Mormon Trail Stories

Westward to the Camp of Israel

March 26, 1846: Sangamo (Springfield, IL) Journal

The last advices from Brigham Young’s Company of Mormons, left them encamped on the Chariton river. It is said they will wait there to be joined by another company from Nauvoo.

May 9, 1846: Illinois Gazette

THE “CAMP OF ISRAEL.” This is the title and address, which has been adopted by the company of Mormons now on their way Westward. A mail carrier arrived here on Monday last from the Camp, and reported the pioneer party, or bend of the Column, as having crossed the tributaries of the Chariton river, over 150 miles distant. By this time they are probably on the banks of the Missouri.

Thus far, everything has gone favorably with the exception of the breaking down of a few overladen wagons. The party is in good health and spirits — no dissensions exist; and the Grand Caravan moves slowly and steadily and peacefully. Their progress has been materially retarded by the want of fodder for their live stock; the grass not having fairly started, reduced them to the necessity of laboring for the farmers on the route to supply the deficiency. They travel in detached companies, from five to ten miles apart and in point of order, resemble a military expedition.

We visited the Camp before it broke up on the opposite side of the River, and, with other strangers, were highly interested in the romantic and exciting display of border enterprise. It bore the appearance of a moveable town, the wagons and tents being arranged on either side of large streams, and public spaces left for the cattle as we see in some of our River cities. Tattersals never turned out a lot of such broken down nags as are to be found attached to this expedition. If they ever reach California, their dependence must be partly upon slow traveling and partly upon miracle — but chiefly upon the latter. (Reprinted from Hancock Eagle.)

July 23, 1846: Sangamo Journal

LATE FROM THE MORMON CAMP Hancock Eagle , of Friday last, notices the arrival there of Mr. S. Chamberlain, who left the most distant camp of the Mormons at Council Bluffs on the 26th, and on his route passed the whole line of Mormon emigrants. He says that the advance company of the Mormons, with whom were the Twelve, had a train of one thousand wagons, and were en-camped on the east bank of the Missouri River, in the neighborhood of the Council Bluffs. They were employed in the construction of boats, for the purpose of crossing the river.

The second company had encamped temporarily at station No. 2, which has been christened Mount Pisgah. They mustered about three thousand strong, and were recruiting their cattle preparatory to a fresh start. A third company had halted for a similar purpose at Garden Grove, on the head waters of Grand river, where they have put in about 2000 acres of corn for the benefit of the people in general. Between Garden Grove and the Mississippi River, Mr. Chamberlain counted over one thousand wagons en route to join the main bodies in advance. The whole number of teams attached to the Mormon expedition, is about three thousand seven hundred, and it is estimated that each team will average at least three persons, and perhaps four.

The whole number of souls now on the road may be set down in round numbers at twelve thousand. From two to three thousand have disappeared from Nauvoo in various directions. Many have left for Council Bluffs by the way of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers — others have dispersed to parts unknown; and about eight hundred or less still remain in Illinois. This comprises the entire Mormon population that once flourished in Hancock. In their palmy days they probably numbered between fifteen and sixteen thousand souls, most of whom are now scattered upon the prairies, bound for the Pacific slope of the American continent.

Mr. Chamberlain reports that previously to his leaving, four United States military officers had arrived at the Mount Pisgah camp, for the purpose of enlisting five hundred Mormons for the Sante Fe campaign. They were referred to Head-quarters at Council Bluffs, for which place they immediately set out. It was supposed that the force would be enrolled without delay. If so, it will furnish Col. Kearney with a regiment of well disciplined soldiers who are already prepared to march. Mr. Chamberlain represents the health of the traveling Mormons as good, considering the exposure to which they have been subjected. They are carrying on a small trade in provisions with the settlers in the country, with whom they mingle on friendly terms.

August 13, 1846: Sangamo Journal

The Mormon volunteers who have gone with Gen. Kearney, besides their pay, are to retain their arms and equipments, when discharged in California.

The advance party of the emigrating Mormons have located on Grand Island in the Platte river, where they will raise a crop and most of them winter. In the spring they design to move on to the waters of the Laramie, on which another farm will be opened and a crop raised. Those at the Council Bluffs will move to the Island in the spring; and those east of them, on the head waters of the Chariton, will move to the Bluffs or some other point on the Missouri. At this rate, it will require a long time for all the Mormon Church to reach California.