Here Is One Man Who Will Not Go, Dam’um: Recruiting the Mormon Battalion in Iowa Territory

The initial Mormon reaction to Captain Allen’s call for volunteers was overwhelmingly negative. Based on previous experiences with the United States government, the rank and file Latter-day Saints tended to be blinded to any positive aspects of enlistment. Ultimately, many Saints feared that Captain Allen was part of a government conspiracy designed to obstruct or prevent their emigration west. They felt Captain Allen apparently was snooping around to investigate their arms, numbers, attitudes, and condition. Five hundred enlistees would remove “the strength of our camp,” men who could very likely be destroyed in battle with the Mexicans. Those Mormons left scattered and helpless across Iowa Territory could perish from inclement weather, Indian raids, or limited food supply. If the Mormons did not “volunteer,” they would be branded as disloyal or treasonous, leaving them susceptible to attacks by Missouri mobs. The United States Army, as a war measure, could even obstruct their exodus. Few people foresaw anything beneficial from Captain Allen’s request.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 21:4
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