The Nauvoo Legion. Joseph was determined that the Saints should never again be at the mercy of their enemies as they had been in Missouri, which is why he made sure that the Nauvoo charters included provisions for a military force. But as Nauvoo grew in numbers, political clout and ambition, the Mormons' neighbors in Illinois began to fear that the legion was more than just a defense force. In 1842, the Nauvoo Legion, of which Joseph himself was commander-in-chief, had 2,000 soldiers, the largest single militia in the state of Illinois. By the following year, the number of troops in the legion had risen to nearly 3,000, at a time when the standing army of the entire United States of America was not more than 8,500. By the time of Joseph's death in 1844, the Legion numbered about 5,000.