Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mormon Battalion

Saturday morning I am going with a bunch of scouts on a 5 mile hike that will follow the march of the Mormon Battalion through Temecula, California. This should be great as they are going to have re-enacters there and so this will not just be a hike but a living history hike.

Now, if I live through this (you should now I am not the hiking type, I am more at home indoors reading and have the pale skin to prove it), it should be a great genealogical experience learning about life in the 1800's.

The Mormon Battalion was a group of over 500 Mormon volunteers who were mustered into service for the Mexican War (1846-1848). Mustered in at Council Bluffs, Iowa, the Mormon Battalion was the answer to President Brigham Young's request of the United States government to provide aid to migrating Mormons. He believed that the Mormons agreeing to help the United States government would, in turn, protect them from groups wanting to persecute them for their religious beliefs. Although the Mormons may have been leery of assisting a government who had not stopped their persecutions at the hands of citizens in Missouri, Brigham Young encouraged the men to organize a battalion as their patriotic duty.

Battalion members carried on various duties, including garrison duty in California and helping to build forts, courthouses, and houses in California. Members of Company A of the Battalion were responsible for opening the first wagon route from California to Utah in 1848. Members of the Battalion were mustered out on July 1847 in California.

The men of the Battalion marched over 2,000 miles, one of the longest military marches in history. They marched from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Then from Santa Fe, New Mexico they marched to San Diego, California.

Mormon men were not the only participants in the Battalion, some wives and over 50 children were also part of the makeup of this group.
A web site dedicated to the Mormon Battalion can be found at At this web site you will find a roster of those men who served in the Battalion, as well as the wives and children who went with the group. This site also includes pictures of Battalion soldiers, provided by their descendants. A list of links includes histories of the Battalion and individual histories of some of the men who served in this group. These individual histories may include pictures and scans of important documents regarding the person. In addition, the Mormon Battalion Visitor's Center in San Diego, California, is a place to learn more about this group and the sacrifices they made.

In the LDS Family History Library Cataloge, a keyword search on the phrase "Mormon Battalion" provides 115 matching records including, "Complied Service Records of volunteer soldiers who served during the Mexican War in Mormon organization." Lists of Mormon Battalion soldiers, as well as various histories are available through the Family History Library. Histories available through the Family History Library include those of the women involved in the battalion.

If your ancestor served in any branch of service during the Mexican War, you may be interested in the web site, Descendants of Mexican War Veterans at According to that web site, over 100,000 American men served in that war, with 75,000 of those serving in volunteer organizations. Ten thousand of the men who served died during the war, the majority of disease. This web site not only explains how to research your Mexican War veterans but also provides links to online rosters.
Some books that will assist you in researching your Mormon Battalion ancestors are The Mormon Battalion: U.S. Army of the West , 1846-1847 by Norma Baldwin Ricketts (ISBN: 0874212154); Army of Israel: Mormon Battalion Narratives by David L. Bigler and Will Bagley (ISBN: 0874212944); and A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War 1846-1847 by Daniel Tyler (ISBN: 1428622020).

Two groups that may have a history of your Mormon Battalion ancestor are the Sons of Utah Pioneers, located on the web at and the International Society Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers have an online index of histories that have been provided to them on pioneers to the Utah Valley. From their home page, click on the link for the history department and then utilize their history card index to see if your pioneer's biography is represented. For a fee, DUP will send you a copy of this biography.


Becky Jamison said...

This is a really wonderful post, Gena! I'm glad Thomas MacEntee pointed out your blog on his Facebook Bootcamp blog this week so I was able to find you and follow you!
Becky Jamison

Amy said...

I'm a little late with my encouragement, but I hope it went well. I'm originally from Riverside, so I'm familiar with the area.

Gena Philibert Ortega said...

I will say it was great to go out and experience a very little piece of what life was like for those who walked the trails. It was only 5 miles out of the 2,000 the Mormon Battalion marched but it was enough for me;)