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The Mormon Battallion

The Mormon Battallion

The Mormon Battalion was the only religiously based unit in United States military history. The all volunteer unit was active from from July 1846 to July 1847 during the Mexican–American War of 1846–1848.


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1
Interior of Carthage Jail by C.C.A. Christensen.
Interior of Carthage Jail by C.C.A. Christensen.
In 1844 as a result of public resistance to the Mormon church, the founder Joseph Smith was jailed. When the jail was attacked by a mob he was assassinated. 
 
2
Crossing the Mississippi on the Ice by C.C.A. Christensen.
Crossing the Mississippi on the Ice by C.C.A. Christensen.
As a result of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Mormons led by Brigham Young fled their settlement in Nauvoo Illinois. A church elder was dispatched to Washington D.C. to plead for federal protection from the violent mobs.

It happened that he arrived in D.C. just eight days after Congress had declared war on Mexico. Eventually a deal was struck for assistance in exchange for a few hundred men to volunteer their enlistment. 
 
3
Mormon Battalion soldier statue at the San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site.
Mormon Battalion soldier statue at the San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site.
Five companies of one hundred or more men were formed. Accompanying them would be approximately thirty-three women, twenty of whom were employed by the Army as laundresses, and fifty-one children.

In July of 1846 they left Council Bluffs, Iowa on what would become known as the longest infantry march in history, approximately 1,850 miles. 
 
4
US Model 1816 Flintlock Smoothbore Musket.
US Model 1816 Flintlock Smoothbore Musket.
Just walking the distance that faced them would have been a challenge but, as soldiers they had equipment to carry. Each one was issued 1 Harpers Ferry model 1816 flintlock smoothbore musket, 1 infantry cartridge box, 1 cartridge box plate, 1 cartridge box belt, 1 bayonet scabbard, 1 bayonet scabbard belt, 1 bayonet scabbard belt plate, 1 waist belt, 1 waist belt plate, 1 musket gun sling, 1 brush and pike set, 1 musket screwdriver, 1 musket wiper, 1 extra flint cap.

The musket alone weighed in at 9 1/2 pounds. This is 2 8/25 pounds heavier than a modern infantry rifle. It would not take many miles before weight like this became a burden. 
 
5
'From New Mexico'. News of the movements of the Mormon Battalion.
"From New Mexico". News of the movements of the Mormon Battalion.
The Springville (New York) Express, Saturday, February 6, 1847 page 2. 
 
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Mormon Battalion March Route.
Mormon Battalion March Route.
 
 
7
The San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site.
The San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site.
 
 
8
Mormon Battalion Monument, Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico.
Mormon Battalion Monument, Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico.
 
 
9
Mormon Battalion Monument Plaque New Mexico.
Mormon Battalion Monument Plaque New Mexico.
 
 
10
Utah State Capitol and the Mormon Battalion Monument.
Utah State Capitol and the Mormon Battalion Monument.
Brigham Young prophesied that not a single battalion member would be lost to hostile action and it proved to be true.

Unfortunately twenty members died due to various health issues or, accidents. Three sick detachments were diverted to Pueblo, Colorado, during the march and never made it to California. 
 
11
Mormon Battalion members.
Mormon Battalion members.
Pioneers and prominent men of Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah, Utah pioneers book publishing company, 1913. Page 43. 
 


Linked to Jacob Kemp Butterfield (5888)