Additional Resource

Mormon Battalion Fact Sheet

  • Roughly 500 Mormon volunteers were enlisted for a year to march to Fort Leavenworth (present-day Kansas) and then to California to assist in the Mexican-American War.
  • Mormon recruits were mustered on Thursday, July 16, 1846.
  • Monday and Tuesday, July 20–21, 1846, the Mormon Battalion left Council Bluffs.
  • Their trek covered roughly 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to San Diego, California.
  • Battalion members honored their military assignment, and most of those who reached the Pacific Coast were discharged in July 1847. About 80 members of the Mormon Battalion opted to reenlist for additional service that ended in March 1848.
  • President Brigham Young prophesied that not a single battalion member would be lost to hostile action.
  • Twenty members died due to various health issues, accidents and privations. In addition, three sick detachments were sent to Pueblo, Colorado, during the march and never made it to California.

The Mormon Battalion never engaged in any warfare but did endure a stampede of wild bulls. Aside from a few injuries and loss of some mules, the soldiers walked away intact.

  • The battalion arrived in San Diego on January 29, 1847, marking an end to the group’s journey. After the men were discharged, they used numerous overland routes to make their way to the Salt Lake Valley. One group, after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, discovered that their families were still in Iowa and continued east for another 1,000 miles to the Winter Quarters area to reunite with loved ones.
  • The wagon route the battalion soldiers established, known as Cooke’s Wagon Road, became a major emigration and freighting route and led to the 1853 Gadsden Purchase, a 30,000-square-mile land acquisition from Mexico in present-day southern Arizona.
  • The battalion was the only military unit in American history comprised of a single religious denomination.

Various locations commemorate the battalion’s service and accomplishments, including the Mormon Battalion monument located on the grounds of the Utah State Capitol and the Mormon Battalion Historic Site in Old Town San Diego.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.