Called to War: Dawn of the Mormon Battalion

by Sherman L. Fleek


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Called to War is a sweeping epic of history — war, politics, religion and westward expansion of the 1840s. It is a compelling drama of a family caught in the midst of great historical turmoil where they would face the dilemma of military service, religious obedience, individual desires of love, or family unity in the backdrop of war and the upheavals of pioneer life and all its dangers.

Called to War is where history, war, family ideals and pageantry of the West abound with the likes of frontiersman Kit Carson, explorer John C. Fremont, President James K. Polk, Senator Sam Houston, General Stephen Kearny, Mormon apostles John Taylor and Brigham Young, besides slave bounty-hunters, a steamboat wreck, pioneers, soldiers, and Indian warriors as the Barlow's experience this vast western drama.

Crossing the Iowa plains in 1846, the Barlow family, recent British converts to the Mormon faith, struggle to become pioneers while trying to maintain their class values of English landed-gentry amongst dynamics of their new life in the new world. Eighteen-year-olds Arthur and York Barlow, identical twins outwardly but very different in mind and temperament, face the difficult choice of serving in war as the Mormons leaders require, or remain steadfast to personal values of not serving in war instilled by their handsome, well-bred English widowed mother, Victoria Barlow. Victoria also confronts the choice to unite her family or choose love from among two suitors; one actively seeks her hand and the other, a church leader, she secretly desires. The climax is when Victoria Barlow is cast adrift in the midst of the great Mormon exodus while her sons feud and separate on their own journeys of military service.

About the Author

Sherman L. Fleek

Col. Sherman L. Fleek currently is serving as command historian for the U.S. Army in Iraq. He has served as Director, Interpretation and Education, at Shenandoah Battlefields Foundation; Chief Historian, National Guard Bureau, Washington, D.C.; and managing editor for On Guard, official monthly publication of the National Guard Bureau. He is the author of numerous articles on Western history, and has two book-length manuscripts in preparation on the U.S. Army in the Civil War era.

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Superlative Epic History of The Mormon Battalion!!!!!
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Called To War: Dawn Of The Mormon Battalion by Sherman L. Fleek
When I saw this book a dvertised in a Latter-day Light Books newsletter a few months ago, I knewI wanted to read and review this monumental story. I've not read a more detailed and more descriptive narrative than Called To War. Even though it took me quite sometime to read this book, I thoroughly enjoyed every page. Since I have a few ancestors who participated in the Battalion, I was more than intrigued with the details of how and why this event occured. It was fun to see my ggg grandfather, James Pace, written about, knowing he was a Captain of fifty and that Payson, Utah was named for him.
The narrative becgins with Major "Rip" Howard, a former combat soldier inm Iraq, taking on an histlorian's job that he'd never been interested in. He decides he needs to write this history and do it right and winds up being intrigued and fascinated by all the history behind the little known Mormon Battalion and just how much an impact the Battalion made in our history.
Some of the narrativde finds details about legendary pioneers, such as Christopher "Kit" Carson, a very nondescript person when meeting him; Jonathan Browning, Mormon gunsmith, who teaches young York Barlow the finer nuances of owning a rifle; Alexander Doniphan, friend to the Mormons, who helped make things easierfor The Church; John C. Fremont, better known as the "Pathfinder." At one time, he ran for US President. We find Sam Houston, Parley P. Pratt, Levi Hancock, President James K. Polk, who didn't think much of the Mormons; also Thomas Kane and Thomas Kearney, who also thought well of the Mormons and stalwart John Taylor, who Victoria Barlow admires.
Victoria Barlow, widowed earlier in England, comes with the Saintgsto Amerfica with her identical twin boys,York and Arthur, eighteen and ready to take on the adventures that only they can do. York is the more outgoing and carefree, with Arthur being more gentle. After starting the Battalion, the two brothers find themselves at opposite ends.
Victoria learns she can get by without all her fine belongings when the going gets tough. She becomes friends with Elizabeth Hitch, young daughter of The Hitch's from Liverpool. Elizabeth smitten with both York and Arthur, loves them both in different ways. Victoria, who loved her husband deeply, finds it difficult to have feelings for Samuel Knowles, who has feelings for her. Samuel leaves for New York and finds trouble along the way, almost losing his life. He leaves for a Missionary Assignment later in England, getting a stronger testimony of the gospel.
Another well known character that appears in this narrative is John D. Lee, who was infamous for the Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857. To me, John D. Lee did not present a positive picture of the true Mormon.
I was surprised at how these colorful characters depicted Church members in these days, thinking them lazy and not able or wanting to be participants in a military organization like the Battalion. I am thoroughly looking forward to reading and r eviewing the conclusion of this exciting and emotional roller coaster adventure. I highly recommend this epic historical novel to learn more about the Mormon Battalion and other interesting facts about our country back in the pre-civil war days.

I received this review copy from Boyd Tuttle, publisher of Digital Legend.
Publisher: Digital Legend Press
Date Published: November 2010
ISBN: 978-1-934537-48-0

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