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Mormon Battalion wives sacrificed as well

PROVO, Utah — The wives left behind when 500 Mormon husbands marched off to fight in the war against Mexico sacrificed and suffered too, said a student presenter at the Twelfth Annual Religious Education Student Symposium at BYU on Feb. 19.Chad C. Thompson, who currently serves in the military, said the wives of soldiers then and the wives of soldiers now need to be remembered in prayer and thought.__IMAGE__Thompson said while the men in the Mormon Battalion faced possible death, physical challenges and spiritual temptations, their wives were left living in the middle of hostile Native American lands with rumors of Missouri mobs still plotting against the Saints. They were left living in poor shelter — often in the bed of wagons — and harsh conditions.The soldiers were sleeping in wet clothes, stealing produce from the farms they marched through, and dealing with fatigue and despair.Their wives were left at home to bear babies, care for cattle, gather in hay, repair wagons and prepare for the rest of the journey to Salt Lake.Six women died at Winter Quarters alone.One, Nancy Reed Walker Alexander, contracted pneumonia and died clutching her husband's boots.Others dealt with illness, loneliness and hardship.The wages paid to the battalion troops were donated to the church and divided among the members with aid given to them in return. As a result, the wives received only a small portion on the actual pay.In addition, they were praying, fasting and teaching their children.Their reaction when the United States government — the same government that had earlier ignored their plight when mobs pushed them from their lands and homes — issued the call for 500 of their able-bodied men varied, Thompson said, from "here is one man who will not go ..." to "I would rather be a soldier's widow than a coward's wife."Thompson quoted President Heber C. Kimball as saying, "The Mormon Battalion was the salvation of this people and had you not done this we should have not been here."