Mormon History, Jul 7, 1846

Letter Regarding the Mormon Battalion-- While Brigham Young and his company were at Mt. Pisgah, Iowa, a number of letters were written giving instructions to the Church and directing several phases of its activities including the enlistment of the Mormon Battalion. On May 23, 1846, a letter was written to President William Huntington. No available copy of this letter has been located. On July 7, 1846, President Young wrote at least three letters. Two of them were to the Saints at Garden Grove, Iowa, and the third to the Trustees of the Church at Nauvoo, Illinois. Two of the letters are presented here in abstracted form. The originals have not been located. The letter to Samuel Bent and the Council and the Saints at Garden Grove seems to be in full. All three letters deal primarily with the recruitment of the Mormon Battalion. For additional background for this letter see: CHC 3:80-83; RCH 2:218-225.
Mount Pisgah, July 7, 1846. President Samuel Bent and Council and the Saints at Garden Grove: Beloved Brethren:-We write and send by a special messenger at this time, that you may be apprized of the situation and welfare of the Church, and what will be for the good of the saints at your place. Brothers Young, Kimball and Richards arrived last evening direct from Council Bluffs (where they left about eight hundred wagons, passed about the same number on the road, besides the hundreds here and between here and Nauvoo) for the purpose of raising five hundred "Mormon" volunteers to enter into the service of the United States, under the command of Captain James Allen of the United States army, who will be lieut-Col. of the Battalion, each company electing their own officers under Col. Allen, to be marched forthwith to Fort Leavenworth, there receive their arms, ammunition, camp and hospital stores, follow Col. Kearney's trail to Santa Fe, join his standard, pass through the upper provinces of Mexico, into California, where they are to be disbanded at the expiration of one year from the day they leave Council Bluffs, receive the fitout and pay of regular soldiers of the United States army, and have their arms and equipment given them in addition; that they may stay, look out the best locations for themselves and friends, and defend the country. This is no hoax. Elder Little, President of the New England churches, is here also direct from Washington, who has been to see the President on the subject of emigrating the Saints to the western coast, and confirms all that Capt. Allen has stated to us.
The United States wants our friendship, the President wants to do us good and secure our confidence. The outfit of these five hundred men costs us nothing, and their pay will be sufficient to take their families over the mountains. There is war between Mexico and the U. S. to whom California must fall a prey, and if we are the first settlers, the old citizens cannot have a Hancock or Missouri pretext to mob the saints. The thing is from above for our good, has long been understood between us and the U. S. Government, but the first blow was struck sooner than we anticipated, the Church would not help the Twelve over the mountains when they wanted to go, and now we will help the churches.
We must take these five hundred men from among the teamsters, and send them without delay. If there is any one among you over eighteen and under forty-five that wants to and can go let him be at Council Bluffs forthwith. Drummers and fifers are wanted. Where is Bro. Hales and the rest of the band?
The places of these five hundred teamsters-soldiers must be immediately supplied, and we want you to gather up all the old men and boys and all the others who are capable of going into the army, driving oxen, herding cattle and sheep, milking cows, chopping wood, drawing water, cutting grass, pitching and stacking hay etc., from the farm, and those who may be in Missouri at work and all others within your call, and dispatch them to Council Bluffs forthwith, or five hundred teams must be left without drivers.
Captain Allen guarantees to us the privilege of staying anywhere we please on Indian lands, if we send these five hundred men to California, but recommends Grand Island, in the Platte River, as the best place. This is the spot we had before contemplated for to winter. There is a salt spring at the head of the Island, where buffalo resort, and we can make our own salt. Thither we want to go without delay, with all the teams of the camp, unload from five hundred to one thousand of the wagons to return immediately to Nauvoo, Garden Grove, Etc., and before spring carry to the Platte every poor but honest soul that has no means to go, or every saint who wants to go and cannot.
The fifteen or sixteen hundred teams west of this are mostly loaded with one year's provision, and Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah, we expect, will yield a valuable harvest to be conveyed forward by the teams that will return after the poor.
It is an important item to cut hay for our stock; we have teams enough in the Church, and they must be fed, and every team and man, that does not return from Grand Island, must go into the grass field without delay. But "Can't I go now?" says one sister; "Do take me," says another. "If my son or my husband goes, I shall go, you are not going to leave me here till you come back," say fifty more. All right, sisters, we are glad to see the spirit of western emigration prevail; we have long heard your cries and listened to your entreaties, and we now listen again in anticipation, and if you must come, clothe yourselves in appropriate garments, straddle your mules and horses, come on and drive teams and pitch hay; if you cannot do this, make yourselves as comfortable as possible till your husbands can go to Grand Island and get a good wagon or carriage to take you on your journey and no whining about it; and when you come up with us in this style of ladies, we will be glad to see and bless you, and we bless you now.
The demand we are making on you for every man and boy (only enough left to watch the farm crops and herds) we shall make immediately in all the regions of Nauvoo, and there must be no deafness on the subject. If the brethren back there do not leave all and come immediately, what will become of our cattle next winter? And if we let them die, what will become of us? Where is our milk and beef? But, say you, "What shall be done with Garden Grove?" Sell it, i.e. the improvements, as soon as you have a chance, and give possession when the crops are removed, and sooner too, if you can get pay for the crops, and come on. Some of the Missourians ought to be glad to give a handsome sum for Garden Grove to get rid of their neighbors.
We want the Bros. Hales in the army as musicians. For the Council BRIGHAM YOUNG, President WILLARD RICHARDS, Clerk. {1846-July 7-RCH 2:223-225}

[source: Clark, James R., Messages of the First Presidency (6 volumes)]

No comments:

Post a Comment