March of the Mormon Battalion

By Ann Woodbury Moore

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    In May 1846, President Brigham Young asked the United States government to help Church members who were suffering in poverty. Not long after the Latter-day Saints left Nauvoo, the United States was at war with Mexico. As a reply to President Young, United States President James K. Polk asked him to provide 500 men from the Church to enlist in the army. The men were to march to California, which was then under Mexican control. President Young agreed to this request. The men’s service would show support for the government, and they would receive free transportation across the country. The Saints could also use the advance pay the men would receive to help buy supplies for Winter Quarters and the trek west. Records show that 497 men volunteered, and about 80 women and children went with them. As you play the Mormon Battalion game, you will encounter events and obstacles that really happened.*

    Instructions: Remove pages 24–25 from the magazine and glue to lightweight cardboard. You will need a different-color button for each player, and a die, or number cube.

    To play: Each player places a button on START. Players take turns rolling the die and moving the game pieces forward that many spaces. When a player lands on a space with writing, he/she reads what it says aloud. If it says to move forward or backward, the player moves accordingly and then follows the instructions on the new space. To reach FINISH, the exact number must be rolled.

    Map of western United States Map of western United States

    Illustrated by Brad Teare

    Mormon Battalion enlists, July 16, 1846.
    Soldiers are paid and given guns. Roll again.
    Desert march is difficult; sick families are sent to Pueblo, Colorado. Start over.
    Commander Colonel Allen dies. Miss a turn.
    More sick are sent to Pueblo, Colorado. Move back 2 spaces.
    Colonel Cooke takes command. Roll again.
    Third sick group is sent to Pueblo, Colorado. Miss a turn.
    Battalion turns toward California. Double your roll.
    There is not enough water. Move back 1 space.
    While fighting wild bulls, three soldiers are injured. Skip a turn.
    Battalion marches through Tucson, Arizona, and Mexican soldiers flee. Roll again.
    The Battalion is fed by Pima Indians. Move ahead 2 spaces.
    Battalion members cut rocks to get wagons through a wash. Miss a turn.
    The Battalion arrives in San Diego, California, January 1847. Move ahead 1 space.
    The majority of Battalion members are discharged in Los Angeles, California, July 16, 1847.

    Show References

    • See Encyclopedia of Mormonism, volume 2, pages 933–936.