General Orders for Nauvoo Legion, 4 May 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

.
Head-Quarters, Nauvoo Legion,)
City of Ill. May 4, A. D. 1841)
GENERAL ORDERS.
Pursuant to an act of the Court Martial, the troops attached or belonging to the Legion, will parade at the place of general rendezvous, in the City of , for drill, review, and inspection, on Saturday, the 3rd day of July proximo. at half past 9 o’clock, A. M., armed and equipped according to law.
At 10 o’clock the line will be formed, and the general officers conducted to their posts, under a fire of artillery.
The commandants of the 1st and 2nd companies. 2nd Battallion, 1st Regiment, 2nd Cohort, are directed to enroll every man residing within the bounds of their respective commands, and not attached to any other company of the Legion, between the ages of 18 and 45 years, and notify them of their attachment to the service, and their legal liabilities.
As will be seen by the following legal opinion of , of the Supreme Court of the State of , than whom no man stands more deservedly high in the public estimation, as an able and profound jurist, politician, and statesman; the officers and privates, belonging to the Legion are exempt from all military duty not required by the legally constituted authorities thereof; they are therefore expressly inhibited from performing any military services not ordered by the general officers, or directed by the Court Martial.
City of , Ill.,)
May 3rd, A. D. 1841.)
:—
Dear Sir: In reply to your request, I have examined so much of the City Charter, and legislative acts, as relate to the “Nauvoo Legion,” and am clearly of opinion that “any citizen of who may attach himself to the ‘Nauvoo Legion’ has all the privileges which appertain to that independent military body,” and is “exempt from all other military duty,” as provided in the 25th section of the City-charter; and cannot, therefore, be fined by any military or civil court, for neglecting or refusing to parade with any other military body, or under the command of any officers who are not attached to said Legion. The language of the laws upon this subject is so plain and specific as to admit of no doubt as to its true meaning and intent. I do not consider it necessary, therefore, to enter into an argument to prove a position which is evident from an inspection of the laws themselves.
I am, very respectfully,
your friend,
.
The Legion is not, as has been falsely represented by its enemies, exclusively a Mormon military association, but a body of citizen-soldiers organized (without regard to political preferences or religious sentiments) for the public defence, the general good, and the preservation of law and order—to save the innocent, unoffending citizen from the iron grasp of the oppressor, and perpetuate and sustain our free institutions against misrule, anarchy, and mob [p. 417] violence—no other views are entertained or tolerated.
The general parades of the will be in the city of , but all other musters will be within the bounds of the respective Companies, Battalions, Regiments, and Cohorts.
The 8th Sec. of “An Act for the organization and government of the Militia of this State” in force July 2nd, 1833, provides that “when any person shall enroll himself in a volunteer company, he shall forthwith give notice in writing to the commanding officer of the company in which he was enrolled,” &c., and that the commanding officer of a regiment, or battalion, may in a certain contingency, ‘dissolve such company;’ and some of the petty, ignorant and impudent militia officers maintain that such is still the law: but those blind leaders of the blind are informed that the 11th Sec., of ‘An act encouraging volunteer companies,’ approved March 2nd, 1837, reads as follows: ‘So much of the 8th Section of an act entitled an act for the organization and government of the militia of this , in force July 2nd, 1833, as requires a volunteer to give notice in writing to the commanding officer of the company in which he was enrolled, and authorizes commandants of Regiments to disband Independent Companies, be, and the same is hereby repealed.’ If officers act upon the obsolete laws of the ‘little book,’ which have been repealed years since, it will be sweet to the taste, but ‘make the belly bitter;’ and should any civil or military officer attempt to enforce the collection of any military fines upon the members of the Legion, excepting when such fines are assessed by the Court Martial of the Legion, such persons are directed to apply to the Master in , for , for an injunction to stay the illegal proceedings.
The militia companies of , and citizens generally, are respectfully invited to unite with the Legion, and partake of its privileges.
All officers are required to enforce the most rigid discipline on all days of public parade.
Persons holding enrolling orders are directed to act with energy, consummate their trust, and make prompt returns to the office of the . The Lieutenant General desires that all his friends should attach themselves to some company either in the 1st or 2nd Cohort. This will enable them to receive correct military instruction under the teachings of experienced officers, according to the drill and discipline of the Army—and qualify them for efficient service in the cause of their beloved , and , in the hour of peril.
The eleven companies of minute men will at all times hold themselves in readiness to execute the laws, as originally instructed by the general officers.
The officers and troops of the Legion are directed to treat with proper respect and decorum, all other officers and troops in the service of this , or of the .
Officers are ordered to treat their troops with marked respect—and while they discharge their duties with promptitude and boldness as officers, they must not forget or neglect to observe the requisites of gentlemen.
The 2nd Company, (Light Infantry,) 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment, 2nd Cohort; and the 1st Company, (Lancers,) 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment, 2nd Cohort, of the Legion, will act as an escort for the reception of such visiting companies from , and , as may be present. Should the be present, it will be announced by a fire of artillery by the 1st and 2nd Companies, 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Cohort; and the 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment, 2nd Cohort, when he will be received by the entire Legion with the honors due so conspicuous a personage as the Commander-in-Chief of the forces of the .
Officers receiving copies of these orders, will promulgate the same without delay throughout the bounds of their respective commands.
JOSEPH SMITH,
Lieutenant General.
,
Major General. [p. 418]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Headquarters for the Nauvoo Legion was likely the office of JS, as his office had served as the meeting place of the legion’s first court-martial. (Minutes, 4 Feb. 1841.)  

  2. 2

    See “Record of the ‘Nauvoo Legion,’” 5, Nauvoo Legion Records, CHL.  

    Nauvoo Legion Records, 1841–1845. CHL. MS 3430.

  3. 3

    The place of rendezvous was likely the city center, near the temple construction site, where the first parade for the cornerstone ceremony took place. (See “Celebration of the Aniversary of the Church,” Times and Seasons, 15 Apr. 1841, 2:375.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  4. 4

    This parade, scheduled for Saturday, 3 July 1841, was apparently intended as an Independence Day celebration because 4 July 1841 fell on a Sunday, which Latter-day Saints observed as the Sabbath.  

  5. 5

    Congress provided for “organizing, arming, and disciplining” militias. States, however, had the constitutional responsibility for prescribing discipline and enforcing compliance. As part of the Illinois militia, therefore, the Nauvoo Legion could require its members to appear on parade days. (U.S. Constitution, art. 1, sec. 8; Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840; “Record of the ‘Nauvoo Legion,’” 3–4, Nauvoo Legion Records, CHL.)  

    Nauvoo Legion Records, 1841–1845. CHL. MS 3430.

  6. 6

    Stephen A. Douglas was appointed to the state supreme court in mid-February 1841. He had previously served as the Illinois secretary of state. (See Commission from Thomas Carlin, 10 March 1841.)  

  7. 7

    See Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840.  

  8. 8

    Criticism of the Nauvoo Legion came primarily from Thomas Sharp, the editor of the Warsaw Signal. In February, Sharp acknowledged that “any citizen of Hancock County may, by voluntary enrollment, attach himself to the Legion,” but his dispassionate tone and inclusive view of the legion later shifted. By June, Sharp wrote, “Ask yourselves what means this array of military force which is paraded under the direction of this church. Is an army necessary to propagate religion?” (“The Mormons,” Western World [Warsaw, IL], 24 Feb. 1841, [2]; [Thomas Sharp], “The Mormons,” Warsaw [IL] Signal, 9 June 1841, [2].)  

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

  9. 9

    An Act for the Organization and Government of the Militia of This State [2 Mar. 1833], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 472.  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  10. 10

    An Act Encouraging Volunteer Companies [2 Mar. 1837], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 501.  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  11. 11

    See Revelation 10:9–10.  

  12. 12

    John C. Bennett was appointed master in chancery for Hancock County on 6 May 1841. (Bennett, History of the Saints, 25.)  

    Bennett, John C. The History of the Saints; or, an Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism. Boston: Leland and Whiting, 1842.

  13. 13

    Military instruction was based on the methods of Alexander Macomb, commanding general in the United States Army from 1828 to 1841, as represented in Samuel Cooper’s book, A Concise System of Instructions and Regulations for the Militia and Volunteers of the United States, published in 1836. The book was intended for state militias and distilled the current principles and practices of military decorum into concise and understandable terms. The Nauvoo Legion decided to adopt Macomb’s system in February 1841. (“Record of the ‘Nauvoo Legion,’” 4, Nauvoo Legion Records, CHL.)  

    Nauvoo Legion Records, 1841–1845. CHL. MS 3430.