Civil War Saints

Research Update

Kenneth L. Alford

Kenneth L. Alford ( is an associate professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU.

This year marks the midpoint of the sesquicentennial observance of the American Civil War. Although Utah Territory was physically removed from Civil War battlefields, the war had a deep impact on the area and its inhabitants. Civil War Saints, published by BYU’s Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book in summer 2012, takes a fresh and comprehensive look at Latter-day Saints and Utah Territory during the Civil War. The opening chapters examine pre-war events—the Utah War’s influence on the Civil War, wartime use of Joseph Smith’s prophecy on war (Doctrine and Covenants 87), Abraham Lincoln and the Mormons, and rumors of Utah’s possible secession. The following chapters investigate public and private comments made by Church leaders during the war, motivation for Latter-day Saints to enlist in the war, a history of the Lot Smith Utah Cavalry Company, Utah’s Nauvoo Legion during the war, the 1862 establishment of Camp Douglas near Salt Lake City, Indian relations during the war, the Bear River Massacre (January 1863), LDS wartime emigration, how Mormons were treated by the national press, and stories of individual sacrifice and service by Latter-day Saint Civil War soldiers. Concluding chapters survey the nation’s reconstruction efforts, the government’s war on polygamy, Mormons and the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), and the GAR’s 1909 National Encampment (convention) in Salt Lake City.

Even before Civil War Saints was published, I could tell that it was not going to be the end of my research regarding Latter-day Saint involvement with the Civil War. In the months that have followed the book’s publication, my research efforts have multiplied into several varied, but related, Civil War projects.

Finding Additional Latter-day Saint Civil War Veterans

Civil War Saints includes the most complete list published to date of Latter-day Saints—both Yankees and Confederates—who served in the Civil War. By the time Civil War Saints was published, my research team and I had discovered 384 LDS Civil War veterans (310 Union soldiers, sailors, and marines; 71 Confederate soldiers; and 3 soldiers, known as “Galvanized Yankees,” who fought first for the Confederacy, were captured, taken to a prisoner of war camp, and then took an oath of allegiance to fight for the Union). Our veterans list was a great start, but it was not complete. I invited readers to notify me if they had leads or information regarding possible additional Civil War veterans.

During the past year, I have been contacted by many readers who shared family history information about possible Civil War veterans. Many also wrote asking us to confirm, if possible, family folklore regarding a rumored Civil War ancestor. We have applied the same documentary and research standards to these additional soldiers as we did to the veterans listed in Civil War Saints. During the past year we have added twenty-seven more Civil War veterans (two-thirds are Confederate soldiers) to our growing list. Tables 1–3 summarize their baptismal dates and Civil War military service.

The discovery of one of the recently added veterans required us to create a new military service category. William Vernon, 1832–1895, fought first for the Confederacy with the 23rd Battalion, Virginia Infantry. After an aborted attempt to desert in June 1863, he successfully deserted two months later. Vernon later voluntarily enlisted and fought for the Union in the 118th Regiment, Indiana Infantry.

We were also able to add a fourth Galvanized Yankee to our LDS veterans list. Zachariah West, 1841–1906, served as a private on both sides of the war—first with the 64th Regiment, North Carolina Infantry (Confederate) and then with the 6th Regiment, US Volunteer Infantry (Union). West was baptized before the war in June 1858 (the same month the Utah War ended); Vernon was baptized after the war in July 1880.

When BaptizedAdditionsNew Totals
BEFORE the Civil War9188
BEFORE the Civil War (presumed)18
DURING the Civil War218
AFTER the Civil War16186
Baptismal date Uncertain1

Table 1. When LDS Civil War veterans were baptized
as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Military AffiliationAdditionsNew Totals
“Galvanized Yankee”14
Voluntarily Fought for Both Sides11

Table 2. Military affiliation of LDS Civil War veterans.

Service BranchAdditionsNew Totals
Union Army7303
Union Army (presumed)6
Union Navy6
Union Navy (presumed)1
Union Marines1
Union and Confederate Army25
Confederate Army1788
Confederate Army (presumed)11

Table 3. Service branches of LDS Civil War veterans.

Please contact me if you have any LDS Civil War veterans in your family tree!

The 1862 Lot Smith Cavalry Company

Utah Territory provided only one active duty military unit during the entire Civil War. During the evening of April 28, 1862, Brigham Young received a War Department telegram sent “by express direction of the President of the United States” requesting one cavalry company to guard the Overland Trail. The unit, under the command of Captain Lot Smith, was raised and mustered in two days and departed Great Salt Lake City the following day.

While working on Civil War Saints, I obtained a copy of an 1862 pencil pocket diary faithfully kept by Harvey Coe Hullinger, a private in the Lot Smith Utah Cavalry Company. We transcribed the diary, and I originally intended to include it as an appendix in Civil War Saints. In the months prior to publication, though, I became aware of a few other 1862 diaries and logs kept by soldiers of the Utah Calvary Company. Those manuscripts have also been transcribed and are being prepared for publication in a book about the Civil War service of the Lot Smith Utah Cavalry Company.

1913 Gettysburg Reunion

July 2013 marked the sesquicentennial of the battle of Gettysburg. It was also the centennial of the July 1913 Gettysburg battle commemoration; many of the 53,407 veterans who attended in 1913 actually fought there in July 1863. After some appropriation twists and turns, the Utah legislature promised to fund sixty-six Civil War veterans from Utah to attend the reunion—fifty-seven Yankees and nine Confederates. Twenty-one of Utah’s attendees fought at Gettysburg (eighteen Yankees and three Confederates).

This research project involved teaming with Ken Nelson, a FamilySearch collection manager and reference consultant in the Church’s Family History Library, to uncover and share the story of Civil War veterans living in Utah who attended the 1913 Gettysburg Reunion. One of the many interesting side stories we discovered involved Confederate Charlie Warren, who enlisted as a fourteen-year-old orderly in the 28th Regiment, Virginia Infantry. During the 1913 Gettysburg Reunion, Warren shook hands near the “Bloody Angle” with Union veteran Daniel O. Ball, a former gunner from Battery A, 4th US Artillery. Little did either know that they had met before on Cemetery Ridge—during the July 1863 battle. Of the experience, Warren said, “I had little trouble in finding the place for it was well marked with a monument and two cannon. As I was looking over the old gun I heard a man say he manned the same gun on that day just fifty years before.” After comparing memories, Warren and Ball determined they “had matched weapons during the thickest of the fight. I was a lad of fourteen years old and six months at the time and of course I was smaller and lighter than the gunner who proved afterwards to have been my new friend Ball. He bowled me over with the swab stick he had been using on the gun and I attacked him with one old sword bayonet, the only weapon I had. After the melee I came out with a bayonet wound in my forehead and Ball was shot through the arm.”[1] The resulting article, titled “‘The Brave Men, Living and Dead, Who Struggled Here’: Utah Veterans and the Gettysburg Reunion of 1913”, was published in the Summer 2013 issue of Utah Historical Quarterly.

Further Research

Research on additional topics related to Utah Territory and the Civil War will result in future publications and conference presentations. Through continuing research on this important and interesting historical period we are able to increase our understanding of the influence that the Civil War has had on Utah and the Church.

The publication of Civil War Saints—as well as the follow-on research, conference presentations, and publications outlined here—was made possible because of generous support from donors who support Religious Education at Brigham Young University. Student research assistants and I spent many hundreds of hours in painstaking and detail-oriented research to find and document the Latter-day Saint Civil War veterans whose stories we have been able to share. The kind of research represented here provides students with needed financial assistance to continue their schooling as well as valuable research and work experience. I appreciate the financial support that makes this research possible and strive to be a good steward of the funds received.


[1] “Shakes Hands Over Cannon with Foe of 50 Years Ago,” Salt Lake Herald-Republican, August 31, 1913.