Oregon-California Trails Association
Today in history, August 27, 1846, the Mormon Battalion began camping in Council Grove, Kansas for five days. The battalion's more than 500 volunteers and officers had been recruited from the Mormon pioneers (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) at Council Bluffs, Iowa, to fight in the war with Mexico.
The commanding officer, Colonel James Allen, had died at Ft. Leavenworth because of a lingering illness, and was replaced by Lieutenant Andrew Jackson Smith, who took command in Council Grove on August 30. Smith then led the Mormon Battalion to Santa Fe, about half of the 2,000-mile march to San Diego.
Council Grove was a government way-station used by soldiers and traders preparing for travel along the Santa Fe trail. While awaiting the change in command, the Mormon soldiers repaired their wagons and equipment, gathered supplies, and held religious services here.
The battalion acquired two cannon drawn by six horses each, a portable blacksmith shop, forty provision wagons, twelve family wagons, and a few private baggage wagons. Merchants in twelve wagons also joined the battalion here for the march to Santa Fe, selling the soldiers clothing, water, and other goods.