“In Missouri, before Joseph Smith had decided that resistance to the Gentiles would only result in massacre of this people, the Saints had formed an irregular army and had fought small engagements with their enemies. once established in Nauvoo, Smith created a more potent militia. . . .Chartered by the Illinois legislature at a time when the state’s political parties sought the votes of the Mormons, the Nauvoo Legion soon became an impressive force of some 5,000 men. Indeed, it grew so formidable that the legislature repealed the charter in 1845, the Gentiles of both parties now fearing that the Saints had more aggressive intentions than mere self-protection. . . .
By April 1849 the new Nauvoo Legion had been officially constituted, and provision made for it in the constitution when later the Mormons established their state of Deseret. By law the Legion included all able-bodied men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, with a unit called the Junior Rifles for the youth and the Silver Greys for those beyond the maximum age.”