Mormon Battalion
1846 U.S. Flag
Active 1846–1848
Country United States
Allegiance USA
Branch Army of the West
Type Infantry
Lt. Col. James Allen
Jefferson Hunt (1803-1879)
Philip St. George Cooke (1809-1895)

The Mormon Battalion, was the only religiously based infantry unit ever created bu the US Military. It consisted almost exclusively of nearly 500 men (and a few women) recruited exclusively from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormons). This unit undertook the longest infantry march in U.S. military history and explored vast regions of New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Most members served an initial 12 month term (Jul 1846- Jul 1847) with some members re-enlisting for an additional 12 months afterwards.


U.S. Mormon Battalion (1846-1847) - Military March from Iowa to San Diego CA

Unit History Edit

Over 500 volunteers enlisted in the Mormon Battalion. Some 22 Mormon men died from disease or other natural causes during their service. About 80 of the men re-enlisted for another six months of service.

Recruitment Edit

The invitation to serve was actually the result of talks between Mormon leaders living on the East Coast of the United States, and U.S. Government officials. Jesse C. Little, presiding elder of the Mormon Church in the eastern United States, met with President Polk and offered Mormon assistance in exploring and fortifying the American West in return for monetary help. Polk proposed enlisting Mormon men to fight in the controversial U.S.-Mexican War. Under Polk's orders Captain James Allen (1806-1846) (later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel) met with the Mormon leaders in Iowa and Nebraska and asked for five hundred men. In exchange, the impoverished Mormons, who had just been driven from their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois, received much needed funds to finance their trek west.

On 1 July 1846 Captain James Allen, dispatched by Colonel (later Brigadier General) Stephen W. Kearny, arrived at the Mormons' Mosquito Creek camp. He had a request from President Polk to enlist a battalion of 500 volunteers (5 companies of 100 men each) to fight in the Mexican War. Most members of the Church were suspicious of the request, as the Federal government had ignored the persecutions they suffered. They were concerned about facing discrimination by the government, as they had from both the state and federal government in the past.

The public approval of Mormon Leader, Brigham Young and other members of the Twelve were critical to gain men's enlistment. While some men quickly volunteered, Young had to persuade and cajole many enlistees. It took three weeks to raise the five companies of men.

Allen's instructions were to recruit five companies of men who were to receive the "pay, rations, and other allowances given to other infantry volunteers." Each company was authorized four women as laundresses, "receiving rations and other allowances given to the laundresses of our army." Approximately thirty-three women, twenty of whom served as laundresses, and fifty-one children accompanied the men. Four women would eventually complete the cross-continental trek.

The Mormon Battalion was mustered into volunteer service on 16 July 1846 as part of the Army of the West under General Kearny, a tough and seasoned veteran. His units included two regiments of Missouri volunteers, a regiment of New York volunteers who traveled by ships to California to meet him there, artillery and infantry battalions, Kearny's own 1st US Dragoons, and the battalion of Mormons.

Fort Leavenworth Edit

The battalion arrived at Fort Leavenworth on 1 August. For the next two weeks, they drew their pay, received their equipment (Model 1816 smoothbore flintlock muskets and a few Harper's Ferry Model 1803 Rifles), and were more formally organized into a combat battalion.

Newly promoted Lieutenant Colonel James Allen became ill but ordered the battalion forward along the Santa Fe Trail to overtake Kearny's Army of the West. On 23 August, Allen died and was the first officer buried in what became Fort Leavenworth National Military Cemetery.

Captain Jefferson Hunt, commanding A Company, was the acting commander until word reached Council Grove, Kansas, that Allen had died. A few days later Lieutenant Andrew Jackson Smith, West Point Class of 1838, arrived and assumed temporary command of the battalion with the Mormons' consent.

March to Santa Fe Edit

Arriving in Santa Fe in October, General Kearny had dispatched Captain, now Lieutenant Colonel, Philip St. George Cooke, West Point class of 1827, to assume command of the battalion. His assignment was to march them to California and to build a wagon road along the way. In Santa Fe many sick men and all but a few of the women and children were sent to Pueblo, in present-day Colorado. A total of three separate detachments left the battalion and went to Pueblo to winter. For the next four months and 1,100 miles, Cooke led the battalion across some of the most arduous terrain in North America. Most of the Mormon soldiers soon learned to respect and follow him. The group acquired another guide in New Mexico – adventurer and mountain man Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, who as an infant had traveled with his mother Sacagawea across the continent with the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Lieutenant Smith and Dr. Sanderson continued with the battalion, along with Lieutenant George Stoneman, newly graduated from West Point that Spring. During the Civil War, all three officers were promoted to high-level commands for the Union Army. Afterward, Stoneman would go on to be elected Governor of California.

Sick Detachment Edit

In Santa Fe many sick men and all but a few of the women and children were sent to Pueblo, in present-day Colorado. A total of three separate detachments left the battalion and went to Pueblo to winter. They would all eventually join with the main body Latter-day Saints migrating to Utah.

Battle of the Bulls Edit

Near the San Pedro River in Arizona lived a sizable number of wild cattle. The battalion reached this area in November, 1846 and their presence aroused curiosity among these animals. After the bulls of these herds caused destruction to some of the mules and wagons and resulted in two men being wounded, the men loaded their guns and attacked the charging bulls, killing 10–15 of the wild cattle, which was sarcastically termed the "Battle of the Bulls".

Capture of Tucson Edit

Approaching Tucson, in future Arizona, the battalion nearly had a battle with a small detachment of provisional Mexican soldiers on 16 December 1846. The Mexicans retreated as the US battalion approached. The local O'odham and other Piman tribes along the march route were helpful and charitable to the American soldiers. Mormon soldiers learned many methods of irrigation from these native inhabitants and employed the methods later as pioneers in Utah and other areas.

Temecula Massacre Edit

Nearing the end of their journey (Jan 1847), the battalion passed through Temecula, California, during the aftermath of the Temecula Massacre, a conflict between the Californios and the Luiseño tribe. The Mormons stood guard to prevent further bloodshed while the Luiseño people gathered their numerous dead into a common grave.

San Diego Arrival Edit

The Mormon Battalion arrived in San Diego on 29 January 1847 after a march of some 1,900 miles from Iowa. For the next five months until their discharge on 16 July 1847 in Los Angeles, the battalion trained and also performed occupation duties in several locations in southern California. The most significant service the battalion provided in California and during the war, was as a reliable unit under Cooke that General Kearny could rely on to block Fremont's mutinous bid to control California. The construction of Fort Moore was one measure Cooke employed to protect legitimate military and civil control under Kearny.

Fremont Detachment Edit

A few of the men escorted John C. Fremont back east for his court-martial. This group would also discover the remains of the ill-fated Donner pioneer part on the Truckee River.

Sutter's Mill Gold Discovery Edit

A few discharged veterans worked in the Sacramento area for James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill. Henry Bigler recorded the actual date, 24 January 1848, in his diary (now on display at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA) when gold was discovered. This gold find started the California Gold Rush the next year. $17,000 in gold was contributed to the economy of the Latter-day Saints' new home by members of the Mormon Battalion returning from California.

Duty Roster Edit


Mormon Battalion Historic Site - San Diego CA

Battalion Command Staff Edit

Commanding Officers:

Staff Officers:

  • Cloud, Jeremiah, Maj, Paymaster
  • Stoneman, George, 2nd Lt (1822-1894) - Assistant Quartermaster - later a Major General for the Union in the Civil War and then 15th Governor of California (1883-1887)
  • Dykes, George Parker, 1st Lt, Adjutant to 1 Nov 1846
  • Merrill Philemon Christopher, 2nd Lt, Adjutant, from 1 Nov 1846
  • Glines, James Harvey, Sgt Maj to 16 Oct 1846
  • Ferguson, James, Sgt Maj fr 16 Oct 1846
  • Allred, Reddick Newton (1822-1905), Quartermaster - 1852 Sandwich Islands Mission, 1856 Handcart Company Rescue Teamster
  • McKissock, M.D., Assistant Quartermaster
  • Sanderson, George, MD, Surgeon
  • McIntyre, William L, Assistant Surgeon

Battalion Guides:

  • Appolonius
  • Chacon
  • Charboneauz, Jean Baptiste - Son of Sacajawea
  • Foster, Stephen G.
  • Francisco
  • Hall, Willard P.
  • Tasson
  • Thompson, Phillip
  • Weaver, Pauline W.

Servants and Staff:

  • Bosco, John and Jane - traveling companions of Jefferson Hunt
  • Allison Family - cousins and traveling companions of Jefferson Hunt
  • Lt Col Cooke's Staff - Cook, Bugler, Teamster, etc
  • Zemira Palmer (1831-1880) - joined at age 15, his mother and step-father were in Co A.

Roster: Company A Edit

Officers & Staff:


Women & Children:

Roster: Company B Edit

Officers & Staff


Women & Children

  • Coray, Melissa Burton, wife of William Coray.
  • William Coray, son of William Coray.
  • Hunter, Lydia Edmounds, wife of Jesse D. Hunter.
  • Diego Hunter, son of Jesse D. Hunter.
  • Ludington, Mary Eliza Clark, wife of Elam Ludington. - At least two children were in the Ludington family.
  • Ludington, Lena Monger, mother of Elam Ludington.

Roster: Company C Edit



Women & Children:

Roster: Company D Edit

Officers & Staff


  • Abbott, Joshua
  • Averett, Jeduthan
  • Badham, Samuel (1815-1868) (SD) - Settled in Iowa
  • Boyd, George W.
  • Boyd, WilliamW.
  • Brizzee, Henry Willard
  • Brown, James P
  • Brown, James Stephens
  • Button, Montgomery
  • Casto, James
  • Casto, William W.
  • Chase, Abner
  • Clawson, John Reese
  • Cole, James Barnett
  • Collins, Robert H.
  • Compton, Allen
  • Coons, William
  • Cox, Amos
  • Curtis, Foster
  • Davis, Eleazer
  • Davis, James
  • Douglas, James
  • Douglas, Ralph
  • Fatoute, Ezra
  • Finlay, Thomas
  • Fletcher, Philander
  • Fosgreen, John Erick
  • Frazier, Thomas Leonard
  • Gifford, William
  • Gilbert, John R.
  • Gilbert, R.
  • Gilbert, Thomas
  • Gribble, William
  • Hendricks, William Dorris
  • Henrie, Daniel
  • Higgins, Alfred
  • Hirons, James P.
  • Hoaglund, Lucas
  • Holmes, Jonathan Herriman
  • Hunsaker, Abraham
  • Kenney, Loren E
  • Lamb, Lisbon (1827-1880) - later married former plural wife of Apostle W. Woodruff.
  • Lane, Lewis
  • Laughlin, David Sanders
  • McArther, Henry Marrow
  • Maxwell, William Bailey
  • Mecham, Erastus Darwin
  • Merrill, Ferdinand
  • Mesick, Peter
  • Oakley, James DeGroat
  • Owen, James
  • Peck, Edwin Martin
  • Perrin, Charles
  • Pettegrew, James
  • Rawson, Daniel Berry
  • Raymond, Alonzo Pearis
  • Richmond, William
  • Roberts, Benjamin Morgan
  • Robinson, William J.
  • Rowe, William
  • Roylance, John
  • Runyan, Levi
  • Sanderson, Henry Weeks (1829-1896) - Kept Journal of Battalion Experience
  • Sargent, Abel Morgan
  • Savage, Levi
  • Sharp, Albert
  • Sharp, Norman
  • Shelton, Sebert C.
  • Smith, John Grover
  • Spencer, William W.
  • Steele, John
  • Stephens, Alexander
  • Stewart, Benjamin
  • Stweart, James
  • Stewart, Robert Boyd
  • Stillman, Clark
  • Swarthout, Nathan
  • Tanner, Myron
  • Thomas, Hayward
  • Thompson, Jonathan Miles
  • Tippets, John Harvey
  • Treat, Thomas W.
  • Tubbs, William
  • Twitchell, Anciel
  • Walker, Edwin
  • Whiting, Almon
  • Whiting, Edmond
  • Woodward, Francis Snow

Women & Children

  • Abbot, Ruth Markham - wife of Joshua Abbott
  • Brown, Eunice Reasor - Wife of James “P” Brown. Children: Robert, Newman, John, Mary Ann, Sarah.
  • Button, Mary Bittles - Wife of Montgomery Button. Charles, James, Jutson, Louisa.
  • Davis, Nancy Brown - Wife of Eleazer Davis and daughter of CPT James Brown and Martha Stephens.
  • Higgins, Sarah Blackman - wife of CPT Nelson Higgins,. Children: Drusilla, Almira, Wealtha, Carlos Smith, Heber Kimball,
  • Hirons, Mary Ann Jameson - wife of James P. Hirons.
  • Huntington, Fanny Maria Allen - wife of Dimick B. Huntington. Children: Martha Zina, Betsy Prescinda, Clark Allen, Lot.
  • Sharp, Martha Jane Sargent, wife of Norman Sharp. Child: Sarah Ellen.
  • Caroline Sargent - daughter of Abel Sargent and sister to Martha Jane Sargent Sharp Mowrey.
  • Shelton, Elisabeth Trains Mayfield - wife of Sebert C. Shelton. Children: John Mayfield, Jackson Mayfield, Sarah Mayfield, Caroline Shelton, Marion Shelton, Abraham Cooper Shelton, Thomas H.B. Shelton, Mary Shelton.
  • Steele, Catherine Campbell - wife of John Steele. Child: Mary.
  • Tubbs, Sophia - wife of William Tubbs.
  • Williams, Albina Marie Merrill (1826-1914) - wife of Sgt. Thomas S. Williams. Children: Caroline Marie Williams (1843-1916), Ephraim Thomas Williams (1845-1885), and baby Phebe Isabella Williams (1847-1880) was born during SD stay in Pueblo CO.
  • Merrill, Phoebe Lodema (1832-1909) - sister of Albina Marie Williams, served as Battalion Nurse, went with SD to Pueblo CO.

Roster: Company E Edit

Officers and Staff:


  • Allen, John
  • Bates, Joseph William
  • Beers, William
  • Beddome, William
  • Binley, John Wesley
  • Brown, Daniel
  • Bulkley, Newman
  • Bunker, Edward
  • Caldwell, Mathew - Matthew Caldwell was a non-Mormon living in Hancock County at the time of Joseph Smith's death. According to Caldwell's own account, the morning of the martyrdom he heard a speech by Levi Williams and Thomas Sharp calling for volunteers to go to Carthage and do the deed. Of the 500 men present, only 6 men refused to go, Caldwell among them. He sympathized with the Saints because he believed in religious freedom. The mob jeered the objectors, calling them "long-eared Jack Mormons." Worried that Caldwell might warn the Saints of impending danger, Levi Williams refused to let him go home to attend his sick wife. Instead he placed him under guard and made him sit astride a cannon. Caldwell's guard forced him to go without a hat beneath a scorching sun, but "the scenery was sublime, as the cannon had been placed on a knoll and commanded a good view of the Mississippi River." Caldwell joined the Church two years later and volunteered for the Mormon Battalion.
  • Campbell, Jonathan
  • Campbell, Samuel
  • Cazier, James
  • Cazier, John
  • Chappin, Samuel
  • Clark, Albert
  • Clark, Joseph
  • Clark, Samuel Gilman
  • Cox, John
  • Cummings, George Washington
  • Davis, Walter L.
  • Day, Abraham Eli
  • Dennett, Daniel Q
  • Dyke, Simon
  • Earl, Jacob Sylpher
  • Ewell, William Fletcher
  • Follett, William Tillman
  • Fornay, Fredrick
  • Glazier, Luther William
  • Harmon, Oliver Norton
  • Harris, Robert
  • Harrison, Isaac
  • Hart, James Swarthout
  • Hess, John Wells
  • Hickmott, John
  • Hopkins, Charles A.
  • Hoskins, Henry
  • Houghton or Houston, John
  • Howell, Thomas Charles Davis
  • Jacobs, Bailey
  • Jameson, Charles
  • Judd, Hiram
  • Judd, Zadock Knapp
  • Karren, Thomas
  • Kelley, George
  • Knapp, Albert (1825-1864)
  • Lance, William
  • McBride, Harlem
  • McClellan, William Carroll
  • Miller, Daniel
  • Miller, Miles
  • Park, William Asbery
  • Pettegrew, David
  • Phelps, Alva (1813-1846) - Died on march, buried near Arkansas River 16-Sep-1846.
  • Pixton, Robert (1819-1881) - English Immigrant - his autobiography details discovery of gold at Sutter's mill in 1848.
  • Porter, Sanford
  • Pugmire, Jonathan
  • Richardson, J.
  • Richardson, Thomas
  • Roberts, Levi
  • Sanders, Richard Twiggs (1828-1858) (FPC) - Stayed in California / settled in Gold Country / Amador Co.
  • Scott, Leonard M.
  • Skeen, Joseph
  • Slater, Richard
  • Smith, David
  • Smith, Lot (1830-1892) - youngest member of battalion, later a Major in the Deseret Militia during the Utah Wars, died in shootout with indians in Arizona.
  • Spidell, John
  • Standage, Henry
  • Stephens, Roswell
  • Strong, William
  • Tanner, Albert
  • West, Benjamin
  • Whitworth, Robert Walton
  • Williams, James Vanostrand
  • Wilson, George Deliverance
  • Woolsey, Thomas

Women & Children:

  • Brown, Agnes, wife of Edmond Lee Brown
  • Davis, Susannah (1827-) - wife of Capt. Daniel C Davis and stepmom to Daniel Jr. (see next)
  • Davis, Daniel C Jr (1842-1878), son of Capt Davis. youngest child to march the entire distance to California with the troop.
  • Hanks, Jane Wells Cooper, wife of Ebenezer Hanks
  • Hess, Emiline Bigler
  • Smith, Rebecca
  • St John, Harriet, wife of Daniel Brown.

References Edit

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