History Mormon Battalion Chapter 03 Section A


Money Subscribed By the Soldiers for Their Families and Poor Friends-First Death on the Journey-Out of Flour-a Prejudiced Missourian-Regrets of Mobocrats-Hurricane-Arrival At Fort Leavenworth-Anecdote of Colonel C.-Dr. Sanderson Appointed Surgeon-Haste to Get Muskets-Character of Missouri Volunteers-More Money Subscribed By the Soldiers-Superior Intelligence and Obedience.

PREVIOUS to taking up the line of march, on the 20th of July, the men of each company subscribed liberally of their wages to be sent back for the support of their families and to aid in gathering the poor from Nauvoo.

A rain storm prevailed during the forenoon of the following day and in the afternoon we traveled about four miles through sand and mud. Elder Jesse C. Little spent that night with us, and the next day, at the request of the officers, he delivered a short and encouraging address to the command while formed in a hollow square. He spoke in high terms of the integrity and energy of Brother Samuel Boley, who was dangerously ill. The invalid was very kindly nursed and doctored by our assistant surgeon, Dr. Wm. L. McIntyre. The 5th company, having been previously filled up and organized, overtook the command on Mosquito creek.

On the morning of the 23rd, we had to perform the painful duty of burying brother Samuel Boley, who died between the hours of 12 and 1 o’clock the previous night. This was the first death that occurred in our ranks. He was wrapped in his blanket and buried in a rough lumber coffin, which was the best we could get.

On the succeeding day we crossed the Nishnabotany River at Hunsaker’s, Ferry, and camped near Lindon, Missouri. The weather being excessively warm, Colonel Allen was in favor of moderate marches; but Adjutant Dykes, being himself a great walker, and having the advantage of a horse to ride, urged long marches. Colonel Allen consented to this, presuming, probably, that the men wished it. They, however, desired only reasonable, healthful marches. Thus many began to fail at almost the beginning of a journey of over two thousand miles. Several parties, about this time, were taken sick, among whom was the author, and were healed by anointing with oil and the laying on of hands, and went on their way rejoicing.

Sergeants Wm. Hyde and Wm Coray, finding the long marches in the broiling sun too hard for them, each purchased an Indian pony from an old settler, paying twenty-five dollars apiece for them.

On the evening of the 25th, the command being out of flour, and there being none in the vicinity to purchase, many retired to bed fasting, while others made the best supper they could on parched corn; yet all seemed to be in excellent spirits in the expectation of soon having full rations. No flour, however, was obtained for two days afterwards, during which time a distance of thirty-eight miles was traveled in the heat and dust, and that too while many of the men were sick. When we had crossed the Nodaway River and camped at the town of Oregon, a Missourian, probably a mobocrat of the old type, whose name. we regret, does not appear, who had been hired to deliver a load of flour, stopped at some distance from our camp and refused to deliver it to the Quartermaster and take his receipt, because he was a Mormon. He would deliver it to no one but the Colonel. That noble officer, however, was highly insulted, and ordered him to deliver the flour immediately upon pain of being arrested and put under guard.

Delivery was made immediately.

“Good for the Colonel!” and “God bless the Colonel!” were repeated from one end of the camp to the other.
Passing on from the Nodaway river, we found the country poor and broken, the road bad and the inhabitants very miserable. A great many of the settlers in this part of the country, were old mobocrats, as several of them admitted. They said that they had been misled by false rumors, and very much regretted having persecuted the Saints. They would have been glad to take their old “Mormon” neighbors back. They had not prospered since the Saints were banished from the State, and the men they then hired to labor for them accomplished only about one half the amount of work in a day that the “Mormons” did.

On the 29th, we passed St. Joseph, then a town of some importance, in good order, keeping time to the tune of “The Girl I left Behind Me,” and camped one mile outside of the town. While here Luke Johnson, formerly one of the Twelve Apostles, but at that time out of the Church, met Sergeant Wm. Hyde and informed him that the Missourians were perfectly astonished at the course the “Mormons” were taking. The Missourians had supposed, when they heard of the President’s requisition, that the Saints would only spurn it. But when they saw the Battalion march through with civility and in good order, they were really dumbfounded.

On the 30th, we passed through Bloomington and camped on a small creek, where, about 9 o’clock p. m., the wind commenced to blow a gale and continued until the trees fell in all directions around the camp.

The men were aroused from their slumbers, and hurried out-of their rude brush shelters or “wigwams,” looking every moment for the trees in camp to fall. About eighty smouldering fires were revived by the gale, while the howling of the wind, the crashing of the trees as they fell around us, the vivid lightning and the roar of thunder made the scene one of terror. Yet the fact that not one tree fell in our camp proved that God was with us. Our teams were in a field covered with deadened timber, which fell thick around the animals, but the only harm done was the killing of one ox. The owner of the field afterwards remarked that it was a marvel that they were not all killed. He had been quite alarmed lest his house, which was in the vicinity should blow down.

The following day we passed through the thriving town of Weston, keeping time to music, the same as at St. Joseph, to the admiration and astonishment of the inhabitants. They said none but Mormons, under such forbidding circumstances, would have enlisted. They frankly admitted that they would not have thought of such a thing. Some of them said “the call is a disgrace and a shame to the Government.” The generality of the citizens of this town were honorable, upright people, and have always been opposed to any spirit of persecution.

From Weston we marched to the ferry on the Missouri river, opposite Fort Leavenworth, and were nearly five hours in crossing and making our way to the garrison. We found companies of Missouri volunteers there. We received our tents the same day; these added much to our comfort, but, as every rose has its thorn, so with our movable houses; the hot sun beating upon them “made it warm for us” in the middle of the day, though we were very comfortable compared with our previous condition. We camped on the public square of the Fort.

Henry W. Bigler was shaking terribly with the ague at the time we camped.

Our tents, being new, and pitched in military order, presented a grand appearance, and the merry songs which resounded through the camp made all feel like “casting dull care away.”

Between Council Bluffs and Fort Leaven worth the following laughable occurrence took place:

In the Battalion was a man whom we will call C., who had, by some means, procured a peculiar kind of hat belonging to an officer’s uniform of the Nauvoo Legion. This lone hat was the only article of uniform in the Battalion, except that worn by the colonel. Our friend C. was the “speckled bird” of the flock. Naturally enough his messmates teased him, and by others many rich and perhaps some cutting jokes were passed at his expense. C., being somewhat eccentric in his way, concluded he had rather “too much of a good thing,” and dropped out of the ranks, as some supposed, to desert and return to the Bluffs. This opinion was strengthened by his long absence.

Finally “Joe,” who is now a resident of Utah, an acquaintance of C., overtook the command on the way to Fort Leaven-worth, and gave the following account of the missing man, whom he had passed on the road, and who he thought would be in camp that night.

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