History Mormon Battalion Chapter 07 Section A


Correspondence Between Sanderson and Smith and President Young-the True Version of How the New Commander Should Have Been Selected

The following are the letters referred to by Lieutenant Pace, with their replies:


August 22, 1846.

Mr. Brigham Young and Others,

Council Bluffs,

GENTLEMEN:-I have the painful task to perform of informing you of the death of our friend, Lt. Col. Allen, of the Mormon Battalion. He died this morning about six o’clock, after a confinement, of about ten days, to his bed. He died of congestive fever; was indisposed for many days previous to taking to his bed. Your people have lost a devoted friend and good officer. I am in hopes, in fact I have no fears, nor you need not entertain any, your people will be taken care of. The most perfect harmony has prevailed among themselves since their arrival at this post, and every one speaks to their praise. Lt. Smith, of U.S,A. will go out with them until they overtake Gen. Kearney, who will take them under his special care. I am going out myself as Surgeon to the Battalion. I was appointed by Col. Allen on the 1st inst., and everything that I have in my power shall be extended to them for their comfort. Please to give kindest regards to Col. Kane, and had it been in my power I should have visited him during his illness. I have just learned he is much better.

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,


Surgeon M. B.

FORT LEAVENWORTH, August, 23, 1846.

President Brigham Young:

SIR:-It is with the deepest regret that I have to inform you of the death of Lieutenant Colonel James Allen, late commander of the Mormon Battalion. The command left this post last week, and is now encamped about forty miles from here. The particulars of the lamented and universal favorite, Colonel Allen, will be communicated to you by Lieutenant James Pace, the bearer of this note. If it is the wish of your people that I should take charge of the Battalion, and conduct it to General Kearney, I will do it with pleasure and feel proud of the command.

I have in my possession most, if not all, the papers that relate to the movements of this Battalion, and will use my best endeavors to see all orders and promises heretofore given, carried into execution.

I am, sir, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,


1st Lt. 1st Dragoons.


Aug, 27, 1846


Your letter of the 22nd inst, to Mr., Young and others has just arrived, and while we mourn the loss of a gentleman, and noble officer with our friends in the Battalion, and his brother officers of the army, we are consoled with the assurance you have made that our brethren have won the praise of their country, by their harmony and good order, and we doubt not your services to the Battalion will be duly appreciated. Your regards have been presented to Col. Kane, who is convalescent, and thinks he shall be able to ride out in a few days.

Most respectfully,

In behalf of the Council,

Brigham Young, President.

Willard Richards, Clerk.

To Geo. B. Sanderson,

Surgeon, Mormon Battalion.


August 27, 1846.


Your letter of the 23rd inst., to President Young, announcing the death of Lt. Col. Allen, was received this day, and we feel to sympathize with you and our friends of the Battalion in this deep affliction.

You kindly offered to take the charge of the Battalion and conduct it safely to Gen. Kearney. We have not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance, and consequently can have no personal objections to you; but, sir, on the subject of command we can only say, Col. Allen settled that matter at the organization of the Battalion; therefore, we must leave that point to the proper authorities, be the result what it may. Any assistance you may render the Battalion while moving will be duly acknowledged by a grateful people.

Most respectfully, Sir,

Yours in behalf of the Council.



A. J. Smith, 1st Lt. 1st Dragoons,

U, S, Army of the West.

The following letter explains itself:


August, 27, 1846.

Samuel Gulley, Quartermaster, and the “Mormon Battalion.”

BELOVED BROTHER,-Your letters of the 21st and 23rd inst., per Lieutenant Pace, we received, and feel to mourn the loss we have sustained in the death of Lieutenant Colonel Allen, who, we believe, as a gentleman and officer, had the affections of all his acquaintances. To such dispensations of Providence, we must submit, and pray our Heavenly Father to guide your steps, and move in all your councils.

You will all doubtless recollect that Colonel Allen repeatedly stated to us and the Battalion that there would be no officer in the Battalion, except himself, only from among our people; that if he fell in battle, or was sick, or disabled by any means, the command would devolve on the ranking officer, which would be the Captain of Company A, and B, and so on, according to letter. Consequently the command must devolve on Captain Jefferson Hunt, whose duty we suppose to be to take the Battalion to Bent’s Fort, or wherever he has received marching orders for, and there wait further orders from General Kearney, notifying him by express of Colonel Allen’s decease at the earliest date.

From the great confidence we had in Colonel Allen’s assurance of the order of making officers in command, and the confidence we have in General Kearney and the officers of the United States, that they will faithfully perform, according to the pledges made by Colonel Allen as an officer on the part of the Government, we consider there is no reasonable chance for a question on the future command of the Battalion, and as to expediency, we know of none worthy of consideration. But should General Kearney propose any other course, we presume the Battalion would not feel disposed to act upon it until they had notified the General of the pledges they had received from the Government through Colonel Allen, and received his answer, and we know of no law that could require the brethren to act contrary to those pledges, or under any circumstance contrary to their wish. We trust there is not a man in the Battalion who would let pass the first opportunity of procuring the rules and regulations of tactics of the United States army and making himself master of the same before the close of the year.

For the Council,


W. Richards, Clerk.

This letter was not received until Smith was in command, hence too late to be acted upon. A little postponement by the officers until Lieutenant Pace’s return, which was daily looked for, would have been satisfactory to all, and Captain Hunt, who had been duly elected would have continued in command with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

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