July 1846, under the authority of U.S. Army Captain James Allen and
with the encouragement of Mormon leader Brigham Young, the Mormon Battalion
was mustered in at Council Bluffs, Iowa Territory. The battalion was
the direct result of Brigham Young's correspondence on 26 January 1846
to Jesse C. Little, presiding elder over the New England and Middle
States Mission. Young instructed Little to meet with national leaders
in Washington, D.C., and to seek aid for the migrating Latter-day Saints,
the majority of whom were then in the Iowa Territory. In response to
Young's letter, Little journeyed to Washington, arriving on 21 May 1846,
just eight days after Congress had declared war on Mexico.
met with President James K. Polk on 5 June 1846 and urged him to aid
migrating Mormon pioneers by employing them to fortify and defend the
West. The president offered to aid the pioneers by permitting them to
raise a battalion of five hundred men, who were to join Colonel Stephen
W. Kearny, Commander of the Army of the West, and fight for the United
States in the Mexican War. Little accepted this offer.