President Young Requested By the Military Commander of California to Have Another Battalion Sent Ther-President Young’s Address to the “Battalion Boys” in Salt Lake Valley-Why the Call Was Made for the Battalion-Opposed to Their Re-Enlisting
President George Q. Cannon, in his “History of the Church,” alluding to that period immediately succeeding the arrival of the Battalion in Salt Lake Valley, says:
“By direction of Col. R. B. Mason, Military Governor of California, Col. J. D. Stevenson wrote to President Young that he was instructed to authorize Captain Jefferson Hunt to raise a volunteer battalion of “Mormons.” He alluded to the “severe persecution” endured by the Saints, and attributed much of the prejudice existing in California to the exclusiveness of the Saints, as well as the bad reports which had preceded them; but he said that the intercourse with the men of the Battalion since their arrival had dispelled the prejudices, and that having had occasion to visit all the prominent places from Santa Barbara to San Diego, he had found a strong feeling of respect entertained for the Mormon people, both by the native and foreign population, and an earnest desire expressed that they should be retained in service during the war and finally become permanent residents of that section.
“After the arrival of President Young in the Valley he called the brethren of the Battalion together and blessed them in the name of the Lord for their fidelity to the kingdom of God. He told them it was not generally understood why the Battalion had been raised. The Latter-day Saints had friends and enemies at Washington. When President Polk could do them a favor he was disposed to do it, but there were those around him who felt vindictive towards the Saints and kept continually harping against them, and who thought themselves wise enough to lay plans to accomplish their destruction. The plan of raising a Battalion to march to California by a call from the War Department was devised with a view to the total overthrow of the kingdom of God and the destruction of every man, woman and child, and was hatched up by Senator Thomas H. Benton. The enemies of the Saints firmly believed they would refuse to respond to the call, and they told President Polk this would prove to him whether they were friends to the Union; and they further advised the President that when the call would be rejected, to say to the States of Missouri and Illinois and the mobocrats: “The Mormons are at your mercy.” When Captain Allen, who had been appointed by the government to call upon the Latter-day Saints to raise a battalion for the war, read his papers, the power of the Almighty was upon President Young and his brethren, and it overshadowed Allen, and he straightway became the friend of the people, and had he lived, President Young said, he would have remained their friend.
“It was to the praise of the Battalion, President Young said, that they went as honorable men, doing honor to their calling and to the United States, and he was satisfied with all of them. If some had done wrong and transgressed and been out of the way, President Young exhorted them to refrain therefrom, turn to the Lord and build up His kingdom. Who could say, he asked, he was without sin?
“President Young said he felt glad that their conduct had proved to their commanders and generals that they were the best and most reliable soldiers; and although there were, perhaps, no people in the Union who would have responded to the call under the circumstances the Saints were in, still it was the best course that they could have pursued. President Young further remarked that he saw the whole plan concocted as plainly as he saw the faces then before him, and he felt within himself that his faith in God would out-general the wickedness of their enemies. The Battalion was formed, it started, and the sword fell on the other side. If the Battalion had not gone, they would not have been in the Valley then. He alluded to feelings which existed between those who had been in the army and those who had not; such feelings, he said, were wrong. His fellowship was as pure for one person as for another who had been preserved in the gospel covenants.
“He said he did not want the Battalion to re-enlist for another six months. He regretted that he did not have clothing for them; but he would rather wear skins, he said, than go back to the United States for clothes.”