Comments about ‘Mormon Media Observer: The Latter-day Saints and the Civil War’

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Published: Monday, Nov. 21 2011 7:00 a.m. MST

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Springville, UT

As one with Mormon roots going back to the 1830s, I find this article to be very odd. The Mormons left the United States. They went to Mexican territory. They had little connection to the United States and were never really part of it in that era. Lincoln was not telling Mormons "to avoid the war altogether." He just didn't need the headache. Mormons had no role in the Civil War. It is not part of the Mormon legacy. To draw a conclusion that Mormons had to be tucked away during the war is unfounded. The thing is, while many Utah Mormons claim to love Lincoln, they don't really know and understand what Lincoln stood for. Why, even today, July 24th is a bigger deal than July 4th. Let's be realistic and rational. Utah's roots are essentially not American roots by, understandably, choice and action.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

The Mormons were in Mexico.
And many were never even Americans to begin with [English, Welsh, Scottish, & Swedish]

Besides, the Republicans considered Slavery and Polygamy as the 2 biggest cancers that needed to be swiped off the surface of the Earth.

Lincoln was hardly a "friend" to the Mormons....

Flash forward to 2011 --
Utah Mormons today would be hard core Southerns.
Wishing for a Smaller Government less intrusive Federal Government and a Christian Theocracy.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

I find your comments to be very odd. Mormons were never really part of the United States during that era?

Ever hear of the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo? Signed in 1848 (before the civil war), it gave possession of the Utah territory to the United States. The MORMON battalion, while never engaged with Mexican forces, was part of the US effort in the Mexican War leading to that treaty. The justice of that war is debatable and the topic for another discussion.

Never really part of the US during that era?

Ever read the sections of the D&C declaring the constitution to be divinely inspired?

Ever read the parts of the Book of Mormon calling this land a land of promise and freedom?

Brigham agreed to raise the Mormon Battalion to show loyalty to the constitution DESPITE the outrageous treatment at the hands of those in NY, MO, OH, and ILL.

BTW, to the best of my knowledge, the Mormon Battalion is the only military unit in US history to bear a religious title. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Is Pioneer Day bigger than Independence Day? debatable. There are definitely more parades on 7/4.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

Brigham Young and therefore Deseret sided with the south in favor of slavery during the civil war. There were slaves in the first party of pioneers to enter the valley in 1847.

Agua Dulce, TX

lost in DC - Those passages in D&C date to when they were actually part of the States. The treat notwithstanding, the Saints in those early years in Utah did not consider themselves part of the United State, even though the boundaries now included them by the time the Civil War started.

Kind of like no one now really considers Puerto Rico to be part of the States.

West Jordan, UT

Brigham Young's message to President Lincoln shows that he and the Church considered themselves to be loyal Americans. He did not send that message to the head of the Confederacy. He sent it to the President of the United States. I see no reason to assume that Brigham Yound sided with the south or was in favor of slavery.

patriot vet
Cedar City, UT

1. The 19th century church (1830-1900) was in general opposition to the US Government.

2. The Church does not encourage military service. Indeed, of the 15 highest GA's only 3 are veterans. Mitt Romney is one of our most Vietnam prominent draft dodgers, but there are many Saints with him.

3. The Mormon Battalion was formed to provide needed finances for the migrating Saints. It had no real military purpose nor experience. It did bring in a lot of money for the Church.

4. The Civil War was the greatest threat we have ever experienced to our Constitutional union. Those that sat on the sidelines (including Utah) showed their colors, or rather lack thereof.

John Charity Spring
Back Home in Davis County, UT

What is truly strange is the fact this this article ignores the contributions of Lot Smith during the Civil War. He was a captain commissioned by Abraham Lincoln.

Lot Smith was absolutely instrumental in protecting the overland mail route to California. If it had not been for the efforts of Smith and the LDS soldiers who served with him, the South may well have had more success in its efforts to isolate California from the rest of the Union.

It is a popular activity among revisionists of history to claim that Utah was somehow pro-South during the Civil War. These revisionists ignore the examples of Smith and others which show that Utah was strongly on the side of the Union.

Port Alice, B.C.

The US army Colonel the lead the Mormon war was Albert Sidney Johnson. Later one of the better Confederate Generals.

The largest part of the Mormon population was Northern or From Britain (the Brits abandoned slavery in 1830).


While I could spend hours debating this article along with the blog that appeared in the New York Times and the lack of historical ability on the part of both authors, I do feel compelled to say one thing. I am a faithful member of the LDS Church and have spent countless hours researching Mormon history. But Latter-day Saints need to know that the famed "Civil War" revelation (D&C 87) does not make any reference to the Civil War. Joseph Smith received that revelation in December 1832 in the wake of what historians today call the Nullification Crisis of 1828-1832. Basically, South Carolina--behind their "wonderful" Senator John C. Calhoun--threatened nullification of a tariff that affected their production of cotton. When Andrew Jackson sent a Federal Army to South Carolina in mid-1832, the "rebellious" state threatened secession if they were not left alone. Fortunately, in one of Jackson's only good acts as President, the Commander-in-Chief was able to stave of war for at least another 30 years. Joseph had that conflict in mind, not the Civil War. However, his revelation is all the more amazing to me knowing this historical context.

Port Alice, B.C.

Onandaus, your opinion only.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

Bob P,

Johnston was at the head of the army unit that came to put down the non-existent Mormon rebellion of 1857, he did not lead the battalion. His effectiveness in the Civial War can be debated as he only survived one year of the conflict, being killed in the battle of Shiloh in April 1962.

Captain James Allen was sent to raise the battalion; he died en route to Santa Fe, so Lieutenant Andrew Jackson Smith led the battalion to Santa Fe, where Philip St. George Cooke took over. Cooke was appointed to the position by Stephen W. Kearny.

so the D&C and Book of Mormon only applied while the church was within the territorial area of the US? The constitution was no longer inspired when Young attempted to lead the church to Mexican territory?


BobP, my opinion about what? I'm sorry to say, but any historian of the early American Republic will agree with me on this issue.

layton, UT

Re: Onandagus1834,Joseph had that conflict in mind, not the Civil War?

(D&C 130:12 -13) prophesy, in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina. 13 It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me, while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25th,1832.

Oct 29,1832 President Andrews Jackson ordered SC Harbors forts placed on alert.

Dec/10/1832, President Andrew Jackson declared, S C stood on "the brink of insurrection and treason," and denied the right of secession.

Not far from Smith's Kirtland, Ohio headquarters, Painesville Telegraph printed a story from the New York Courier and Enquirer entitled "The Crisis." The article spoke of the "probabilities of dismemberment" stemming from discontent in South Carolina and Georgia over states rights. It is interesting to note that the date of this article is Friday, December 21, 1832, just four days before Smith received his alleged "prophecy."


donn, I am trying to figure out what it is that you are saying? You have documented (assuming your research is accurate) that it is not only possible, but it is likely that Joseph Smith received the revelation now known as D&C 87 with knowledge of the conflict in South Carolina known as the Nullification Crisis. You really didn't need to do that because anyone who lived in the United States and was of a sane mind during the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828 and the few years thereafter would have known about this conflict. But thank you for your work! The problem that now faces us is the fact that the people living in the United States in 1828 and 1832 had no idea that a civil war would be the end result in the early 1860s. Everyone, including President Jackson, were working so that that would not be the result. Additionally, abolitionists, or anyone in the US for that matter, did not know when slavery would end. So to assume that it was the question of slavery and states' rights automatically points to the American Civil War (1861-65) is what David Hackett Fisher has called a "historian's fallacy." Joseph Smith's revelation did have prophetic implications, I do not doubt that. What I am saying is that the reason Joseph asked the Lord in prayer about this issue was the Nullification Crisis, not some assumed premonition of a war that would not actually occur for 30 more years. The issues of slavery and states' rights were prevalent in the early republic from the time of the Revolution until the end of the Civil War and passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.

Salt Lake City, UT

Re: Ernest T. Bass You are correct that there were african-americans with the first LDS settlers in the valley. However, these african americans were freed men and woman and at least one was ordained as an elder in the LDS church by President Smith. The Utah Territory was occupied by a small group of Union troops through out the Civil War to ensure that no intrique occurred. As commented upon by others a small command of LDS men, also, guarded the mail lines through out the war. The United States was no friend of the LDS before or after the war. They refused the state of Deseret admission to the Union both before and after the war. And, then parcelled out the lands to ensure that the eventual State of Utah was both the smallest in land area, but, also the one with the most land reserved for indian reservations. The US eventually wrote the state's constitution and forced its acceptance upon the majority population. It included requirments that the religion not have private education, and that its members not belong to one political party. This is one of the most imperial acts in which the country every participated.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

The first petition for statehood from Brigham Young was in 1849 just two years after settling in what was then called Deseret. They then continued to petition for statehood until 1891 when they were finally granted statehood. How can that be the same as Puerto Rico?

layton, UT

@Onandagus1834. The revelation on the Civil War. .. it was spoken on Christmas Day, 1832. men and women who deplored the institution of slavery, and there was much talk of abolition. But who but a prophet of God would have dared to say, thirty-nine years before it was to happen, that war [would] be poured out upon all nations,' beginning 'at the rebellion of South Carolina,' and that 'the Southern States [would] be divided against the Northern States'?) This remarkable prediction saw its fulfillment with the firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor in 1861. How could J S have possibly foreseen with such accuracy the event that was to come thirty-nine ] years after he spoke of it? ("Praise to the Man," Ensign, Aug. 1983, p.6) Gordon B. Hinkley

Smith's prophecy discloses many problems. For one, Smith predicted that "war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place." Twice this phrase is mentioned in verses two and three of section 87. This prophecy never occurred. He also predicted famine, plague, earthquake, and a "chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made full end of all nations" (vs.6).

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

You are ignoring (intentionally or not I do not know) the FIRST verse

"1 Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;"

Notice that Joseph is very clear that he is speaking of WARS plural not one single war. Starting with the American Civil war war did in fact pour out on the nations of the earth. The Civil war saw the development of new weapons as well as tactics. At the start of the civil war armies used single shot muskets fighting in fairlanks (armies marching across fields firing at each other until one side stands down).
In the Civil War repeating rifles were introduced as was trench warfare. The South called on England who along with other European nations sent people to study this new warfare but did not step in to any great degree to help the South out. This study then lead to WWI. WWI lead to WWII and England asking for help from the US and others. The key is to read verse ONE.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

patriot vet
You said "The Church does not encourage military service. Indeed, of the 15 highest GA's only 3 are veterans" Your facts are worng. Here are some facts by Quorum
First Presidency
Thomas S. Monson- U.S. Navy
Henry B. Eyring- U.S. Air force
Dieter F. Uchtdorf- West German Air Force
Twelve Apestles
Boyd K. Packer- United States Army Air Forces
L. Tom Perry- United States Marines
Russell M. Nelson- U.S. Army
Dallin H. Oaks- Utah National Guard
M. Russell Ballard -United States Army Reserve
Richard G. Scott- Do not think he served (of age between WWII and Korea)
Robert D. Hales- U.S. Air Force
Jeffrey R. Holland- do not believe he served born on 1940
David A. Bednar- do not believe he served born 1952
Quentin L. Cook- do not believe he served born 1940
D. Todd Christofferson- do not believe he served born 1945
Neil L. Andersen- do not believe he served born 1951
BY my numbers that is 5 out of 18 that are NOT vets. that makes 10 that ARE.

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