Medical Transcription Program
The Mormon Battalion
It was about this same time that word came to Brigham Young, the interim leader of the Latter-day Saints, that President James Polk had sent a formal request for 500 Mormon men to form a military battalion to march to California and help fight the Mexican American War.

While it would be a significant hardship for the Mormon pioneers to lose 500 of their most able bodied men, Brigham Young also recognized this as a significant opportunity to raise much needed capital for the destitute saints as the battalion would draw wages and receive supplies as member of the United States Military. He lost no time in mustering a battalion of 500 men and sending them on to perform their US Military duty. On July 16, 1846, under the authority of US Army Captain James Allen, a battalion of 500 men was organized in the Council Bluffs Iowa territory and incorporated into the Army of the West, under the command of Colonel Stephen Kearney. From Council Bluffs they were dispatched to the nearest Army post at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Ft. Leavenworth was located about 180 miles south of Council Bluffs. Here they would receive training and equipment in preparation for their trek west. Once equipped, the battalion began its long march to California on August 12, 1846.

Ultimately, members of the well organized Mormon Battalion would march approximately 2,000 miles – an unparalleled infantry feat. They traveled south and west from Council Bluffs, Iowa through Ft. Leavenworth, Santa Fe, Tucson, and on to San Diego where they arrived on January 29, 1847.

The loss of so many able-bodied men was yet another reason for the saints gathered on the banks of the Missouri River to postpone their continued westward trek until spring. The decision was made by Brigham Young to construct an encampment on the west side of the Missouri River in the summer of 1846.

The willingness of the Mormons to supply much needed manpower for the war allowed Brigham Young to favorably negotiate an unprecedented agreement with the US Government Indian Agents and the Omaha and Pottawattamie Indian Tribes to establish a temporary encampment in what was then Indian Territory just west of the Missouri River.