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Chapter 13: the Mormon rebellion.

  • The rise of Mormonism.
  • -- Joseph Smith. -- his career. -- Brigham Young. -- Nauvoo. -- Salt Lake City. -- Utah. -- quarrels with Federal officials. -- the Danites. -- “Reformation” of 1856. -- a Hideous fanaticism. -- Buchanan's appointments. -- revolt. -- Young's proclamation. -- Mormon oratory. -- a Mountain stronghold. -- orders to the Saints. -- Mountain Meadows massacre. -- a late retribution.

General Johnston, as commander of the United States troops employed to enforce the Federal authority in Utah, was for more than two years placed in relations of either direct or indirect antagonism with the Mormon chiefs ; and, as his position was peculiarly dangerous and difficult, it is impossible clearly to understand it without some knowledge of the situation of this people and of the abnormal development of religious ideas which led to their separation into a distinct community.

The rise and spread of the Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints, is one of the most remarkable facts of this century. Observers recognize the existence in civilized society of a barbarous element, sometimes characterized as s “the dangerous classes.” Its manifestation is usually political and communistic, or predatory. Under the influence of religious fanaticism, it gave birth to Mormonism. Joseph Smith, an ignorant and cunning charlatan, with the aid of certain confederates animated by similar sordid motives, deliberately framed and preached and organized a system of religious imposture, which was to establish him as the prophet and [196] vicegerent of the Most High. He pretended to announce his mission by divine revelation, and to attest it by miracles. Secretly he made it the instrument of unbounded license, and of a perfect despotism, spiritual and temporal, over his deluded followers.

Joseph Smith was a native of Vermont, where he was born in 1805. His father removed during his boyhood to near Palmyra, New York. His family was of the vagabond class, thriftless and superstitious. They were people of the lowest social grade, subsisting on the proceeds of irregular labor-hunting, trapping, well-digging, and peddling beer and cakes, together with some shiftless and ill-directed work on the farm on which they had “squatted.” Their neighbors testified that they were idle, thriftless, and suspected of pilfering. The family were very ignorant and superstitious, dreaming dreams, seeing visions, and catching eagerly at all the marvels current in their circle. In the camp-meetings and revivals that formed the chief recreation of their community, they picked up an extensive Scriptural vocabulary and some ill-defined views of theology, but no impulse, apparently, to carry the word of God into the practical conduct of life. Their spiritual life was passed in that sediment of fanaticism which consists chiefly of credulity, self-deception, and imposture. Such was the school of morals in which Joseph Smith was educated in all the points of charlatanism.

Joseph Smith was himself accounted in youth a worthless, idle, lying, immoral vagabond; though both he and his mother testified that it was religious meditation which occupied his thoughts. “He was,” according to his father, “the genus of the family.” His neighbors assert that he professed to discover hidden treasures by the use of “a peep-stone” --a large crystal through which he looked-and that he was also “a water-witch,” who found wells with the hazel-rod. According to his own account, at the age of fifteen, he had a vision in which Christ appeared to him and warned him against all existing creeds and sects. He received his call as a prophet on the 23d of September, 1823, when “Nephi, a messenger of God,” appeared to him in a vision, and told him that “God had a work for him to do,” etc.

It is not necessary to recapitulate here the steps by which a bold imposture rose to a formidable fanaticism. Smith began his practices in 1823, at the age of eighteen, but it was seven years later before Mormonism began to take shape as a sect. His shallow pretenses of the discovery of “the book of Mormon,” and of miraculous spectacles to read it with, and his other tricks, have all been laid bare. Nevertheless, he drew around him a band in which craftiness, audacity, and superstition, accompanied by an American aptitude for organization, were the marked characteristics. A sect was founded.

Converts were made rapidly, and colonies were established at Kirtland, Ohio, and Independence, Missouri. Great missionary enterprises [197] were undertaken, and the sect was separated into a distinct body, organized for political and ecclesiastical ends, and literally, not figuratively, “at war with the world.” Horse-stealing and counterfeiting were charged as effective means by which they “spoiled the Egyptians;” and so deep-seated was this belief that they were expelled from Ohio and Missouri by popular uprisings. In 1839 the exiles took refuge in Illinois, and built a handsome city on the banks of the Mississippi, named Nauvoo, which in two years contained two thousand houses. Though warmly welcomed at first, their ill name followed them, and a war seemed imminent between them and the people of the country. In the half-hostile, half-legal phases of the contest, Smith fell into the hands of his enemies, and, while in the custody of the law, was murdered in jail by a mob in June, 1844. The martyrdom of its founder gave a seal to the church. His place as “seer” and “revelator of God,” after a brief contest, was usurped by a man of real ability, grasp, and steady purpose. Brigham Young, one of his earliest converts and chief counselors, a man of rude, native strength and cunning and excellent administrative power, came to the front as successor. Holding with firm hand the reins of power, he guided the destiny of the Latter- Day Saints until his death in 1877.

Brigham Young was born in Vermont, June 1, 1801, whence he was removed while an infant to New York by his father, who was a small farmer. Though brought up to farm-labor, he became a painter and glazier. He was an early proselyte in 1832, and joined Smith at Kirtland. He soon attained a high place in Smith's confidence, and in rank in the church. In 1835 he was made an apostle, and in 1836, president of the twelve apostles. He was absent in England two years on a successful mission; but, except during this absence, followed Smith's fortunes closely, and was his most trusted counselor. He owed his position to qualities of which his chief felt the need-business sense, persistence, and self-control. He had shrewdness and insight, and cloaked an imperious will under a profession of blind obedience. He is said to have managed Smith, and to have ruled as vizier before he became sultan. At first he was a poor preacher, only affecting “the gift of tongues,” or talking gibberish to be translated by another. The habit of command and long practice at length made him a strong though rude speaker. Such was the successor of Joseph.

Prophecy required the completion of the temple at Nauvoo; and Brigham finished it after a fashion. In the mean time, foreseeing the conflict impending with the Gentiles, he cautiously paved the way to a removal of his people to the Rocky Mountains, and at last declared a revelation to that effect. In February, 1846, the advance-guard crossed the Mississippi, Nauvoo was abandoned, and that toilsome pilgrimage began, which ended in the valley of Salt Lake. Nauvoo was said to [198] contain 15,000 inhabitants, and it was entirely deserted. The sudden exodus of such a population from the midst of enraged neighbors was marked by every form of hardship, privation, and affliction, and their migration across the Plains was at a heavy cost in human life. The United States Government, in order to relieve the distress of the Mormons, authorized the enlistment of a battalion of volunteers, who received $20,000 pay in advance, were marched to their destination, and dismissed with their arms. This act of sympathy, gratefully acknowledged at the time, was afterward basely misrepresented as a cruel and malignant persecution.

Brigham Young arrived at the site of Salt Lake City with a small detachment, July 24, 1847; and, leaving a colony, returned to lead forward the main body from their winter-quarters near Council Bluffs, Iowa.

On the 24th of December, 1847, by a second coup d'etat, he had himself chosen first president of the church, and thus succeeded to the place and power of Joseph Smith. Henceforth, as prophet, priest, and king, he ruled as absolute monarch of the Mormons — a Grand Lama, or incarnate deity. In 1848 he led his people to the valley of Salt Lake. The city he built there he proclaimed the Zion of the Mountains. In his explorations, and as the pioneer leader of a mixed multitude in their passage over the desert, Brigham Young appears at his best. He showed great energy, skill, and decision, and, when he had fairly crossed the boundary into Mexican territory, he set up his standard.

The Mormons from the origin of their sect have tried to preserve every possible analogy to the Hebrews; and this memorable migration out of Egypt to the promised land has enabled them to indulge it. Utah reproduced to their imaginations a new and enlarged type of Canaan. As they emerged from the defiles of the Rocky Mountains they beheld a vast basin, in which lay a Dead Sea, with a shore-line of 290 miles, in a frame of treeless mountains, its sullen waves lapping a snow-white beach. From a second sea of Galilee — the beautiful Utah Lake-another Jordan poured down, along whose green banks the Mormon, in his mind's eye, saw set the cities of the Lord.

Brigham Young looked beyond these types, and perceived himself posted in a stronghold where he thought he could bid defiance to the armies of the world. Lofty and inaccessible mountains girdled it, to whose few and narrow gateways he would hold the key. His new city would be a Tadmor of the desert, a city of refuge, a holy place, and a prison whose door he would keep — a city of which the world had not seen the like, at once a new Rome and a new Jerusalem.

At first the Mormon colony suffered for food; but judicious management and fortitude tided them over the danger of starvation; and in 1849 an abundant harvest relieved them. In 1850 and thereafter a great emigration passed over the continent to California; and, as the [199] owners of the half-way station, the Mormons were enriched by legitimate commerce. Brigham showed administrative talent; and, with full command of the resources of his people, he was able to combine cooperative effectiveness with the individual energy and spontaneous industry of the population in such a way as to work marvels of achievement.

Utah was transferred, by the treaty of 1848, from Mexico to the United States. The question was thus revived, whether it were better to pursue their pilgrimage still farther, encountering Apache cruelty and Mexican bigotry, or to trust to their isolation, and “build up the kingdom” on United States territory. The Mormons chose the latter course. Early in 1849 they organized the State of “Deseret;” but Congress ignored it, and, in September, 1850, created instead the Territory of Utah. President Fillmore appointed Brigham Young Governor; and he took the oath of office February 3, 1851. Stenhouse says,1President Fillmore appointed Brigham on the recommendation of Colonel Thomas L. Kane, and upon the assurance of that gentleman that the charges against Brigham Young's Christian morality were unfounded.” A judge, the attorney, and the marshal of the district court, were also Mormons. Two of the judges were “Gentiles.” Thus was impressed a Mormon policy upon the Federal relations of the Territory.

The Federal officers arrived in July, and were soon involved in trouble. Judge Brocchus reprobated polygamy in a public assembly, and was told by the Governor, “I will kick you or any other Gentile judge from this stand, if you or they again attempt to interfere with the affairs of our Zion!” He afterward said, “If I had crooked my finger, the women would have torn him to pieces.” Disliking such tenure of office and life, the Gentile Federal officers retreated from the Territory, and left affairs in the hands of their Mormon colleagues. Judge Shaver, who succeeded Brocchus, died, with some suspicion of foul play; and Judge Reed, his associate, returned to New York. A third set of officials was sent out in 1854, whose relations with the Mormon chiefs became still more unpleasant. A bitter controversy sprang up between Judge Drummond and the Saints, with mutual accusations of crime. The former charged the massacre of Lieutenant Gunnison's party on the Mormons, together with many other outrages; while the latter retorted with allegations of gross immorality. Judge Drummond, having got to Carson's Valley, took care not to return.

The Secretary of State, Almon W. Babbitt, having offended Brigham Young, started across the Plains, but was murdered on the road by Indians “who spoke good English ;” or, in other words, by Mormons. Brigham's comment was: “There was Almon W. Babbitt. He undertook to quarrel with me, and soon after was killed by the Indians. He [200] lived like a fool, and died like a fool.” This unrelenting vindictiveness of Brigham seems the worst feature of his character.

Judge Styles was a Mormon who had outgrown his faith; and, having offended the Saints by his decision of a question of jurisdiction adversely to their wishes, he was set upon, insulted, and threatened by the Mormon bar. His records and books were stolen, and, as he supposed, burned; though, in fact, they were hidden for subsequent use by Clawson, Brigham's son-in-law and confidential clerk. Styles escaped to complain at Washington City; but his intimate friend, a lawyer named Williams, was murdered.

Whether the immoralities charged against the Federal officials were true or not, their chief sin was the effort to punish the crimes of certain violent men, who in the name of religion had instituted a reign of terror over the Mormons themselves. The Danites, or Destroying Angels, were a secret organization, said to have originated with one Dr. Avard, in the Missouri troubles of 1838. They had their grips and passwords; and blind obedience to the Prophet was the sole article of their creed. They have had their prototypes under every aspect of despotism, such as the Kruptoi of Sparta, the stabbers of Dr. Francia, and the assassins of the Old Man of the Mountain. This secret police executed the bloody decrees of the church and the will of its president with merciless rigor, and hunted down Gentiles and apostate Saints under the combined influence of fanaticism, greed, and private vengeance.

Elder Stenhouse, in the thirty-sixth chapter of his “Rocky Mountain Saints,” gives a terrible picture of the outburst of fanaticism in the “Reformation” of 1856. This was “a revival” begun by Jedediah M. Grant, in which the most dangerous dogmas of their church were pressed to their extremest consequences, and the whole population was in a ferment of religious frenzy. It has already been stated that whatever was plausible in doctrine or popular in ritual had been adopted into the Mormon Church, so that its creed was a seething mass of incongruous heresies and monstrous errors. Humanity recoiled 4,000 years with the growth of this bastard dispensation, which seemed to have exuded from the slime of the Nile, instead of drawing living waters from “Siloa's brook, that flowed fast by the oracle of God.” The Godhead was dragged down to the likeness of the created, and pictured with all the appetites of humanity, while a brutal peasantry were taught that each one should become “a god” to create, populate, and reign over a new earth as his peculiar domain. This procreation, transmigration, and exaltation of souls, was to be secured by obedience and the practice of polygamy. All the worst possible phases of polygamy were practised, including incest. Heber C. Kimball, Young's associate in the first presidency, “declared to the people that Young was his God and their God.” Grant said, “If President Young wants [201] my wives, I will give them to him without a grumble, and he can take them whenever he likes.” Confession was insisted on; those who hesitated were excommunicated, and those who confessed were published and punished. Rebaptism for the remission of sins was enjoined. The wavering, the doubtful, the suspected, were seized by night, whipped, ducked, or even worse maltreated. Brigham Young taught that “to love thy neighbor as thyself” meant to prevent his apostasy by shedding his blood. Many murders and other outrages were the consequence; and the hatred and fury against the Gentiles, engendered in these heated imaginations, had much to do with the resistance to the United States Government, and the acts of open hostility in 1857.

After the inauguration of Mr. Buchanan, he determined to put an end to the conflict of authority in Utah by the removal from office of Brigham Young, and the appointment of an entire body of Federal officers in no wise affiliated with Mormonism. Alfred Cumming, of Georgia, was made Governor; D. R. Eckles, Chief-Justice; John Cradlebaugh and Charles E. Sinclair, Associate Justices; John Hartnett, Secretary; and Peter K. Dotson, Marshal. A detachment of the army, under Brigadier-General Harney, was ordered to accompany the Federal appointees, to protect them from the violence shown their predecessors, and to act as a posse comitatus in the execution of the laws.

Brigham is said to have received this news on the 24th of July, 1857, when celebrating the tenth anniversary of his arrival in Salt Lake City. Two thousand persons were present in a camp-meeting at Big Cottonwood Lake, and their leader fired all hearts by his denunciation of the Gentiles, and his resolve to resist the authority of the United States. “God was with them, and the devil had taken him at his word. He had said ten years before, and he could but repeat it, he would ask no odds of Uncle Sam or the devil.” He had said in 1853, “I am and will be Governor, and no power can hinder it, until the Lord Almighty says, ‘ Brigham, you need not be Governor any longer.’ ”

When the Mormons had found that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1848, made them American instead of Mexican citizens, they had submitted patiently in the belief that they would be able to build up a sovereign state on the basis of their peculiar ideas. They were satisfied with their allegiance when they only felt it in the payment of salaries by the Federal Government to officials of their own faith. The California immigration proved so lucrative to the Saints that, at first, it gave little discontent; but when it left a residuum of Gentiles in Utah, whose criticism or obduracy provoked the enmity of the Mormon leaders, the old rancor was quickly revived, and the Destroying Angels were summoned to their bloody work. Assassination was very common, and other outrages frequent, traceable to this cause. But to place [202] the civil government in Gentile hands would, it was feared, prove the downfall of the “kingdom;” Gentiles would be protected, Danites punished, and the machinery of the church dislocated. Resistance was resolved upon.

Stenhouse says (page 353):

The Saints had no time now to lose; the enemy was approaching their homes. The leaders preached war, prayed war, taught war; while saintly poets scribbled war, and the people sang their ditties. The ‘God of battles’ was the deity of the hour, and his influence was everywhere seen and felt. Public works and private enterprise were alike suspended, while every artist who had sufficient genius for the manufacture of revolvers, repairing old guns, or burnishing and sharpening rusty sabres and bayonets, was pressed into the service of Zion. The sisters, too, were seized with the war-fever, and their weaving and knitting talents were fully exercised in preparation for the coming campaign. It was a great time for rejoicing in the Lord, cursing Uncle Sam, and keeping powder dry.

The Mormon outlying colonies, at San Bernardino, Carson's, Washoe, and Jack's Valleys, and elsewhere, were called in; and these Saints sold for a song property soon after worth millions. Missionaries returned in disguise. Preparations for desperate revolt were made; and the people were taught that war to the knife, even to the desolation of the land, was to be the measure of their resistance. Major Van Vliet, the quartermaster, sent to purchase lumber for quarters, forage, and subsistence, arrived on September 3d, and found to his surprise that he could buy nothing for the Government, and that the troops were to be treated as enemies. He was told by Brigham Young that “the troops now on the march for Utah should not enter Salt Lake Valley.”

Major Van Vliet explained that the action in regard to Utah was exactly that taken in regard to all the other Territories, and that no hostile demonstration against the inhabitants was contemplated. But he found the president, leaders, and people, unanimous in their determination to prevent United States troops from entering the valley.

Major Van Vliet left on the 14th of September; and, on the next day, Brigham Young issued a proclamation of the most inflammatory character, beginning-

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

After reciting the various supposed grounds of grievance against the United States, and declaring, “Our duty to ourselves, to our families, requires us not tamely to be driven and slain without an attempt to preserve ourselves,” he concludes:

Therefore, I, Brigham Young, Governor, etc.-1. Forbid all forces of every description from coming into this Territory, under any pretense whatever. [203]

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

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

On the next day, at the Tabernacle, the spirit of enthusiasm was increased by war speeches from the leaders. Brigham broke into the following strain of denunciation and vigorous metaphor:

We have borne enough of their oppression and hellish abuse, and we will not bear any more of it, for there is no just law requiring further forbearance on our part. And I am not going to have troops here to protect the priests and hellish rabble in efforts to drive us from the land we possess; for the Lord does not want us to be driven, and has said, “If you will assert your rights, and keep my commandments, you shall never again be brought into bondage by your enemies.” . . . They say that their army is legal; and I say that such a statement is as false as hell, and that they are as rotten as an old pumpkin that has been frozen seven times and melted in a harvest sun. Come on with your thousands of illegally-ordered troops, and I will promise you, in the name of Israel's God, that you shall melt away as the snow before a July sun. . . . You might as well tell me you can make hell into a powder-house as to tell me you could let an army in here and have peace; and I intend to tell them and show them this if they do not stay away. . . . And I say our enemies shall not slip the bow on old Bright's neck again. God bless you! Amen.

This declaration of independence by the Mormon Prophet was reiterated from every pulpit. It is a curious illustration of the power of fanaticism that the refutation of his fallacious revelations and the speedy failure of his prophecies did not shake the faith of his disciples.

At the same meeting of September 16th, Heber Kimball, Brigham's first councilor, abject sycophant, and a blasphemous old buffoon, preached thus:

Is there a collision between us and the United States? No; we have not collashed; that is the word that sounds nearest to what I mean. But now the thread is cut between them and us, and we will never gybe again-no, never, worlds without end (voices, “Amen!” ). . . .Do as you are told, and Brigham Young will never leave the governorship of this Territory, from this time henceforth and forever. No, never. . . . The spirit that is upon me this morning is the Spirit of the Lord, that is, the Holy Ghost-though some of you may think the Holy Ghost is never cheerful. Well, let me tell you, the Holy Ghost is a man; he is one of the sons of our Father and our God, and he is that man that stood next to Jesus Christ-just as I stand by Brother Brigham. . .. You think our Father and our God is not a lively, sociable, and cheerful man; he is one of the most lively men that ever lived. ... Brother Brigham is my leader, he is my prophet and my seer, my revelator: and whatever he says, that is for me to do, and it is not for me to question him one word, nor to question God a minute.

Such were the teachings of the heads of the church. [204]

In the mean time the Saints were organized and drilled; and rough defenses were built in Echo Cafon, and other approaches to the valley.

The Territory of Utah, as at present constituted, extends from 109° to 114° west longitude, and from 37° to 42° north latitude, with an area of 84,476 square miles. But the kingdom which Brigham tried to set up claimed wider and undefined limits. The Wahsatch Range bisects the Territory for 400 miles in a southwesterly direction, including in its eastern section table-lands 5,000 feet above the sea-level, and on its western slopes a series of valleys of half that altitude. The air has the dryness of the desert, and the sandy, porous soil drinks up the mountain torrents. Wherever irrigation is possible, the earth yields abundantly; and coal, iron, gold, silver, and lead, are found in the mountains; but the largest part of the country must always be devoted to pastoral purposes. Its cloudless skies, lofty mountains, and green intervales, offer grand and varied scenery to the eye and imagination. The population has generally been over-estimated. In 1870 the census reported it at 88,374; and in 1857 it may be safely computed at about 35,000 or 40,000.

When Brigham looked up at his Alpine walls and their warders, he believed his stronghold impregnable. Its defiles were guarded by hardy mountaineers, trained to blind obedience and pitiless zeal by ten years in the wilderness; and the Indian tribes, the intervening desert, and an almost arctic winter, were counted on as sure and cruel allies. He had seen the unopposed emigrant fall their victim; and the prophecy seemed safe that; great as were the odds, he could foil an invading army. In spite of his undoubted ability, and well-organized people, he was without intelligent military advice, and but repeating the policy of Schamyl and other barbarian chiefs, to whom he was little superior in information. He therefore indulged himself in the dream of successful revolt and complete independence.

The following are his orders, issued through Daniel H. Wells, his commander-in-chief, on the 4th of October, 1856:

On ascertaining the locality or route of the troops, proceed at once to annoy them in every possible way. Use every exertion to stampede their animals and set fire to their trains. Burn the whole country before them and on their flanks. Keep them from sleeping by night-surprises. Blockade the road by felling trees, or destroying the fords when you can. Watch for opportunities to set fire to the grass on their windward, so as, if possible, to envelop their trains. Leave no grass before them that can be burned. Keep your men concealed as much as possible, and guard against surprise. Keep scouts out at all times, and communication open with Colonel Burton, Major McAllister, and 0. P. Rockwell, who are operating in the same way. Keep me advised daily of your movements, and every step the troops take, and in which direction.

God bless you, and give you success.

Your brother in Christ, (Signed)

Daniel H. Weils.


These judicious instructions for partisan warfare, though not executed with much vigor, met some success, as will appear hereafter. It were well for humanity and the Mormon name had their hostility been restricted to legitimate war; but who shall set bounds to religious hate? The chronic rancor against the Gentiles had been envenomed by the delirious “reformation” of the year before, and by the killing of the apostle Perley Pratt, in Arkansas. Pratt had seduced the wife and abducted the children of a man named McLean, who followed him from San Francisco to Arkansas, where he overtook and slew him in combat. Though Mormon “common law” justifies homicide as the penalty of adultery, the Gentile has not the benefit of the rule, and vengeance was denounced against the people of Arkansas. The new access of fury, stimulated by the approach of the troops, culminated in September, 1857, in an unparalleled atrocity. Robbery, outrage, and murder, had been the ordinary fate of the alien and the waverer, but the climax of religious rage was reached in the massacre at Mountain Meadows.

A band of emigrants, about 135 in number, quietly traveling from Arkansas to Southern California, arrived in Utah. This company was made up of farmers' families, allied by blood or friendship, and far above the average in wealth, intelligence, and orderly conduct. They were Methodists, and had religious service regularly morning and evening. They expected, according to custom, to refit their teams in Utah, and buy food and forage sufficient to pass the California Desert; but, to their horror, this reasonable traffic was everywhere refused. When they stopped at the Jordan to rest, they were ordered to move on; and Brigham sent a courier ahead to forbid all intercourse with the weary and terror-stricken band. Pity or covetousness evaded the decree so far as to permit the purchase of thirty bushels of corn at Fillmore, and fifty bushels of flour at Cedar City. But so exhausted did the emigrants become, that they made but thirty-five miles in their last four days of travel.

As they were thus crawling along, “the decree was passed, devoting said company to destruction;” and the militia was regularly called out under orders from a military council at Parowan. The authorities were Colonel W. H. Dame, Lieutenant-Colonel Tsaac C. Haight, President and High-Priest of Southern Utah, and Major John D. Lee, a bishop of the church. Their orders were to “kill the entire company, except the little children.” The Mormon regiment, with some Indian auxiliaries, attacked the emigrants soon after they broke up camp on September 12th. The travelers quickly rallied, corraled their wagons, and kept up such a fire that the assailants were afraid to come to close quarters. Reinforcements were sent for, and arrived; but still the Mormons did not venture to assault the desperate men, who were fighting [206] for their wives and little ones. At last, on the 15th, the fourth day of the siege, Lee sent in a flag of truce, offering, “if the emigrants would lay down their arms, to protect them.” They complied, laid down their arms, and half an hour afterward the massacre began. All were killed except seventeen little children. Every atrocity accompanied the slaughter, and the corpses were mutilated and left naked on the ground. “Three men got out of the valley, two of whom were soon overtaken and killed; the other reached Muddy Creek, fifty miles off, and was overtaken and killed by several white men and one Indian.” Eighteen months afterward the surviving children were rescued and restored to their friends in Arkansas, by Jacob Forney, Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Thirty thousand dollars' worth of plunder was distributed ; and Beadle, in his “Life in Utah,” says: “Much of it was sold in Cedar City at public auction; it was there facetiously styled ‘property taken at the siege of Sebastopol.’ ” But it is needless to dwell upon the details of this foul crime; though at first denied by the Mormons, proofs of their guilt accumulated as the years rolled on, and the evidence that it was a cold-blooded affair of state is now complete. It was asserted, at the time, that the order of extermination came from headquarters; Lee was a son by adoption of Brigham Young, and was always protected by him. Brigham's word was law in church and state, and such a deed would not have been done without his approbation, and scarcely except by his orders. It was in accordance with the letter and spirit of his teaching at the time; and his subsequent conduct proving him an accessory after the fact also implicates him with the perpetration of the crime. He availed himself of his official position, as Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, to bury in oblivion this dreadful crime, and throw the mantle of the Prophet around the shedders of innocent blood. According to his works let him be judged.

John D. Lee enjoyed twenty years of impunity, but he was at last brought to justice, convicted of and executed for this crime in 1877. Soon afterward the hand which had shielded him so long yielded the reins of power to the conqueror Death.

The words and deeds of the Mormons, which have been given, are illustrations of the temper of that people and their chief toward the United States, in 1857. A violent revolt was in motion, and we shall now see how this hostile population was brought back to its allegiance.

1Rocky Mountain Saints,” p. 275.

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Georgia (Georgia, United States) (1)
England (United Kingdom) (1)
Deseret (Utah, United States) (1)
Council Bluffs (Iowa, United States) (1)
Canaan, N. H. (New Hampshire, United States) (1)
Big Cottonwood Lake (Nevada, United States) (1)
Apache (New Mexico, United States) (1)
Alpine, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)

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