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Page 5

Sam visits Seminary classes
near church history sites

(Note: You may click on pictures to enlarge them.)

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

Seminary Sam made a side trip to visit the Seminary students of Sister Mostert and Brother Bentley at Leavenworth, Kansas. Leavenworth was the first city established in Kansas. Kansas City is less than 30 minutes away. The church history sites in Independence, Liberty, and Far West, Missouri are short drives.

The Leavenworth Ward has two Seminary classes. About half our ward is military. Many of the military families are here for only about 10 months because Ft Leavenworth is home to a military school for officers. In the summer the chapel is about 2/3 full and during the school year we fill up to half of the cultural hall.

Sam is sitting on a marker at the corner of the parade field on Fort Leavenworth where the Mormon Battalion camped after being enlisted at Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The historical Fort Leavenworth marker, above, reads:

The Mormon Battalion at Fort Leavenworth

The Mormon Battalion garrisoned here from 1 to 13 August 1846. The battalion received arms, training, supplies, and equipment here before departing on a 2,000 mile march to California via Santa Fe, new Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona.

The Mormon Battalion was a supportive arm of General Stephen Watt Kearny's "Army of the West," a part of the United States Army that President James K. Polk used against Mexican forces in the Mexican War (1846-1848). The battalion of five companies consisted of about 500 Mormon soldiers (plus 49 others) and was officially mustered into service at Council Bluffs,
Iowa Territory, on 16 July 1846.

Although they had had no government protection when they were driven by lawless mobs from their homes in Illinois only months before, these members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) volunteered for military service to their government in a time of great hardship for their families and loved ones. Brigham Young, their church leader, encouraged them to volunteer because he saw their participation in the war as a demonstration of loyalty to the United States and their wages as help for the Mormon migration then underway to the Great Basin
in the Rocky Mountains.

The Mormon Battalion's final commander, Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke, declared: "History will be searched
in vain for an equal march of infantry."

Placed 1981
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
and The Kansas State Historical Society

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San Diego, California

The Mormon Battalion walked over 2,000 miles from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to San Diego, California. Seminary Sam's next visit was to the San Diego area.

Seminary Sam is pictured (above) with 9th through 12th grade Seminary students from Oceanside, California. Brother Troy McMahan's Seminary class sponsored Seminary Sam's visit to the San Diego area. 

The Mormon Battalion Visitors Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is located in San Diego, California.

When the Mormon Battalion was called into the service of the country, President Brigham Young addressed the volunteers and said that he wished them to prove themselves to be the best soldiers in the service of the United States. ... They should keep themselves clean, teach chastity and gentility. There was to be no swearing, and no man was to be insulted. ... They were to take their Bibles and copies of the Book of Mormon with them and study them but not impose their beliefs on others. ... If they would follow this instruction, he promised them that they would not be called on to shed the blood of their fellow men.
                                     -- Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 
                         Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, p. 305

President Brigham Young's prophesy was fulfilled. The Mormon Battalion was not required to fight any battles.

According to The Mormon Encyclopedia (Volume 1):

Some 340 men of the Mormon Battalion reached southern California in January 1847. Though they arrived shortly after the California War for Independence, or Bear Flag Revolt, ended, battalion veterans nevertheless had a significant impact on California history. When the battalion came to San Diego, their one-year enlistment was nearly completed. Eighty-one men reenlisted (about fifteen of whom left California on another assignment), and the rest (about 245) were discharged. Though some immediately joined their families in the Salt Lake Valley, others remained in California to obtain funds before traveling to Utah. Some worked in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas, while others moved north to seek employment in San Francisco or at Sutter's Fort, on the American River near present-day Sacramento.

This bronze statue which represents members of The Mormon Battalion has become a symbol of The Mormon Battalion Visitors' Center.

The weapons shown above were actually carried by members of the Mormon Battalion during their period of military service.

The students pictured above are members of  Brother McMahan's Oceanside, California freshmen Seminary class. They meet each school morning from 5:45 to 6:30 a.m.

Some of the students from the Oceanside, California Seminary classes pose at The Mormon Battalion Visitors' Center with Seminary Sam before sending him to his next destination.

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Seminary Sam's journeys are continued on page 6.

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Copyright 2003, by Kenneth L. Alford. All rights reserved.