Extract from C. V. Waite (1866-8) pp. 60-88
The darkest chapter of Mormon history is now before us. It becomes my duty to relate one of the most perfidious acts of cruelty and wholesale butchery to be found in the annals of this or any other country. In doing so, free use will be made of the statements of Judge Cradlebaugh and others who were thoroughly conversant with all the facts.
The following is from the able speech of Judge Cradlebaugh, delivered in the House of Representatives on the 7th of February, 1863:
"As one of the Associate Justices of the Territory of Utah, in the month of April, 1859, I commenced and held a term of the District Court for the Second Judicial District, in the city of Provo, about sixty miles south of Salt Lake City. Upon my requisition, Gen. A. S. Johnson, in command of the military department, furnished a small military force for the purpose of protecting the court. A grand jury was empanelled, and their attention was pointedly and specifically called to a great number of crimes that had been committed in the immediate vicinity, cases of public notoriety, both as to the offence and the persons who had perpetrated the same; (for none of these things had 'been done in a corner'). Their perpetrators had scorned alike concealment or apology, before the arrival of the American forces. The jury thus instructed, though kept in session two weeks, utterly
[Waite, 1868: p. 61]
refused to do anything, and were finally discharged, as an evidently useless appendage of a court of justice. But the court was determined to try a last resource, to bring to light and to punishment those guilty of the atrocious crimes which confessedly had been committed in the Territory, and the session continued. Bench warrants, based upon sworn information, were issued against the alleged criminals, and United States Marshal Dotson, a most excellent and reliable officer, aided by a military posse, procured on his own request, had succeeded in making a few arrests. A general stampede immediately took place among the Mormons, and what I wish to call your attention to, as particularly noticeable, is the fact that this occurred more especially among the church officials and civil officers. * * *
"Sitting as a committing magistrate, complaint after complaint was made before me of murders and robberies. Among these I may mention, as peculiarly and shockingly prominent, the murder of Forbes, the assassination of the Parrishes and Potter, of Jones and his mother, of the Aiken party, of which there were six in all; and, worst and darkest in the appalling catalogue of blood, the cowardly, cold-blooded butchery and robbery at the Mountain Meadows. At that time there still lay, all ghastly, under the sun of Utah, the unburied skeletons of one hundred and nineteen men, women, and children, the hapless, hopeless victims of the Mormon creed. * * *
"The scene of this horrible massacre at the Mountain Meadows is situate about three hundred and twenty miles west of south from Great Salt Lake City, on the road leading to Los Angeles, in California. I was the first federal Judge in that part of the Territory after the occurrence, my district extending from a short distance below Salt Lake City to the south end of the Territory. I determined to visit that part of my district, and, if possible, expose the persons engaged in the massacre, which I did in the early part of the year 1859. I accordingly embraced an opportunity of accompanying a small detachment of soldiers, who were being sent to that section by Gen. Johnson, having requested the Marshal of the Territory to accompany, or to send a deputy. He accordingly sent deputy William H. Rodgers, who went with me.
"The command went as far south as the St. Clara, twenty miles beyond the Mountain Meadows, where we camped, and remained
[Waite, 1868: p. 62]
about a week. During our stay there I was visited by the Indian chiefs of that section, who gave me their version of the massacre. They admitted that a portion of their men were engaged in the massacre, but were not there when the attack commenced. One of them told me, in the presence of the others, that after the attack had been made, a white man came to their camp with a piece of paper, which, he said, Briyham Young had sent, that directed them to go and help to whip the emigrants. A portion of the band went, but did not assist in the fight. He gave as a reason, that the emigrants had long guns, and were good shots. He said that his brother [this chief's name was Jackson] was shot while running across the Meadow, at a distance of two hundred yards from the corral where the emigrants were. He said the Mormons were all painted. He said the Indians got a part of the clothing; and gave the names of John D. Lee, President Haight, and Bishop Higbee, as the big captains. It might be proper here to remark that the Indians in the southern part of the Territory of Utah are not numerous, and are a very low, cowardly, beastly set, very few of them being armed with guns. They are not formidable. I believe all in the southern part of the Territory would, under no circumstances, carry on a fight against ten white men.
"From our camp on the St. Clara we again went back to the Mountain Meadows, camping near where the massacre had occurred. The Meadow is about five miles in length and one in width, running to quite a narrow point at the southwest end, being higher at the middle than either end. It is the divide between the waters that flow into the Great Basin and those emptying into the Colorado River. A very large spring rises in the south end of the narrow part. It was on the north side of this spring the emigrants were camped. The bank rises from the spring eight or ten feet, then extends off to the north about two hundred yards, on a level. A range of hills is there reached, rising perhaps fifty or sixty feet. Back of this range is quite a valley, which extends down until it has an outlet, three or four hundred yards below the spring, into the main meadow.
"The first attack was made by going down this ravine, then following up the bed of the spring to near it, then at daylight firing upon the men who were about the camp-fires, in which attack ten or twelve of the emigrants were killed or wounded;
[Waite, 1868: p. 63]
the stock of the emigrants having been previously driven behind the hill, and up the ravine.
"The emigrants soon got in condition to repel the attack, shoved their wagons together, sunk the wheels in the earth, and threw up quite an intrenchment. The fighting after continued as a siege; the assailants occupying the hill, and firing at any of the emigrants that exposed themselves, having a barricade of stones along the crest of the hill as a protection. The siege was continued for five days, the besiegers appearing in the garb of Indians. The Mormons, seeing that they could not capture the train without making some sacrifice of life on their part, and getting weary of the fight, resolved to accomplish by strategy what they were not able to do by force. The fight had been going on for five days, and no aid was received from any quarter, although the family of Jacob Hamlin, the Indian agent, were living in the upper end of the Meadow, and within hearing of the reports of the guns.
"Who can imagine the feelings of these men, women, and children, surrounded, as they supposed themselves to be, by savages? Fathers and mothers only can judge what they must have been. Far off, in the Rocky Mountains, without transportation, for their cattle, horses and mules had been run off, -- not knowing what their fate was to be, -- we can but poorly realize the gloom that pervaded the camp.
"A wagon is descried, far up the Meadows. Upon its nearer approach, it is observed to contain armed men. See! now they raise a white flag! All is joy in the corral. A general shout is raised, and in an instant, a little girl, dressed in white, is placed at an opening between two of the wagons, as a response to the signal. The wagon approaches; the occupants are welcomed into the corral, the emigrants little suspecting that they were entertaining the fiends that had been besieging them.
"This wagon contained President Haight and Bishop John D. Lee, among others of the Mormon Church. They professed to be on good terms with the Indians, and represented the Indians as being very mad. They also proposed to intercede, and settle the matter with the Indians. After several hours of parley, they, having apparently visited the Indians, gave the ultimatum of the Indians; which was, that the emigrants should march out of their camp, leaving everything behind them, even their guns. It was
[Waite, 1868: p. 64]
promised by the Mormon bishops that they would bring a force, and guard the emigrants back to the settlements.
"The terms were agreed to, the emigrants being desirous of Saving the lives of their families. The Mormons retired, and subsequently appeared at the corral with thirty or forty armed men. The emigrants were marched out, the women and children in front, and the men behind, the Mormon guard being in the rear. When they had marched in this way about a mile, at a given signal, the slaughter commenced. The men were most all shot down at the first fire from the guard. Two only escaped, who fled to the desert, and were followed 150 miles before they were overtaken and slaughtered.
"The women and children ran on, two or three hundred yards further, when they were overtaken, and with the aid of the Indians they were slaughtered. Seventeen only of the small children were saved, the eldest being only seven years. Thus, on the 10th day of September, 1857, was consummated one of the most cruel, cowardly, and bloody murders known in our history. Upon the way from the Meadows, a young Indian pointed out to me the place where the Mormons painted and disguised themselves.
"I went from the Meadows to Cedar City; the distance is thirty-five or forty miles. I contemplated holding an examining court there, should Gen. Johnson furnish me protection, and also protect witnesses, and furnish the Marshal a posse to aid in making arrests. While there I issued warrants, on affidavits filed before me, for the arrest of the following named persons:
"Jacob Haight, President of the Cedar City Stake; Bishop John M. Higbee and Bishop John D. Lee; Columbus Freeman, William Slade, John Willis, William Riggs, _____ Ingram, Daniel McFarlan, William Siewart, Ira Allen and son, Thomas Cartwright, E. Welean, William Halley, Jabes Nomlen, John Mangum, James Price, John W. Adair, _____ Tyler, Joseph Smith, Samuel Pollock, John McFarlan, Nephi Johnson, _____ Thornton, Joel White, _____ Harrison, Charles Hopkins. Joseph Elang, Samuel Lewis, Sims Matheney, James Mangum, Harrison Pierce, Samuel Adair, F. C. McDulange, Wm. Bateman, Ezra Curtis, and Alexander Loveridge.
"In a few days after arriving at Cedar City, Capt. Campbell arrived, with his command, from the Meadows; on his return, he advised me that he had received orders, for his command entire,
[Waite, 1868: p. 65]
to return to Camp Floyd; the General having received orders from Washington that the military should not be used in protecting the courts, or in acting as a posse to aid the Marshal in making arrests.
"While at Cedar City I was visited by a number of apostate Mormons, who gave me every assurance that they would furnish an abundance of evidence in regard to the matter so soon as they were assured of military protection. In fact, some of the persons engaged in the act came to sec me in the night, and gave a full account of the matter, -- intending when protection was at hand, to become witnesses. They claimed that they had been forced into the matter by the bishops. Their statements corroborated what the Indians had previously said to me. Mr. Rodgers, the Deputy Marshal, was also engaged in hunting up the children, survivors of the massacre. They were all found in the custody of the Mormons. Three or four of the eldest recollect and relate all the incidents of the massacre, corroborating the statements of the Indians, and the statements made by the citizens of Cedar City to me.
"These children are now in the south part of Missouri, or north part of Arkansas; their testimony could soon be taken, if desired. No one can depict the glee of these infants, when they realized that they were in the custody of what they called 'the Americans,' -- for such is the designation of those not Mormons. They say they never were in the custody of the Indians. I recollect of one of them, 'John Calvin Sorrow,' after he found he was safe, and before he was brought away from Salt Lake City, although not yet nine years of age, sitting in a contemplative mood, no doubt thinking of the extermination of his family, saying: 'Oh, I wish I was a man; I know what I would do; I would shoot John D. Lee; I saw him shoot my mother.' I shall never forget how he looked.
"Time will not permit me to elaborate the matter. I shall barely sum up, and refer every member of this House, who may have the least doubt about the guilt of the Mormons in this massacre, and the other crimes to which I have alluded, to the evidence published in the appendix hereto."
To the foregoing thrilling recital, I will only add: The train consisted of 40 wagons, 800 head of cattle, and about 60 horses and mules. As near as can be ascertained, there
[Waite, 1868: p. 66]
were about 150 men and women, besides many children. They passed through Salt Lake City, and were there joined by some few Mormons, who were disaffected, and sought to travel under their protection.
A revelation from Brigham Young, as Great Grand Archee, or God, was despatched to President J. C. Haight, Bishop Higbee, and J. D. Lee, commanding them to raise all the forces tbey could muster and trust, follow those cursed gentiles (so read the revelation), attack them, disguised as Indians, and with the arrows of the Almighty make a clean sweep of them, and leave none to tell the tale; and if they needed any assistance, they were commanded to hire the Indians as their allies, promising them a share of the booty. They were to be neither slothful nor negligent in their duty, and to be punctual in sending the teams back to him before winter set in, for this was the mandate of Almighty God.
On the following day a council of all the faithful was held at Cedar City. Many attended from the neighboring settlements; the revelation was read, and the destiny of the unsuspecting emigrants sealed. Plans were suggested, discussed, and adopted, and the men designated to carry out their hellish designs. Instructions were given for them to assemble at a small spring, but a short distance to the left of the road leading into the Meadows, -- a number of intervening hills rendering it a fit place for concealment. Here they painted and disguised themselves as Indians, and when ready to commence operations, by a well-known Indian trail proceeded to the Meadows.
For the benefit of those who may still be disposed to doubt the guilt of Young and his Mormons in this transaction, the testimony is here collated, and circumstances given, which go, not merely to implicate, but to fasten conviction upon them, by "confirmations strong as proofs from Holy Writ,"
1. The evidence of Mormons themselves, engaged in the
[Waite, 1868: p. 67]
affair, as shown by the statements of Judge Cradlebaugh and Deputy-Marshal Rodgers.
2. The statements of Indians in the neighborhood of the massacre: these statements are shown, not only by Cradlebaugh and Rodgers, but by a number of military officers, and by J. Forney, who was, in 1859, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory. To all these were such statements freely and frequently made by the Indians.
3. The testimony of the children saved from the massacre.
4. The children and the property of the emigrants found in possession of the Mormons, and that possession traced back to the very day after the massacre.
5. The failure of Brigham Young to embody any account of it "in his Report as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Also his failure to make any allusion to it whatever from the pulpit, until several years after the occurrence.
6. The failure of the "Deseret News," the Church organ, and the only paper then published in the Territory, to notice the massacre, until several months afterward, and then only to deny that Mormons were engaged in it.
7. The flight to the mountains of men high in authority in the Mormon Church and State, when this affair was brought to the ordeal of a judicial investigation.
8. The testimony of R. P. Campbell, Capt. 2d Dragoons, who was sent in the spring of 1859 to Santa Clara, to protect travellers on the road to California, and to inquire into Indian depredations.
In his report to Major E. J. Porter, Assistant Adjutant General U. S. Army, dated July 6, 1859, he says: --
"These emigrants were here met by the Mormons (assisted by such of the wretched Indians of the neighborhood as they could force or persuade to join), and massacred, with the exception of such infant children as the Mormons thought too young to remember, or tell of the affair.
"The Mormons were led on by John D. Lee, then a high dignitary in the self-styled Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Isaac Haight, now a dignitary in the same."
[Waite, 1868: p. 68]
Again, after relating briefly the massacre, he says:
"These facts were derived from children who did remember, and could tell of the matter; from Indians, and from the Mormons themselves."
9. The testimony of Hon. J. Forney, Superintendent of Indian Affairs.
In his letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs at Washington, dated Provo City, U. T., March, 1859, he says:
"Facts in my possession warrant me in estimating that there was distributed, a lew days after the massacre, among the leading church dignitaries, $30,000 worth of property."
Again, in another letter to the Commissioner, written from Great Salt Lake City, in August of the same year, he says:
"From the evidence in my possession, I am justified in the declaration that this massacre was concocted by white men, and consummated by whites and Indians. The names of many of the whites engaged in this terrible affair have already been given to the proper legal authorities.... The children were sold out to different persons in Cedar City, Harmony, and Painter Creek. Bills are now in my possession from different individuals, asking payment from the Government. I cannot condescend to become the medium of even transmitting such claims to the Department."
The following is from the Annual Report of Superintendent Forney, made in September, 1859:
"Mormons have been accused of aiding the Indians in the commission of this crime. I commenced my inquiries without prejudice or selfish motive, and with the hope that, in the progress of my inquiries, facts would enable me to exculpate all white men from any participation in this tragedy, and saddle the guilt exclusively on the Indians; but, unfortunately, every step in my inquiries satisfied me that the Indians acted only a secondary part. * * * White men were present, and directed the Indians. John D. Lee, of Harmony, told me in his own house, last April, in
[Waite, 1868: p. 69]
presence of two persons, that he was present three successive days during the fight, and was present during the fatal day." * * *
We close the testimony of Forney, by giving entire a letter from him to the Department at Washington,
"SUPERINTENDENT'S OFFICE, UTAH,
GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, September 22, 1859.
"Sir, -- Your letter dated July 2, in which you request me to ascertain the names of white men, if any, implicated in the Mountain Meadow massacre, reached me several weeks since, about 300 miles west of this city.
"I gave, several months ago, to the Attorney-General, and several of the United States Judges, the names of those who I believed were not only implicated, but the hell-deserving scoundrels who concocted and brought to a successful termination the whole affair.
"The following are the names of the persons the most guilty: Isaac T. Haight, Cedar City, president of several settlements south; Bishop Smith, Cedar City; John D. Lee, * Harmony; John M. Higby, Cedar City; Bishop Davis, David Tullis, Santa Clara; Ira Hatch, Santa Clara. These were the cause of the massacre, aided by others. It is to be regretted that nothing has yet been accomplished towards bringing these murderers to justice. I remain,
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"Sup't of Indian Affairs, Utah Territory.
"Hon. A. B. Greenwood,
"Commiss'r Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C."
So far as Brigham Young himself is concerned, the evidence is not so direct, but is scarcely less conclusive.
In addition to the circumstances mentioned, of his failing to report the massacre, or to make any mention of it in his public discourses, and the testimony of the Indians, already referred to; in addition also to the facts concerning the revelation sent from him, -- facts communicated by one intimately acquainted with the secret history of the church; in addition
* John D. Lee is an adopted son of Brigham Young.
[Waite, 1868: p. 70]
to these things, if we reflect for a moment upon the framework of the Mormon Church, we will find therein still more cogent evidence.
The organization of the church is such, that no project of importance is ever undertaken wiihout the express or implied consent of Young, who is in temporal, as well as spiritual matters, the head and source of all authority. Now here was a large train which had lately passed through the place where Young resided, and his feelings and views in relation to it would be well known to the leaders of the church. Can it for a moment be admitted, that members of a community so organized would undertake so important a project as the destruction of that train, requiring, as it did, the concerted action of forty or fifty persons, without the express or implied sanction of him who sat at the head of the community, controlling its every action?
And if such a thing can be supposed possible, would not the perpetrators be immediately called to account for asuming so much responsibility? Reason and evidence all point one way; and add this to the many other acts which stamp Brigham Young as a murderer of the deepest dye, adding to the guilt of homicide that of blasphemy and hypocrisy.
What was the motive which prompted the act? Partly revenge. These emigrants were from Missouri and Arkansas, the scenes of the alleged injuries and persecutions of the Mormons. It was soon after the killing of Parley P. Pratt, in Arkansas, by McLane [sic], whose wife Pratt had abducted. It was at the time, too, when the United States troops were marching to Utah, and a feeling of revenge and retaliation was prevalent, and was, as has been shown, fostered and encouraged by Brigham in his sermons.
But the principal motive was plunder. The train was a very wealthy one. The spoil of the gentile was before them, and it must be appropriated by the Lord's people.
A great portion of the property was taken to Cedar City,
[Waite, 1868: p. 71]
deposited in the tithing office, and there sold out. Forney says, in the Annual Report already quoted from,
"Whoever may have been the perpetrators of this horrible deed, no doubt exists in my mind that they were influenced chiefly by a determination to acquire wealth by robbery." *
It is not within the scope of this work to enter into a relation of the many other murders and outrages committed by the authority or connivance of the Mormon Church. This is given as the most notable one, "ex uno disce omnes" Those who wish to examine into these crimes more fully, are referred to the appendix to the printed speech of Judge Cradlebaugh.
The "Mormon War" having closed, the federal officers, as soon as practicable, assumed their functions, and proceeded to transact business. Federal courts were held, and the authority of the United States again, at least nominally, established in Utah.
In October, 1858, Judge Sinclair opened his court in Salt Lake City. Efforts were made to bring several noted criminals to justice, but everything failed. In the grand jury-room no indictments were found, and murderers and thieves were allowed to go "scot free."
At this term of court a motion was made to expel James Ferguson from the bar, for contempt of court. Ferguson offered to retire from the bar, which was not accepted. He then proposed to plead guilty; but the Judge said, as it was alleged that a Judge of the United States had been insulted
* Several years after the massacre, Major, now General Carlton, visited that region and erected a monument to the memory of the slain. "It was constructed by raising a large pile of rock, in the centre of which was erected a beam, some twelve or fifteen feet in height. Upon one of the stones he caused to be engraved, 'Here lie the bones of one hundred and twenty men, women, and children, from Arkansas, murdered on the 10th day of September, 1857.' Upon a cross-tree, on the beam, he caused to be painted: 'Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay it.' This monument is said to have been destroyed the first time Brigham visited that part of the Territory."
Extract from T. B. H. Stenhouse (1873) pp. 424-28
The latter company was wealthy, and there were around them every indication of comfort, and everything in abundance for pleasant travelling. In addition to the ordinary transportation wagons of emigrants, they had several riding carriages, which betokened the social class of life in which some of the emigrants had moved before setting out on the adventure of western colonization.
[Stenhouse, 1873: p. 427]
They were in no hurry, but travelled leisurely, with the view of nursing the strength of their cattle, horses, and mules, in order to accomplish successfully the long and tedious journey which they had undertaken. In that company there were men, women, and children, of every age, from the venerable patriarch to the baby in arms. It was a bevy of families related to each other by the ties of consanguinity and marriage, with here and there in the train a neighbour who desired to share with them the chances of fortune in the proposed new homes on the golden shores of the Pacific.
One of their number had been a Methodist preacher, and probably most of the adults were members of that denomination. They were moral in language and conduct, and united regularly in morning and evening prayers.
On Sundays they did not travel, but observed it as a day of sacred rest for man and beast. At the appointed hour of service, this brother-preacher assembled his fellow-travellers in a large tent, which served as a meeting-house, within their wagon-circled camp, for the usual religious exercises, and there, on the low, boundless prairies, or in higher altitudes at the base of snow-capped mountains, he addressed them as fervently, and with as much soul-inspiring faith, as if his auditory had been seated comfortably within the old church-walls at home, and they too sang their hymns of praise with grateful, feeling souls, and with hearts impressed with the realization that man was but a speck in the presence of that grand and limitless nature that surrounded them, and of which they were but a microscopic part.
Those who passed the company en route, or travelled with them a part of the way, were favourably impressed with their society, and spoke of them in the kindest terms as an exceedingly fine company of emigrants, such as was seldom seen on the plains.
Though utterly unlike themselves in character and disposition, the "Wild-cats" contracted for them much respect, and came as near to them in travelling as was convenient for the grazing of the cattle and the purposes of the camp at night. Within sight of each other they would form their corrals, but, while the one resounded with vulgar song, boisterous roaring,
[Stenhouse, 1873: p. 428]
and "tall swearing," in the other there was the peace of domestic bliss and conscious rectitude.
A gentleman, a friend of the Author, travelled with this Arkansas company from Fort Bridger to Salt Lake City, and speaks of them in the highest terms: he never travelled with more pleasant companions. Hearing the nightly yells of the "Wild-cats," he advised the Arkansas company to separate from them as much as possible while passing through the settlements, and in going through the Indian country. At that time it was easy to provoke a difficulty; the whole country was excited over the news of the "invading army;" and so much was this gentleman impressed with the necessity of great prudence on the part of the emigrants that, after he had left them on his arrival at Salt Lake City, he afterwards returned and impressed upon the leading men the urgency of refusing to travel further with the Missouri company so near to them. The kindly suggestions were appreciated, and they expressed their desire to act upon them. Up to tin's time the journey of the emigrants had been prosperous, and everything bade fair for a pleasant termination of their travels. Like all other pilgrims, they had counted upon replenishing their stock of provisions at Salt Lake City, and to do tins, and to rest their cattle, they concluded to camp awhile by the Jordan.... (read more of T. B. H. Stenhouse's account, from Ch. 43 of his 1873 Rocky Mountain Saints.)
Extract from H. P. Freece (1908) pp. 25-29
MY DEAR BOY:
You have asked me several times what I knew of the Mountain Meadow Massacre. I dislike to bring to mind those dark days, and would that all might forget those awful crimes. If the leaders of the Mormon Church to-day would live within the law of the land, and observe the rules of common decency, I would refrain from writing of this event or any of the other dark deeds. But since Reed Smoot so boastfully declares that he is "not ashamed of the position and the power of the Mormon Church to-day and the more I study the history of the church the more am I convinced that it is at all times the same," it is well that you know some of the things of which Reed Smoot is not ashamed.
The murdered emigrants were of the Methodist faith and were on their way to California to seek new homes. The chief cause of the massacre was a desire on the part of the Mormons to come into possession of the new wagons, fine horses and the abundant farming implements which the emigrants had; all valued at about three hundred thousand dollars. The first policy was to starve the emigrants. Accordingly one of the apostles was sent ahead of the train to warn the settlers that they must sell these emigrants food for neither man nor beast. For a time this apostle actually traveled with the emigrants, camped near them, and advised them where they might camp and recoup their tired animals before setting out on their journey across the desert. It was on the very spot advised as a resting-place by the apostle, a veritable trap, where the massacre occurred Cane Springs, about forty miles south of Cedar City.
On their way thither, as they were passing through
[Freece, 1909: p. 26]
Cedar City, a young man, Aden by name, met a man whom his father had befriended in Kentucky a few years previous, when the former had been a Mormon missionary in that state. He gave Mr. Aden a meal and allowed him to take some onions away from him. This kindness was deserving of punishment from his Mormon neighbors, and one, Barney Carter, pulled a picket from the fence and struck him over the head, and from that day to the time of his death he remained an idiot.
This company of emigrants were no sooner camped at Cane Springs than they were attacked by a band of Indians, who subsequently proved to be a band of painted Mormons maneuvering under command of John D. Lee, Lieutenant at Cellar City, he being under Brigham Young, the then Governor of Utah Territory. Their repulse was quick and decisive. The emigrants threw up embankments, but they were not in a position to protect themselves, because they were camped between two knolls, from whose tops the Mormons poured in a cross-fire. It was the place selected for them by the apostle, and they had fallen into the trap.
The vigil kept by the besiegers was so severe that it was instant death to go to the spring for water, only a short distance away. Several men were shot down attempting to reach the spring. One of the most cruel and revolting deeds was the cold-blooded murder of two little girls as they were gong after water. The attempt to commit this massacre while posing as Indians proved futile. Accordingly, John D. Lee resorted to strategy. The besiegers were called off, and in a short time the immigrants saw a company of soldiers approaching bearing the Stars and Stripes. Men heaved a sigh of relief, women wept for joy, and the old pastor of the flock knelt down and thanked God for deliverance. Mr. Lee is said to have shed tears when he saw the plight and awful suffering of the people. Kind-hearted Mr. Lee! He had come to their rescue! First
[Freece, 1909: p. 28]
he must talk to the Indians and appease their supposed wrath. Retiring for a pretended consultation, he returned, stating that the Indians had promised to stop the siege, but the emigrants must give up their arms to him, as he was the accredited military authority under Governor Brigham Young, otherwise he could not protect them. Give up their arms? Certainly. Guns, pistols and knives were given up and placed in the wagons with the dead and wounded. The women and children followed behind the wagons and the men came next, each guarded by one of Lee's men, and the company headed toward Cedar City. And now, God help them! When they reached the point of the hill, Bishop Dame cried out, "Israel, do your duty!" And at that command the soldiers murdered the men in cold blood, and then ran forward to join the Indians, who had previously been concealed in the cedars, to complete the massacre. O God! was it not enough that those innocent and tender maids should see fathers and sweethearts slain before their eyes, and then die with them, before they should suffer a thousand deaths and shame? But we close the awful scene. When night came stealing down the mountain side it hid from vulgar gaze the nude and mangled bodies of 130 human beings. The murderers had stripped the bodies and left them to become carrion,
The spoils were sold later at auction by the bishop at Cedar City. The bell on the tabernacle in that city to-day is said to have been taken at the "Siege of Sebastopol," as the Mormons leeringly termed the slaughter. The bodies were finally buried by a lone Mormon, but not until the bones had been picked clean by the coyotes and vultures. Two years later representatives of the War Department, as they were camped on the spot, investigating the massacre, buried the remaining bones. Over these bones were erected a monument, and a cross placed thereon, on which was written: "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
[Freece, 1909: p. 29]
The monument put up by the United States soldiers has almost fallen away, but the remains of the foundation may yet be seen. The meadow to-day is not the beautiful spot that it was. It would seem that the curse of God has fallen on the soil. Where the green grass cheered, there is bleak soil, and the wind blows an unwelcome chill into one's bones as he stands and views the scene of that awful crime. The floods have washed a large and unsightly ravine through the center of the barren waste, and it is almost impassable even on foot. As far as I am able to ascertain, the last Indian who had a share in the massacre died last summer at Panguitch Lake, in Southern Utah, during the tent meetings which the Presbyterian missionaries were conducting there at that time. I have been told that there is but one surviving white man who took a part in the massacre, a man by the name of Knight, living in Southern Utah. Mr. Higbee, who was first in military authority during the massacre, died a year ago in Cedar City. The latter part of his life was a hell on earth. He was partially insane most of the time, and his fears of imaginary foes and the shrieks of murdered women and children ringing in his ears made an awful Nemesis which pursued him to his grave. -- YOUR FATHER. (from The Letters of an Apostate Mormon to his Son, 1908, by Hans P. Freece).
Extract from R. N. Baskin (1914) pp. 83-89
For a considerable time after arriving in the Territory I had disbelieved the frequent assertions I heard that the Mountain Meadows massacre was ordered by Mormon officials and was carried out by a militia force of Mormons led by John D. Lee.
The massacre of one hundred and thirty or more persons, among whom were gray-haired grandmothers, mothers, young daughters and sons, by members of a civilized and Christian race, was so revolting and showed such depravity and utter disregard of all religious restraint that I was loth to believe the assertions referred to.
Upon becoming acquainted with Stephen DeWolfe who, in 1860, was the editor of "Valley Tan," the first Gentile paper published in Utah, I expressed to him my disbelief of what I had heard asserted respecting the massacre. He replied that what I had heard was true; that he had carefully investigated the matter, and had published in the Valley Tan a true version of the crime. He subsequently gave me a copy of that paper, and the occurrences respecting the massacre therein stated were substantially the same as was afterward shown by the evidence in the first trial of John D. Lee. In an editorial he also asserted that the Mormons had perpetrated other horrible crimes, and that none of the participants had been prosecuted by the Mormon authorities. After the appearance of that editorial a committee of Mormons, of which Jeter Clinton, the police magistrate of Salt Lake City was spokesman, waited upon Mr. DeWolfe and demanded a retraction of what he had written. Mr. Clinton stated that unless the retraction was made he would not be responsible for the safety of Mr. DeWolfe, as the editorial had created great excitement among the people, and many threats of violence had been made against its author. The next editorial written
[Baskin, 1914: p. 84]
by Mr. DeWolfe after the demand to retract had been made upon him, and which met with his refusal, contained the following:
"The threats made against me for making statements which I, in common with almost every man in this valley not connected with the Mormon church, believe to be true, afford proof, if no other was found, of the correctness of all that I said about the insecurity of life here to such as fall under the ban of the Church authorities, and I have not a word of retraction to make of any line or paragraph which I have written on this subject; on the contrary, reiterate again my firm belief of the truth of all I have said, and take the risk of whatever consequences may result from a repetition of my former statement. In addition to that statement I will add that murder has been sanctioned from the pulpit of the Mormon tabernacle in this city, and there is incontestible proof that men have been murdered in this Territory whose death was deliberated about and decided upon in meetings over which a person holding a high position in the Mormon church presided. Neither do I fear the hierachial authorities' priestly curses when engaged in a cause that I believe just and righteous. Nor will threats or intimidation lead me to shrink from the performance of any known duty."
The next day after the committee had waited on Mr. DeWolfe, Arthur Stainer, a hunchback, bookkeeper for Brigham Young, entered the office of Mr. DeWolfe, who arose to greet him. Stainer approached with uplifted hands and pronounced upon him in the most solemn manner, and in the name of Jesus Christ, a curse. In relating the incident to me Mr. DeWolfe laughingly said, "he cursed me from head to foot, and wound up by cursing my powers and parts of procreation, at which I took him by the collar and ejected him from my office." Mr. DeWolfe became my law partner, and was afterwards appointed by President Cleveland to the office of district judge of the Territory of Montana.
In 1859 a gentleman by the name of Wm. H. Rogers accompanied Judge Cradlebaugh to Cedar City. The purpose for which the judge went is disclosed by a letter written by Mr. Rogers and published by Mr. DeWolfe in Valley Tan on February 29, 1860, from which the following extracts are made:
[Baskin, 1914: p. 85]
"Owing to the disadvantages in the location of Cedar City, some of the inhabitants had moved away. There were in consequence a good many vacant houses in that place, and the judge obtained the use of one of them to stay in while there, and for the purpose of a courtroom.
"As soon as it became known that the judge intended holding court, was to investigate the circumstances of the Mountain Meadows massacre, and that he would have troops to insure protection and enforce his writs, if necessary, several persons visited him at his room at a late hour of the night, and informed him of different facts concerning the massacre.
"All those that called stated that it would be at the risk of their lives if it became known that they had communicated anything to him, and requested the judge if he met them in public in the daytime not to recognize them as persons that he had before seen.
"One of the men confessed that he participated in the massacre, and gave the following account of it:
"Previous to the massacre there was a council held at Cedar City in which President Haight and Bishops Higbee  and Lee participated. At this council a large number of men residing in Cedar City and in other settlements were appointed to perform the work of despatching the emigrants. The men selected for this purpose were instructed to resort, well armed, at a given time, to a spring or small stream lying a short distance to the left of the road leading into the Meadows, and not very far from Hamblin's ranch, but concealed by intervening hills.
"This was the place of rendezvous; and here the men, when they arrived, painted and otherwise disguised themselves to resemble Indians.
"Thence they proceeded, early in the morning, by a path or trail which led from the place of rendezvous directly into the Meadows. By taking this route they could not be seen by anyone at Hamblin's. On arriving at the corral of the emigrants, they came upon several standing outside by a campfire. These were fired upon, and at the first discharge several of them fell dead or wounded; the remainder immediately ran to the inside of the corral, began fortifying themselves, and preparing for defense as well as they could. The attack continued in a desultory manner for four or five days. The corral was closely watched, and if any of the emigrants showed
1 Bishop John M. Higbee was first counselor to Isaac C. Haight, president of Parowan Stake of Zion, which took in Cedar City and all that part of the country in which was included Mountain Meadows. Higbee was a major, and Haight a colonel in the territorial militia of which Brigham Young was commander-in-chief and Daniel H. Wells lieutenant-general. Both Higbee and Haight made many trips across the plains as captains of wagon trains, escorting the proselytes of the church into Zion, and were first among Brigham's "useful" men.
[Baskin, 1914: p. 86]
themselves they were instantly fired at from without. If they attempted to go to the spring, which was only a few yards distant, they were sure to fall by the fire of their assailants. In consequence of the almost certain death that resulted from any attempt to procure water, the emigrants, before the siege discontinued, suffered severely from thirst. The assailants finding that the emigrants could not be subdued by the means adopted, resorted to treachery and stratagem to accomplish what they had been unable to do by force. They returned to their place of rendezvous, there removed their disguise, and again appeared in their ordinary dress. After this Bishop Lee with a party of men returned to the camp of the emigrants bearing a white flag as a signal of truce. From the position of the corral the emigrants were able to see them some time before they reached it. As soon as they discovered the white flag they dressed a little girl in white and placed her at the entrance of the corral to indicate their friendly feelings to the persons bearing the flag. Lee and his party arriving, were invited into the corral where they stayed about an hour, talking with the emigrants about the attack which had been made upon them. Lee told them that the Indians had gone over the hills, and if they would lay down their arms and give up their property he and his party would conduct them back to Cedar City ; but if they went out with their arms the Indians would look upon it as an unfriendly act and would again attack them. The emigrants, trusting to Lee's honor and the sincerity of his statements, consented to the terms proposed, left their property and all of their arms at the corral, and under the escort of Lee and his party started in the direction of Cedar City. After they had proceeded about a mile on their way, on a signal given by Bishop Higbee (which was 'brethren, do your duty'), the slaughter began."
"When we arrived at the Mountain Meadows in April, 1859, more than a year and a half after the massacre, the ground for a distance of more than a hundred yards around the central point was covered with skeletons and bones of human beings, interspersed in places with bunches of tangled and matted hair, which from its length evidently belonged to females. In places the bones of small children were laying side by side with those of grown persons, as if parent and child had met death at the same time.
"Small bonnets and scraps of female apparel were also to be seen in places on the ground, and like the bones of those who had worn them, were bleached from long exposure, but the shapes in many instances were entire. In a gulch or
[Baskin, 1914: p. 87]
hole in the ravine by the side of the road a large number of leg and arm-bones, and also skulls, could be seen sticking above the surface as if they had been buried there, but the action of the weather and the digging of the wolves had again exposed them to light. The entire scene was one too horrible and sickening to adequately describe."
The facts respecting the massacre stated by Mr. Rogers were verified by the evidence in the first trial of Lee. I refer to Mr. Roger's statements because they show that the facts of the massacre were known and publicly announced as early as 1860. In addition, at an early day it had become a matter of general notoriety that John D. Lee and other high officials and members of the Mormon church had perpetrated the massacre. When I became convinced of the complicity of the Mormons in that crime, I made a memorandum of the facts and the names of the participants, as from time to time I learned them, with the intention of presenting them to the United States district attorney whenever, as I had no doubt would eventually be done, Congress passed laws under which the guilty parties could be indicted and convicted. Upon the passage of the Poland bill in 1874, its provisions made the United States marshal the executive officer of the district courts and the United States district attorney the prosecuting officer of those courts in all cases arising under the laws of the Territory, and thereby the territorial jury system was changed. After George Caesar Bates had been removed as United States attorney, and William Cary, in whom I had confidence, had been appointed, I presented to the latter my memorandum of facts, and urged him to take the steps necessary to present them before the grand jury. He did so, and John D. Lee and other Mormons were indicted. When the case against Lee was set for trial Mr. Cary requested me to assist him, which I did. The evidence at the trial showed conclusively that at a meeting in Cedar City composed of leading officials of the Mormon church and a number of its prominent members, it was decided to destroy the emigrants, and the steps to be taken in the accomplishment of that end were there and then inaugurated ; also, that after the emigrants had been induced by treachery, in the manner stated in the letter of Mr. Rogers, to place themselves under the protection of Lee and his party, then the preconcerted plans of the massacre
[Baskin, 1914: p. 88]
were carried out. It was developed that a number of Indians were placed in concealment in a clump of cedars and oaks near the road, several hundred yards from the emigrant corral. The wounded men and seventeen little children, too young to expose the awful crime, were placed in wagons. The women and the other children were formed into a separate procession, the men were arranged in rank, and by the side of each was placed a Mormon assassin armed with a gun, ostensibly to protect the emigrants. The wagons containing the wounded men and young children, under order, moved ahead, the women and other children followed at some distance behind the wagons, and the men with their ostensible guards followed at a distance of about one hundred yards in the rear. When the women and other children reached the ambuscade of the Indians, the signal agreed upon was given by Bishop Higbee, and each fiendish Mormon guard shot or cut the throat of the defenseless victim he was pretendedly guarding. The Indians, not more merciless than the white-skinned Mormons present, rushed from ambush and slaughtered the helpless women the innocent children and the wounded men in the wagons were slain.
At Lee's camp on the evening before the massacre there had been a meeting at which Isaac C. Haight, John M. Higbee, and other officials high in Mormon councils, as well as officers in the territorial militia, were present. At this meeting was concocted the treachery by which the emigrants were induced to give up their arms and property, and to trust Lee and his party to their doom.
The Mountain Meadows massacre was more atrocious than either the massacre of Glencoe or the night of St. Bartholomew. Fifty-two of the participating conspirators belonged to an organization called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That fact appeared from the evidence in the first trial of Lee, and suggests the query, What influence engendered such a fiendish spirit as that horrible crime showed its participants possessed? Certainly not the teachings of Jesus Christ, for in no church under the sun in which the ethics of Christ are taught and enjoined, could any thought of perpetrating such a crime arise in the mind of any of its adherents. That spirit beyond all reasonable doubt was actuated by the pernicious influence exerted upon
[Baskin, 1914: p. 89]
the Mormon perpetrators of the crime by the oath-bound covenants, sermons and teachings of the church to which they belonged. This assertion is supported by the court proceedings and extensive quotations which immediately follow. (from Robert N. Baskin's Reminiscences of Early Utah, 1914)
Extract from J. F. Smith (1922) pp. 418-429
It was the deed of enraged Indians aided by a number of white men, who took vengeance into their hands for wrongs committed by a few of the emigrants who were pronounced enemies of both whites and Indians.
It was a crime for which there can be no apology or excuse, a thing treacherous and damnable in the extreme. But for the "Mormon" people it was most unfortunate that it should happen at this particular time. There were circulating throughout the nation many evil reports concerning the Latter-day Saints. All manner of crimes and murders occurring within a thousand miles of Utah, were charged against them.
[Smith, 1922: p. 419]
Even the executive of the nation and other high officials were countenancing these reports and aiding in their circulation. The army was on the plains making its way to Utah to suppress alleged violation of law and rebellion; and now, to add to the horror of the situation, the report went forth that the "Mormons" had attacked and killed a party of innocent people peacefully passing through their land. Thus color was given to the falsehood that life and property of "Gentiles" were unsafe within the Territory of Utah.
It may be said without fear of successful contradiction, that there was less crime committed in Utah during the days of pioneer life than in any other similarly situated section of the country. California had her vigilantes who executed judgment with swift vengeance, without legal trial. Such was also the condition in other border states and territories, and woe to the individual who incurred the wrath of the powers who controlled. The "Mormon" people had been taught from the beginning: "Thou shalt not kill." Murder, according to their teaching, committed wantonly, was a sin for which there was no forgiveness in this life, neither in the life to come. Next, and like unto it stood sexual immorality. Both of these great sins were denounced by the Saints most emphatically.
Crimes Falsely Charged to the Church Authorities. -- One thing most trying to the members of the Church was the attempt by their enemies to charge Brigham Young and the leaders of the Church with every wrong committed in the western country. These attempts led Jacob Forney, Indian Agent in 1859, to write to Washington saying:
"I fear, and I regret to say it, that with certain parties here there is a greater anxiety to connect Brigham Young and other Church dignitaries with every criminal offense than diligent endeavor to punish the actual perpetrators of the crime."
How the Massacre Occurred. -- About the time the news arrived in Salt Lake City of the coming of an army, there was passing through the city under command of Captain Fancher, a company of emigrants from Arkansas and Missouri. This company consisted of about thirty families, numbering one hundred and thirty-seven persons. The Arkansas emigrants appeared to be respectable and well-to-do. With them there traveled a rough and reckless company calling themselves "Missouri Wild Cats," who conducted themselves in keeping with the name. This company was advised by Elder Charles C. Rich, one of the leaders of the Church, to take the northern route. Had they done so they would have saved their lives.
[Smith, 1922: p. 420]
They went as far as Bear River and then returned deciding to journey to the south. On their way, it is alleged, the rougher elements of the party abused the people of the southern settlements through which they passed. They tore down fences, destroyed property, insulted women, and otherwise made themselves obnoxious. It is said, on reliable authority, that at Fillmore they threatened to destroy the town, "and boasted of their participation in the murders and other outrages that were inflicted upon the 'Mormons' in Missouri and Illinois." At Corn Creek, fifteen miles farther to the south, it was reported that they poisoned the springs and also the body of an ox that had died. The carcass was eaten by a band of Piute Indians and ten of their number died. Some of the cattle of the settlers died from drinking of the poisoned springs. As the cattle were fat, the owners "tried them out" for the tallow, and a number of white persons were poisoned from the handling of the meat. These "Wild Cats" expressed their pleasure at the coming of the army, and threatened to stop at some convenient place and leave their women and children, and return to assist the troops in killing every "Mormon" there was in the mountains.
Just to what extent credence can be placed in these charges cannot be determined. The fact remains, however, that they gave expression to their hatred of the "Mormon" people, made many threats, and abused the Indians along their way.
The Purchase of Supplies. -- It has been said that these emigrants could not purchase supplies in Salt Lake City and the other settlements of the Saints, and had been ordered away from Salt Lake City by President Young. This is not the fact. President Young did not know they were in the city and first heard of them after they had departed. Along the way they did obtain supplies as they desired and as the Saints were able to impart to them, as there is abundant evidence to show. They were well treated by most of the settlers, and not until their own actions brought upon them the ill will of the southern settlements was this attitude changed.
Word Sent to Brigham Young. -- So intense did the feeling become on the part of both the Indians and the white population in the southern settlements that it was deemed necessary to send a messenger to Governor Brigham Young to know what should be done. Some of the people expressed the feeling that since the emigrants had declared themselves as enemies they should be treated as such, but the more sober minded maintained that they should be permitted to continue their journey to the coast unmolested. James H. Haslam carried a message from Colonel Isaac C. Haight, of the militia, to Salt Lake City to obtain advice of Governor Young. In the meantime it was agreed that every effort should be made to pacify the Indians and prevent them from making an attack.
[Smith, 1922: p. 421]
Haslam left Cedar City in the afternoon of Monday, September 7, and made all haste on horseback, arriving in Salt Lake City on the morning of the 10th. He immediately delivered his message, and Governor Young asked him if he could undertake the return journey without delay. He said he could. "Go with all speed, spare no horse flesh. The emigrants must not be meddled with, if it takes all Iron County to prevent it. They must go free and unmolested." This was the answer he received. Haslam, although he had just finished a hard journey, immediately returned arriving in Cedar City on the 13th with a written message from Governor Young to Colonel Haight.
The Answer Arrives Too Late. -- The message to Colonel Haight of the militia from Governor Young was as follows:
"In regard to the emigration trains passing through our settlements, we must not interfere with them until they are first notified to keep away. You must not meddle with them. There are no other trains that I know of. If those who are there will leave, let them go in peace.
Colonel Isaac C. Haight read the letter, and shedding tears replied: "Too late, too late!" The morning (September 7) Haslam left to obtain word from Governor Young, the work of death among the unfortunate victims had commenced.
The Attack upon the Emigrant Train. -- Early in September the emigrant train of the Arkansas and Missouri companies camped in the little valley known as the Mountain Meadows. There they contemplated remaining for several days. In the meantime their conduct had aroused the Indian tribes who now surrounded their camp in hostile attitude. As near as can be ascertained, on the morning of the 7th of September at the break of day, the attack upon the emigrants began. At the first volley seven men were killed and sixteen were wounded. The victims were taken unawares, but being well armed, fought bravely for their lives and were successful in repelling the attack.
[Smith, 1922: p. 422]
Several Indians were killed including two of their chiefs. The Indians sent runners throughout the surrounding country calling for reinforcements from among their tribes, and for John D. Lee, who had been in close touch with Indian affairs as their farmer, to come and lead them to victory. Lee hurried to the scene from his home in Harmony, and seemed to partake of the frenzy of the red men. Later, other white men appeared upon the scene, having been lured to the meadows, with the request that their services were needed in burying the dead. Some of them remained, willingly or by coercion, to participate in the massacre which followed.
The Surrender -- Treachery of Their Captors.—During the lull following the first attack, the emigrants formed their wagons in a ring and threw up breastworks for their protection, awaiting the onslaught which they knew was sure to come. Some time was spent by the Indians and their white allies discussing the fate of the unfortunate emigrants. The victims discovered that white men were in league with the Indians, and this knowledge sealed their fate. It was determined by those making the attack that no emigrant should live who could tell the tale.
On the morning of Friday the 11th, Lee induced the emigrants to surrender under promise of protection and conveyance to a place of safety. They were led to a place where the Indians were in ambush, and at a given signal a volley of shots rang out, both Indians and white men participating in the outrage. Seventeen children of tender years—ranging in age from a few months to seven years—were all that were spared. These children were cared for by the settlers until the government by act of Congress returned them to their friends in Arkansas.
A Bloody Oath. -- The white men who were engaged in this horrible slaughter entered into a league, by a strong and binding oath, that they would never reveal the part they played in this gruesome tragedy. A false report was forwarded to Governor Young. Lee also reported in person, laying the blame solely to the Indians. Governor Young wept bitterly and was horrified at the recital of the tale.
The Execution of Lee. -- For several years the facts relating to the tragedy were unknown, but gradually the truth leaked out and an investigation was made of the affair. John D. Lee was excommunicated from the Church with the injunction from President Young that under no circumstances should he ever be admitted as a member again. Action was also taken against others as the truth became known. In later years Lee was convicted of the crime and paid the penalty with his life. His execution took place on the site of the horrid scene. Others who were implicated fled from the territory and died fugitives. While they thus evaded the justice which earthly tribunals might inflict, they still await the trial for their crimes before a Higher Court where justice never fails.
[Smith, 1922: p. 423]
There was no debauchery, no immorality or fear of thieves breaking in to steal, in the communities of the Latter-day Saints, before the strangers to their faith came in. With the army all these attendant evils were introduced. The worst element with the army was, of course, the camp following -- the freighters and hangers-on, who were not subject to the rigid discipline of army regulation. Yet, much of the evil which resulted, can be traced to subordinate officers and men of the ranks. With many of these, moral rectitude was a thing unknown; and woe to the foolish creatures who, like flies caught in a spider-web, were lured into camp.
To add to the difficulties, many of the enlisted men filled their term of service and were discharged. Usually they were in possession of very little means, and if a balance of pay was due them, it was soon squandered. Such characters flocked to Salt Lake City and other towns, where they became a terror to the inhabitants. Because of this, it became necessary to increase the police force of Salt Lake City, at least four fold.
[Smith, 1922: p. 424]
Appeals were made to Governor Cumming to get him to use his influence to have the discharged men marched beyond the borders of the territory. The governor took the matter up with General Johnston, with the result that the condition was relieved in this respect to some small degree. However, the situation could not fully be controlled by these officers, and as long as Camp Floyd (later Crittenden) was occupied by the troops, demoralizing agencies were at work, and the people were constantly in a state of agitation.
Governor Cumming's Report. -- In reporting affairs in Utah to the Secretary of State, Governor Cumming made the following observations:
"Persons unbiased by prejudice who have visited this Territory will, I think, agree in the opinion that a community is seldom seen more marked by quiet and peaceable diligence than that of the 'Mormons.'
"After the passage of the army, hundreds of adventurers were attracted to these valleys, and met here some congenial spirits. Banded together for rapine and acts of violence, they have stolen large herds of horses and mules. Many of these men, maddened by intemperance, or rendered desperate by losses at the gambling table, or by various other causes, have shed each other's blood in frequent conflicts, and secret assassinations. These lawless and bloody deeds are committed by them almost daily with impunity, and when their atrocity and frequency shock the public mind, it has become the custom with a certain set of people to exclaim against the people of Utah; but it is an injustice to impute the acts of these desperadoes to the community in general. With an equal show of justice might they be attributed to the inhabitants of the States and Territories whence these men have so recently emigrated."
The New Federal Officers. -- Chief Justice Delano R. Eckles and the new secretary of the territory, John Hartnett, arrived in Utah with the army. Jacob Forney, the superintendent of Indian affairs, arrived with the peace commissioners, and Judge Charles E. Sinclair and Attorney Alexander Wilson came near the end of July. The third judge, John Cradlebaugh, did not arrive until November. None of these officers were members of the Church.
[Smith, 1922: p. 425]
After he had taken the oath of office, Chief Justice Eckles took up his residence at Camp Floyd and Judge Sinclair made his headquarters in Salt Lake City. Judge Cradlebaugh opened his court in Provo in March, 1859, although the seat of his district was Fillmore.
"Progress of Civilization." -- The majority of the government officials sent to Utah during territorial days came obsessed with the idea that the "Mormons" were an unpatriotic and ignorant class of people, bound by blind obedience to the will of a set of knaves who presided over them. When a new government appointee came to Utah, usually he felt it incumbent upon him to begin his labors with a lecture to the people on loyalty and morality, and advise them to cast off the yoke of ignorance which bound them. These would-be reformers at times gave expression to the thought that they had brought civilization among the "Mormons" and were endeavoring to reform them. At the time of the return to the east in 1858, of one official—who had been notoriously corrupt and immoral in his conduct while in Utah -- a number of the civil and military officers and some non-"Mormon" merchants tendered him a dinner. In the course of their hilarity they expressed the satisfaction he would feel in joining his "family and friends in a moral and civilized community."
Such expressions as this led President Brigham Young, who was a sorrowful witness of the scenes of debauchery and crime practiced by some of these "reformers," to say to another retiring official who was about to depart: "When you get back to the states, no doubt you will be asked many questions about me. I wish you would tell them that I am here, watching the progress of civilization."
That some of these individuals were sincere, there can be no question, and they should have credit for honest conviction. However it was impossible for them to see the situation from the "Mormon" viewpoint. They came with pre-conceived ideas regarding the doctrines and practices of the Latter-day Saints, and were greatly prejudiced against them. Their prejudice stood in their own light so that they took no trouble to investigate or try to understand. In most cases it was sufficient to know that the "Mormons" were a peculiar people with a strange belief, in conflict with the doctrines of other people.
Many of these officers, however, were insincere. They were guilty of the very sins with which they accused the Latter-day Saints and yet they brazenly sat in judgment and condemned the Saints, while they, themselves, were guilty of revolting crimes.
Attitude of the Judges. -- Chief Justice Eckles was given to drunkenness and was grossly immoral; yet he felt it his duty to advise that indictments be issued against the leaders of the Church for the practice of plural marriage.
[Smith, 1922: p. 426]
He did not know just how to handle the situation, for there were no statutes either in the territory or in the United States to punish such a thing. Therefore he attempted to place the matter under the old Mexican law which had no application in United States territory.
Associate Justice Sinclair, who was usually drunk, commenced his duties on the bench by charging the grand jury of his court, to indict ex-Governor Brigham Young, General Daniel H. Wells, and other "Mormon" leaders, for treason, on the ground that President Buchanan's pardon, "while a public act in the history of the country," yet it was a thing of which his court could not "take judicial cognizance." United States Attorney Alexander Wilson took a different view and so expressed himself at length before the grand jury in open court, stating "that there are now no acts of sedition, treason, or rebellion against the government of the United States in this territory." For that reason he would not present bills or bring action against any inhabitant of the territory on such a charge.
Bitterness of Cradlebaugh. -- Judge Cradlebaugh manifested a very bitter spirit against the leaders of the Church. When he opened court at Provo he made a demand on General Johnston for several companies of troops from Camp Floyd, and a detachment was furnished him. The reason the judge gave for this action was that the presence of the soldiers was necessary to preserve the peace, and take care of the prisoners because there was no jail in Provo. The real reason was a desire to insult the people of the town and to intimidate witnesses before the court. Inside of two weeks there were about one thousand men in arms surrounding the court house.
Protest of the Citizens.—Instead of keeping the peace, the presence of the troops was a menace to the peace of the town. Five hundred citizens righteously and vigorously protested against the insult in an address to the mayor and city council. They declared that their "feelings were aggrieved and outraged" by the appearance of a military force surrounding the court and infesting the halls of justice, and they considered it a "high handed outrage, a direct infringement upon the rights of American citizens and a gross violation of their liberties and municipal immunities."
The judge was informed by the mayor and city council of the petition and was asked for the immediate removal of the troops beyond the city limits. It was declared that their presence made it very difficult for the officers of the city to preserve the peace. The judge refused to listen to the appeal.
[Smith, 1922: p. 427]
Later another vigorous protest was made by the city officials, who declared that soldiers had been caught breaking into houses; they had engaged in drunken street brawls and had otherwise disturbed the peace. However, Judge Cradlebaugh turned a deaf ear to all appeals.
Governor Cumming's Proclamation. -- Governor Cumming visited Provo in the month of March, and to him an appeal was made by the mayor and council. The governor could see the situation for himself, and forwarded a communication to General Johnston requesting him to withdraw the troops. General Johnston refused to hearken to the request of the governor, on the grounds that he was there to serve each of the co-ordinate branches of the territorial civil government, and was subject to the judicial as well as to the executive department. Upon this refusal of the commander of the troops, Governor Cumming issued a proclamation protesting against the presence of the military force which had been called to Provo without his sanction and contrary to the instructions given him by the government. Their presence, said the governor, had a tendency to terrify the inhabitants and disturb the peace. All future movements of the troops should be at his direction in accordance with his instructions from Washington.
Result of the Conflict. -- The result of this conflict in authority was that Judge Cradlebaugh and his associate, Judge Sinclair, sent a communication to the attorney-general of the United States, Jeremiah S. Black, in relation to the matter. Other letters were sent by Judge Eckles to the secretary of state and by General Johnston to the secretary of war. The secretary of state wrote to Governor Cumming for the facts which were furnished. When the replies were received, the officious judges were rebuked and given to understand that the armed forces in the territory were subject to the command of the executive. Said the attorney general: "The governor is the supreme executive of the territory. He is responsible for the public peace. From the general law of the land, the nature of his office, and the instructions he received from the state department, it ought to have been understood that he alone had power to issue a requisition for the movement of troops from one part of the territory to another." He further stated that "the condition of things in Utah made it extremely desirable that the judges appointed for that territory should confine themselves strictly within their own official sphere," and leave accusations to the district attorney, and arrests to the marshal, who was responsible for the safe-keeping of criminals.
Attempt to Remove Governor Cumming. -- The rebuke from Washington was naturally very displeasing to the judges, who were thus confined to the duties of their office. In Camp Floyd there was manifestation of displeasure.
[Smith, 1922: p. 428]
A mass meeting was he]d and an address was issued in which the "Mormons" were accused of disloyalty and it was set forth that a great wrong had been done in forcing the withdrawal of the troops from the protection of the courts. The wrath of the disgruntled camp was also turned against Governor Cumming, and the attempt was made to have him removed from office. This might have been accomplished through the influence of General Johnston, had not Colonel Thomas L. Kane once more come to the rescue.
Attack on President Young. -- When Judge Cradlebaugh organized his court at Provo, he expressed his determination to investigate the Mountain Meadows massacre and other crimes. This action would have been commendable if it had been taken with a desire to execute justice, but it was a flagrant attempt to connect President Young and the leading Church authorities with the crime. He inferred that the guilty parties were among the leaders of the Church and should be brought to justice. Later, accompanied by a United States deputy marshal and a detachment of troops, he visited southern Utah and collected what evidence could be obtained respecting the Mountain Meadows massacre, leaving no stone unturned in the endeavor to implicate President Brigham Young and others, in which attempt he miserably failed. Nevertheless, to the grand jury he said: "The very fact of such a case as that of the Mountain Meadows shows that there was some person high in the estimation of the people, and it was done by that authority; * * * and unless you do your duty, such will be the view that will be taken of it. You can know no law but the laws of the United States and the laws you have here. No person can commit crimes and say they are authorized by higher authorities, and if they have any such notions they will have to dispel them."
Cradlebaugh's Insult to the Jury. -- As the grand jury failed to act with the promptness he thought they should, the judge dismissed them "as an evidently useless appendage of a court of justice." This unjustifiable attack was resented by the grand jury in a written protest.
In a spirit of anger the judge dismissed criminals who were before his court awaiting trial on grave charges, giving for his reason the following excuse:
"When this people ['Mormons'] come to their reason, and manifest a disposition to punish their own high offenders, it will be time to enforce the laws also for their protection.
[Smith, 1922: p. 429]
If this court cannot bring you to a proper sense of your duty, it can at least turn the savages in custody loose upon you."
Attempt to Capture President Young.—Another attempt was made about this time to get President Young in the toils of the law on a groundless charge. It appears that a number of criminals at Camp Floyd plotted to rob the government. They hired a young engraver in Salt Lake City to duplicate the plate used by the quartermaster at Camp Floyd in drawing on the government at St. Louis and New York. The work was done, but the fraud was detected, and a man by the name of Brewer was arrested. He turned state's evidence and threw the responsibility for the deed upon the engraver who had been hired to do the work. As someone in the office of President Young had furnished the paper on which the counterfeit notes were printed, the army officers felt that they had a case against President Young, and manifested their great pleasure at the prospect of implicating him. The officers entered into a plot to secure his arrest. Thinking that an attempt to take him openly would meet with resistance, the army was to be ordered to Salt Lake City and the artillery was to make a breach in the wall surrounding his premises, through which they would enter to secure President Young a captive, and then carry him to Camp Floyd for trial.
Governor Cumming's Stand. -- This plan was presented to Governor Cumming, who listened to the plotters and examined their papers. "They rubbed their hands," said the governor, "and were jubilant; they had got the dead wood on Brigham Young. I was indignant, sir, and told them, By—, gentlemen, you can't do it! When you have a right to take Brigham Young, gentlemen, you shall have him without creeping through walls. You shall enter by his door with heads erect as becomes representatives of your government. But till that time, gentlemen, you can't touch Brigham Young."
The plotters were greatly disappointed and returned to Camp Floyd threatening to act in opposition to the executive. Because of these rumors, Governor Cumming ordered General Daniel H. Wells to be prepared with the militia to repel any such attack. It was a courageous thing for the governor to do in the face of the strong feeling of opposition existing at Camp Floyd against President Young.... (from Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History, Copyright © 1922 by Deseret Book Co., All Rights Reserved -- only "fair use" extracts from 1950 reprint edition reproduced here -- )
Extract from M. R. Werner (1925) pp. 398-417
In order to understand the Mountain Meadows Massacre, it is first necessary to realize the state of mind of the Mormons during 1856 and 1857. During the year 1856 there took place, under the leadership of Brigham Young and his fiery associate, Jedediah M. Grant, what is known in the Mormon Church as the Reformation. There had been during 1854 and 1855 a period of dangerous famine and intense hard times. This led some of the people to leave the valley of the Great Salt Lake and its crickets, grasshoppers, and drought, for California, where there were gold, warm days, and rich soil. Many Mormons were induced by the contrast with their own lot, however temporary their leaders insisted it was, and what seemed to be the eternal golden prosperity of nearby California, to abandon their religion for the ease and comfort of this world. The religious community was thereby threatened with partial disintegration, and the leaders were thereby led to use exhortation, persuasion, and, finally, compulsion, to keep their people in what they sternly and sincerely believed were the paths of righteousness. Famine and hard times had also led to quarrels among the Saints about property and about wives.
[Werner, 1925: p. 399]
Obedience to Brigham Young's will was not so general as he wished and as he had been in the habit of expecting. Therefore, he and his associates, Jedediah Grant and Heber Kimball, decided to bring the people to a realization of the value of virtue by vigorous action against vice.
For one thing, the Saints had begun to ignore the Sabbath. The wars against grasshoppers and crickets had made it necessary to work sometimes on Sunday, and this led quickly to a habit of mind that regarded Sunday as the same as every other day.
Then, too, the strong community spirit had inculcated in some men the habit of regarding their neighbor's ox or his ass as their own, especially if they happened at the moment to be in great need of an ox or an ass. This soon developed into the same attitude toward a neighbor's wife. It is said that at a meeting of the principal members of the priesthood, Brigham Young said in the course of a harangue: "All you who have been guilty of committing adultery, stand up." To his amazement and chagrin three-fourths of the brethren present promptly stood up. It was explained that Brother Brigham had meant, of course, that only those who bad committed adultery since they became Mormons need stand. All the guilty brethren remained standing. Brigham Young was overwhelmed, and he prescribed immediate baptism for the remission of sins, and it was made clear that after this batch of sins had been washed away, they could be forgotten and need never again be acknowledged so publicly.
Brigham H. Roberts, assistant historian of the Church, in discussing what he termed the "sex sins" of the community, wrote: "The unsettled life of the ten years between the exodus from Nauvoo and the beginning of 'the Reformation' was crowded with circumstances that lent themselves to continuous temptations in this kind of evil. There were the long weeks of ocean travel by mixed companies in slow-sailing vessels; followed by long journeys of the same mixed companies up the American rivers, in crowded steamboats; or day and night travel in more crowded railway trains to the western terminal of the railroads. Then there was the longer overland journeying by hand cart or ox train means of travel, all classes being thrown into constant and closest contact, which not all the care of the organized camp, nor the watchfulness of faithful pastors could rob of insidious and sometimes ruinous temptations." 
1 Americana, vol. 8, pp. 459-462.
[Werner, 1925: p. 400]
Brigham Young, with Yankee enthusiasm, declared in a sermon one Sunday that not only were the Mormons "the best looking and finest set of people on the face of the earth," not only could they "pray the best, preach the best, sing the best," but also that they had among them "the greatest and smoothest liars in the world, the cunningest and most adroit thieves, and any other shade of character that you can mention." He said that the Gospel net dragged in all kinds of fish, and that many of them proved, upon closer inspection, to be rotten.
Several times Brigham Young had said in the pulpit that those who wished to leave the Saints were free to do so if they paid their debts. What Brigham Young resented, however, was the action of apostates after they had left the Church. Apostates had done the Mormons so much harm with their enemies in Missouri and Illinois that Brigham Young had come to fear and to hate them for the tales they now told in California and in the East. It was determined during the Reformation to exercise as much intimidating control over the dissatisfied as possible, and this control in the last extremity extended sometimes to murder. There was, for example, the case of William Parrish, who had been one of the trusted members of the Church in Nauvoo. He became dissatisfied in Utah and made secret plans to leave for California. At the suggestion of Brigham Young, who knew everybody's plans before they were consummated, Bishop Johnson looked into Parrish's intentions. The Bishop visited Parrish with two other agents of the Church, Durfee and Potter, and they gained his confidence by professions of their own dissatisfaction and by promises of aid. A week later Parrish's horses were stolen. Finally, Durfee and Potter planned to aid Parrish to leave Utah. They arranged with him to meet him outside the city, and when they bad met, Durfee returned to Salt Lake City to get Parrish's two sons, Orrin and Beason. While Parrish and Potter were waiting for Durfee and the young boys, William Bird, who was lying in hiding, fired a shot, which by mistake hit Potter instead of Parrish. Potter died. Bird came into the open, and when Parrish asked him if he had killed Potter, he drew a bowie knife and stabbed Parrish fifteen times in the back, sides, and arms. Bird returned to his hiding-place, and when Durfee returned with Parrish's two sons, William Bird from his ambush shot Beason dead and tried to kill Orrin, who escaped after the first shot hit his cartridge box.
[Werner, 1925: p. 401]
There were other cases of murder, not so well substantiated as the Parrish case, which was fully investigated by the federal official, judge Cradlebaugh. It is clear that Brigham Young and his associates had aroused themselves to the point of fanaticism in their determination to keep men righteous by any means, and to prevent them from telling tales if they could not be kept faithful. It is claimed that during this wave of fanaticism men were not only murdered, but were sometimes flogged, and often castrated. How much of this was true, it is impossible to determine, but that some of it was true is easily discerned from the sermons of the time and the confessions of former Mormons. John D. Lee wrote: "In Utah it has been the custom of the Priesthood to make eunuchs of such men as were obnoxious to the leaders. This was done for a double purpose: first, it gave a perfect revenge, and next, it left the poor victim a living example to others of the dangers of disobeying counsel and not living as ordered by the Priesthood." Lee also maintained that, "In Utah it was the favorite revenge of old, worn-out members of the Priesthood, who wanted young women sealed to them, and found that the girl preferred some handsome young man. The old priests generally got the girls, and many a young man was unsexed for refusing to give up his sweetheart at the request of an old and failing, but still sensual apostle or member of the Priesthood." 
Another of Brigham Young's henchmen, who wrote his confessions, was Bill Hickman. He was a man who never objected to killing another man, if be felt that the man deserved to be dead, or if he was convinced that the act was necessary to preserve either himself or his Church from danger or inconvenience. When a man he was about to hang for murder told Hickman he would come back and haunt him for the rest of his life, Hickman calmly replied, "I am not much afraid of live men, and much less of dead ones." Bill Hickman was known for many years as Brigham Young's Destroying Angel. In his book Hickman recorded his murders and his scalpings with a charming lack of bravado, shame, or sentimentality. He rarely implicates Brigham Young directly, but he intimates that in some instances the President
2 Mormonism Unveiled, by John D. Lee, p. 284. It is necessary to note that Lee's book was touched up by his lawyer, W. W. Bishop, who claimed that be only altered a word or straightened a sentence here and there. But it is possible that in the process he heightened an effect.
[Werner, 1925: p. 402]
of the Church let it be known that a man was undesirable, and then allowed Hickman to use his own violent judgment on the case. Hickman was capable of beating a man to death with the butt end of his rifle, literally without thinking about it afterwards, and he was at one time firmly convinced that anything Brigham Young ordered was just, and that in return for obedience he would receive eternal spiritual salvation.
Hickman was only one of the executioners of the Reformation, but Jedediah Grant was its firebrand. "As for you miserable, sleepy 'Mormons,' " Grant said in a sermon, "who say to those wretches, [the Gentiles] 'Give us your dimes, and you shall have our wheat, and our daughters, only give us your dimes and you shall have this, that, and the other,' I not only wish but pray, in the name of Israel's God, that the time was come in which to unsheathe the sword, like Moroni of old, and to cleanse the inside of the platter, and we would not wait for the decision of grand or traverse juries, but we would walk into you and completely use tip every curse who will not do right." 
Brigham Young had decided that the time had come to unsheathe the sword, and for "judgment to be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet." For this purpose he brought forth the most appalling theory of Mormon theology, the doctrine of blood atonement for sins. According to this theory, there exist certain sins for which atonement can only be had by shedding the blood of the sinners. Among these sins were apostasy, unfaithfulness to the marriage obligations on the part of the wife, and the shedding of innocent blood. In a sermon Brigham Young once explained the theory to the congregation, whom he hoped to reform:
"There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be per- fectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas, if such is not the case, they will stick to them and remain upon them in the spirit world.
"I know, when you bear my brethren telling about cutting people off from the earth, that you consider it is strong doctrine; but it is to save them, not to destroy them.
3 Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 235.
[Werner, 1925: p. 403]
"I do know that there are sins committed, of such a nature that if the people did understand the doctrine of salvation, they would tremble because of their situation. And furthermore, I know that there are transgressors, who, if they knew themselves, and the only condition upon which they can obtain forgiveness, would beg of their brethren to shed their blood, that the smoke thereof might ascend to God as an offering to appease the wrath that is kindled against them, and that the law might have its course. I will say further; I have had men come to me and offer their lives to atone for their sins.
"It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit. As it was in ancient days, so it is in our day; and though the principles are taught publicly from this stand, the people do not understand them; yet the law is precisely the same. There are sins that can be atoned for by an offering upon an altar, as in ancient days; and there are sins that the blood of a lamb or a calf, or of turtle doves, cannot remit, but they must be atoned for by the blood of the man."
And in another sermon Brigham Young emphasized that true love was a love that would shed blood in order to insure for the loved one eternal salvation:
"All mankind," he said, "love themselves, and let these principles be known by an individual, and he would be glad to have his blood shed. That would be loving themselves, even unto an eternal exaltation. Will you love your brothers or sisters likewise, when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood? That is what Jesus Christ meant. He never told a man or woman to love their enemies in their wickedness, never....
"I have seen scores and hundreds of people for whom there would have been a chance (in the last resurrection there will be) if their lives had been taken and their blood spilled on the ground as a smoking incense to the Almighty, but who are now angels to the devil, until our elder brother Jesus Christ raises them up -- conquers death, hell, and the grave. I have known a great many men who have left this Church for whom there is no chance whatever for exaltation, but if their blood had been spilled, it would have been better for them. The wickedness and ignorance of the nations forbid this principle's being in full force, but the time will come when the law of God will be in full force.
4 Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, pp. 53-54.
[Werner, 1925: p. 404]
"This is loving our neighbor as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it. Any of you who understand the principles of eternity, if you have sinned a sin requiring the shedding of blood, except the sin unto death, would not be satisfied nor rest until your blood should be spilled, that you might even gain that salvation you desire. That is the way to love mankind." 
This was the height of fanatical Puritanism. The world to come, with its promise of eternal salvation and unsurpassable glory, was everything, and this world with its joys and amusements was correspondingly insignificant. The doctrine of blood atonement was a terrible doctrine, and the fact that there are few instances of its actual practice, does not detract from its philosophical terror. Brigham Young was now beginning to lose patience with mankind because it just would not be saved, according to his plans, and he therefore gave free rein to his implicit and sincere belief that some men and women should be killed for their own good. The doctrine of blood atonement is illustrated by a joke Brigham Young told in one of his sermons:
"And I some expect that many will be brought into close places, as the Jew was by the Catholic priest. The Jew fell through the ice, and was about to drown, and implored the Catholic priest to pull him out. 'I cannot,' said the priest, 'except you repent, and become a Christian.' Said the Jew, 'Pull me out this once.' 'Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Catholic Church?' asked the priest. The Jew answered, 'No, I do not.' 'Then you must stay there,' and the priest held him under the water awhile. 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ now?' 'O yes, take me out.' 'Well,' remarked the priest, 'thank God that another sinner has repented; you are safe now, and while you are safe I will send you right to heaven's gate,' and he gave the Jew a push under the ice."
Tt was one of the limitations of Brigham Young's mind that he himself always preferred a dead saint to a living sinner.
That this doctrine of blood atonement created terror of conscience among the Saints and led to self-slaughter in the cause of righteousness, is illustrated by one story told bv a former Mormon leader. One of the wives of a Mormon of Salt Lake City was unfaithful to him while he was on a mission in foreign lands.
5 Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, pp. 219-220.
[Werner, 1925: p. 405]
When he returned, the Church was in the throes of the Reformation, and his wife believed that she was doomed to lose the right to those children she had borne her husband in lawful wedlock, and that she would be separated from him and from them in eternity. She told her husband of her fears and of her sin, and he agreed with her that the fears were justified and the sin awful. She sat on her husband's knee and embraced him as she had never done before, while, as he returned her kisses, he cut her throat and thereby sent her spirit to the gods in all its former purity.
The Reformation caused Mormons to confess all the sins they could think of, but Brigham Young was forced to admit in a sermon that "there has been more confessing than forsaking." Another effect of the Reformation was the death of its author, Jedediah M. Grant, who had suggested the Reformation to Brigham Young, was so busy baptizing Saints for the remission of their sins and therefore had to be in the water so much, that he contracted pneumonia and died in 1856, lamented by all the faithful.
But the worst effect of the Reformation was its influence on the state of mind of the community. Murder became a righteous duty at times, and against sinners and enemies it was no longer regarded as a sin. Obedience to the leaders of the Church was considered a supreme duty, and the entire Mormon population was keyed up to a pitch of fiery faith by the psychological effect of the terrifying doctrine of blood atonement, and by the excitement which a renewal of righteousness caused in their minds.
IIParley P. Pratt, one of the leading members of the Church, and its most active missionary, was accused early in 1857 Of seducing the wife of H. H. McLean, a merchant of San Francisco. Pratt, according to McLean, wished to make Mrs. McLean the seventh Mrs. Pratt, and Mrs. McLean was willing. But Mr. McLean was not, and in order to prevent his wife from joining the Mormons, her husband had adopted the course which was most-likely to throw her into their arms. He sent their children to her father's house in New Orleans, where she quickly
6 The Rocky Mountain Saints, by T. B. H. Stenhouse, pp. 460-470.
[Werner, 1925: p. 406]
followed, and by pretending to repent of her Mormon tendencies, succeeded in getting her children back again. As soon as she had possession of them, she started for Utah. McLean pursued her. Meanwhile, Mrs. McLean had been corresponding with Parley Pratt, and Mr. McLean was looking for Mr. Pratt as well as for his wife and children. He intercepted a letter from Pratt to his wife, by which he discovered that they had an appointment to meet near Fort Gibson in the Cherokee Indian reservation. McLean followed and caught up with them. He brought legal action in Arkansas against Pratt, and great excitement was caused by the trial, in the course of which McLean introduced numerous cipher letters written by his wife and by Pratt. It was with difficulty that the judge kept the mob from lynching Pratt. McLean became so enraged that he drew his pistol in the court room and threatened to shoot Pratt there. Pratt was declared innocent of McLean’s charges against him and left town early in the morning. McLean followed, and near Van Buren, Arkansas, on May 14, 1857, he stabbed Pratt and killed him. A year before he was killed Parley Pratt had written an address which was delivered before the territorial legislature of Utah on "Marriage and Morals in Utah," in the course of which he approved with fervor the Bible penalties for adultery, which, he pointed out, consisted of stabbing or stoning the guilty party to death.
This murder of one of their leaders enraged the Mormons, and they were disposed to have vengeance if possible. In September of 1857 a party of one hundred and thirty-six emigrants on their way from Arkansas to California passed through Utah. Those of the party who had not come from Arkansas were said to be from Missouri and Illinois, and the rumor was spread among the Mormons that these last were members of the mob that had murdered the Prophet Joseph Smith. As the emigrants passed through Utah, the Mormons were instructed to give them no aid, to sell them no provisions, and to adopt a negative hostility towards them in every way. At the time the army of the United States was on its way to Utah, and the Mormons were adopting an attitude of suspicious hostility towards all emigrants, but these who came directly from the state where Parley Pratt had just been killed, were regarded with special enmity, for the Mormons have never hesitated to attribute the sins of the fathers not only to the children, but also to the grandfathers, and even to the sisters, the cousins, and the aunts.
[Werner, 1925: p. 407]
The Mormons claimed that as these Arkansas emigrants made their way through Utah to the south they fought with Indians and poisoned wells with arsenic and cattle with strychnine. It has been established that some oxen died while these emigrants were in the neighborhood, but it was likely that they died of the poisonous weeds which were prevalent in the deserts of southern Utah. There was no evidence that the emigrants had either arsenic or strychnine in their baggage. On September 3, 1857, the emigrants arrived at Mountain Meadows. Mountain Meadows lay in a long valley. It was a level stretch of green seven miles long, entirely surrounded by hills and mountains, with a small gap at either end, leading out into the desert on one side and towards Jake Hamblin's ranch on the other. A small stream ran through the meadows, and near this the emigrants camped.
At daybreak on Monday, September 7, as they were lighting their camp fires for breakfast, the emigrants were fired upon by Indians and white men dressed as Indians. More than twenty were killed and wounded, and the cattle were driven off by their assailants. The surviving emigrants barricaded themselves behind their wagons and prepared to withstand a siege. The attacking party retired to the hills and shot down on the emigrants who showed their heads outside their entrenchment. Soon the Arkansas people began to suffer from lack of water, for it was impossible to get any from the near-by stream until after dark, and then the risk of being shot in the attempt was great.
After four days of siege, a wagon with a flag of truce approached the emigrants' corral. John D. Lee came to offer them protection if they would surrender their arms and ammunition. They consented to do this, after he had informed them that he was a Mormon and would take them to the nearest Mormon settlement, Cedar City, where they would be safe from the "Indians" who had attacked them. All the weapons were then placed in one wagon, and the wounded and children were placed in special wagons. The Mormon troops whom Lee had brought with him then opened order, and the emigrants marched with Mormons on either side of them, first the women, and then the men. As soon as they had marched a short distance, the Mormon guards turned on the emigrants and shot every one of them dead. Meanwhile, Lee, with several assistants, had taken charge of the wagons with the wounded and the children. When they heard the guns of their companions, Lee and his assistants shot into
[Werner, 1925: p. 408]
the wagons of wounded and children. McCurdy, one of Lee's assistants, approached a wagon containing sick and wounded, raised his rifle and said, "O Lord, my God, receive their spirits, it is for thy Kingdom that I do this." Thereupon he shot a man whose head was lying on another's breast and killed both with one ball. Indians and Mormons joined Lee and killed the rest of the sick and wounded, after they had finished with those capable of resistance. All except seventeen small children, who were too young to be able to describe the massacre, were killed.
After the sick, the wounded, and the children had been killed, the Mormons took breakfast, and, having finished their meal, returned to bury the dead. But while the white men had been eating, the Indians had been stripping the bodies of men and women of their clothes and their valuables. The skulls of the emigrants had been battered in, and their scalps removed along with their clothes, so that naked and mutilated bodies lay strewn about the meadows in horrible disorder. Lee and his associates then told the Mormons under their command that they must tell no one, not even their wives, what had happened, and that if they were ever questioned concerning this massacre, they must attribute everything to the Indians. The bodies were then piled in heaps and covered with dirt, which the rain and the wolves soon removed.
A few days before this massacre at Mountain Meadows a messenger had been sent to Brigham Young asking what the policy towards the emigrants should be. The messenger arrived in Cedar City again a few days after the massacre with an order from Brigham Young to allow the emigrants to pass through unmolested. The Mormon leaders of the southern district who had issued the orders for the massacre and carried out their execution, Isaac C. Haight, John M. Higbee, John D. Lee, and William C. Dame, were then worried about the righteousness of their action and its possible consequences. They sent Lee to report the massacre to Brigham Young, and to ask for his advice. Lee acted throughout, he claimed later in his confession, on the orders of Isaac C. Haight, who was his superior in the Church hierarchy, and who had promised him both celestial reward and temporal benefit if the emigrants were properly killed. Lee started on his ten days' journey from Cedar City to Brigham Young's office. He said later that as soon as he could see Brigham Young, he gave him all the details of the massacre, and that,
[Werner, 1925: p. 409]
"when he heard my story he wept like a child, walked the floor, and wrung his hands in bitter anguish...."  When Lee had finished his story, he wrote later, Brigham Young said:
"This is the most unfortunate affair that ever befell the Church. I am afraid of treachery among the brethren that were there. If any one tells this thing so that it will become public, it will work us great injury. I want you to understand now, that you are never to tell this again, not even to Heber C. Kimball. It must be kept a secret among ourselves. When you get home, I want you to sit down and write a long letter, and give me an account of the affair, charging it to the Indians. You sign the letter as Farmer to the Indians, and direct it to me as Indian Agent. I can then make use of such a letter to keep off all damaging and troublesome inquiries." 
Brigham Young then added: "If only men bad been killed, I would not have cared so much; but the killing of the women and children is the sin of it. I suppose the men were a hard set, but it is hard to kill women and children for the sins of the men. This whole thing stands before me like a horrid vision." The next morning when Lee called on Brigham Young again, the Prophet and President said:
"I have made that matter a subject of prayer. I went right to God with it, and asked Him to take the horrid vision from my sight, if it was a righteous thing that my people had done in killing those people at the Mountain Meadows. God answered me, and at once the vision was removed. I have evidence from God that He has overruled it all for good, and the action was a righteous one and well intended. The brethren acted from pure motives. The only trouble is they acted a little prematurely; they were a little ahead of time. I sustain you and all the brethren for what they did. All that I fear is treachery on the part of some one who took a part with you, but we will look to that."
For many years after the Mountain Meadows Massacre Brig- ham Young and John D. Lee were on terms of friendship. In his testimony before the Third District Court of Utah James
7 The Lee Trial! An Expose of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, by the Salt Lake Daily Tribune Reporter, p. 9.
8 Lee's Mormonism Unveiled, pp. 252-253.
[Werner, 1925: p. 410]
McGuffie, a faithful Mormon, was asked: "What I want to get at is whether you know, of your own knowledge, that after that massacre John D. Lee continued to be on terms of friendship with the President of the Church?" "Oh, yes," he answered, "and got two more women after that: got two at a lick -- an English girl; she died."
Brigham Young sent his report as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Utah Territory to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs at Washington on January 6, 1858, and in it he summed up the Mountain Meadows Massacre with this explanatory statement:
"On or about the middle of last September a company of emigrants traveling the southern route to California, poisoned the meat of an ox that died, and gave it to the Indians to eat, causing the immediate death of four of their tribe, and poisoning several others. This company also poisoned the water where they were encamped. This occurred at Corn Creek, fifteen miles south of Fillmore City. This conduct so enraged the Indians, that they immediately took measures for revenge.... Lamentable as this case truly is, it is only the natural consequence of that fatal policy which treats the Indians like the wolves, or other ferocious beasts. I have vainly remonstrated for years with travelers against pursuing so suicidal a policy, and repeatedly advised the Government of its fatal tendency. It is not always upon the heads of the individuals who commit such crimes that such condign punishment is visited, but more frequently the next company that follows in their fatal path become the unsuspecting victims, though peradventure perfectly innocent."
Perhaps this explanation of the Mountain Meadows Massacre would have been accepted as the truth, but, unfortunately for the Mormon position, there existed those seventeen small children, who were believed to be living with the Indians who had massacred their parents. Relatives and friends in Arkansas urged the federal government to search for these children, and in the course of the search it was found that the children were living with Mormons, and not with Indians, Further investigation led to the suspicion that the Mormons were involved in the massacre. Dr. J. Forney, successor to Brigham Young as Superintendent of Indian Affairs, gathered the children together, and he found that they ranged from three to seven years of age. They remembered only their first names, and that their fathers, mothers, brothers,
[Werner, 1925: p. 411]
and sisters had been killed. They were returned to relatives in Arkansas in June, 1859.
Several years after the massacre a military detachment was sent to Mountain Meadows to bury the bones of the emigrants. Major Carlton, commander of this expedition, found the bones uncovered by wolves. After his men had buried them, they erected a monument, and on one of the rocks they cut the words, "Here lie the bones of 120 men, women, and children, from Arkansas, murdered on the 10th day of September, 1857." And upon a cross bar, they painted: "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay it." This monument was destroyed soon after the next visit of Brigham Young to that section of Utah.
Meanwhile, John D. Lee and Brigham Young continued to be friends. Whenever Brigham Young and his large retinue visited Cedar City, Lee entertained them. Then, seventeen years after the massacre, Lee was suddenly cut off from the Church, and no explanation was offered for the action. Soon afterwards, on November 9, 1874, Lee was arrested and taken to Fort Cameron, Beaver County, Utah. When Lee was excommunicated, Brigham Young had informed his wives that they were at liberty to leave him, and eleven of them promptly did so. Judge Cradlebaugh, federal judge for Utah Territory, had held an investigation into the massacre two years after it was committed, but he was not able to get information sufficient to warrant indictments. It was not until a bill was passed authorizing federal officers in Utah to impanel jurors that any indictments could be returned by non- Mormon grand jurors.
John D. Lee was tried for murder in July, 1875. The jury was made up of a majority of Mormons, and finally they failed to agree. In September, 1876, Lee was tried again, and this time the Church, which had supported him at the first trial, withdrew its support. The facts brought out at the first trial had aroused resentment throughout the country, and news and comment on the trial were printed in newspapers everywhere. Many editorial writers suggested that if Lee were acquitted, he should be lynched. The disagreement of the Mormon jury at the first trial also led newspapers to suggest that justice was impossible in Brigham Young's stronghold. Brigham Young and the Church leaders came to the conclusion that it would be wise for the Church to withdraw any influence on the jurors at the second trial, and they offered up Lee as a sacrifice to justice. At his second trial Lee
[Werner, 1925: p. 412]
was convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to be shot at the scene of the massacre.
While he was in prison awaiting execution, John D. Lee wrote his confessions, which he entrusted to his lawyer, W. W. Bishop, who published them some years after Lee's death under the title,, Mormonism Unveiled. "I once thought," wrote Lee, "that I never could be induced to occupy the position that I now do, to expose the wickedness and corruption of the man whom I once looked upon as my spiritual guide, as I then considered Brigham Young to be. Nothing could have compelled me to this course save an honest sense of the duty I owe myself, my God, the people at large, and my brethren and sisters who are treading the downward path that will lead them to irretrievable ruin, unless they retrace their steps and throw off the yoke of the tyrant, who has long usurped the right of rule that justly belongs to the son of Joseph, the Prophet." This was a great change from Lee's former attitude, which was described by one who knew him: "Lee is a good, kind-hearted fellow, who would share his last biscuit with a fellow-traveler on the plains, but at the next instant, if Brigham Young said so, he would cut that fellow-traveler's throat." John D. Lee had decided to betray Brigham Young, because Brigham Young had betrayed John D. Lee by delivering him as a sacrifice to save the name of the Church. This sudden thrust into the dungeons to await the lions of the law opened Lee's eyes to past incidents. He now saw without the eye of faith, but with the eye of and the change in the point of view made him realize the significance of many events which he had previously accepted with unquestioning confidence.
In September, 1857, according to Lee's own story, he was sent for by the Mormon military commander of southern Utah, Isaac C. Haight. The two men met at Haight's house and went from there to the Old Iron Works near Cedar City, where they spent the night under the stars talking.
"After we got to the Iron Works," wrote Lee, "Haight told me all about the train of emigrants. He said (and I then believed every word that he spoke, for I believed it was an impossible thing for one so high in the Priesthood as he was, to be guilty of falsehood) that the emigrants were a rough and abusive set of men. That they had, while traveling through Utah, been very abusive to all the Mormons they met. That they had insulted, outraged, and ravished many of the Mormon women. That the abuses heaped upon the
[Werner, 1925: p. 413]
people by the emigrants during their trip from Provo to Cedar City, had been constant and shameful; that they had burned fences and destroyed growing crops; that at many points on the road they had poisoned the water, so that all people and stock that drank of the water became sick, and many had died from the effects of poison. These vile Gentiles publicly proclaimed that they had the very pistol with which the Prophet Joseph was murdered, and had threatened to kill Brigham Young and all of the Apostles. That when in Cedar City they said they would have friends in Utah who would hang Brigham Young by the neck until lie was dead, before snow fell again in the Territory! They also said that Johnston was coming, with his army, from the East, and they were going to return from California with soldiers, as soon as possible, and would then desolate the land, and kill every damned Mormon man, woman and child that they could find in Utah."
Haight told Lee that it had been decided to arm the Indians, to give them food and ammunition, and to set them, upon the party of wicked emigrants. He did not say who had decided this, but he pointed out that Brigham Young had declared martial law in the Territory because of the advancing expedition of United States troops, and that therefore these emigrants had no right to travel through the Territory without a pass from Brigham Young Haight then said that it was Lee's job to round up the Indians, and to tell them that the Mormons were at war with the "Mericats," which was the Indian nickname for Americans. "I asked him,” wrote Lee, "if it would not have been better to first send to Brigham Young for instructions, and find out what he thought about the matter." "No," answered Haight, "that is unnecessary, we are acting by orders." After he had received these instructions from Haight, Lee joined the Indians, and he found that they had already attacked the emigrants. He camped with them, and he wrote of his experience the first night: "I spent one of the most miserable nights there that I ever passed in my life. I spent much of the night in tears and at prayer. I wrestled with God for wisdom to guide me. I asked for some sign, some evidence that would satisfy me that my mission was of Heaven, but I got no satisfaction from God." On the following day Lee and a detachment of Mormons and Indians made the truce with the emigrants, and killed them. The night before the final deception and murder of the emigrants Lee and his Mormon companions knelt in a circle, with
[Werner, 1925: p. 414]
elbows touching, and prayed for divine aid and guidance. When they arose, Major Higbee said, "I have the evidence of God's approval of our mission. It is God's will that we carry out our instructions to the letter." "It helps a man a great deal in a fight," Lee wrote in his confession, "to know that God is on his side." It is probable that the direction of this massacre was the work of Isaac C. Haight, who was the leader of the Church in the district where it took place, and who used John D. Lee to carry it out. The men and women of this southern district of Utah had been aroused to fear and antagonism by the impending arrival of -United States troops, whose purpose they did not know, and by the rumors circulated concerning the depredations of the emigrants. The state of mind in the neighborhood of Mountain Meadows is illustrated admirably in a sermon which George A. Smith delivered a few days after the massacre took place, but before news of it had reached Salt Lake City. Smith had just returned from a trip to Cedar City and the Mountain Meadows district. Later it was said that he bore orders from Brigham Young for the massacre, but there was no evidence for this accusation. Smith visited Parowan, Iron County, where he found the militia preparing for active operations. "They had assembled together," he said, "under the impression that their country was about to be invaded by an army from the United States, and that it was necessary to make preparation by examining each other's arms, and to make everything ready by preparing to strike in any direction and march to such places as might be necessary in the defense of their homes.... They were willing at any moment to touch fire to their homes, and hide themselves in the mountains, and to defend their country to the very last extremity."
Wherever he went, George A. Smith found the same preparations. "They had heard," he said of the people of Penter, "they were going to have an army of 600 dragoons come down from the East on to the town. The Major seemed very sanguine about the matter. I asked him, if this rumor should prove true, if he was not going to wait for instructions. He replied, There was no time to wait for any instructions; and he was going to take his battalion and use them up before they could get down through the kanyons; for, said he, if they are coming here, they are coming for no good." This spirit led George A. Smith to conclude: "There was only one thing that I dreaded, and that was a spirit
[Werner, 1925: p. 415]
in the breasts of some to wish that their enemies might come and give them a chance to fight and take vengeance for the cruelties that had been inflicted upon us in the States.... But I am perfectly aware that in all the settlements I visited in the south, Fillmore included, one single sentence is enough to put every man in motion. In fact, a word is enough to set in motion every man, or set a torch to every building, where the safety of this people is jeopardized." 
The emigrants from Arkansas and Missouri had the misfortune to pass through these settlements at the worst possible moment for their safety. It required only the rumor that some of them were the murderers of Joseph Smith and that all of them were the enemies of the Mormons and friends of the oncoming United States forces, to work up into a frenzy of recrimination those Mormons who were thirsting for revenge and anxious to protect themselves from dangers which they were anticipating. Brigham Young was never accused, even by John D. Lee, of direct responsibility for the massacre at Mountain Meadows. For Lee's second trial Brigham Young sent a written deposition of his testimony and examination by a lawyer, for he claimed that his health and his age -- he was then seventy-five years old -- prevented him from traveling to Beaver County, where the trial was held. In this examination, which was not admitted for the defense at the first trial, but which was introduced and admitted for the prosecution at the second, Brigham Young was asked: "Did John D. Lee report to you at any time after this massacre what had been done at that massacre, and if so, what did you reply to him in reference thereto?" He answered: "Within some two or three months after the massacre he called at my office and had much to say with regard to the Indians, their being stirred up to anger and threatening the settlements of the whites, and then commenced giving an account of the massacre. I told him to stop, as from what I had already heard by rumor, I did not wish my feelings harrowed up with a recital of detail." But Brigham Young's feelings were not easily "harrowed up," and it was usually his desire to know the details of everything that happened in his demesne.
Brigham Young shares in the responsibility for this massacre indirectly. He had frequently talked against Gentiles in the pulpit, and particularly against California emigrants. He had
9 Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, pp. 221-225.
[Werner, 1925: p. 416]
also caused his people to believe that a man who killed a Gentile or an apostate Mormon was no more than the instrument of God, and that his responsibility was no greater than the knife which was used to slit the throat or the bullet that was fired at the victim. In the excitement of the time of stress Brigham Young's assistants interpreted his general philosophy literally, and their assistants, the common people, were subject to pressure that kept them obedient to their leaders. Nephi Johnson, who was in the party of Mormons who executed the Mountain Meadows Massacre, testified at Lee's trial:
"What do you mean by your evidence, where you were asked by Mr. Howard a question, and you answered that you would not have gone to the Meadows if you had known what was to be done?
Answer: That is, not if I could help it.
"State whether you were tinder any compulsion.
Answer: I didn't consider it was safe for me to object.
"Explain what you mean, that is what I want. Where was the danger -- who was the danger to come from if you objected -- from Haight or those around him -- from Indians, or from the emigrants?
Answer: From the military officers.
Answer: At Cedar City.
"Was Haight one of those military officers?
Answer: Yes, sir.
"You thought it would not be safe for you to refuse, bad you any reasons to fear danger-had any persons ever been injured for not obeying, or anything of that kind?
Answer: I don't want to answer.
"It is necessary to the safety of the man I am defending, and I therefore insist upon an answer. Had any person ever been injured for not obeying, or anything of that kind?
Answer: Yes, sir; they had." 
When John D. Lee was finally arrested for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, he was found hiding in a chicken pen on his farm at Panguitch, Utah. He was forced out of his hiding-place by the marshal with some difficulty. He was calm, and asked to see the pistol that had been pointed at his head, remarking that it was the queerest-looking pistol he ever did see. His wives, however, were frantic with excitement, and William Stokes, the deputy marshal who arrested Lee, sent for a pitcher of wine to calm the women and refresh the soldiers. They all drank, and one of Lee's
10 Mormonism Unveiled, p. 349.
[Werner, 1925: p. 417]
daughters, as she raised the pitcher, said: "Here's hoping that father will get away from you, and that if he does, you will not catch him again till hell freezes over." "Drink hearty, Miss," answered Stokes. The rumor was circulated that an attempt would be made by some of Lee's army of sixty-four children to rescue him from the law, and he was guarded with extraordinary precautions.
Lee was led to his execution by a strong guard of soldiers and a cortege of newspaper correspondents and lawyers. In the twenty years since the massacre the green valley of Mountain Meadows had changed to an arid plain. The pine boards for Lee's coffin were transported with the execution party, and the carpenters began hammering them into a coffin, while Lee sat a short distance away watching them with intense interest. A photographer took some pictures of the scene. Lee asked to talk to the photographer and said to him: "I want to ask a favor of you; I want you to furnish my three wives each a copy. Send them to Rachel A., Sarah C., and Emma B." Those were the only faithful wives left of the nineteen. The photographer promised to carry out this request, and then Lee posed for the photographs. He addressed the group of people about him, assuring them that he was innocent in intent, and that he had only obeyed the orders of his superiors and was the victim at a sacrifice. He said that he still believed in the divinity of Joseph Smith, but that he no longer believed in the virtue of Brigham Young. Then his eyes were blindfolded, and he sat on his own coffin. A Methodist minister delivered a fervent prayer, to which Lee listened attentively. "I ask one favor of the guards," he said, as soon as the prayer was finished, "spare my limbs and center my heart." He then straightened up, still sitting on his coffin, and said: "Let them shoot the balls through my heart. Don't let them mangle my body." The marshal assured him that the aim would be accurate. The command was given, "Ready, aim, fire." Five soldiers fired, and Lee fell back on the top of his own coffin without a moan, as the echo of the shots reverberated through the surrounding hills.... (from M. R. Werner's 1925 book, Brigham Young)
Extract from R. B. West (1957) pp. 271-288
The federal judges who had accompanied the army were another matter. Still smarting under the indignity and the discomforts of their winter on the plains, they seemed bent on provoking a clash between the Mormons and the government.
"The speculators still seem determined to let no opportunity slip to create a 'muss,'" a Mormon wrote in a letter to the East. "There are strong rumors that judge Sinclair is about to bring a large detachment of troops to this city to convince the inhabitants that he really is a much more important personage than they have any idea of." ...
[West, 1957: p. 284]
2The Mountain Meadow Massacre, as it became known, occurred shortly after word had come from the East that a federal army was approaching Utah. Brigham's knowledge of the event at the time was slight. During the visit of Captain Van Vliet, in the fall of 1857, Brigham received a courier from the settlements of Iron County, two hundred and fifty miles to the south, who carried a message stating that a company of emigrants on their way to California had arrived among them. Given less aid than they had expected from the Mormons, they had grown belligerent and threatening. A group of them, who called themselves the Missouri Wildcats, boasted that they had helped to murder Joseph Smith. Others threatened that when they got to California they would raise an army and return to assist the federal troops. The Mormons heard that they had poisoned a spring in central Utah, killing some cattle belonging to the Indians. The message to Brigham related these facts and rumors and asked the prophet's advice. Brigham sent back word that the emigrants should under no conditions be molested. They should be allowed to pass through the settlements as rapidly as possible. He did warn his followers that they should make every effort not to create trouble with the Indians.
"Go in haste, and do not spare horseflesh," the messenger quoted Brigham Young as saying "The emigrants must be protected if it takes all the men in southern Utah."
But Brigham's message arrived too late. Although the messenger left Salt Lake City the same day he arrived, he did not get back to Cedar City before the entire company of approximately one hundred and twenty persons had been murdered by the Indians and the whites. Even then, Brigham did not learn the details of the killing. He was led by his followers to believe that it had been an Indian massacre. That he persisted in this belief for many years there can be no doubt. Like Governor Ford of Illinois, he did not believe his people capable of such cruelty. By 1859 his own investigations indicated
[West, 1957: p. 285]
that some Mormons had been involved. The full horror of the atrocity was not to become known until some time after 1863.
Briefly, what had happened was this: The party of emigrants bound for California arrived at Buttermilk Fort, now Holden, 175 miles south of Salt Lake at a time when the saints were apprehensive at the approach of a federal army and were prepared to resist invasion if it became necessary. Here the emigrants enraged the Mormons by telling them that their women were whores and by threatening that when they got to California they would recruit an army and return to Utah. They then went on to Cedar City and passed through it, with ill feeling and tension apparent on both sides.
As they arrived and camped at Mountain Meadow, thirty-five miles west and south of Cedar City, an indignation meeting was held in Cedar City after the regular church services. A resolution was passed to the effect that "we will deal with this situation now, so that our hands will be free to meet the army when it comes." Some Mormons felt that this was the chance to avenge the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith (as members of the emigrant company had boasted they had participated in the murder), as well as Parley P. Pratt's murder (he had been killed that year in Arkansas, the state from which the bulk of the emigrants came). Other Mormons disagreed. It was at this point that a courier was sent to Brigham Young, asking his advice.
At Mountain Meadow, Indians, sensing the hostility of the Mormons, made the first attack on the company, and several Indians were killed. No attempt to restrain the Indians was made by the resident white men who were present, among whom was John Doyle Lee, the Government Indian agent for the area, and a devout Mormon.
Following the first attack by the Indians, three members of the emigrant company left the camp in an attempt to (yet to Cedar City and enlist aid against what they thought was an Indian attack. One of these men was seen by one of the Mormons, who evidently became panicky, at the thought that the presence of white men on the scene was about to be disclosed, and who shot and killed him. The other two emigrants escaped to the California road, but they were
[West, 1957: p. 286]
soon overtaken by Indians and also killed. The Mormons were now thoroughly frightened that their part in the ambush would be discovered, particularly if the remainder of the emigrants survived the Indian attack. They sent to their military commander in Parowan, Major William H. Dame, to ask what they should do.
Meanwhile the Indians threatened to turn against them, charging that the Mormons, who had advised them to fight the Amerikats, would not now come to their assistance. Ambiguous orders arrived from Major Dame in Parowan, suggesting that they allow the emigrants to leave, taking part of their stock and equipment to appease the Indians. But, Dame advised, "On no condition are you to precipitate a war with Indians while there is an army marching against our people."
By now there were approximately fifty-four Mormons on the scene, and between two and three hundred Indians, who were showing increasing anger at the indecision of the Mormons. Several of their braves had been killed, and they hinted that if they could not avenge themselves against the emigrants they might do so against the Mormons.
A council was held, in which it was decided that all the emigrants except the smallest children should die. John D. Lee, in explaining this meeting, wrote later: "We knew that the original plan was for the Indians to do all the work and the whites to do nothing, only to stay back and plan for them, and encourage them to do the work. Now we knew the Indians could not do the work, and we were in a sad fix."
According to prearranged plan, Lee, under a flag of truce, carried a message to the emigrants telling them that the Indians were angry at the killing of their braves and that the only way they could be satisfied was for the emigrants to surrender their arms and property and march under the protection of the whites to Cedar City. The young children were placed in wagons and taken from the camp. The adults followed on foot, each accompanied by a Mormon. The plan was for each Mormon, upon a prearranged signal, to shoot the man he accompanied. However, since many of the Mormons objected to killing, they were told merely to fire their
[West, 1957: p. 287]
guns into the air, after which the Indians would come in and complete the slaughter. All the emigrants were killed within a few minutes.
No sooner was the killing complete than disagreement broke out among the Mormon leaders as to who had been responsible. In the light of Brigham's message, which arrived nearly twenty-four hours too late, and undoubtedly also in the light of horror at the deed itself, a recognition of bad judgment and a sense of guilt came over them.
Despite the disagreement, it was decided that word should be given out that only the Indians were responsible; and this account was at first accepted. In a report to Brigham Young made eighteen days after the event, Lee presented the matter as an Indian massacre.
Brigham conducted an investigation under George A. Smith two years later, in I859, but not until the federal judges had begun to take an interest and the principal Mormons involved had gone into hiding to avoid arrest and interrogation. There is no absolute proof to show that Brigham either did or did not know the full extent of the tragic mistake made at Mountain Meadow in 1857 until many years later. Although the gentile charges usually portrayed it as an official massacre ordered by Brigham Young, he made no attempt to clear himself by denial until he was called upon to make a statement in a federal court in 1876.
In 1875 John D. Lee was arrested for his part, and he was convicted two years later. He died before a firing squad at the site of the massacre, March 23, 1877 -- almost twenty years after the event -- in a sense the scapegoat in an affair in which he considered himself as acting upon orders from his superiors. There is no doubt that the act was one of mob violence, caused in part by an unfortunate combination of attitudes and events; and in such cases it is difficult to fix individual responsibility.
The Mormons have ever since suffered a sense of guilt over the Mountain Meadow massacre, and it seems reasonable to conclude that Brigham Young shared this feeling. His advice had been good, but the warlike spirit he had engendered, both in his own people and in the Indians, had been at least partially responsible for the fact
[West, 1957: p. 288]
that the massacre took place before his messenger reached the scene.
On the spot where it occurred now stands a monument, erected by the Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association, in a valley almost as empty of inhabitants as it was in 1857.
3With the removal of the federal troops from the territory and the beginning of the Civil War in the East, Brigham's position had become strengthened. There were still gentiles and federal officials in Utah, but the nation's attention was absorbed elsewhere. Abraham Lincoln made good his pledge to leave the Mormons alone, concentrating his energy on winning battles. Brigham was left free to consolidate his own power and influence.
Early in 1862 Indians threatened the overland mail route and the newly completed telegraph lines. Federal officials in Utah and Washington considered stationing United States troops in the West to keep these important routes of communication open. Brigham offered the Mormon militia. He believed that the Indian scare had been precipitated by gentiles, anxious for the return of federal soldiers to the territory. He telegraphed his delegate in Washington that "the militia of Utah are ready and able, as they ever have been, to take care of the Indians, and are able and willing to protect the "line, if called upon to do so." His offer was endorsed by the territorial governor, and Abraham Lincoln authorized the calling up of ninety mounted men for three months' service between Laramie and Fort Bridger.... (from Kingdom of the Saints, Copyright © 1957 by Ray B. West, Jr., All Rights Reserved -- only "fair use" extracts reproduced here -- )
Extract from LDS Church (1993) pp. 371-473
About this same time the Fancher Train -- an emigrant company composed of several families from Arkansas and a group of horsemen who called themselves the Missouri Wildcats-made its way through central Utah. They were taking the southern route to California because of the lateness of the season. Since Utah was under martial law, the party was unable to buy grain and supplies. Some of the travelers, however, pilfered from local farmers. Some also boasted about participating in the Haun's Mill Massacre, the murder of Joseph Smith, and other mob actions against the Mormons. A few local settlers connected the group from Arkansas with the recent brutal murder of Elder Parley P. Pratt in that state. Some of the Saints thought this party was a scouting or reconnoitering party in advance of the federal army.
The Indian problem in southern Utah complicated these circumstances. The Saints had endeavored to cultivate good relationships with the Indians, but there was still danger. The Indians distinguished between the "Mericats" (any Americans traveling through Utah), whom they entirely distrusted, and the "Mormonee," whom they generally liked. The possibility existed, however, that the Indians would turn on the Mormon settlers.
[LDS, 1993: p. 372]
On Tuesday, 7 September 1857, a band of Indians attacked the Fancher Train, which was camped thirty-five miles from Cedar City. The emigrants were well armed, and the Indians were forced to retreat.
Meanwhile, the citizens in Cedar City had met and discussed what course to pursue relative to the Fancher Train. Some of those with quicker tempers argued that the emigrants should be destroyed. They were afraid the emigrants might join a California-based army and fight against the Saints as they had publicly threatened to do. It was decided to dispatch a messenger, James Haslam, to seek the advice of Brigham Young. With little rest or sleep, Haslam reached Salt Lake City in only three days and obtained a letter from President Young urging the Saints to let the emigrants go in peace. As Haslam left Salt Lake City, Brigham urged, "Go with all speed, spare no horse flesh. The emigrants must not be meddled with, if it takes all Iron county to prevent it. They must go free and unmolested."  Haslam hastened to Cedar City, arriving on Sunday, 13 September, two days too late.
John D. Lee, who had been appointed "Indian Farmer" by Brigham Young in the absence of Jacob Hamblin, the Indian agent, had been sent to quiet the Indians. He arrived at the Indian camp shortly after the first skirmish between them and the emigrants had occurred. Finding the Indians highly excited, Lee was in the dangerous situation of being the only white man present. He finally convinced the Indians that they would get their revenge, and he was allowed to leave.
Later that night, more Indians arrived at the camp together with a few white men from Cedar City. Sometime during the night, a diabolical plan was concocted, partly to placate the angry Indians. The next day, the morning of 11 September, the whites promised the emigrants protection if they would give up their weapons. The men of the Iron County militia, acting tinder orders from their local commanders, killed the men, while Indians slew the women and older children, approximately 120 in all. Only eighteen very young children were spared. They were later returned, with government help, to relatives in the East.
The dead were buried in shallow graves, and commitments were made to blame the massacre entirely upon the Indians. More than two weeks after the tragedy, John D. Lee was sent to Salt Lake City to report the incident to Brigham Young. Lee placed all the blame on the Indians as had previously been agreed. Later Brigham Young learned that members of the Iron County militia had been full participants in the affair. He offered Governor Alfred Cumming full support in an investigation, but none was undertaken at the time because the Mormons had been pardoned for all alleged crimes in connection with the Utah War.
For the next two decades, rumors and allegations continued to circulate, and finally the case came to trial in the 1870s. John D. Lee, a key participant, but certainly not the only officer responsible for the deed, was the only Latter-day Saint indicted. Lee was tried twice. The first trial resulted in a
5 In Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 4:150.
[LDS, 1993: p. 373]
hung jury. Lee was finally convicted in September 1876 and a year later was taken by federal officials to the area of Mountain Meadows and executed.
At the time of the Mountain Meadows massacre the United States army was approaching the area called South Pass in what is now Wyoming. They were under the temporary command of Lieutenant Colonel Edmund B. Alexander. Two Utah militiamen claiming to be California immigrants mingled with the troops. They heard firsthand the anti-Mormon threats that did not represent the official instructions of the expedition, but made Church leaders in Utah nervous about a possible confrontation. Mormon scouts watched the movements of the troops throughout their entire march.
Following Governor Young's declaration of martial law in September, General Daniel H. Wells of the Nauvoo Legion sent about eleven hundred men east to Echo Canyon, which lay on the route through the mountains to Salt Lake City. These soldiers built walls and dug trenches from which they could act as snipers. They also loosened huge boulders that could easily be sent crashing down on the moving columns, and they constructed ditches and dams that could be opened to flood the enemy's path.... (from Church History in the Fulness of Times, Copyright © 1989, 1993 by Corporation of the President, All Rights Reserved -- only "fair use" extracts reproduced here from full on-line text)