|"Zion's Camp" by C.C. Christensen|
In the end divisions within the camp prompted a revelation from the Lord that told them that they would not be able to redeem Zion. Many of them returned to Ohio without the opportunity to fight for their lands. Despite the disappointment the journey was a powerful spiritual experience for many of the participants. As author Andrea G. Radke wrote:
"While considered a failure in its ultimate goal of reclaiming lost lands and relieving the heavy persecutions in Missouri Zion's Camp has been seen as a historical turning point for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from the members of Zion's Camp Joseph Smith drew a majority of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the whole of the First Quorum of the Seventy. The hardships of the 1834 Missouri expedition provided important enduring legacies uniting its members in a stronger loyalty to Joseph Smith and other leaders, solidifying the participants dedication to the church's cause, and schooling young leaders in the organizational skills necessary to move masses of people." (Source)I have often thought of the women and children who were left behind in Ohio as their husband's and son's (and most of the church leadership) went with Zion's Camp, and how they must have struggled to hold things together back in Kirtland. Yet I was surprised as I studied the history of Zion's Camp this time to learn that there were at least 12 women and 7 children who also traveled with the camp.
|Map of Zion Camp's march, nearly 900 miles one way. They were given D&C 105, in which they were told Zion would not be redeemed, on the banks of the Fishing River. Only about 20 miles from their destination.|
I think we forget that throughout history women have often traveled with armies and military campaigns, often in the rear of the army as cooks, laundresses, and nurses. This is true of just about all wars throughout history. Remembering this fact can help you learn to "see" the women in the wars of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. There were almost always women who traveled with armies and military campaigns, but you rarely ever hear about them.
Yet, the women of Zion's Camp are unique in that while they probably did assist with the cooking and the laundry it doesn't seem to be their main reason for being included. In fact, Joseph Holbrook, who traveled with his wife and two small daughters, wrote about an interesting experience that the women of Zion's Camp had shortly before the camp made its way into Missouri.