. Thomas L. Kane, the friend of the Mormons from Pennsylvania, arrived at the Camp of Israel. Kane exhibited considerable interest in the Saints' welfare.

Sources: Journal History; Manuscript History of Brigham Young, p. 209-32; The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1:174-76; "Exodus likened to 3-act play with middle often forgotten," Church News, 11 May 1996, p. 10; Life of a Pioneer, pp. 22-26; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:57-58; The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, p. 138; Ensign to the Nations, p. 39.

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