History Mormon Battalion Chapter 02 Section A


CHAPTER II

First Orders Issued-Condition of Families and Feeling of Soldiers-Instructions of Church Authorities-a Pathetic Story By a Soldier’s Wife.

The following orders were read immediately after the first four companies and part of the fifth were mustered into service:

“HEAD QUARTERS, MORMON BATTALION,

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA,

July 16, 1846.

(ORDER NO. 1.)

“In virtue of authority given me by the Col. commanding the army of the west, I hereby assume the command of the Mormon Battalion, raised at this place for the service of the United States. Therefore, companies now organized will be held in readiness to march at the shortest notice, and as soon as the fifth company be filled all will be ready for movement.

J. ALLEN, Lt. Col. U. S. A., Commanding.”

(ORDER NO. 2.)

“The following appointments are made in the Battalion:

“First lieutenant, George P. Dykes, to be Adjutant; private, James H. Glines, to be Sergeant Major; private, Sebert C. Shelton, of Company A, to be Quartermaster Sergeant. They will be respected and obeyed accordingly.

J. ALLEN, Lt. Col. U. S. A., Commanding.”

“HEAD QUARTERS, MORMON BATTALION,

COUNCIL BLUFFS,

July 16, 1846.

(ORDER NO. 3.)

“William L. McIntyre, of the Mormon people, is hereby appointed assistant surgeon to the Mormon Battalion of volunteers of the United States, and under my command. He will be obeyed and respected accordingly, and will be entitled to the pay and emoluments as an assistant surgeon in the United States Army.

J. ALLEN, Lt. Col. U. S. A., Commanding.”

To show the feelings of the members of the Batallion, as well as the condition of their families, I will here quote from the journal of the late Sergeant Wlliam Hyde, which may be taken as a sample of many:

“A few had tents or temporary cabins. We were mustered into the service of the United States, on 16th of July, 1846, and marched to the Missouri river, a distance of eight miles, to purchase blankets and other necessary articles for the campaign, the price of the same to be deducted from our first draft on government.

“The thoughts of leaving my family at this critical time are indescribable. They were far from the land of their nativity, situated upon a lonely prairie with no dwelling but a wagon, the scorching sun beating upon them, with the prospect of the cold winds of December finding them in the same bleak, dreary place.

My family consisted of a wife and two small children, who were left in company with an aged father and mother and a brother. The most of the Battalion left families, some in care of the Church and some in the care of relatives, with some in their own care. When we were to meet with them again, God only knew. Nevertheless, we did not feel to murmur.”

Sergeant Hyde further says: “On Saturday, the 18th of July, 1846, President B. Young, H. C. Kimball, P. P. Pratt, W. Richards, John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff met in private council with the commissioned and non-commissioned officers, on the bank of the Missouri river, and there gave us their last charge and blessing, with a firm promise that, on condition of faithfulness on our part, our lives should be spared, our expedition should result in great good and our names should be held in honorable remembrance to all generations. They instructed the officers to be as fathers to the privates, to remember their prayers, to see that the name of the Deity was revered, and that virtue and cleanliness were strictly observed. They also instructed us to treat all men with kindness and never to take that which did not belong to us, even from our worst enemies, not even in time of war if we could possibly prevent it; and in case we should come in contact with our enemies and be successful, we should treat prisoners with kindness and never take life when it could be avoided.”

The foregoing instructions from the leaders of the Latter-day Saints, given in a private council, are a complete refutation of the oft trumped-up charge that they teach honesty, virtue and forbearance in public, and the reverse in private. They are in accord with the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and other leading men with whom the author has been acquainted almost half a century.

The following synopsis of a painfully interesting letter from the pen of Sister Margaret Bridges, formerly wife of Alva Phelps, whose death will be noticed in the proper place, is, by no means, descriptive of an isolated case of suffering:

“FILLMORE CITY,

“April 30, 1878.

“Brother Tyler:

“DEAR SIR:-In complying with your request to give a sketch of the circumstances attending the enlistment of my former husband, Alva Phelps, in the Mormon Battalion, I find, on referring to my memory, that my sketch must necessarily be brief, as at that time I was suffering from a severe illness, leaving events only of the most sorrowful nature to be impressed with any degree of vividness upon my recollection.

“We were traveling when the call came for him to leave us. It was midnight when we were awakened from our slumbers with the painful news that we were to be left homeless, without a protector. I was very ill at the time, my children all small, my babe also extremely sick; but the call was pressing; there was no time for any provision to be made for wife or children; no time for tears; regret was unavailing. He started in the morning. I watched him from my wagon-bed till his loved form was lost in the distance; it was my last sight of him.

“Two months from the day of his enlistment, the sad news of my bereavement arrived. This blow entirely prostrated me. But I had just embarked upon my sea of troubles; winter found me bed-ridden, destitute, in a wretched hovel which was built upon a hill-side; the season was one of constant rain; the situation of the hovel and its openness, gave free access to piercing winds, and water flowed over the dirt floor, converting it into mud two or three inches deep; no wood but what my little ones picked up around the fences, so green it filled the room with smoke; the rain dropping and wetting the bed which I was powerless to leave; no relative to cheer or comfort me, a stranger away from all who ever loved me; my neighbors could do but little, their own troubles and destitution engrossing their time; my little daughter of seven my only help; no eye to witness my sufferings but the pitying one of God-He did not desert me.

“Spring brought some alleviation from my sufferings, yet one pan of meal was my all, my earthly store of provisions. I found sale for the leaders of my team. The long, dreary winter had passed, and, although it was many months before health and comparative comfort were my portion, still I thank the Lord this was the darkest part of my life.

“The incidents immediately connected with my husband’s death I believe you are better acquainted with than I am, so for me to give an account of his sad fate, would be both unnecessary and painful. If, in this short epistle, you can find any item of information, I shall be happy in forwarding it to you. Thanking you for the interest you are taking in our dear departed and the respect you manifest for our honored dead, I am, sincerely yours, in the bonds of the everlasting gospel.

“MARGARET BRIDGES,

“(Formerly MARGARET PHELPS.)”

The motive that prompted our government to ask of a body of outraged, banished exiles, more than two hundred times their proper quota of men, according to the ratio required of the several States in the Union, has already been explained. Our best men, and even children, in some instances had been inhumanly massacred, and women had been shot and brutally outraged. We had appealed to the various officials, from the justice of the peace to the President and Congress, in vain, for redress of our wrongs, getting the only satisfaction of-“Gentlemen, your cause is just, but we can do nothing for you,” one of the potent reasons assigned being that if they attempted to give us our rights according to their oaths, our enemies would not vote for them at the next election.

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History Mormon Battalion Chapter 02 Section A
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