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The Mormon Battalion Association™

Welcome to the official website of the Mormon Battalion Association,™ formerly known as the U.S. Mormon Battalion, Inc.™ 

We emulate the only unit in American military history bearing a religious title and being comprised entirely of recruits from a single religion.  This unit's members had every reason to be conscientious objectors during a war of annexation.  If the 10,000 members of the new Christian religion called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (derisively nicknamed the Mormons) had a quarrel, it was with the United States, not their new hosts, the Mexicans.  They had just been expelled or "ethnically cleansed" in mid-winter from Illinois and the United States by mobs and state militia.  After being forced to abandon their homes in Nauvoo (then the largest city in Illinois) and cross the Mississippi River into the wilds of Iowa Territory, most expected the now impoverished Mormons to dissipate, disburse, and drift off into the forbidding western frontier to die.  Few believed that they could successfully cross hundreds of miles of "Great American Desert" plains in the Indian Territory, then cross the continental divide, and finally find a place to survive in the remote high mountainous desert frontier of Mexican Alta California.  Such a mass exodus had not been accomplished since the days of Moses!  With this prospect, many questioned how the Mormons could spare their best frontiersmen, their lifeblood, for such a venture right at the moment when they were so desperately needed.  Yet these 500 men volunteered when their prophet leader Brigham Young called.  And the rest is history....

This unit was unique in two ways: 

1.  It was not a state or territorial militia recruited by a governor (none would claim these expatriots), but a federal volunteer infantry battalion recruited directly by President James K. Polk. 

2.  It had no parent regiment, but was an independent battalion assigned directly to the Army of the West.  Official U.S. Army records simply referred to it as the "Mormon Battalion of Volunteers, Army of the West, U.S. Army."  (All other terminology is subsequent and incorrect.)

During it's single twelve month enlistment during the Mexican-American War, these humble soldiers became what we would today call a public affairs pacification unit, unselfishly serving and establishing friendly relations with Native and Spanish Americans wherever they went.  Later, many of its veteran frontiersmen were instrumental in guiding "greenhorns" from the East and Europe in establishing Mormon settlements all over the Mountain West.

SGT William Hyde recorded a prophecy in the 19 July 1846 entry in his journal, stating that Apostles Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Willard Richards, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff gave a last charge and blessing to the officers and NCOs of the Battalion before their departure that "our names [would] be held in honorable remembrance to all generations."  (William Hyde, The Private Journal of William Hyde, Part 2 [1846-48], p. 16. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/People/William_Hyde/Journal/2*.html#18May46.)

President Brigham Young enlarged upon that prophecy eight years later at the first reunion of the Mormon Battalion on 6 February 1855:

The Mormon Battalion will be held in honorable remembrance to the latest generation; and I will prophesy that the children of those who have been in the army, in defence [sic defense] of their country, will grow up and bless their fathers for what they did at that time.  And men and nations will yet rise up and bless the men who went in that Battalion. ...As the Lord lives, ...you will never be forgotten, worlds without end, but you will be had in honorable remembrance, for ever and ever.  (Report of the First General Festival of the Reknowned Mormon Battalion, Which Came Off on Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 6 and 7, 1855, in the Social Hall, G.S.L City, reported by J. V. Long, reported by T. S. Williams, Deseret New Office [1855], p 17.  Copy in Historian’s Office Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vault P, M273.42, R-425, 1855. https://ia800500.us.archive.org/14/items/reportoffirstgen00unse/reportoffirstgen00unse.pdf.)

The modern Mormon Battalion Association™ was established in the late 1940s when LDS President David O. McKay asked his Huntsville neighbor and personal friend, Fred M. Reese, to form a quasi-military organization to help fulfill the above prophecies.   We are neither a religious organization nor a military unit, but a nondenominational non-profit quasi-military service organization striving to match the dedication and community service of the original 1846-47 volunteer militia infantry battalion.  Similar to other military heritage and service organizations, we combine the best features of the unit we emulate with those of a non-profit service organization.  One does not have to be a descendant of the original Mormon Battalion, or a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Mormons”) from which it was drawn to belong to the modern Mormon Battalion Association.™   Membership is open to patriotic individuals, families, and organizations of good will – regardless of gender, race, creed, religion, national origin, or heritage – who wish to unite in emulating the unselfish service the original Mormon Battalion.

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To only retrospectively honor the heritage of the original Mormon Battalion is but a hollow sham if we learn nothing from their humble sacrifice.  To truly fulfill Brigham Young’s prophesy, we must make their simple hymn of service reverberate and amplify within our deepest souls until it becomes our own great anthem whose crescendo reaches out to mold yet unborn generations.  We too are pioneers, and must prospectively add our own humble legacy to theirs — rendering selfless and unrequired service, compassion, and charity to "men and nations to the latest generation, worlds without end, forever and ever."

Our primary functions include:

  • Participate in and sponsor parades, reenactments, conventions, and other activities honoring the original Mormon Battalion,

  • Find, transcribe, research, and post official military history and vital statistic records detailing the lives of the original Mormon Battalion on our website,

  • Find and mark the graves of members of the original Mormon Battalion,

  • Present Mormon Battalion Eagle Scout Neckerchief Slides at Boy Scout Eagle Courts of Honor,

  • Administer the new Mormon Battalion Historic Trails Award Program, and

  • Unselfishly serve our communities, nations, and world.

Recent Updates:

We have updated our website to include the following new features:

  • Member Activities | Minutes - We just posted the Minutes of our 21 June 2018 Executive Leadership Meeting.

  • Quartermaster's Corner | Member Applications - We have posted actual images of our new "Members Only" Shoulder Patches and lapel pins free with membership.

  • Quartermaster's Corner | Mormon Battalion Memorabilia - We have posted actual images of our new Mormon Battalion Association Logo Baseball Hat and Logo Patch, and are taking orders for purchases.  We have also added links to our free poster, flyer, and exciting new 42-page Requirements Booklet for the Mormon Battalion Historic Trails Awards Program.

  • Quartermaster's Corner | Mormon Battalion Memorabilia - We have received special permission from Michael E. Anderson to distribute his new book, The Mormon Battalion, Mexican War Volunteers.  You can now order it online.

  •  History | Maps, Museums, Monuments, and Markers -  We have updated our main map, added current information about interactive maps for computers and apps for smart phones from Map-N-Tour, and added more information and photographs about Mormon Battalion related museums.

  • Links | Associated Organizations Links - We have added a link to the BYU Relative Finder program which will show you to whom you are related that is famous, particularly members of the original Mormon Battalion.  You may be surprised!  Our commander discovered that he is related to - not just one - but 467 of the 500 original members!

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Header Photo:  Foothills of the Rockies, East of Springer, NM (approx. 36.2911 N, 104.460 W), taken by Kevin Henson – The Canadian (Red) River lies just behind (west) of the mesa.