The story of the Mormon Battalion is not well know. Perhaps it is not talked about much because the march which the Battalion took from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego, CA was completely uneventful. However, the story of the Battalion is a miracle as great as any other. When the Mormon’s were called upon by the United States of America to serve in the war, the men were hesitant and even against joining the army. These men were trying to move their families West, away from persecution. Plus, the United States had failed to protect them from their unlawful enemies, and now the government was asking for their help!
President Young encouraged the men to join the army and promised them that this would be a great blessing to them, their families, and to the church. The men did not know, or at least could not fully comprehend, the blessing which would come to them. They joined the army because a prophet of God asked them to. They were strictly obedient to the direction given to them from their leader. Their testimonies were greater then their apprehension to serve!
Just as the men, women, and children were leaving, President Young made two prophesies. He told them to keep neat and clean, to teach chastity, to not swear, to not insult each other, and that they should avoid contentions with the Missourians. He told them to take their Bibles and the Books of Mormon but to not impose their belief on others. They were told to avoid card playing and to burn any cards they had. He prophesied that if they would follow these simple instructions, they would not be called on to shed the blood of their fellow men, and that they would be discharged within 800 miles of the proposed settlement of the Saints in the Great Basin where the next temple would be built in a stronghold free from mobs.
The Mormon Battalion was not called into any conflict, and they were discharged in San Diego…exactly 749 miles from Salt Lake!
In addition to these great personal blessings, the members of the Mormon Battalion did bless the church. Most of the company returned the money earned from their service in the army to the Church. This money was used to fund the westward exodus of the pioneers. Without the Mormon Battalion, the Saints could not have financially moved West!
As we travel across the plains of Missouri from Far West to Nauvoo during our LDS Church History Tours, we take time to discuss the little known, yet very important history of the Mormon Battalion.
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