Annotated Reference List
NOTE: While we strive to keep our online databases current, it is obvious that data in copyrighted books is valid as of the publication date, and may be superseded by subsequent research. However, superceded data is of significant historical value, as it chronicles the knowledge available at the date of publication, including popular misperceptions and attitudes.
The two most easily readable texts for general public are:
♦ Michael N. Landon & Brandon J. Metcalf, History of the Saints: The Remarkable Journey of the Mormon Battalion, Covenant Communications, American Fork, Utah, 2012.
Written by LDS Church historians. Lots of graphics and photos.
♦ Norma Baldwin Ricketts, The Mormon Battalion: U.S. Army of the West, 1846-1848, Utah State University Press, Logan, Utah, 1996.
Very well structured text, thereby helping keep a complex “who went where and when” story straight. Sadly, it suffers from many annoying - though not fatal - detail errors, but those are only noticeable to one very familiar with the story.
More difficult academic titles include:
♦ Bigley & Bagley, Army of Israel – Mormon Battalion Narratives, Vol 4 of the “Kingdom in the West” series
Heavy lifting, but, oh, so well written and documented! Whereas Norma relies on many journals, Army of Israel relies on a few great ones which are/were infrequently used. A joy to a historian.
♦ Ltc Philip St. George Cooke, The Conquest of New Mexico and California in 1846-1848, published 1878, republished 1964 by the Rio Grande Press, Inc., Glorieta, NM.
for multiple reading platforms:
for google books:
This book is a personal narrative and historical account of the Mormon Battalion from the viewpoint of the commanding officer and one of his rank-and-file soldiers.
♦ Ltc Philip St. George Cooke, Exploring Southwestern Trails, 1846-1854, pp. 63-240, Arthur H. Clark Company, Glendale, California, 1938.
♦ Sherman L. Fleek, History May Be Searched in Vain: A Military History of the Mormon Battalion, Arthur C. Clark Company, Spokane, Washington, 2006.
A member of the LDS Church, Fleek has served as the Army Historian at the U.S. Army's West Point Military Academy and treats the messy Battalion military story from a purely military view.
♦ Frank Alfred Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion from Council Bluffs to California, The Century Company, New York, New York, 1928.
This history is taken from the journal of Henry Standage, a member of the Battalion. It is a vivid description of the long and arduous expedition.
♦ Carl V. Larson, The Annals of the Mormon Battalion: 1846-1848; An Eyewitness Account; Selected Journals, Diaries and Auto-biographies of the Members of the Mormon Battalion. Spanish Fork, Utah: 1700 East Electronic Media, 2000.
Chronological quotation of 26 journals, diaries, and autobiographies of Battalion members. See History | Annals of the Mormon Battalion tab.
♦ Carl V. Larson, A Database of The Mormon Battalion: An Identification of the Original Members of the Mormon Battalion and the Documentation for that Identification. Spanish Fork, Utah: 1700 East Electronic Media, 2012.
The product of over 35 years of research, this is the most concise listing of members of the Mormon Battalion to date. See History | Database of the Mormon Battalion tab.
♦ Carl V. Larson, Identification and Memorialization List of the Men of the Mormon Battalion. Spanish Fork, Utah: 1700 East Electronic Media, 2007.
The product of over 35 years of research, this is the most concise listing of gravesites of members of the Mormon Battalion to date. See History | Graves Memorialization tab.
♦ Charles S. Peterson, John F. Yurtinus, et al, Mormon Battalion Trail Guide, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1972.
A trail guide of the Mormon Battalion Trail from Fort Leavenworth to San Diego. This book includes detailed maps.
♦ B. H. Roberts, The Mormon Battalion, Its History and Achievements, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1919.
This history covers the Mormon Battalion' s trek and its accomplishments.
♦ Tom Sutak, Into the Jaws of Hell, Pine Park Publishing, Dansville CA.
This book explores the life of Jefferson Hunt.
♦ U.S. Army Pension Examination Clerks, Compiled [Military] Service Records [CMSRs] of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the Mexican War in Mormon Organizations. 1891-1894. Record and Pension Division, Adjutant General's Office, War Department. Microfilmed by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, DC: Microfilm numbers M351-1, M351-2, M351-3, and M436. Microfilm copies also held by Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah: Microfilm number TS1196, parts 1 to 21, and numbers 480,129 through 480,149.
Extremely reliable secondary reference source extracted directly from the original 1846-47 Muster Rolls – Nicknamed the M351 records because of their NARA microfilm numbers, these 705 numbered records were manually extracted, transcribed, and audited directly from the original 1846-47 Mormon Battalion and 1847-48 Reenlistment Company Muster Rolls. The first jacket-envelopes contained Regimental Return record-of-events cards, indicating the station of the unit and occasionally the activities in which any portion of that unit was engaged. They were followed by CMSR jacket-envelopes for each soldier, labeled with the soldier’s name, rank(s), the unit(s) in which he served, and an index of the cards contained in his jacket-envelope. A few of the CMSR jacket-envelopes simply cross-referenced soldier name spelling variations, but most contained card abstracts of entries relating to that soldier in the original muster rolls and (post) returns. These abstracts were audited and verified by separate comparison, with every conceivable precaution taken to ensure accuracy. — Note that the clerks and auditors officially and consistently struck out all printed or handwritten reference to Iowa.
♦ Iowa Adjutant Generals Office, Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in Miscellaneous Organizations of the Mexican War, Indian Campaigns, War of the Rebellion and the Spanish-American and Philippine Wars with Historical Sketches of Volunteer Organizations, Volume VI - Miscellaneous, pp 837-875. Des Moines, Iowa: Emory H. English, State Printer, 1911.
We do NOT recommend this tertiary and quaternary text. Published 64 years after the fact, this volume is condensed from an elaborate and unpublished Harvey Reid manuscript, Early Military History of Iowa, completed just before his death in 1910. Quoting liberally from Tyler's error filled 1881 Concise History, this book provides no new or unique information about the Battalion. In an effort to take Iowa credit for the Mormon Battalion, Mr. Reid fostered the oft repeated myth that it was the “Iowa 1st Volunteers” or the “Iowa Mormon Battalion” or "the Mormon Battalion of Iowa Volunteers" by ignoring repeated auditor deletions of the word “Iowa” in the 1894 Mormon Battalion CMSRs. In truth, the Mormon Battalion was never associated in any way with Iowa Territory, but was a unique federal volunteer militia unit.
Normally, volunteer units were raised through the process of congressional levy upon citizens of a state or territory. Per the 13 May 1846 Act of Congress, Iowa Territory raised a regiment of twelve infantry companies (two companies more than required, presumably in two battalions) on 26 June 1846. Only three of the raised companies actually mustered into service, and that on garrison duty at Fort Atkinson, Iowa Territory. Later, Company K, 15th U.S. Infantry Regiment, was formed and actually served from 9 April 1847 Vera Cruz to the end of the war, suffering 40% casualties.
The recruitment of the Mormon Battalion on Iowa Territory was simply a coincidence of time and place. Rather than being Iowa citizens, its members were unwanted Mormon transients emigrating through Iowa Territory and out of the United States on their way to the Mexican province of Alta California. A few well informed Iowans might have known that the Mormons had suffered over two decades of intense religious persecution by fellow Christians throughout the United States, that their two leaders had recently been martyred by a mob in neigboring Illinois, and that their membership had been forcibly expelled by mobs across the Mississippi River into the sparsely populated southern regions of their territory. Fewer Iowans knew that Mormon refugee wagon trains had struggled westward across their territory in the dead of winter. And still fewer Iowans knew that the Mormons were forming a temporary "Grand Encampment" on the Iowa bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, gathering their strength for what many considered a suicidal do or die exodus across the "Great American Desert" of the Great Plains and the Continental Divide to create a retreat in the isolated high desert Great Basin of Mexican Alta California. But absolutely no Iowa Territorial representatives officiated at the recruitment of the Mormon Battalion on the former Pottawattamie Indian Reservation, only surrendered to the U. S. government two months before. It was a federal - not territorial - army officer who delivered a personal invitation from President James K. Polk.
The book does include an interesting quote from the Act in the official 1 June 1846 proclamation by Territorial Governor James Clarke:
'In lieu of clothing, every non-commissioned officer and private in any company who may thus offer himself shall be entitled when called into actual service to receive in money a sum equal to the cost of clothing of a non-commissioned officer or private (as the case may be) in the regular troops of the United States.'
♦ Sgt Daniel Tyler, A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War, 1881, republished by Rio Grande Press, Inc., Glorieta, NM, 2nd edition 1969.
This book should be read with an understanding of its origin and purposes.
It was written when the LDS Church was under tremendous political pressure from the United States federal government. In response to these pressures, Tyler was directed by LDS leaders to prepare a book. Tyler wanted to show the Mormon perspective on their patriotism and their support of the government when it was needed.
In short, Tyler was attempting to rally favorable public support for the beleaguered Saints.
Due to its defensive perspective as well as some claims which are now known to be exaggerated or in error, Tyler’s text should be read ‘with a grain of salt’. It is still an important source of primary observations and relates stories not seen in other sources. As such, “Concise History” should be read by Battalion enthusiasts, but with its shortcomings kept in mind.
Tyler’s text suffers from a defensive attitude, from promoting some exaggerations and claims which can be disproven, and is written without the modern standards of scholarship we expect in modern histories.
That said, this is one man’s version of what happened and is not to be discounted. It contains many details not found in other records. That other men had different interpretations and recollections does not mean we should throw Tyler’s baby out with the bath water, but it does require reading more than one perspective. We hope you will take time to read many of the Battalion narratives. Each is fascinating in its own way.