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Military records identify thousands of individuals who served or who were eligible for service. Evidence that a Latter-day Saint actually served may be found in family traditions, census records, naturalization records, biographies, cemetery records, and records of veterans’ organizations. Your ancestors will be more interesting if you learn about their military service and the history of their units. Military records can also give birth dates, marriage dates, death dates, spouse and children’s names, and localities of residence throughout the life of the family.
This section includes the history and records of several military operations in which Church members were directly involved. Some military history is also available in the sources listed in the "History" section of this outline.
Zion’s Camp (1834)
Members in Kirtland, Ohio, organized a military expedition known as Zion’s Camp to assist the persecuted Saints in Missouri. Many future leaders of the Church were members of Zion’s Camp. The following histories discuss this effort:
Green, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints from the State of Missouri Under the "Exterminating Order." 1833. Reprint, Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, . (FHL film 025592 item 2). This work gives a positive account of Zion’s Camp. It also includes transcripts of addresses, reports, acts, and newspaper articles about the expulsion from Missouri.
Launius, Roger D. Zion’s Camp: Expedition to Missouri, 1834. Independence, Missouri: Herald, 1984. (FHL book 977.841 K2L). This book has chapter notes and bibliographical references. An index is also included.
Mormon War in Missouri (1838)
In 1838 Governor Boggs of Missouri issued an extermination order against the Saints. Members living in Missouri were forced from their homes and left the state. The following history and papers deal with this period:
LeSueur, Stephen C. The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1987. (FHL book 977.81 H2Lm). Includes index and bibliography. This is indexed in the Early Church Information File. This is mostly a history with some names of prominent individuals.
Missouri. State Archives. Mormon Papers, 1838–1842. Jefferson City, Missouri: State of Missouri, 1972. (FHL film 984920). Includes the unindexed affidavits of the Mormon War payroll of Missouri men and soldiers.
Johnson, Clark V., ed. Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833–1838 Missouri Conflict. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1992. (FHL book 977.8 K29j). Includes indexes. This book contains affidavits, petitions, letters, and other documents concerning early Church members’ redress for Missouri losses.
Nauvoo Legion and the Mormon War in Illinois (1840–1846)
In 1840 the Illinois Legislature authorized the Nauvoo City Council to establish a militia. The officers were commissioned by the governor, and the members were required to do the same amount of military duty as the regular state militia. In 1844 the Nauvoo Legion numbered about 5,000 men. The organization was disbanded in 1846 and was reorganized in Utah in 1852. For a history see:
Young, Robert W. "The Nauvoo Legion" Parts 1–12. The Contributor: Representing the Young Men’s and Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association of the Latter-day Saints 9, nos.1–12 (November 1887– October 1888): 1–8, 41–49, 81–89, 121–27, 161–68, 201–12, 241–51, 281–86, 321–32, 361–73, 401–13, 441–54. (FHL book 289.305 C768m Volume 9). This is a historical account of the Nauvoo Legion in Illinois and Utah from 1840 to 1887.
For records see:
Illinois. General Assembly. Miscellaneous Petitions, 1839–1853. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975. (FHL film 980654). This record includes claims against the state for supplies furnished in the Mormon War at Nauvoo. It shows names and the amount they claimed for payment.
Platt, Lyman De. Commission Records, Illinois State Militia, 1834–1855. Typescript, [1973?] (FHL book 977.3 A1 no.62; film 908142 item 9). This book contains commission records for the Nauvoo Legion. It shows name, date of commission, rank, company, and the date of rank of about 450 men.
Also search the Journal History for the Nauvoo Legion. See the "History" section of this outline for details.
Mormon Battalion and the Mexican War (1846–1848)
In July 1846 the Mormon Battalion volunteers were officially organized at Council Bluffs, Iowa, to reinforce the United States Army in California during the Mexican War. The battalion consisted of five companies who enlisted for one year. Due to illness, about a third of the battalion did not complete the two-thousand-mile march but were sent to Pueblo, Colorado. The remaining members arrived in California in January 1847. They served in San Diego and Los Angeles. At the end of the one year, the army tried to reenlist all of the members, but only one company was organized in Los Angeles on 20 July 1847. This company only served for six months. After they were discharged, most battalion members went to Utah. For rosters and biographies of members and their families see:
Black, Susan Ward Easton. Members of the Mormon Battalion: A Sesquicentennial Remembrance. N.p., [1981?]. (FHL book 973 M2ew; fiche 6019070). Alphabetical listing of members with birth, marriage, death, and rank. It includes a bibliography with 22 sources. This is included in the LDS Family History Suite 2.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Camp of Israel (Iowa). Return List of Company A, and Company B of the Mormon Battalion to Council Bluffs, 16 July 1846. Included with Record of the Organization of the Camp of Israel.... Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1954. (FHL film 1922 item3). This is alphabetical within each company and rank. It is transcribed and indexed in:
Carlsen, Ardath. Return List of the Mormon Battalion, July 1846. N.p., 1986. (FHL book 973 M2cd). This record lists name, rank, birthplace, birth date, number in family, wife’s name, gear and livestock, where family was located on the trail, wishes concerning his family, and wages of each volunteer in companies A and B of the Mormon Battalion. This is included in the LDS Family History Suite 2.
Larson, Carl V. Database of the Mormon Battalion: an Identification of The Original Members of the Mormon Battalion. Second Edition. Salt Lake City, Utah: U.S. Mormon Battalion, 1997. (FHL book 973 M2Lar 1997). Alphabetical listing of members including grave location, federal and state sources, biographical references, vital statistics, and genealogy. Includes index. The 1987 edition is indexed in the Early Church Information File.
Larson, Carl V. The Women of the Mormon Battalion. [Smithfield, Utah]: C.V. Larson, 1989. (FHL book 973 M2Lc; fiche 6111512). This book may list birth, marriage, death, a biographical sketch, and sources on the wives of the men in the Mormon Battalion. It is alphabetical by surname.
United States. Bureau of Pensions. Selected Pension Application Files for Members of the Morman [sic] Battalion, Mexican War, 1846–48. National Archives Microfilm Publications, T1196. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Record Service, 1934. (FHL films 480129–49). These films contain an alphabetical list of applications from veterans, widows, and dependents. Not all soldiers are included, and some files are not in order. They may show name, unit, rank, enlistment and discharge dates, disability, details of service, witness affidavits, marriage and family information.
United States. Record and Pension Office. Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the Mexican War in Mormon Organizations. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0351. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1961. (FHL films 471465; 471517–18). These alphabetically compiled service records usually include the soldier’s name, rank, dates of enlistment and service, and the unit in which he served. It often contains abstracts of entries relating to the soldier as found in the original muster rolls and returns. Cross references were included for each soldier’s name that appear with more than one spelling.
For more records about the Mormon Battalion see:
Nelson, Glade I. "The Mormon Battalion: A Selected Bibliographic List." Genealogical Journal 26, no. 2 (1998): 59–79. (FHL book 973 D25gj).
For more details and records see the "Mexican War, 1846–1848" section of the U.S. Military Records Research Outline (34118).
Utah Militia (1852–1870), Utah War (1857–1861), and Civil War (1861–1864)
Many Latter-day Saints who lived in Utah or surrounding states served in the Utah militia (Nauvoo Legion), or during the Utah War, Indian conflicts. A few militiamen served in the American Civil War. For information about their records see the "Military Records" section of the Utah Research Outline (31081).
World War I (1917–1918)
For information about Church members who served in World War I see:
Record of Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Who have Entered Military Service of the United States and Its Allies Up to December 31, 1919. Salt Lake City, Utah: Office of the Church Historian, 1961. The Church sent forms to wards in the United States and Canada to identify members who were serving in World War I. The forms are arranged alphabetically by stake and then by ward. The form gives the name of the member, age at enlistment, priesthood, date entered the service, and the class of service. If the member died while serving, the card also includes the death date and place. Some stakes recorded all members who served; others listed only those who served in 1919. This film is available in the Historical Department—Archive Search Room.
For more information about military deaths see the "Vital Records" section of this outline.
World War II (1941–1945)
The Deceased Members File includes some members who died during military service. For more information about World War II deaths see the "Vital Records" section of this outline.
For More Information
For more information about military conflicts and military records which might list Church members see the U.S. Military Records Research Outline (34118) or the "Military Records" section of the research outline of the state, province, or nation where the ancestor lived.
You can also look in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
[NATION]— MILITARY RECORDS
[STATE or PROVINCE]— MILITARY RECORDS
[STATE or PROVINCE], [COUNTY]— MILITARY RECORDS
[STATE or PROVINCE], [COUNTY], [TOWN]— MILITARY RECORDS
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