An excerpt from a roster for Company A of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican-American War, 1846.
War with Mexico broke out in April 1846, just as some ten thousand Mormons attempting to leave the United States were making slow progress across Iowa, many of them sick and destitute. President Polk requested a battalion of five hundred Mormon men to fight in the Mexican-American War. Despite having just been denied legal recourse in Illinois, the Latter-day Saints complied, as the soldiers’ salaries would provide much-needed cash to supply the westward journey. The Mormon Battalion was the only religiously-based military unit in United States history; approximately 550 men served, along with 33 women laundresses. The unit marched two thousand miles from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to San Diego, California along the Sante Fe trail without encountering battle; a contingent of sick wintered over in Pueblo, Colorado and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley the same month as Brigham Young’s 1847 group. Once the war was over, some members of the Battalion stayed in California at the beginning of the gold rush to raise funds; others rejoined their families in the Salt Lake Valley. The Company A list includes name, rank, place of origin, birthdate, family situation, supplies, and wages; the first page of four is included here.
Mormon Battalion Council Bluff
July 16 1846
Return List of Company A
Contains a list of members of Company A of the Mormon Battalion.
The columns at the top of the list in order from left to right read: Name, Rank, Town, County, State, Date [of Birth], Number in Family, Wife’s Name, wagons, horses, oxen, cows, sheep, hogs, Situation of Family, Wishes concerning family, and Disposal of Wages.
“Situation of Family” refers to whether the family would accompany the member of the battalion, were “on the way”, or would remain at Council Bluff
“Wishes Concerning Family” refer to the care of the family in case of death, whether they were to “go on” or left in the care of an individual named by the member of the battalion
“Disposal of Wages” refers to the use of the monthly wages on order of council, to benefit of family, or combination of both
Document is signed by Jefferson Hunt, Capt., William W. Willis Orderly, Sgt, and James Ferguson, clerk. Dated July 16, 1846