Home Story Of

In Utah

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
Even More On The History Of Mormonism
Even More On The Religious Puzzle
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
History Of Mormonism
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Introductory Remarks
Last Days At Kirtland
More On Mormonism Social Puzzle
More On The History Of Mormonism
More On The Religious Puzzle
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Mormonism The Political Puzzle
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Notes On The History Of Mormonism
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Sidney Rigdon
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Political Puzzle
The Political Puzzle Continued
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Reformation
The Religious Puzzle
The Religious Puzzle Notes
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Smith Family
The Social And Society Puzzle
The Social Puzzle
The Social Puzzle Notes
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts

The Story Of The Mormons

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Brigham Young
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Last Days At Kirtland
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Sidney Rigdon
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Smith Family
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts

The Mormon War

The government at Washington and the people of the Eastern states
knew a good deal more about Mormonism in 1856 than they did when
Fillmore gave the appointment of governor to Young in 1850. The
return of one federal officer after another from Utah with a
report that his office was untenable, even if his life was not in
danger, the practical nullification of federal law, and the light
that was beginning to be shed on Mormon social life by
correspondents of Eastern newspapers had aroused enough public
interest in the matter to lead the politicians to deem it worthy
of their attention. Accordingly, the Republican National
Convention, in June, 1856, inserted in its platform a plank
declaring that the constitution gave Congress sovereign power
over the territories, and that "it is both the right and the duty
of Congress to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of
barbarism--polygamy and slavery."

A still more striking proof of the growing political importance
of the Mormon question was afforded by the attention paid to it
by Stephen A. Douglas in a speech in Springfield, Illinois, on
June 12, 1856, when he was hoping to secure the Democratic
nomination for President. This former friend of the Mormons,
their spokesman in the Senate, now declared that reports from the
territory seemed to justify the belief that nine-tenths of its
inhabitants were aliens; that all were bound by horrid oaths and
penalties to recognize and maintain the authority of Brigham
Young; and that the Mormon government was forming alliances with
the Indians, and organizing Danite bands to rob and murder
American citizens. "Under this view of the subject," said he, "I
think it is the duty of the President, as I have no doubt it is
his fixed purpose, to remove Brigham Young and all his followers
from office, and to fill their places with bold, able, and true
men; and to cause a thorough and searching investigation into all
the crimes and enormities which are alleged to be perpetrated
daily in that territory under the direction of Brigham Young and
his confederates; and to use all the military force necessary to
protect the officers in discharge of their duties and to enforce
the laws of the land. When the authentic evidence shall arrive,
if it shall establish the facts which are believed to exist, it
will become the duty of Congress to apply the knife, and cut out
this loathsome, disgusting ulcer."*

* Text of the speech in New York Times of June 23, 1856.

This, of course, caused the Mormons to pour out on Judge Douglas
the vials of their wrath, and, when he failed to secure the
presidential nomination, they found in his defeat the
verification of one of Smith's prophecies.

The Mormons, on their part, had never ceased their demands for
statehood, and another of their efforts had been made in the
preceding spring, when a new constitution of the State of Deseret
was adopted by a convention over which the notorious Jedediah M.
Grant presided, and sent to Washington with a memorial pleading
for admission to the Union, "that another star, shedding mild
radiance from the tops of the mountains, midway between the
borders of the Eastern and Western civilization, may add its
effulgence to that bright light now so broadly illumining the
governmental pathway of nations"; and declaring that "the loyalty
of Utah has been variously and most thoroughly tested." Congress
treated this application with practical contempt, the Senate
laying the memorial on the table, and the chairman of the House
Committee on Territories, Galusha A. Grow, refusing to present
the constitution to the House.

Alarmed at the manifestations of public feeling in the East, and
the demand that President Buchanan should do something to
vindicate at least the dignity of the government, the Mormon
leaders and press renewed their attacks on the character of all
the federal officers who had criticized them, and the Deseret
News urged the President to send to Utah "one or more civilians
on a short visit to look about them and see what they can see,
and return and report." The value of observations by such "short
visitors" on such occasions need not be discussed.

President Buchanan, instead of following any Mormon advice, soon
after his inauguration directed the organization of a body of
troops to march to Utah to uphold the federal authorities, and in
July, after several persons had declined the office, appointed as
governor of Utah Alfred Cumming of Georgia. The appointee was a
brother of Colonel William Cumming, who won renown as a soldier
in the War of 1812, who was a Union party leader in the
nullification contest in Jackson's time, and who was a
participant in a duel with G. McDuffie that occupied a good deal
of attention. Alfred Cumming had filled no more important
positions than those of mayor of Augusta, Georgia, sutler in the
Mexican War, and superintendent of Indian affairs on the upper
Missouri. A much more commendable appointment made at the same
time was that of D. R. Eckles, a Kentuckian by birth, but then a
resident of Indiana, to be chief justice of the territory. John
Cradlebaugh and C. E. Sinclair were appointed associate justices,
with John Hartnett as secretary, and Peter K. Dotson as marshal.
The new governor gave the first illustration of his conception of
his duties by remaining in the East, while the troops were
moving, asking for an increase of his salary, a secret service
fund, and for transportation to Utah. Only the last of these
requests was complied with.

President Buchanan's position as regards Utah at this time was
thus stated in his first annual message to Congress (December 8,

"The people of Utah almost exclusively belong to this [Mormon]
church, and, believing with a fanatical spirit that he [Young] is
Governor of the Territory by divine appointment, they obey his
commands as if these were direct revelations from heaven. If,
therefore, he chooses that his government shall come into
collision with the government of the United States, the members
of the Mormon church will yield implicit obedience to his will.
Unfortunately, existing facts leave but little doubt that such is
his determination. Without entering upon a minute history of
occurrences, it is sufficient to say that all the officers of the
United States, judicial and executive, with the single exception
of two Indian agents, have found it necessary for their own
safety to withdraw from the Territory, and there no longer
remained any government in Utah but the despotism of Brigham
Young. This being the condition of affairs in the Territory, I
could not mistake the path of duty. As chief executive
magistrate, I was bound to restore the supremacy of the
constitution and laws within its limits. In order to effect this
purpose, I appointed a new governor and other federal officers
for Utah, and sent with them a military force for their
protection, and to aid as a posse comitatus in case of need in
the execution of the laws.

"With the religious opinions of the Mormons, as long as they
remained mere opinions, however deplorable in themselves and
revolting to the moral and religious sentiments of all
Christendom, I have no right to interfere. Actions alone, when in
violation of the constitution and laws of the United States,
become the legitimate subjects for the jurisdiction of the civil
magistrate. My instructions to Governor Cumming have, therefore,
been framed in strict accordance with these principles."

This statement of the situation of affairs in Utah, and of the
duty of the President in the circumstances, did not admit of
criticism. But the country at that time was in a state of intense
excitement over the slavery question, with the situation in
Kansas the centre of attention; and it was charged that Buchanan
put forward the Mormon issue as a part of his scheme to "gag the
North" and force some question besides slavery to the front; and
that Secretary of War Floyd eagerly seized the opportunity to
remove "the flower of the American army" and a vast amount of
munition and supplies to a distant place, remote from Eastern
connections. The principal newspapers in this country were
intensely partisan in those days, and party organs like the New
York Tribune could be counted on to criticise any important step
taken by the Democratic President. Such Mormon agents as Colonel
Kane and Dr. Bernhisel, the Utah Delegate to Congress, were doing
active work in New York and Washington, and some of it with
effect. Horace Greeley, in his "Overland journey," describing his
call on Brigham Young a few years later, says that he was
introduced by "my friend Dr. Bernhisel." The "Tribune Almanac"
for 1859, in an article on the Utah troubles, quoted as "too
true" Young's declaration that "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."* Ulterior
motives aside, no President ever had a clearer duty than had
Buchanan to maintain the federal authority in Utah, and to secure
to all residents in and travellers through that territory the
rights of life and property. The just ground for criticising him
is, not that he attempted to do this, but that he faltered by the

* Greeley's leaning to the Mormon side was quite persistent,
leading him to support Governor Cumming a little later against
the federal judges. The Mormons never forgot this. A Washington
letter of April 24, 1874, to the New York Times said: "When Mr.
Greeley was nominated for President the Mormons heartily hoped
for his election. The church organs and the papers taken in the
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 deg.,
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.

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