Nauvoo Legion



Without a doubt, the strangest portion of Illinois history is the sojourn of the Mormons under Joseph Smith at Nauvoo.  From 1840-1844 the Mormons developed Nauvoo from a small hamlet called Commerce along the Mississippi River in Hancock County into one of the largest cities in Illinois, with a population of 12,000, rivaling Chicago.  Although the stay of the Mormons under Smith in Illinois would eventually end in tragedy, with the murder of Joseph Smith in 1844 at the hands of an anti-Mormon mob, and the Mormons leaving the state in 1845-1846 on their epic trek to build their Zion along the shores of the Great Salt Lake, the Mormons were initially treated hospitably by the State legislature.  The legislature granted the city of Nauvoo a charter, and authorized the formation of a state militia unit at Nauvoo.

The Mormons, understandably considering the violence they had faced in Missouri in the 1830s, wasted no time in setting up the militia unit, calling it the Nauvoo Legion.  Well armed and well uniformed, with Joseph Smith, of course, leading it as Lieutenant General, the Nauvoo Legion became a showpiece unit of the state militia, attracting non-Mormons to enlist in its ranks.  At its height, the Legion had 5000 men. (more…)

Published in: on February 1, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Nauvoo Legion  
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