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The Mormon Battalion, the only religiously based unit in United Statesmilitary history, served from July 1846 to July 1847 during the Mexican–American War of 1846–1848. The battalion was a volunteer unit of between 534 and 559 Latter-day Saints men led by Mormon company officers, commanded by regular U.S. Army officers. During its service, the battalion made a grueling march of nearly 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to San Diego.
The battalion’s march and service supported the eventual cession of much of the American Southwest from Mexico to the United States, especially theGadsden Purchase of 1853 of southern Arizona and New Mexico. The march also opened a southern wagon route to California. Veterans of the battalion played significant roles in America's westward expansion in California, Utah, Arizona and other parts of the West.