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The Story of the Mormons: From the Date of their Origin to the Year 1901 by William Alexander Linn

Part 12 out of 15

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territory were all hostile to the administration, and their
clamor deceived for a time people far more enlightened than the
followers of the modern Mohammed. It is said that, while the
canvass was pending, certain representatives of the
Liberal-Democratic alliance bargained with Brigham Young, and
that he contributed a very large sum of money to the treasury of
the Greeley fund, and that, in consideration of this
contribution, he received assurances that, if he should send a
polygamist to Congress, no opposition would be made by the
supporters of the administration that was to be, to his admission
to the House. Brigham therefore sent Cannon instead of returning

** It is curious to notice that the Utah troubles are entirely
ignored in the "Life of James Buchanan " (1883) by George Ticknor
Curtis, who was the counsel for the Mormons in the argument
concerning polygamy before the United States Supreme Court in

Early in 1856 arrangements were entered into with H. C. Kimball
for a contract to carry the mail between Independence, Missouri,
and Salt Lake City. Young saw in this the nucleus of a big
company that would maintain a daily express and mail service to
and from the Mormon centre, and he at once organized the Brigham
Young Express Carrying Company, and had it commended to the
people from the pulpit. But recent disclosures of Mormon methods
and purposes had naturally caused the government to question the
propriety of confiding the Utah and transcontinental mails to
Mormon hands, and on June 10, 1857, Kimball was notified that the
government would not execute the contract with him, "the
unsettled state of things at Salt Lake City rendering the mails
unsafe under present circumstances." Mormon writers make much of
the failure to execute this mail contract as an exciting cause of
the "war." Tullidge attributes the action of the administration
to three documents--a letter from Mail Contractor W. M. F. Magraw
to the President, describing the situation in Utah, Judge
Drummond's letter of resignation, and a letter from Indian Agent
T. S. Twiss, dated July 13, 1856, informing the government that a
large Mormon colony had taken possession of Deer Creek Valley,
only one hundred miles west of Fort Laramie, driving out a
settlement of Sioux whom the agent had induced to plant corn
there, and charging that the Mormon occupation was made with a
view to the occupancy of the country, and "under cover of a
contract of the Mormon church to carry the mails."* Tullidge's
statement could be made with hope of its acceptance only to
persons who either lacked the opportunity or inclination to
ascertain the actual situation in Utah and the President's
sources of information.

* All these may be found in House Ex. Doc. No. 71, 1st Session,
35th Congress.

As to the mails, no autocratic government like that of Brigham
Young would neglect to make what use it pleased of them in its
struggle with the authorities at Washington. As early as
November, 1851, Indian Agent Holman wrote to the Indian
commissioner at Washington from Salt Lake City: "The Gentiles, as
we are called who do not belong to the Mormon church, have no
confidence in the management of the post-office here. It is
believed by many that there is an examination of all letters
coming and going, in order that they may ascertain what is said
of them and by whom it is said. This opinion is so strong that
all communications touching their character or conduct are either
sent to Bridger or Laramie, there to be mailed. I send this
communication through a friend to Laramie, to be there mailed for
the States."

Testimony on this point four years later, from an independent
source, is found in a Salt Lake City letter, of November 3, 1855,
to the New York Herald. The writer said: "From September 5, to
the 27th instant the people of this territory had not received
any news from the States except such as was contained in a few
broken files of California papers.... Letters and papers come up
missing, and in the same mail come papers of very ancient dates;
but letters once missing may be considered as irrevocably lost.
Of all the numerous numbers of Harper's, Gleason's, and other
illustrated periodicals subscribed for by the inhabitants of this
territory, not one, I have been informed, has ever reached here."
The forces selected for the expedition to Utah consisted of the
Second Dragoons, then stationed at Fort Leavenworth in view of
possible trouble in Kansas; the Fifth Infantry, stationed at that
time in Florida; the Tenth Infantry, then in the forts in
Minnesota; and Phelps's Battery of the Fourth Artillery, that had
distinguished itself at Buena Vista--a total of about fifteen
hundred men. Reno's Battery was added later.

General Scott's order provided for two thousand head of cattle to
be driven with the troops, six months' supply of bacon,
desiccated vegetables, 250 Sibley tents, and stoves enough to
supply at least the sick. General Scott himself had advised a
postponement of the expedition until the next year, on account of
the late date at which it would start, but he was overruled. The
commander originally selected for this force was General W. S.
Harney; but the continued troubles in Kansas caused his retention
there (as well as that of the Second Dragoons), and, when the
government found that the Mormons proposed serious resistance,
the chief command was given to Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston, a
West Point graduate, who had made a record in the Black Hawk War;
in the service of the state of Texas, first in 1836 under General
Rusk, and eventually as commander-in-chief in the field, and
later as Secretary of War; and in the Mexican War as colonel of
the First Texas Rifles. He was killed at the battle of Shiloh
during the War of the Rebellion.

General Harney's letter of instruction, dated June 29, giving the
views of General Scott and the War Department, stated that the
civil government in Utah was in a state of rebellion; he was to
attack no body of citizens, however, except at the call of the
governor, the judges, or the marshals, the troops to be
considered as a posse comitatus; he was made responsible for "a
jealous, harmonious, and thorough cooperation" with the governor,
accepting his views when not in conflict with military judgment
and prudence. While the general impression, both at Washington
and among the troops, was that no actual resistance to this force
would be made by Young's followers, the general was told that
"prudence requires that you should anticipate resistance,
general, organized, and formidable, at the threshold."

Great activity was shown in forwarding the necessary supplies to
Fort Leavenworth, and in the last two weeks of July most of the
assigned troops were under way. Colonel Johnston arrived at Fort
Leavenworth on September 11, assigned six companies of the Second
Dragoons, under Lieutenant Colonel P. St. George Cooke, as an
escort to Governor Cumming, and followed immediately after them.
Major (afterward General) Fitz John Porter, who accompanied
Colonel Johnston as assistant adjutant general, describing the
situation in later years, said:--

"So late in the season had the troops started on this march that
fears were entertained that, if they succeeded in reaching their
destination, it would be only by abandoning the greater part of
their supplies, and endangering the lives of many men amid the
snows of the Rocky Mountains. So much was a terrible disaster
feared by those acquainted with the rigors of a winter life in
the Rocky Mountains, that General Harney was said to have
predicted it, and to have induced Walker [of Kansas] to ask his

Meanwhile, the Mormons had received word of what was coming. When
A. O. Smoot reached a point one hundred miles west of
Independence, with the mail for Salt Lake City, he met heavy
freight teams which excited his suspicion, and at Kansas City
obtained sufficient particulars of the federal expedition.
Returning to Fort Laramie, he and O. P. Rockwell started on July
18, in a light wagon drawn by two fast horses, to carry the news
to Brigham Young. They made the 513 miles in five days and three
hours, arriving on the evening of July 23. Undoubtedly they gave
Young this important information immediately. But Young kept it
to himself that night. On the following day occurred the annual
celebration of the arrival of the pioneers in the valley. To the
big gathering of Saints at Big Cottonwood Lake, twenty- four
miles from the city, Young dramatically announced the news of the
coming "invasion." His position was characteristically defiant.
He declared that "he would ask no odds of Uncle Sam or the
devil," and predicted that he would be President of the United
States in twelve years, or would dictate the successful
candidate. Recalling his declaration ten years earlier that,
after ten years of peace, they would ask no odds of the United
States, he declared that that time had passed, and that
thenceforth they would be a free and independent state--the State
of Deseret.

The followers of Young eagerly joined in his defiance of the
government, and in the succeeding weeks the discourses and the
editorials of the Deseret News breathed forth dire threats
against the advancing foe. Thus, the News of August 12 told the
Washington authorities, "If you intend to continue the
appointment of certain officers,"--that is, if you do not intend
to surrender to the church federal jurisdiction in Utah--"we
respectfully suggest that you appoint actually intelligent and
honorable men, who will wisely attend to their own duties, and
send them unaccompanied by troops"--that is, judges who would
acknowledge the supremacy of the Mormon courts, or who, if not,
would have no force to sustain them. This was followed by a
threat that if any other kind of men were sent "they will really
need a far larger bodyguard than twenty-five hundred soldiers."*
The government was, in another editorial, called on to "entirely
clear the track, and accord us the privilege of carrying our own
mails at our own expense," and was accused of "high handedly
taking away our rights and privileges, one by one, under pretext
that the most devilish should blush at."

* An Englishman, in a letter to the New York Observer, dated
London, May 26, 1857, said, "The English Mormons make no secret
of their expectation that a collision will take place with the
American authorities," and he quoted from a Mormon preacher's
words as follows: "As to a collision with the American
Government, there cannot be two opinions on the matter. We shall
have judges, governors, senators and dragoons invading us,
imprisoning and murdering us; but we are prepared, and are
preparing judges, governors, senators and dragoons who will know
how to dispose of their friends. The little stone will come into
collision with the iron and clay and grind them to powder. It
will be in Utah as it was in Nauvoo, with this difference, we are
prepared now for offensive or defensive war; we were not then."
Young in the pulpit was in his element. One example of his
declarations must suffice:--

"I am not going to permit troops here for the protection of the
priests and the rabble in their efforts to drive us from the land
we possess.... You might as well tell me that you can make hell
into a powder house as to tell me that they intend to keep an
army here and have peace.... I have told you that if there is any
man or woman who is not willing to destroy everything of their
property that would be of use to an enemy if left, I would advise
them to leave the territory, and I again say so to-day; for when
the time comes to burn and lay waste our improvements, if any man
undertakes to shield his, he will be treated as a traitor; for
judgment will be laid to the line and righteousness to the

* Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City," p. 160.

The official papers of Governor Young are perhaps the best
illustrations of the spirit with which the federal authorities
had to deal.

Words, however, were not the only weapons which the Mormons
employed against the government at the start. Daniel H. Wells,
"Lieutenant General" and commander of the Nauvoo Legion, which
organization had been kept up in Utah, issued, on August 1, a
despatch to each of twelve commanding officers of the Legion in
the different settlements in the territory, declaring that "when
anarchy takes the place of orderly government, and mobocratic
tyranny usurps the powers of the rulers, they [the people of the
territory] have left the inalienable right to defend themselves
against all aggression upon their constitutional privileges"; and
directing them to hold their commands ready to march to any part
of the territory, with ammunition, wagons, and clothing for a
winter campaign. In the Legion were enrolled all the able-bodied
males between eighteen and forty-five years, under command of a
lieutenant general, four generals, eleven colonels, and six

The first mobilization of this force took place on August 15,
when a company was sent eastward over the usual route to aid
incoming immigrants and learn the strength of the federal force.
By the employment of similar scouts the Mormons were thus kept
informed of every step of the army's advance. A scouting party
camped within half a mile of the foremost company near Devil's
Gate on September 22, and did not lose sight of it again until it
went into camp at Harris's Fort, where supplies had been
forwarded in advance.

Captain Stewart Van Vliet, of General Harney's staff, was sent
ahead of the troops, leaving Fort Leavenworth on July 28, to
visit Salt Lake City, ascertain the disposition of the church
authorities and the people toward the government, and obtain any
other information that would be of use. Arriving in Salt Lake
City in thirty three and a half days, he was received with
affability by Young, and there was a frank interchange of views
between them. Young recited the past trials of the Mormons
farther east, and said that "therefore he and the people of Utah
had determined to resist all persecution at the commencement, and
GREAT SALT LAKE VALLEY. As he uttered these words, all those
present concurred most heartily."* Young said they had an
abundance of everything required by the federal troops, but that
nothing would be sold to the government. When told that, even if
they did succeed in preventing the present military force from
entering the valley the coming winter, they would have to yield
to a larger force the following year, the reply was that that
larger force would find Utah a desert; they would burn every
house, cut down every tree, lay waste every field. "We have three
years' provisions on hand," Young added, "which we will cache,
and then take to the mountains and bid defiance to all the powers
of the government."

* The quotations are from Captain Van Vliet's official report in
House Ex. Doc. No. 71, previously referred to. Tullidge's
"History of Salt Lake City" (p. 16l) gives extracts from Apostle
Woodruff's private journal of notes on the interview between
Young and Captain Van Vliet, on September 12 and 13, in which
Young is reported as saying: "We do not want to fight the United
States, but if they drive us to it we shall do the best we can.
God will overthrow them. We are the supporters of the
constitution of the United States. If they dare to force the
issue, I shall not hold the Indians by the wrist any longer for
white men to shoot at them; they shall go ahead and do as they

When Young called for a vote on that proposition by an audience
of four thousand persons in the Tabernacle, every hand was raised
to vote yes. Captain Van Vliet summed up his view of the
situation thus: that it would not be difficult for the Mormons to
prevent the entrance of the approaching force that season; that
they would not resort to actual hostilities until the last
moment, but would burn the grass, stampede the animals, and cause
delay in every manner.

The day after Captain Van Vliet left Salt Lake City, Governor
Young gave official expression to his defiance of the federal
government by issuing the following proclamation:--

"Citizens of Utah: We are invaded by a hostile force, who are
evidently assailing us to accomplish our overthrow and

"For the last twenty-five years we have trusted officials of the
government, from constables and justices to judges, governors,
and Presidents, only to be scorned, held in derision, insulted,
and betrayed. Our houses have been plundered and then burned, our
fields laid waste, our principal men butchered, while under the
pledged faith of the government for their safety, and our
families driven from their homes to find that shelter in the
barren wilderness and that protection among hostile savages,
which were denied them in the boasted abodes of Christianity and

"The constitution of our common country guarantees unto us all
that we do now or have ever claimed. If the constitutional rights
which pertain unto us as American citizens were extended to Utah,
according to the spirit and meaning thereof, and fairly and
impartially administered, it is all that we can ask, all that we
have ever asked.

"Our opponents have availed themselves of prejudice existing
against us, because of our religious faith, to send out a
formidable host to accomplish our destruction. We have had no
privilege or opportunity of defending ourselves from the false,
foul, and unjust aspersions against us before the nation. The
government has not condescended to cause an investigating
committee, or other persons, to be sent to inquire into and
ascertain the truth, as is customary in such cases. We know those
aspersions to be false; but that avails us nothing. We are
condemned unheard, and forced to an issue with an armed mercenary
mob, which has been sent against us at the instigation of
anonymous letter writers, ashamed to father the base, slanderous
falsehoods which they have given to the public; of corrupt
officials, who have brought false accusations against us to
screen themselves in their own infamy; and of hireling priests
and howling editors, who prostitute the truth for filthy lucre's

"The issue which has thus been forced upon us compels us to
resort to the great first law of self-preservation, and stand in
our own defence, a right guaranteed to us by the genius of the
institutions of our country, and upon which the government is
based. Our duty to ourselves, to our families, requires us not to
tamely submit to be driven and slain, without an attempt to
preserve ourselves; our duty to our country, our holy religion,
our God, to freedom and liberty, requires that we should not
quietly stand still and see those fetters forging around us which
were calculated to enslave and bring us in subjection to an
unlawful, military despotism, such as can only emanate, in a
country of constitutional law, from usurpation, tyranny, and

"Therefore, I, Brigham Young, Governor and Superintendent of
Indian Affairs for the Territory of Utah, in the name of the
people of the United States in the Territory of Utah, forbid:

"First. All armed forces of every description from coming into
this Territory, under any pretence whatever.

"Second. That all forces in said Territory hold themselves in
readiness to march at a moment's notice to repel any and all such

"Third. Martial law is hereby declared to exist in this Territory
from and after the publication of this proclamation, and no
person shall be allowed to pass or repass into or through or from
this Territory without a permit from the proper officer.

"Given under my hand and seal, at Great Salt Lake City, Territory
of Utah, this 15th day of September, A.D. 1857, and of the
independence of the United States of America the eighty-second.


The advancing troops received from Captain Van Vliet as he passed
eastward their first information concerning the attitude of the
Mormons toward them, and Colonel Alexander, in command of the
foremost companies, accepted his opinion that the Mormons would
not attack them if the army did not advance beyond Fort Bridger
or Fort Supply, this idea being strengthened by the fact that one
hundred wagon loads of stores, undefended, had remained
unmolested on Ham's Fork for three weeks. The first division of
the federal troops marched across Greene River on September 27,
and hurried on thirty five miles to what was named Camp Winfield,
on Ham's Fork, a confluent of Black Fork, which emptied into
Greene River. Phelps's and Reno's batteries and the Fifth
Infantry reached there about the same time, but there was no
cavalry, the kind of force most needed, because of the detention
of the Dragoons in Kansas.

On September 30 General Wells forwarded to Colonel Alexander,
from Fort Bridger, Brigham Young's proclamation of September 15,
a copy of the laws of Utah, and the following letter addressed to
"the officer commanding the forces now invading Utah Territory":


GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, September 29, 1857.

"Sir: By reference to the act of Congress passed September 9,
1850, organizing the Territory of Utah, published in a copy of
the laws of Utah, herewith forwarded, pp. 146-147, you will find
the following:--

'Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, that the executive power and
authority in and over said Territory of Utah shall be vested in a
Governor, who shall hold his office for four years, and until his
successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed
by the President of the United States. The Governor shall reside
within said Territory, shall be Commander-in-chief of the militia
thereof', etc., etc.

"I am still the Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for
this Territory, no successor having been appointed and qualified,
as provided by law; nor have I been removed by the President of
the United States.

"By virtue of the authority thus vested in me, I have issued, and
forwarded you a copy of, my proclamation forbidding the entrance
of armed forces into this Territory. This you have disregarded. I
now further direct that you retire forthwith from the Territory,
by the same route you entered. Should you deem this
impracticable, and prefer to remain until spring in the vicinity
of your present encampment, Black's Fork or Greene River, you can
do so in peace and unmolested, on condition that you deposit your
arms and ammunition with Lewis Robinson, Quartermaster General of
the Territory, and leave in the spring, as soon as the condition
of the roads will permit you to march; and, should you fall short
of provisions, they can be furnished you, upon making the proper
applications therefor. General D. H. Wells will forward this, and
receive any communications you may have to make.

Very respectfully,


"Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Utah Territory."

General Wells's communication added to this impudent announcement
the declaration, "It may be proper to add that I am here to aid
in carrying out the instructions of Governor Young."

On October 2 Colonel Alexander, in a note to Governor Young,
acknowledged the receipt of his enclosures, said that he would
submit Young's letter to the general commanding as soon as he
arrived, and added, "In the meantime I have only to say that
these troops are here by the orders of the President of the
United States, and their future movements and operations will
depend entirely upon orders issued by competent military

Two Mormon officers, General Robinson and Major Lot Smith, had
been sent to deliver Young's letter and proclamation to the
federal officer in command, but they did not deem it prudent to
perform this office in person, sending a Mexican with them into
Colonel Alexander's camp.* In the same way they received Colonel
Alexander's reply.

* Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City," p. 171.

The Mormon plan of campaign was already mapped out, and it was
thus stated in an order of their commanding general, D. H. Wells,
a copy of which was found on a Mormon major, Joseph Taylor, to
whom it was addressed:--

"You will proceed, with all possible despatch, without injuring
your animals, to the Oregon road, near the bend of Bear River,
north by east of this place. Take close and correct observations
of the country on your route. When you approach the road, send
scouts ahead to ascertain if the invading troops have passed that
way. Should they have passed, take a concealed route and get
ahead of them, express to Colonel Benton, who is now on that road
and in the vicinity of the troops, and effect a junction with
him, so as to operate in concert. On ascertaining the locality or
route of the troops, proceed at once to annoy them in every
possible way. Use every exertion to stampede their animals and
set fire to their trains. Burn the whole country before them and
on their flanks. Keep them from sleeping by night surprises;
blockade the road by felling trees or destroying river fords,
where you can. Watch for opportunities to set fire to the grass
on their windward, so as if possible to envelop their trains.
Leave no grass before them that can be burned. Keep your men
concealed as much as possible, and guard against surprise. Keep
scouts out at all times, and communications open with Colonel
Benton, Major McAllster and O. P. Rockwell, who are operating in
the same way. Keep me advised daily of your movements, and every
step the troops take, and in which direction.

"God bless you and give you success. Your brother in Christ."

The first man selected to carry out this order was Major Lot
Smith. Setting out at 4 P.M., on October 3, with forty-four men,
after an all night's ride, he came up with a federal supply train
drawn by oxen. The captain of this train was ordered to "go the
other way till he reached the States." As he persistently
retraced his steps as often as the Mormons moved away, the latter
relieved his wagons of their load and left him. Sending one of
his captains with twenty men to capture or stampede the mules of
the Tenth Regiment, Smith, with the remainder of his force,
started for Sandy Fork to intercept army trains.

Scouts sent ahead to investigate a distant cloud of dust reported
that it was made by a freight train of twenty-six wagons. Smith
allowed this train to proceed until dark, and then approached it
undiscovered. Finding the drivers drunk, as he afterward
explained, and fearing that they would be belligerent and thus
compel him to disobey his instruction "not to hurt any one except
in self-defence," he lay concealed until after midnight. His
scouts meanwhile had reported to him that the train was drawn up
for the night in two lines.

Allowing the usual number of men to each wagon, Smith decided
that his force of twenty-four was sufficient to capture the
outfit, and, mounting his command, he ordered an advance on the
camp. But a surprise was in store for him. His scouts had failed
to discover that a second train had joined the first, and that
twice the force anticipated confronted them. When this discovery
was made, the Mormons were too close to escape observation.
Members of Smith's party expected that their leader would now
make some casual inquiry and then ride on, as if his destination
were elsewhere. Smith, however, decided differently. As his force
approached the camp-fire that was burning close to the wagons, he
noticed that the rear of his column was not distinguishable in
the darkness, and that thus the smallness of their number could
not be immediately discovered. He, therefore, asked at once for
the captain of the train, and one Dawson stepped forward. Smith
directed him to have his men collect their private property at
once, as he intended to "put a little fire" into the wagons. "For
God's sake, don't burn the trains," was the reply. Dawson was
curtly told where his men were to stack their arms, and where
they were themselves to stand under guard. Then, making a torch,
Smith ordered one of the government drivers to apply it, in order
that "the Gentiles might spoil the Gentiles," as he afterward
expressed it. The destruction of the supplies was complete. Smith
allowed an Indian to take two wagon covers for a lodge, and some
flour and soap, and compelled Dawson to get out some provisions
for his own men. Nothing else was spared.

The official list of rations thus destroyed included 2720 pounds
of ham, 92,700 of bacon, 167,900 of flour, 8910 of coffee, 1400
of sugar, 1333 of soap, 800 of sperm candles, 765 of tea, 7781 of
hard bread, and 68,832 rations of desiccated vegetables. Another
train was destroyed by the same party the next day on the Big
Sandy, besides a few sutlers' wagons that were straggling behind.

On October 5 Colonel Alexander assumed command of all the troops
in the camp. He found his position a trying one. In a report
dated October 8, he said that his forage would last only fourteen
days, that no information of the position or intentions of the
commanding officer had reached him, and that, strange as it may
appear, he was "in utter ignorance of the objects of the
government in sending troops here, or the instructions given for
their conduct after reaching here." In these circumstances, he
called a council of his officers and decided to advance without
waiting for Colonel Johnston and the other companies, as he
believed that delay would endanger the entire force. He selected
as his route to a wintering place, not the most direct one to
Salt Lake City, inasmuch as the canons could be easily defended,
but one twice as long (three hundred miles), by way of Soda
Springs, and thence either down Bear River Valley or northeast
toward the Wind River Mountains, according to the resistance he
might encounter.

The march, in accordance with this decision, began on October 11,
and a weary and profitless one it proved to be. Snow was falling
as the column moved, and the ground was covered with it during
their advance. There was no trail, and a road had to be cut
through the greasewood and sage brush. The progress was so slow--
often only three miles a day--and the supply train so long, that
camp would sometimes be pitched for the night before the rear
wagons would be under way. Wells's men continued to carry out his
orders, and, in the absence of federal cavalry, with little
opposition. One day eight hundred oxen were "cut out" and driven
toward Salt Lake City.

Conditions like these destroyed the morale of both officers and
men, and there were divided counsels among the former, and
complaints among the latter. Finally, after having made only
thirty-five miles in nine days, Colonel Alexander himself became
discouraged, called another council, and, in obedience to its
decision, on October 19 directed his force to retrace their
steps. They moved back in three columns, and on November 2 all of
them had reached a camp on Black's Fork, two miles above Fort

Colonel Johnston had arrived at Fort Laramie on October 5, and,
after a talk with Captain Van Vliet, had retained two additional
companies of infantry that were on the way to Fort Leavenworth.
As he proceeded, rumors of the burning of trains, exaggerated as
is usual in such times, reached him. Having only about three
hundred men to guard a wagon train six miles in length, some of
the drivers showed signs of panic, and the colonel deemed the
situation so serious that he accepted an offer of fifty or sixty
volunteers from the force of the superintendent of the South Pass
wagon road. He was fortunate in having as his guide the well
known James Bridger, to whose knowledge of Rocky Mountain weather
signs they owed escapes from much discomfort, by making camps in
time to avoid coming storms.

But even in camp a winter snowstorm is serious to a moving
column, especially when it deprives the animals of their forage,
as it did now. The forage supply was almost exhausted when South
Pass was reached, and the draught and beef cattle were in a sad
plight. Then came another big snowstorm and a temperature of l6,
during which eleven mules and a number of oxen were frozen to
death. In this condition of affairs, Colonel Johnston decided
that a winter advance into Salt Lake Valley was impracticable.
Learning of Colonel Alexander's move, which he did not approve,
he sent word for him to join forces with his own command on
Black's Fork, and there the commanding officer arrived on
November 3.

Lieutenant Colonel Cooke, of the Second Dragoons, with whom
Governor Cumming was making the trip, had a harrowing experience.
There was much confusion in organizing his regiment of six
companies at Fort Leavenworth, and he did not begin his march
until September 17, with a miserable lot of mules and
insufficient supplies. He found little grass for the animals, and
after crossing the South Platte on October 15, they began to die
or to drop out. From that point snow and sleet storms were
encountered, and, when Fort Laramie was reached, so many of the
animals had been left behind or were unable to travel, that some
of his men were dismounted, the baggage supply was reduced, and
even the ambulances were used to carry grain. After passing
Devil's Gate, they encountered a snowstorm on November 5. The
best shelter their guide could find was a lofty natural wall at a
point known as Three Crossings. Describing their night there he
says: "Only a part of the regiment could huddle behind the rock
in the deep snow; whilst, the long night through, the storm
continued, and in fearful eddies from above, before, behind,
drove the falling and drifting snow. Thus exposed, for the hope
of grass the poor animals were driven, with great devotion, by
the men once more across the stream and three-quarters of a mile
beyond, to the base of a granite ridge, which almost faced the
storm. There the famished mules, crying piteously, did not seek
to eat, but desperately gathered in a mass, and some horses,
escaping guard, went back to the ford, where the lofty precipice
first gave us so pleasant relief and shelter."

The march westward was continued through deep snow and against a
cold wind. On November 8 twenty-three mules had given out, and
five wagons had to be abandoned. On the night of the 9th, when
the mules were tied to the wagons, "they gnawed and destroyed
four wagon tongues, a number of wagon covers, ate their ropes,
and getting loose, ate the sage fuel collected at the tents." On
November 10 nine horses were left dying on the road, and the
thermometer was estimated to have marked twenty-five degrees
below zero. Their thermometers were all broken, but the freezing
of a bottle of sherry in a trunk gave them a basis of

The command reached a camp three miles below Fort Bridger on
November 19. Of one hundred and forty-four horses with which they
started, only ten reached that camp.


When Colonel Johnston arrived at the Black's Fork camp the
information he received from Colonel Alexander, and certain
correspondence with the Mormon authorities, gave him a
comprehensive view of the situation; and on November 5 he
forwarded a report to army headquarters in the East, declaring
that it was the matured design of the Mormons "to hold and occupy
this territory independent of and irrespective of the authority
of the United States," entertaining "the insane design of
establishing a form of government thoroughly despotic, and
utterly repugnant to our institutions."

The correspondence referred to began with a letter from Brigham
Young to Colonel Alexander, dated October 14. Opening with a
declaration of Young's patriotism, and the brazen assertion that
the people of Utah "had never resisted even the wish of the
President of the United States, nor treated with indignity a
single individual coming to the territory under his authority,"
he went on to say:--

"But when the President of the United States so far degrades his
high position, and prostitutes the highest gift of the people, as
to make use of the military power (only intended for the
protection of the people's rights) to crush the people's
liberties, and compel them to receive officials so lost to
self-respect as to accept appointments against the known and
expressed wish of the people, and so craven and degraded as to
need an army to protect them in their position, we feel that we
should be recreant to every principle of self-respect, honor,
integrity, and patriotism to bow tamely to such high-handed
tyranny, a parallel for which is only found in the attempts of
the British government, in its most corrupt stages, against the
rights, liberties, and lives of our forefathers."

He then appealed to Colonel Alexander, as probably "the unwilling
agent" of the administration, to return East with his force,
saying, "I have yet to learn that United States officers are
implicitly bound to obey the dictum of a despotic President, in
violating the most sacred constitutional rights of American

On October 18 Colonel Alexander, acknowledging the receipt of
Young's letter, said in his reply that no one connected with his
force had any wish to interfere in any way with the religion of
the people of Utah, adding: "I repeat my earnest desire to avoid
violence and bloodshed, and it will require positive resistance
to force me to it. But my troops have the same right of self-
defence that you claim, and it rests entirely with you whether
they are driven to the exercise of it."

Finding that he could not cajole the federal officer, Young threw
off all disguise, and in reply to an earlier letter of Colonel
Alexander, he gave free play to his vituperative powers. After
going over the old Mormon complaints, and declaring that "both we
and the Kingdom of God will be free from all hellish oppressors,
the Lord being our helper," he wrote at great length in the
following tone:--

"If you persist in your attempt to permanently locate an army in
this Territory, contrary to the wishes and constitutional rights
of the people therein, and with a view to aid the administration
in their unhallowed efforts to palm their corrupt officials upon
us, and to protect them and blacklegs, black-hearted scoundrels,
whoremasters, and murderers, as was the sole intention in sending
you and your troops here, you will have to meet a mode of warfare
against which your tactics furnish you no information....

"If George Washington was now living, and at the helm of our
government, he would hang the administration as high as he did
Andre, and that, too, with a far better grace and to a much
greater subserving the best interests of our country....

"By virtue of my office as Governor of the Territory of Utah, I
command you to marshal your troops and leave this territory, for
it can be of no possible benefit to you to wickedly waste
treasures and blood in prosecuting your course upon the side of a
rebellion against the general government by its
administrators.... Were you and your fellow officers as well
acquainted with your soldiers as I am with mine, and did they
understand the work they were now engaged in as well as you may
understand it, you must know that many of them would immediately
revolt from all connection with so ungodly, illegal,
unconstitutional and hellish a crusade against an innocent
people, and if their blood is shed it shall rest upon the heads
of their commanders. With us it is the Kingdom of God or

To this Colonel Alexander replied, on the 19th, that no citizen
of Utah would be harmed through the instrumentality of the army
in the performance of its duties without molestation, and that,
as Young's order to leave the territory was illegal and beyond
his authority, it would not be obeyed.

John Taylor, on October 21, added to this correspondence a letter
to Captain Marcy, in which he ascribed to party necessity the
necessity of something with which to meet the declaration of the
Republicans against polygamy--the order of the President that
troops should accompany the new governor to Utah; declared that
the religion of the Mormons was "a right guaranteed to us by the
constitution"; and reiterated their purpose, if driven to it, "to
burn every house, tree, shrub, rail, every patch of grass and
stack of straw and hay, and flee to the mountains." "How a large
army would fare without resources," he added, "you can picture to

* Text of this letter in House Ex. Doc. No. 71, 1st Session, 35th
Congress, and Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City."

The Mormon authorities meant just what they said from the start.
Young was as determined to be the head of the civil government of
the territory as he was to be the head of the church. He had
founded a practical dictatorship, with power over life and
property, and had discovered that such a dictatorship was
necessary to the regulation of the flock that he had gathered
around him and to the schemes that he had in mind. To permit a
federal governor to take charge of the territory, backed up by
troops who would sustain him in his authority, meant an end to
Young's absolute rule. Rather than submit to this, he stood ready
to make the experiment of fighting the government force,
separated as that force was from its Eastern base of supplies; to
lay waste the Mormon settlements, if it became necessary to use
this method of causing a federal retreat by starvation; and, if
this failed, to withdraw his flock to some new Zion farther

In accordance with this view, as soon as news of the approach of
the troops reached Salt Lake Valley, all the church industries
stopped; war supplies weapons and clothing were manufactured and
accumulated; all the elders in Europe were ordered home, and the
outlying colonies in Carson Valley and in southern California
were directed to hasten to Salt Lake City. A correspondent of the
San Francisco Bulletin at San Bernardino, California, reported
that in the last six months the Mormons there had sent four or
five tons of gunpowder and many weapons to Utah, and that, when
the order to "gather" at the Mormon metropolis came, they
sacrificed everything to obey it, selling real estate at a
reduction of from 20 to 50 per cent, and furniture for any price
that it would bring. The same sacrifices were made in Carson
Valley, where 150 wagons were required to accommodate the movers.
In Salt Lake City the people were kept wrought up to the highest
pitch by the teachings of their leaders. Thus, Amasa W. Lyman
told them, on October 8, that they would not be driven away,
because "the time has come when the Kingdom of God should be
built up."* Young told them the same day, "If we will stand up as
men and women of God, the yoke shall never be placed upon our
necks again, and all hell cannot overthrow us, even with the
United States troops to help them."** Kimball told the people in
the Tabernacle, on October 18: "They [the United States] will
have to make peace with us, and we never again shall make peace
with them. If they come here, they have got to give up their
arms." Describing his plan of campaign, at the same service,
after the reading of the correspondence between Young and Colonel
Alexander, Young said: "Do you want to know what is going to be
done with the enemies now on our border? As soon as they start to
come into our settlements, let sleep depart from their eyes and
slumber from their eyelids until they sleep in death. Men shall
be secreted here and there, and shall waste away our enemies in
the name of Israel's God."***

* Journal of Discourses, Vol. V, p. 319.

** Ibid., Vol. V, p. 332

*** Ibid., Vol. V, p. 338.

Young was equally explicit in telling members of his own flock
what they might expect if they tried to depart at that time. In a
discourse in the Tabernacle, on October 25, he said:--

"If any man or woman in Utah wants to leave this community, come
to me and I will treat you kindly, as I always have, and will
assist you to leave; but after you have left our settlements you
must not then depend upon me any longer, nor upon the God I
serve. You must meet the doom you have labored for.... After this
season, when this ignorant army has passed off, I shall never
again say to a man, 'Stay your rifle ball,' when our enemies
assail us, but shall say, 'Slay them where you find them."'*

* Ibid, Vol. V, p. 352.

Kimball, on November 8, spoke with equal plainness on this

"When it is necessary that blood should be shed, we should be as
ready to do that as to eat an apple. That is my religion, and I
feel that our platter is pretty near clean of some things, and we
calculate to keep it clean from this time henceforth and forever
.... And if men and women will not live their religion, but take
a course to pervert the hearts of the righteous, we will 'lay
judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet,' and we
will let you know that the earth can swallow you up as did Koran
with his hosts; and, as Brother Taylor says, you may dig your
graves, and we will slay you and you may crawl into them."*

* Journal of Discourses, Vol. VI, p. 34.

The Mormon songs of the day breathed the same spirit of defiance
to the United States authorities. A popular one at the Tabernacle
services began:--

"Old Uncle Sam has sent, I understand,
Du dah,
A Missouri ass to rule our land,
Du dah! Du dah day.
But if he comes we'll have some fun,
Du dah,
To see him and his juries run,
Du dah! Du dah day.

Chorus: Then let us be on hand,
By Brigham Young to stand,
And if our enemies do appear,
We'll sweep them from the land."

Another still more popular song, called "Zion," contained these

"Here our voices we'll raise, and will sing to thy praise,
Sacred home of the Prophets of God;
Thy deliverance is nigh, thy oppressors shall die,
And the Gentiles shall bow 'neath thy rod."

When the Mormons found that the federal forces had gone into
winter quarters, the Nauvoo Legion was massed in a camp called
Camp Weber, at the mouth of Echo Canon. This canon they fortified
with ditches and breastworks, and some dams intended to flood the
roadway; but they succeeded in erecting no defences which could
not have been easily overcome by a disciplined force. A watch was
set day and night, so that no movement of "the invaders" could
escape them, and the officer in charge was particularly forbidden
to allow any civil officer appointed by the President to pass.

This careful arrangement was kept up all winter, but Tullidge
says that no spies were necessary, as deserting soldiers and
teamsters from the federal camp kept coming into the valley with

The territorial legislature met in December, and approved
Governor Young's course, every member signing a pledge to
maintain "the rights and liberties" of the territory. The
legislators sent a memorial to Congress, dated January 6, 1858,
demanding to be informed why "a hostile course is pursued toward
an unoffending people," calling the officers who had fled from
the territory liars, declaring that "we shall not again hold
still while fetters are being forged to bind us," etc. This
offensive document reached Washington in March, and was referred
in each House to the Committee on Territories, where it remained.
When the federal forces reached Fort Bridger, they found that the
Mormons had burned the buildings, and it was decided to locate
the winter camp--named Camp Scott--on Black's Fork, two miles
above the fort. The governor and other civil officers spent the
winter in another camp near by, named "Ecklesville," occupying
dugouts, which they covered with an upper story of plastered
logs. There was a careful apportionment of rations, but no
suffering for lack of food.

An incident of the winter was the expedition of Captain Randolph
B. Marcy across the Uinta Mountains to New Mexico, with two
guides and thirty-five volunteer companions, to secure needed
animals. The story of his march is one of the most remarkable on
record, the company pressing on, even after Indian guides refused
to accompany them to what they said was certain death, living for
days only on the meat supplied by half-starved mules, and beating
a path through deep snow. This march continued from November 27
to January 10, when, with the loss of only one man, they reached
the valley of the Rio del Norte, where supplies were obtained
from Fort Massachusetts. Captain Marcy started back on March 17,
selecting a course which took him past Long's and Pike's Peaks.
He reached Camp Scott on June 8, with about fifteen hundred
horses and mules, escorted by five companies of infantry and
mounted riflemen.

During the winter Governor Cumming sent to Brigham Young a
proclamation notifying him of the arrival of the new territorial
officers, and assuring the people that he would resort to the
military posse only in case of necessity. Judge Eckles held a
session of the United States District Court at Camp Scott on
December 30, and the grand jury of that court found indictments
for treason, resting on Young's proclamation and Wells's
instructions, against Young, Kimball, Wells, Taylor, Grant,
Locksmith, Rockwell, Hickman, and many others, but of course no
arrests were made.

Meanwhile, at Washington, preparations were making to sustain the
federal authority in Utah as soon as spring opened.* Congress
made an appropriation, and authorized the enlistment of two
regiments of volunteers; three thousand regular troops and two
batteries were ordered to the territory, and General Scott was
directed to sail for the Pacific coast with large powers. But
General Scott did not sail, the army contracts created a
scandal,** and out of all this preparation for active hostilities
came peace without the firing of a shot; out of all this open
defiance and vilification of the federal administration by the
Mormon church came abject surrender by the administration itself.

* For the correspondence concerning the camp during the winter of
1858, see Sen. Doc., 2d Session, 35th Congress, Vol. II.

** Colonel Albert G. Brown, Jr., in his account of the Utah
Expedition in the Atlantic Monthly for April, 1859, said: "To the
shame of the administration these gigantic contracts, involving
an amount of more than $6,000,000, were distributed with a view
to influence votes in the House of Representatives upon the
Lecompton Bill. Some of the lesser ones, such as those for
furnishing mules, dragoon horses, and forage, were granted
arbitrarily to relatives or friends of members who were wavering
upon that question.

The principal contract, that for the transportation of all the
supplies, involving for the year 1858 the amount of $4,500,000,
was granted, without advertisement or subdivision, to a firm in
Western Missouri, whose members had distinguished themselves in
the effort to make Kansas a slave state, and now contributed
liberally to defray the election expenses of the Democratic


When Major Van Vliet returned from Utah to Washington with
Young's defiant ultimatum, he was accompanied by J. M. Bernhisel,
the territorial Delegate to Congress, who was allowed to retain
his seat during the entire "war," a motion for his expulsion,
introduced soon after Congress met, being referred to a committee
which never reported on it, the debate that arose only giving
further proof of the ignorance of the lawmakers about Mormon
history, Mormon government, and Mormon ambition.

In Washington Bernhisel was soon in conference with Colonel T. L.
Kane, that efficient ally of the Mormons, who had succeeded so
well in deceiving President Fillmore. In his characteristically
wily manner, Kane proposed himself to the President as a mediator
between the federal authorities and the Mormon leaders.* At that
early date Buchanan was not so ready for a compromise as he soon
became, and the Cabinet did not entertain Kane's proposition with
any enthusiasm. But Kane secured from the President two letters,
dated December 3.** The first stated, in regard to Kane, "You
furnish the strongest evidence of your desire to serve the
Mormons by undertaking so laborious a trip," and that "nothing
but pure philanthropy, and a strong desire to serve the Mormon
people, could have dictated a course so much at war with your
private interests." If Kane presented this credential to Young on
his arrival in Salt Lake City, what a glorious laugh the two
conspirators must have had over it! The President went on to
reiterate the views set forth in his last annual message, and to
say: "I would not at the present moment, in view of the hostile
attitude they have assumed against the United States, send any
agent to visit them on behalf of the government." The second
letter stated that Kane visited Utah from his own sense of duty,
and commended him to all officers of the United States whom he
might meet.

* H. H. Bancroft ("History of Utah," p. 529) accepts the
ridiculous Mormon assertion that Buchanan was compelled to change
his policy toward the Mormons by unfavorable comments "throughout
the United States and throughout Europe." Stenhouse says ("Rocky
Mountain Saints," p. 386): "That the initiatory steps for the
settlement of the Utah difficulties were made by the government,
as is so constantly repeated by the Saints, is not true. The
author, at the time of Colonel Kane's departure from New York for
Utah, was on the staff of the New York Herald, and was conversant
with the facts, and confidentially communicated them to Frederick
Hudson, Esq., the distinguished manager of that great journal."

** Sen. Doc., 2d Session. 35th Congress, Vol. II, pp. 162-163.

Kane's method of procedure was, throughout, characteristic of the
secret agent of such an organization as the Mormon church. He
sailed from New York for San Francisco the first week in January,
1858, under the name of Dr. Osborn. As soon as he landed, he
hurried to Southern California, and, joining the Mormons who had
been called in from San Bernardino, he made the trip to Utah with
them, arriving in Salt Lake City in February. On the evening of
the day of his arrival he met the Presidency and the Twelve, and
began an address to them as follows: "I come as ambassador from
the Chief Executive of our nation, and am prepared and duly
authorized to lay before you, most fully and definitely, the
feelings and views of the citizens of our common country and of
the Executive toward you, relative to the present position of
this territory, and relative to the army of the United States now
upon your borders." This is the report of Kane's words made by
Tullidge in his "Life of Brigham Young." How the statement agrees
with Kane's letters from the President is apparent on its face.
The only explanation in Kane's favor is that he had secret
instructions which contradicted those that were written and
published. Kane told the church officers that he wished to
"enlist their sympathies for the poor soldiers who are now
suffering in the cold and snow of the mountains!" An interview of
half an hour with Young followed--too private in its character to
be participated in even by the other heads of the church. An
informal discussion ensued, the following extracts from which, on
Mormon authority, illustrate Kane's sympathies and purpose:--

"Did Dr. Bernhisel take his seat?"

Kane--"Yes. He was opposed by the Arkansas member and a few
others, but they were treated as fools by more sagacious members;
for, if the Delegate had been refused his seat, it would have

"I suppose they [the Cabinet] are united in putting down Utah?"

Kane--"I think not."*

* Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City," p. 203.

Kane was placed as a guest, still incognito, in the house of an
elder, and, after a few days' rest, he set out for Camp Scott.
His course on arriving there, on March 10, was again
characteristic of the crafty emissary. Not even recognizing the
presence of the military so far as to reply to a sentry's
challenge, the latter fired on him, and he in turn broke his own
weapon over the sentry's head. When seized, he asked to be taken
to Governor Cumming, not to General Johnston.* "The compromise,"
explains Tullidge, "which Buchanan had to effect with the utmost
delicacy, could only be through the new governor, and that, too,
by his heading off the army sent to occupy Utah." A fancied
insult from General Johnston due to an orderly's mistake led Kane
to challenge the general to a duel; but a meeting was prevented
by an order from Judge Eckles to the marshal to arrest all
concerned if his command to the contrary was not obeyed.

"Governor Cumming," continued Tullidge, "could do nothing less
than espouse the cause of the `ambassador' who was there in the
execution of a mission intrusted to him by the President of the
United States."**

* Colonel Johnston was made a brigadier general that winter.

** Kane brought an impudent letter from Young, saying that he had
learned that the United States troops were very destitute of
provisions, and offering to send them beef cattle and flour.
General Johnston replied to Kane that he had an abundance of
provisions, and that, no matter what might be the needs of his
army, he "would neither ask nor receive from President Young and
his confederates any supplies while they continued to be enemies
of the government" Kane replied to this the next day, expressing
a fear that "it must greatly prejudice the public interest to
refuse Mr. Young's proposal in such a manner," and begging the
general to reconsider the matter. No farther notice seems to have
been taken of the offer.

Kane did not make any mistake in his selection of the person to
approach in camp. Judged by the results, and by his admissions in
after years, the most charitable explanation of Cumming's course
is that he was hoodwinked from the beginning by such masters in
the art of deception as Kane and Young. A woman in Salt Lake
City, writing to her sons in the East at the time, described the
governor as in "appearance a very social, good-natured looking
gentleman, a good specimen of an old country aristocrat, at ease
in himself and at peace with all the world."* Such a man, whom
the acts and proclamations and letters of Young did not incite to
indignation, was in a very suitable frame of mind to be cajoled
into adopting a policy which would give him the credit of
bringing about peace, and at the same time place him at the head
of the territorial affairs.

* New York Herald, July 2, 1858. For personal recollections of
Cumming, see Perry's "Reminiscences of Public Men," p. 290. What
is said by Governor Perry of Cumming's Utah career is valueless.

In looking into the causes of what was, from this time, a backing
down by both parties to this controversy, we find at Washington
that lack of an aggressive defence of the national interests
confided to him by his office which became so much more evident
in President Buchanan a few years later. Defied and reviled
personally by Young in the latter's official communications,
there was added reason to those expressed in the President's
first message why this first rebellion, as he called it, "should
be put down in such a manner that it shall be the last." But a
wider question was looming up in Kansas, one in which the whole
nation recognized a vital interest; a bigger struggle attracted
the attention of the leading members of the Cabinet. The
Lecompton Constitution was a matter of vastly more interest to
every politician than the government of the sandy valley which
the Mormons occupied in distant Utah.

On the Mormon side, defiant as Young was, and sincere as was his
declaration that he would leave the valley a desert before the
advance of a hostile force, his way was not wholly clear. His
Legion could not successfully oppose disciplined troops, and he
knew it. The conviction of himself and his associates on the
indictments for treason could be prevented before an unbiased
non-Mormon jury only by flight. Abjectly as his people obeyed
him,--so abjectly that they gave up all their gold and silver to
him that winter in exchange for bank notes issued by a company of
which he was president,--the necessity of a reiteration of the
determination to rule by the plummet showed that rebellion was at
least a possibility? That Young realized his personal peril was
shown by some "instructions and remarks" made by him in the
Tabernacle just after Kane set out for Fort Bridger, and
privately printed for the use of his fellow-leaders. He expressed
the opinion that if Joseph Smith had "followed the revelations in
him" (meaning the warnings of danger), he would have been among
them still. "I do not know precisely," said Young, "in what
manner the Lord will lead me, but were I thrown into the
situation Joseph was, I would leave the people and go into the
wilderness, and let them do the best they could.... We are in
duty bound to preserve life--to preserve ourselves on earth--
consequently we must use policy, and follow in the counsel given
us." He pointed out the sure destruction that awaited them if
they opened fire on the soldiers, and declared that he was going
to a desert region in the territory which he had tried to have
explored "a desert region that no man knows anything about," with
"places here and there in it where a few families could live,"
and the entire extent of which would provide homes for five
hundred thousand people, if scattered about. In these
circumstances "a way out" that would free the federal
administration from an unpleasant complication, and leave Young
still in practical control in Utah, was not an unpleasant
prospect for either side.

A long Utah letter to the Near York Herald (which had been
generally pro-Mormon in tone) dated Camp Scott, May 22, 1858,
contained the following: "Some of the deceived followers of the
latest false Prophet arrived at this post in a most deplorable
condition. One mater familiar had crossed the mountains during
very severe weather in almost a state of nudity. Her dress
consisted of a part of a single skirt, part of a man's shirt, and
a portion of a jacket. Thus habited, without a shoe or a thread
more, she had walked 157 miles in snow, the greater part of the
way up to her knees, and carried in her arms a sucking babe less
than six weeks old. The soldiers pulled off their clothes and
gave them to the unfortunate woman. The absconding Saints who
arrive here tell a great many stories about the condition and
feeling of their brethren who still remain in the land of
promise.... Thousands and thousands of persons, both men and
women, are represented to be exceedingly desirous of not going
South with the church, but are compelled to by fear of death or

Governor Cumming, in his report to Secretary Cass on the
situation as he found it when he entered Salt Lake City, said
that, learning that a number of persons desirous of leaving the
territory "considered themselves to be unlawfully restrained of
their liberty," he decided, even at the risk of offending the
Mormons, to give public notice of his readiness to assist such
persons. In consequence, 56 men, 38 women, and 71 children sought
his protection in order to proceed to the States. "The large
majority of these people;" he explained, "are of English birth,
and state that they leave the congregation from a desire to
improve their circumstances and realize elsewhere more money for
their labor."

Kane having won Governor Cumming to his view of the situation,
and having created ill feeling between the governor and the chief
military commander, the way was open for the next step. The plan
was to have Governor Cumming enter Salt Lake Valley without any
federal troops, and proceed to Salt Lake City under a Mormon
escort of honor, which was to meet him when he came within a
certain distance of that city. This he consented to do. Kane
stayed in "Camp Eckles" until April, making one visit to the
outskirts to hold a secret conference with the Mormons, and,
doubtless, to arrange the details of the trip.

On April 3 Governor Cumming informed General Johnston of his
decision, and he set out two days later. General Johnston's view
of the policy to be pursued toward the Mormons was expressed in a
report to army headquarters, dated January 20:--

"Knowing how repugnant it would be to the policy or interest of
the government to do any act that would force these people into
unpleasant relations with the federal government, I have, in
conformity with the views also of the commanding general, on all
proper occasions manifested in my intercourse with them a spirit
of conciliation. But I do not believe that such consideration of
them would be properly appreciated now, or rather would be
wrongly interpreted; and, in view of the treasonable temper and
feeling now pervading the leaders and a greater portion of the
Mormons, I think that neither the honor nor the dignity of the
government will allow of the slightest concession being made to

Judge Eckles did not conceal his determination not to enter Salt
Lake City until the flag of his country was waving there, holding
it a shame that men should be detained there in subjection to
such a despot as Brigham Young.

Leaving camp accompanied only by Colonel Kane and two servants,
Governor Cumming found his Mormon guard awaiting him a few miles
distant. His own account of the trip and of his acts during the
next three weeks of his stay in Mormondom may be found in a
letter to General Johnston and a report to Secretary of State
Cass.* As Echo Canon was supposed to be thoroughly fortified, and
there was not positive assurance that a conflict might not yet
take place, the governor was conducted through it by night. He
says that he was "agreeably surprised" by the illuminations in
his honor. Very probably he so accepted them, but the fires
lighted along the sides and top of the canon were really intended
to appear to him as the camp-fires of a big Mormon army. This
deception was further kept up by the appearance of challenging
parties at every turn, who demanded the password of the escort,
and who, while the governor was detained, would hasten forward to
a new station and go through the form of challenging again: Once
he was made the object of an apparent attack, from which he was
rescued by the timely arrival of officers of authority.**

* For text, see Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City,"
pp. 108-212.

** "In course of time Cumming discovered how the Mormon leaders
had imposed upon him and amused themselves with his credulity,
and to the last hour that he was in the Territory he felt annoyed
at having been so absurdly deceived, and held Brigham responsible
for the mortifying joke."--"Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 390.

The trip to Salt Lake City occupied a week, and on the 12th the
governor entered the Mormon metropolis, escorted by the city
officers and other persons of distinction in the community, and
was assigned as a guest to W. C. Staines, an influential Mormon
elder. There Young immediately called on him, and was received
with friendly consideration. Asked by his host, when the head of
the church took his leave, if Young appeared to be a tyrant,
Governor Cumming replied: "No, sir. No tyrant ever had a head on
his shoulders like Mr. Young. He is naturally a good man. I doubt
whether many of your people sufficiently appreciate him as a
leader."* This was the judgment of a federal officer after a few
moments' conversation with the reviler of the government and a
month's coaching by Colonel Kane.

Three days later, Governor Cumming officially notified General
Johnston of his arrival, and stated that he was everywhere
recognized as governor, and "universally greeted with such
respectful attentions" as were due to his office. There was no
mention of any advance of the troops, nor any censure of Mormon
offenders, but the general was instructed to use his forces to
recover stock alleged to have been stolen from the Mormons by
Indians, and to punish the latter, and he was informed that
Indian Agent Hurt (who had so recently escaped from Mormon
clutches) was charged by W. H. Hooper, the Mormon who had acted
as secretary of state during recent months, with having incited
Indians to hostility, and should be investigated! Verily, Colonel
Kane's work was thoroughly performed. General Johnston replied,
expressing gratification at the governor's reception, requesting
to be informed when the Mormon force would be withdrawn from the
route to Salt Lake City, and saying that he had inquired into Dr.
Hurt's case, and had satisfied himself "that he has faithfully
discharged his duty as agent, and that he has given none but good
advice to the Indians."

* Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City," p. 206.

On the Sunday after his arrival Young introduced Governor Cumming
to the people in the Tabernacle, and then a remarkable scene
ensued. Stenhouse says that the proceedings were all arranged in
advance. Cumming was acting the part of the vigilant defender of
the laws, and at the same time as conciliator, doing what his
authority would permit to keep the Mormon leaders free from the
presence of troops and from the jurisdiction of federal judges.
But he was not all-powerful in this respect. General Johnston had
orders that would allow him to dispose of his forces without
obedience to the governor, and the governor could not quash the
indictments found by Judge Eckles's grand jury. Young's knowledge
of this made him cautious in his reliance on Governor Gumming.
Then, too, Young had his own people to deal with, and he would
lose caste with them if he made a surrender which left Mormondom
practically in federal control.

When Governor Cumming was introduced to the congregation of
nearly four thousand people he made a very conciliatory address,
in which, however, according to his report to Secretary Cass,* he
let them know that he had come to vindicate the national
sovereignty, "and to exact an unconditional submission on their
part to the dictates of the law"; but informed them that they
were entitled to trial by their peers,--intending to mean Mormon
peers,--that he had no intention of stationing the army near
their settlements, or of using a military posse until other means
of arrest had failed. After this practical surrender of
authority, the governor called for expressions of opinion from
the audience, and he got them. That audience had been nurtured
for years on the oratory of Young and Kimball and Grant, and had
seen Judge Brocchus vilified by the head of the church in the
same building; and the responses to Governor Cumming's invitation
were of a kind to make an Eastern Gentile quail, especially one
like the innocent Cumming, who thought them "a people who
habitually exercised great self-control." One speaker went into a
review of Mormon wrongs since the tarring of the prophet in Ohio,
holding the federal government responsible, and naming as the
crowning outrage the sending of a Missourian to govern them. This
was too much for Cumming, and he called out, "I am a Georgian,
sir, a Georgian." The congregation gave the governor the lie to
his face, telling him that they would not believe that he was
their friend until he sent the soldiers back. "It was a perfect
bedlam," says an eyewitness, "and gross personal remarks were
made. One man said, 'You're nothing but an office seeker.' The
governor replied that he obtained his appointment honorably and
had not solicited it."** If all this was a piece of acting
arranged by Young to show his flock that he was making no abject
surrender, it was well done.***

* Ex. Doc. No. 67, 1st Session, 35th Congress.

** Coverdale's statement in Camp Scott letter, June 4, 1858, to
New York Herald.

*** "Brigham was seated beside the governor on the platform, and
tried to control the unruly spirits. Governor Cumming may for the
moment have been deceived by this apparent division among the
Mormons, but three years later he told the author that it was all
of a piece with the incidents of his passage through Echo Canon.
In his characteristic brusque way he said: 'It was all humbug,
sir, all humbug; but never mind; it is all over now. If it did
them good, it did not hurt me.'"--"Rocky Mountain Saints," p.

Young's remarks on March 21 had been having their effect while
Cumming was negotiating, and an exodus from the northern
settlements was under way which only needed to be augmented by a
movement from the valley to make good Young's declaration that
they would leave their part of the territory a desert. No
official order for this movement had been published, but whatever
direction was given was sufficient. Peace Commissioners Powell
and McCullough, in a report to the Secretary of War dated July 3,
1858, said on this subject: "We were informed by various
(discontented) Mormons, who lived in the settlements north of
Provo, that they had been forced to leave their homes and go to
the southern part of the Territory.... We were also informed that
at least one-third of the persons who had removed from their
homes were compelled to do so. We were told that many were
dissatisfied with the Mormon church, and would leave it whenever
they could with safety to themselves. We are of opinion that the
leaders of the Mormon church congregated the people in order to
exercise more immediate control over them." Not only were houses
deserted, but growing crops were left and heavier household
articles abandoned, and the roads leading to the south and
through Salt Lake City were crowded day by day with loaded
wagons, their owners--even the women, often shoeless trudging
along and driving their animals before them. These refugees were,
a little later, joined by Young and most of his associates, and
by a large part of the inhabitants of Salt Lake City itself. It
was estimated by the army officers at the time that 25,000 of a
total population of 45,000 in the Territory, took part in this
movement. When they abandoned their houses they left them tinder
boxes which only needed the word of command, when the troops
advanced, to begin a general conflagration. By June 1 the
refugees were collected on the western shore of Utah Lake, fifty
miles south of Salt Lake City. What a picture of discomfort and
positive suffering this settlement presented can be partly
imagined. The town of Provo near by could accommodate but a few
of the new-comers, and for dwellings the rest had recourse to
covered wagons, dugouts, cabins of logs, and shanties of boards--
anything that offered any protection. There was a lack of food,
and it was the old life of the plains again, without the daily
variety presented when the trains were moving.

In his report to Secretary Cass, dated May 2, Governor Cumming,
after describing this exodus as a matter of great concern,

"I shall follow these people and try to rally them. Our military
force could overwhelm most of these poor people, involving men,
women, and children in a common fate; but there are among the
Mormons many brave men accustomed to arms and horses, men who
could fight desperately as guerillas; and, if the settlements are
destroyed, will subject the country to an expensive and
protracted war, without any compensating results. They will, I am
sure, submit to 'trial by their peers,' but they will not brook
the idea of trial by 'juries' composed of 'teamsters and
followers of the camp,' nor any army encamped in their cities or
dense settlements."

What kind of justice their idea of "trial by their peers" meant
was disclosed in the judicial history of the next few years. This
report, which also recited the insults the governor had received
in the Tabernacle, was sent to Congress on June 10 by President
Buchanan, with a special message, setting forth that he had
reason to believe that "our difficulties with the territory have
terminated, and the reign of the constitution and laws been
restored," and saying that there was no longer any use of calling
out the authorized regiments of volunteers.


Governor Cumming's report of May 2 did not reach Washington until
June 9, but the President's volte-face had begun before that
date, and when the situation in Utah was precisely as it was when
he had assured Colonel Kane that he would send no agent to the
Mormons while they continued their defiant attitude. Under date
of April 6 he issued a proclamation, in which he recited the
outrages on the federal officers in Utah, the warlike attitude
and acts of the Mormon force, which, he pointed out, constituted
rebellion and treason; declared that it was a grave mistake to
suppose that the government would fail to bring them into
submission; stated that the land occupied by the Mormons belonged
to the United States; and disavowed any intention to interfere
with their religion; and then, to save bloodshed and avoid
indiscriminate punishment where all were not equally guilty, he
offered "a free and full pardon to all who will submit themselves
to the just authority of the federal government."

This proclamation was intrusted to two peace commissioners, L. W.
Powell of Kentucky and Major Ben. McCullough of Texas. Powell had
been governor of his state, and was then United States senator-
elect. McCullough had seen service in Texas before the war with
Mexico, and been a daring scout under Scott in the latter war. He
was killed at the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in 1862, in
command of a Confederate corps.

These commissioners were instructed by the Secretary of War to
give the President's proclamation extensive circulation in Utah.
Without entering into any treaty or engagements with the Mormons,
they were to "bring those misguided people to their senses" by
convincing them of the uselessness of resistance, and how much
submission was to their interest. They might, in so doing, place
themselves in communication with the Mormon leaders, and assure
them that the movement of the army had no reference to their
religious tenets. The determination was expressed to see that the
federal officers appointed for the territory were received and
installed, and that the laws were obeyed, and Colonel Kane was
commended to them as likely to be of essential service.

The commissioners set out from Fort Leavenworth on April 25,
travelling in ambulances, their party consisting of themselves,
five soldiers, five armed teamsters, and a wagon master. They
arrived at Camp Scott on May 29, the reenforcements for the
troops following them. The publication of the President's
proclamation was a great surprise to the military. "There was
none of the bloodthirsty excitement in the camp which was
reported in the States to have prevailed there," says Colonel
Brown, "but there was a feeling of infinite chagrin, a
consciousness that the expedition was only a pawn on Mr.
Buchanan's political chessboard; and reproaches against his folly
were as frequent as they were vehement."*

* Atlantic Monthly, April, 1859.

The commissioners were not long in discovering the untrustworthy
character of any advices they might receive from Governor
Cumming. In their report of June 1 to the Secretary of War, they
mentioned his opinion that almost all the military organizations
of the territory had been disbanded, adding, "We fear that the
leaders of the Mormon people have not given the governor correct
information of affairs in the valley." They also declared it to
be of the first importance that the army should advance into the
valley before the Mormons could burn the grass or crops, and they
gave General Johnston the warmest praise.

The commissioners set out for Salt Lake City on June 2, Governor
Cumming who had returned to Camp Scott with Colonel Kane
following them. On reaching the city they found that Young and
the other leaders were with the refugees at Provo. A committee of
three Mormons expressed to the commissioners the wish of the
people that they would have a conference with Young, and on the
l0th Young, Kimball, Wells, and several of the Twelve arrived,
and a meeting was arranged for the following day.

There are two accounts of the ensuing conferences, the official
reports of the commissioners,* which are largely statements of
results, and a Mormon report in the journal kept by Wilford
Woodruff.** At the first conference, the commissioners made a
statement in line with the President's proclamation and with
their instructions, offering pardon on submission, and declaring
the purpose of the government to enforce submission by the
employment of the whole military force of the nation, if
necessary. Woodruff's "reflection" on this proposition was that
the President found that Congress would not sustain him, and so
was seeking a way of retreat. While the conference was in
session, O.P. Rockwell entered and whispered to Young. The
latter, addressing Governor Cumming, asked, "Are you aware that
those troops are on the move toward the city?" The compliant
governor replied, "It cannot be."*** What followed Woodruff thus

* Sen. Doc., 2d Session, 35th Congress, Vol. II, p. 167.

** Quoted in Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City," p. 214.

*** Governor Cumming on June 15 despatched a letter to General
Johnston saying that he had denied the report of the advance of
the army, and that the general was pledged not to advance until
he had received communications from the peace commissioners and
the governor. The general replied on the 19th that he did say he
would not advance until he heard from the governor, but that this
was not a pledge; that his orders from the President were to
occupy the territory; that his supplies had arrived earlier than
anticipated, and that circumstances required an advance at once.

"'Is Brother Dunbar present?' enquired Brigham.

"'Yes, sir,' responded someone. What was coming now?

"'Brother Dunbar, sing Zion.' The Scotch songster came forward
and sang the soul-stirring lines by C. W. Penrose."*

* See p. 498, ante.

Interpreted, this meant, "Stop that army or our peace conference
is ended." Woodruff adds:--

"After the meeting, McCullough and Gov. Cumming took a stroll
together. 'What will you do with such a people?' asked the
governor, with a mixture of admiration and concern. 'D--n them, I
would fight them if I had my way,' answered McCullough. "'Fight
them, would you? You might fight them, but you would never whip
them. They would never know when they were whipped.'"

At the second day's conference Brigham Young uttered his final
defiance and then surrendered. Declaring that he had done nothing
for which he desired the President's forgiveness, he satisfied
the pride of his followers with such declarations as these:--

"I can take a few of the boys here, and, with the help of the
Lord, can whip the whole of the United States. Boys, how do you
feel? Are you afraid of the United States? (Great demonstration
among the brethren.) No. No. We are not afraid of man, nor of
what he can do."

"The United States are going to destruction as fast as they can
go. If you do not believe it, gentlemen, you will soon see it to
your sorrow."

But here was the really important part of his remarks: "Now, let
me say to you peace commissioners, we are willing those troops
should come into our country, but not to stay in our city. They
may pass through it, if needs be, but must not quarter less than
forty miles from us."

Impudent as was this declaration to the representatives of the
government, it marked the end of the "war". The commissioners at
once notified General Johnston that the Mormon leaders had agreed
not to resist the execution of the laws in the territory, and to
consent that the military and civil officers should discharge
their duties. They suggested that the general issue a
proclamation, assuring the people that the army would not
trespass on the rights or property of peaceable citizens, and
this the general did at once.

The Mormon leaders, being relieved of the danger of a trial for
treason, now stood in dread of two things, the quartering of the
army among them, and a vigorous assault on the practice of
polygamy. Judge Eckles's District Court had begun its spring term
at Fort Bridger on April 5, and the judge had charged the grand
jury very plainly in regard to plural marriages. On this subject
he said:--

"It cannot be concealed, gentlemen, that certain domestic
arrangements exist in this territory destructive of the peace,
good order, and morals of society--arrangements at variance with
those of all enlightened and Christian communities in the world;
and, sapping as they do the very foundation of all virtue,
honesty, and morality, it is an imperative duty falling upon you
as grand jurors diligently to inquire into this evil and make
every effort to check its growth.

There is no law in this territory punishing polygamy, but there
is one, however, for the punishment of adultery; and all illegal
intercourse between the sexes, if either party have a husband or
wife living at the time, is adulterous and punishable by
indictment. The law was made to punish the lawless and
disobedient, and society is entitled to the salutary effects of
its execution."

No indictments were found that spring for this offence, but the
Mormons stood in great dread of continued efforts by the judge to
enforce the law as he interpreted it. Of the nature of the real
terms made with the Mormons, Colonel Brown says:--

"No assurances were given by the commissioners upon either of
these subjects. They limited their action to tendering the
President's pardon, and exhorting the Mormons to accept it.
Outside the conferences, however, without the knowledge of the
commissioners, assurances were given on both these subjects by
the Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, which proved
satisfactory to Brigham Young. The exact nature of their pledges
will, perhaps, never be disclosed; but from subsequent
confessions volunteered by the superintendent, who appears to
have acted as the tool of the governor through the whole affair,
it seems probable that they promised explicitly to exert their
influence to quarter the army in Cache Valley, nearly one hundred
miles north of Salt Lake City, and also to procure the removal of
Judge Eckles."*

* Atlantic Monthly, April, 1859. Young told the Mormons at Provo
on June 27, 1858: "We have reason to believe that Colonel Kane,
on his arrival at the frontier, telegraphed to Washington, and
that orders were immediately sent to stop the march of the army
for ten days."--Journal of Discourses, Vol. VII, p. 57.

Captain Marcy had reached Camp Scott on June 8, with his herd of
horses and mules, and Colonel Hoffman with the first division of
the supply train which left Fort Laramie on March 18; on the 10th
Captain Hendrickspn arrived with the remainder of the trains; and
on the 13th the long-expected movement from Camp Scott to the
Mormon city began. To the soldiers who had spent the winter
inactive, except as regards their efforts to keep themselves from
freezing, the order to advance was a welcome one. Late as was the
date, there had been a snowfall at Fort Bridger only three days
before, and the streams were full of water. The column was
prepared therefore for bridge-making when necessary. When the
little army was well under way the scene in the valley through
which ran Black's Fork was an interesting one. The white walls of
Bridger's Fort formed a background, with the remnants of the camp
in the shape of sod chimneys, tent poles, and so forth next in
front, and, slowly leaving all this, the moving soldiers, the
long wagon trains, the artillery carriages and caissons, and on
either flank mounted Indians riding here and there, satisfying
their curiosity with this first sight of a white man's army. The
news that the Mormons had abandoned their idea of resistance
reached the troops the second day after they had started, and
they had nothing more exciting to interest them on the way than
the scenery and the Mormon fortifications. Salt Lake City was
reached on the 26th, and the march through it took place that
day. To the soldiers, nothing was visible to indicate any
abandonment of the hostile attitude of the Mormons, much less any

Their leaders had returned to the camp at Provo, and the only
civilians in the city were a few hundred who had, for special
reasons, been granted permission to return. The only woman in the
whole city was Mrs. Cumming. The Mormons had been ordered indoors
early that morning by the guard; every flag on a public building
had been taken down; every window was closed. The regimental
bands and the creaking wagons alone disturbed the utter silence.
The peace commissioners rode with General Johnston, and the whole
force encamped on the river Jordan, just within the city limits.
Two days later, owing to a lack of wood and pasturage there, they
were moved about fifteen miles westward, near the foot of the
mountains. Disregarding Young's expressed wishes, and any
understanding he might have had with Governor Cumming, General
Johnston selected Cedar Valley on Lake Utah for one of the three
posts he was ordered to establish in the territory, and there his
camp was pitched on July 6.

Governor Cumming prepared a proclamation to the inhabitants of
the territory, announcing that all persons were pardoned who
submitted to the law, and that peace was restored, and inviting
the refugees to return to their homes. The governor and the peace
commissioners made a trip to the Mormon camps, and addressed
gatherings at Provo and Lehi. The governor bustled about
everywhere, assuring every one that all the federal officers
would "hold sacred the amnesty and pardon by the President of the
United States, by G-d, sir, yes," and receiving from Young the
sneering reply, "We know all about it, Governor." On July 4., no
northward movement of the people having begun, Cumming told Young
that he intended to publish his proclamation. "Do as YOU please,"
was the contemptuous reply; "to-morrow I shall get upon the
tongue of my wagon, and tell the people that I am going home, and
they can do as THEY please."*

* Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City," p. 226.

Young did so, and that day the backward march of the people
began. The real governor was the head of the church.


We may here interrupt the narrative of events subsequent to the
restoration of peace in the territory, with the story of the most
horrible massacre of white people by religious fanatics of their
own race that has been recorded since that famous St.
Bartholemew's night in Paris--the story of the Mountain Meadows
Massacre. Committed on Friday, September 11, 1857,--four days
before the date of Young's proclamation forbidding the United
States troops to enter the territory--it was a considerable time
before more than vague rumors of the crime reached the Eastern
states. No inquest or other investigation was held by Mormon
authority, no person participating in the slaughter was arrested
by a Mormon officer; and, when officers of the federal government
first visited the scene, in the spring of 1859, all that remained
to tell the tale were human skulls and other bones lying where
the wolves and coyotes had left them, with scraps of clothing
caught here and there upon the vines and bushes. Dr. Charles
Brewer, the assistant army surgeon who was sent with a detail to
bury the remains in May, 1859, says in his gruesome report:--

"I reached a ravine fifty yards from the road, in which I found
portions of the skeletons of many bodies,--skulls, bones, and
matted hair,--most of which, on examination, I concluded to be
those of men. Three hundred and fifty yards further on another
assembly of human remains was found, which, by all appearance,
had been left to decay upon the surface; skulls and bones, most
of which I believed to be those of women, some also of children,
probably ranging from six to twelve years of age. Here, too, were
found masses of women's hair, children's bonnets, such as are
generally used upon the plains, and pieces of lace, muslin,
calicoes, and other materials. Many of the skulls bore marks of
violence, being pierced with bullet holes, or shattered by heavy
blows, or cleft with some sharp-edged instrument."*

* Sen. Doc. No. 42, 1st Session, 36th Congress.

More than seventeen years passed before officers of the United
States succeeded in securing the needed evidence against any of
the persons responsible for these wholesale murders, and a jury
which would bring in a verdict of guilty. Then a single Mormon
paid the penalty of his crime. He died asserting that he was the
one victim surrendered by the Mormon church to appease the public
demand for justice. The closest students of the Mountain Meadows
Massacre and of Brigham Young's rule will always give the most
credence to this statement of John D. Lee. Indeed, to acquit
Young of responsibility for this crime, it would be necessary to
prove that the sermons and addresses in the journal of Discourses
are forgeries.

In the summer of 1857 a party was made up in Arkansas to cross
the plains to Southern California by way of Utah, under direction
of a Captain Fancher.* This party differed from most emigrant
parties of the day both in character and equipment. It numbered
some thirty families,--about 140 individuals,--men, women, and
children. They were people of means, several of them travelling
in private carriages, and their equipment included thirty horses
and mules, and about six hundred head of cattle, when they
arrived in Utah. Most of them seem to have been Methodists, and
they had a preacher of that denomination with them. Prayers were
held in camp every night and morning, and they never travelled on
Sundays. They did not hurry on, as the gold seekers were wont to
do in those days, but made their trip one of pleasure, sparing
themselves and their animals, and enjoying the beauties and
novelties of the route.**

* Stenhouse says that travelling the same route, and encamping
near the Arkansans, was a company from Missouri who called
themselves "Missouri Wildcats," and who were so boisterous that
the Arkansans were warned not to travel with them to Utah.
Whitney says that the two parties travelled several days apart
after leaving Salt Lake City. No mention of a separate company of
Missourians appears in the official and court reports of the

** Jacob Forney, in his official report, says that he made the
most careful inquiry regarding the conduct of the emigrants after
they entered the territory, and could testify that the company
conducted themselves with propriety." In the years immediately
following the massacre, when the Mormons were trying to attribute
the crime to Indians, much was said about the party having
poisoned a spring and caused the death of Indians and their
cattle. Forney found that one ox did die near their camp, but
that its death was caused by a poisonous weed. Whitney, the
church historian, who of course acquits the church of any
responsibility for the massacre, draws a very black picture of
the emigrants, saying, for instance, that at Cedar Creek "their
customary proceeding of burning fences, whipping the heads off
chickens, or shooting them in the streets or private dooryards,
to the extreme danger of the inhabitants, was continued. One of
them, a blustering fellow riding a gray horse, flourished his
pistol in the face of the wife of one of the citizens, all the
time making insulting proposals and uttering profane threats."--
"History of Utah," Vol. I, p. 696.

Every emigrant train for California then expected to restock in
Utah. The Mormons had profited by this traffic, and such a thing
as non-intercourse with travellers in the way of trade was as yet
unheard of. But Young was now defying the government, and his
proclamation of September 15 had declared that "no person shall
be allowed to pass or repass into or through or from this
territory without a permit from the proper officer." To a
constituency made up so largely of dishonest members, high and
low, as Young himself conceded the Mormon body politic to be, the
outfit of these travellers was very attractive. There was a
motive, too, in inflicting punishment on them, merely because
they were Arkansans, and the motive was this:--

Parley P. Pratt was sent to explore a southern route from Utah to
California in 1849. He reached San Francisco from Los Angeles in
the summer of 1851, remaining there until June, 1855. He was a
fanatical defender of polygamy after its open proclamation,
challenging debate on the subject in San Francisco, and issuing
circulars calling on the people to repent as "the Kingdom of God
has come nigh unto you." While in San Francisco, Pratt induced
the wife of Hector H. McLean, a custom-house official, the mother
of three children, to accept the Mormon faith and to elope with
him to Utah as his ninth wife. The children were sent to her
parents in Louisiana by their father, and there she sometime
later obtained them, after pretending that she had abandoned the
Mormon belief. When McLean learned of this he went East, and
traced his wife and Pratt to Houston, Texas, and thence to Fort
Gibson, near Van Buren, Arkansas. There he had Pratt arrested,
but there seemed to be no law under which he could be held. As
soon as Pratt was released, he left the place on horseback.
McLean, who had found letters from Pratt to his wife at Fort
Gibson which increased his feeling against the man,* followed him
on horseback for eight miles, and then, overtaking him, shot him
so that he died in two hours.** It was in accordance with Mormon
policy to hold every Arkansan accountable for Pratt's death, just
as every Missourian was hated because of the expulsion of the
church from that state.

* Van Buren Intelligencer, May 15, 1857.

** See the story in the New York Times of May 28, 1857, copied
from the St. Louis Democrat and St. Louis Republican.

When the company pitched camp on the river Jordan their food
supplies were nearly exhausted, and their draught animals needed
rest and a chance to recuperate. They knew nothing of the
disturbed relations between the Mormons and the government when
they set out, and they were astonished now to be told that they
must break camp and move on southward. But they obeyed. At
American Fork, the next settlement, they offered some of their
worn-out animals in exchange for fresh ones, and visited the town
to buy provisions. There was but one answer--nothing to sell.
Southward they continued, through Provo, Springville, Payson,
Salt Creek, and Fillmore, at all settlements making the same
effort to purchase the food of which they stood in need, and at
all receiving the same reply.

So much were their supplies now reduced that they hastened on
until Corn Creek was reached; there they did obtain a little
relief, some Indians selling them about thirty bushels of corn.
But at Beaver, a larger place, nonintercourse was again
proclaimed, and at Parowan, through which led the road built by
the general government, they were forbidden to pass over this
directly through the town, and the local mill would not even
grind their own corn. At Cedar Creek, one of the largest southern
settlements, they were allowed to buy fifty bushels of wheat, and
to have it and their corn ground at John D. Lee's mill. After a
day's delay they started on, but so worn out were their animals
that it took them three days to reach Iron Creek, twenty miles
beyond, and two more days to reach Mountain Meadows, fifteen
miles farther south.

These "meadows" are a valley, 350 miles south of Salt Lake City,
about five miles long by one wide. They are surrounded by
mountains, and narrow at the lower end to a width of 400 yards,
where a gap leads out to the desert. A large spring near this gap
made that spot a natural resting-place, and there the emigrants
pitched their camp. Had they been in any way suspicious of Indian
treachery they would not have stopped there, because, from the
elevations on either side, they were subject to rifle fire. Their
anxiety, however, was not about the Indians, whom they had found
friendly, but about the problem of making the trip of seventy
days to San Bernardino, across a desert country, with their
wornout animals and their scant supplies. Had Mormon cruelty
taken only the form of withholding provisions and forage from
this company, its effect would have satisfied their most evil

On the morning of Monday, September 7, still unsuspicious of any
form of danger, their camp was suddenly fired upon by Indians,
(and probably by some white men disguised as Indians). Seven of
the emigrants were killed in this attack and sixteen were
wounded. Unexpected as was this manifestation of hostility, the
company was too well organized to be thrown into a panic. The
fire was returned, and one Indian was killed, and two chiefs
fatally wounded. The wagons were corralled at once as a sort of
fortification, and the wheels were chained together. In the
centre of this corral a rifle pit was dug, large enough to hold
all their people, and in this way they were protected from shots
fired at them from either side of the valley. In this little fort
they successfully defended themselves during that and the ensuing
three days. Not doubting that Indians were their only assailants,
two of their number succeeded in escaping from the camp on a
mission to Cedar City to ask for assistance. These messengers
were met by three Mormons, who shot one of them dead, and wounded
the other; the latter seems to have made his way back to the

The Arkansans soon suffered for water, as the spring was a
hundred yards distant. Two of them during one day made a dash,
carrying buckets, and got back with them safely, under a heavy

* Lee denies positively a story that the Mormons shot two little
girls who were dressed in white and sent out for water. He says
that when the Arkansans saw a white man in the valley (Lee
himself) they ran up a white flag and sent two little boys to
talk with him; that he refused to see them, as he was then
awaiting orders, and that he kept the Indians from shooting them.
"Mormonism Unveiled," p. 231.

With some reenforcements from the south, the Indians now numbered
about four hundred. They shot down some seventy head of the
emigrants' cattle, and on Wednesday evening made another attack
in force on the camp, but were repulsed. Still another attack the
next morning had the same result. This determined resistance
upset the plans of the Mormons who had instigated the Indian
attacks. They had expected that the travellers would be overcome
in the first surprise, and that their butchery would easily be
accounted for as the result of an Indian raid on their camp. But
they were not to be balked of their object. To save themselves
from the loss of life that would be entailed by a charge on the
Arkansans' defences, they resorted to a scheme of the most
deliberate treachery.

On Friday, the 11th, a Mormon named William Bateman was sent
forward with a flag of truce. The other undisguised Mormons
remained in concealment, and the Indians had been instructed to
keep entirely out of sight. The beleaguered company were
delighted to see a white man, and at once sent one of their
number to meet him. Their ammunition was almost exhausted, their
dead were unburied in their midst, and their situation was
desperate. Bateman, following out his instructions, told the
representative of the emigrants that the Mormons had come to
their assistance, and that, if they would place themselves in the
white men's hands and follow directions, they would be conducted
in safety to Cedar City, there to await a proper opportunity for
proceeding on their journey.* This plan was agreed to without any
delay, and John D. Lee was directed by John M. Higbee, major of
the Iron Militia, and chief in command of the Mormon party, to go
to the camp to see that the plot agreed upon was carried out,
Samuel McMurdy and Samuel Knight following him with two wagons
which were a part of the necessary equipment.

* This account follows Lee's confession, "Mormonism Unveiled," p.
236 ff.

Never had a man been called upon to perform a more dastardly part
than that which was assigned to Lee. Entering the camp of the
beleaguered people as their friend, he was to induce them to
abandon their defences, give up all their weapons, separate the
adults from the children and wounded, who were to be placed in
the wagons, and then, at a given signal, every one of the party
was to be killed by the white men who walked by their sides as
their protectors. Lee draws a picture of his feelings on entering
the camp which ought to be correct, even if circumstances lead
one to attribute it to the pen of a man who naturally wished to
find some extenuation for himself: "I doubt the power of man
being equal to even imagine how wretched I felt. No language can
describe my feelings. My position was painful, trying, and awful;
my brain seemed to be on fire; my nerves were for a moment
unstrung; humanity was overpowering as I thought of the cruel,
unmanly part that I was acting. Tears of bitter anguish fell in
streams from my eyes; my tongue refused its office; my faculties
were dormant, stupefied and deadened by grief. I wished that the

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