History of the Church Series

BYU Studies in Saints: "We Also Marched: The Women and Children of Zion's Camp, 1834"

BYU Studies in Saints: "We Also Marched: The Women and Children of Zion's Camp, 1834"

We are excited that the first volume of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days has recently been published! Titled The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846, this volume features several stories that draw on research and articles published by BYU Studies. One such article is cited in chapter 18 of Saints, which tells the history of the Camp of Israel, a group of men—and some women—who marched to Missouri to redeem Zion. You can learn more about the women who marched in the Camp of Israel (also known as Zion's Camp) in "We Also Marched: The Women and Children of Zion's Camp, 1834," by Andrea G. Radke. Below is an excerpt of the full article, which was published in issue 39:1. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.


Women and the Zion's Camp Experience

Much like the women of the Mormon Battalion and other military expeditions the Zion's camp women contributed in various ways to the overall character of the group and its success and helped prepare for later mass migrations to the West. The women helped with the traditional domestic duties of cooking and laundering and caring for children. They also provided a civilizing influence on the camp.

Men, women, and children all suffered from inclement weather shortages of food and shelter and difficulties of epidemic illness perhaps seventy people, or 35 percent, of the camp suffered from cholera, which then killed thirteen camp members. That a woman, Betsy Parrish, can be included among its martyrs is an important statement about the sacrifice that women were willing to make. Those that did sacrifice their lives were promised many eternal and spiritual blessings. . . .

After joining with Hyrum's group at the Salt River Branch in Missouri, with the purpose of continuing to Jackson County, Joseph Smith anticipated possible violent altercations with Missouri mobbers. He wanted to protect the women and children and asked the men who had brought families to acquire cabins for them. They were to leave them there at Salt River until any military actions were concluded. Joseph Holbrook began to obey this counsel: "I provided a house for my family as directed and was about to leave my family as was the rest of the brethern who had wives with them". Either the women protested at this arrangement or the Prophet simply had a change of heart, for he then declared that "if the sisters were willing to under go a siege with the camp they could go along with it." Truly it was a revolutionary notion for the sisters to accompany the men into a possible military skirmish. The women said they would like to go and "they liked Brother Joseph better than before for the privilege he gave them of continuing in the camp." This statement captures the important legacy of Zion's Camp on its women participants, as they gained powerful faith and lasting devotion to the Church.