“Contents,” Ensign, June 1974, 1


June 1974

Volume 4 Number 6

“Our hardships reach their rough extremes,

When valiant men are roped with teams, …

Hour after hour, and day by day,

To wear our strength and lives away. …”

Inside back cover: March of the Mormon Battalion. Painted by George M. Ottinger in 1880. An incredible trek by any measure, the longer than 2,000-mile march of the Mormon Battalion from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, to San Diego, California, plumbed the inner resources of both man and beast. Traveling through deep sand out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, one marcher penned some poignant lines typifying that inhospitable wasteland:

Jessie C. Little’s patient lobbying in Washington, D.C., to assist the Saints was finally rewarded when President James K. Polk permitted the United States Army to recruit Mormon volunteers to fight in the war against Mexico. And although some may have been curious about the government’s apparent change in attitude and method of assistance, they nevertheless heeded Brigham Young’s enlightened counsel and mustered an infantry battalion of over 500 of their ablest men. However, they were never required to engage the enemy in a single battle.

What was a magnanimous show of patriotism by the Saints was equally their boon. The recruits wore their own clothing and their uniform allowance ($21,000) was requested in cash to help support the emigrant companies. Firearms, tents, wagons, mules, and other camp equipment were given to the men at the end of their enlistment. Their families were given government sanction to camp on Indian lands until weather and finances made travel possible. A wagon road was established that proved invaluable for later travelers. Because they traveled at government expense, most of the battalion’s army pay could be sent back to help in the exodus of the main body of Saints. After their discharge, others of the battalion worked in California brickyards, lumber mills, and gold fields to earn additional capital; and through the foresight of certain men, packets of fruit and garden seeds were brought over the Sierras and into the Valley of the Great Salt Lake to help bring it into blossom.