In the October 2001 magazine, American Heritage, Sally Denton wrote an in-depth article of the circumstances surrounding the Mountain Meadow Massacre. Some of the following information was taken from that article.
"On March 29, 1857, some 40 wagons carrying approximately 50 men, 40 women, and 50 children rolled out of Arkansas to start a new life in the West, a place called California. The families were famous for their livestock, the best of which they were bringing with them. They had a thousand prize beef cattle, dairy cows providing fresh cream, butter and milk along the way, and a choice herd of Kentucky racehorses. The company's thoroughbred mare, One Eyed Blaze, was conspicuous. Another, a black satin stallion, as one account described him, was worth almost a million dollars in today's market. Among the valuables hidden in the floorboards of the wagons or in the ticking of the feather beds was as much as $100,000 in gold coins and other currency. The group carried quality weapons, mostly Kentucky muzzleloaders, and a stockpile of expensive ammunition and had along three elegant carriages, emblazoned with stag's heads, for the women to ride in.
Leading the train was Capt. Alexander Fancher, born the second of three boys in 1812. His elder brother, John, had moved from Arkansas to California in 1856 and urged Alexander and the younger brother, Richard, to join him. While Richard declined, Alexander eagerly prepared to take his wife, Eliza, and their nine children, four boys and five girls ranging in age from 18 months to 19 years. John and Alexander Fancher persuaded their friend John T. Baker, the 52-year-old patriarch of a close-knit clan of around 25, to join them. Baker's eldest son, Jack, was a superior horseman who would play a key role in leading the train. Joining the Bakers and Fanchers would be the Dunlaps from Marion County, Jesse and his wife Mary, their six children, and Lorenzo and Nancy and their five children. One man, William Eaton, joined the group as a friend, with no blood relations. Among the many mysteries of the event are the identities of the dozens of others who left Arkansas with the Bakers, Franchers, and Dunlaps.
The estimated value of the wagon train was $70,000.00. A few on the train were affluent, some even wealthy. There were livestock growers, drovers, and traders. Others were cattlemen and thoroughbred horse-breeders from northwest Arkansas. Most of the party was members of large families. Many were newly married young couples; several had newborn infants and toddlers, and some wives were pregnant, destined to give birth on the trail. There were also many unmarried men and women in their twenties, mostly cousins and childhood friends. Accompanying them for security reasons were at least 20 hired riflemen. Most of those not related by blood were old friends and longtime neighbors." (American Heritage Magazine)
When they reached the Salt Lake Valley they planned to rest their livestock and stock up on provisions. The party arrived on August 3rd and set up camp. Although the fields were obviously brimming with crops, the Mormons refused to sell them any provisions.
There were two routes the wagon train could take upon leaving Salt Lake City. One would take them south, the other west. "A Mormon emissary approached them, and urged them to turn the train south, where there was good pasture and food along the way. The train's leaders discussed the routes and fell into a disagreement, after which the families in four wagons split off to the west along the well-mapped northern route. The rest of the party pulled out of Salt Lake City on August 5th. Eaton, the Francher's Arkansas friend, wrote a cheerful letter to his wife in Indiana before leaving the Utah capital. It would be the last communication from the group.
Seeing bountiful crops under cultivation, the emigrants sought to buy supplies in the town of Lehi. Again, all the farmers refused to sell to them. (Later evidence revealed that Church leaders had issued orders to Mormons living in the small communities along the trail not to sell grain to the outfit.) They were rebuffed again in the larger city of Provo. They passed through the communities of Springville, Spanish Fork, Payson, Nephi, Buttermilk Fort, and Fillmore, meeting the same refusal at every stop. Finally, at Corn Creek, some Native Americans sold them feed for their cattle. They set off from Corn Creek around August 25th and arrived two days later at the walled town of Parowan, where they would meet up with the Spanish Trail." (Ibid)
During this same time period and by orders of James Buchanan, the President of The United States, Gen. Albert S. Johnson's army was approaching Utah from the East. The purpose of the army coming to Utah was to have Brigham Young removed as governor of the territory and to install a new governor. There had been serious problems with the Utah territorial political leaders for eight years. There were numerous complaints of political abuse along with the continuing depravations of polygamy. Complaints had been sent to Washington that Church leaders were not following the laws of the United States government. There was no separation of church and state in the Utah Territory. What Brigham Young said and did was the law there. Brigham Young stated in a conference talk. ... "It is reported that I have said that whosoever the President appoints, I am still governor. I repeat it, all hell cannot remove me... [cries of Amen] ... I am still your governor... [cries of Glory to God] ... I will still rule this people until God himself permits another to take my place."
Young declared martial law throughout the entire territory on September 4, 1857. The Church leaders took Johnson's army as a real threat. The Mormons said that they were not going to be run out of their communities any more. They were ready to stand up and fight. Other government officials had been sent to Utah to serve in their political capacities to no avail. No one breathed without Brigham Young's permission. He made all the decisions. Under the heavy hand of Young's dictatorship, the Mormon people were held in an atmosphere of bondage and fear.
"By the winter of 1856-1857, Young was tormented by defections in his ranks. Disharmony among the Saints, questioning Church leadership, and lack of faith was unacceptable. Brigham Young responded with his 'Mormon Reformation'. He had his Church elders sweep through the communities of the territory in an orgy of recrimination and rebaptism. He instructed, "back sliders were to be hewn down." His enforcement army, called the 'Danites', commonly referred to as the Avenging Angels, gained special notoriety." (Ibid)
The doctrine of 'Blood Atonement' was also in effect during this time (1856-1857). The Blood Atonement Doctrine created an atmosphere of hysterical repentance. If any member of the Church had committed certain crimes that were unforgivable, the only way to exercise repentance was to voluntarily shed your own blood. The Saints were afraid because they knew that the Danites would see to it that Young's orders would be carried out.
Prior to the arrival of the emigrants, the Mormon leaders had been preaching the doctrine of Blood Atonement. John Doyle Lee, Brigham Young's adopted son and longtime intimate friend and military commander of the Mormon leader, stated:
"The Mormons nearly all, and I think every one of them in Utah, previous to the massacre at Mountain Meadows, believed in Blood Atonement. It was taught by the leaders and believed by the people that the Priesthood were inspired and could not give a wrong order. It was the belief of all that I ever heard talk of these things, and I have been with the Church since the dark days in Jackson County, that the authority that ordered a murder committed, was the only responsible party, that the man who did the killing was only an instrument, working by command of a superior, and hence could have no ill will against the person killed, but was only acting by authority and committed no wrong. In other words, if Brigham Young or any of his apostles, or any of the Priesthood, gave an order to a man, the act was the act of the one giving the order, and the man doing the act was only an instrument of the person commanding, just as much of an instrument as the knife that was used to cut the throat of the victim. This being the belief of all good Mormons it is easily understood why the orders of the Priesthood were so blindly obeyed by the people." (Confessions of John D. Lee, 1880 edition, pp. 279-280)
Another element that added to the hysteria at this time was a violent sermon preached by Brigham Young in which he said, "There is not a man or woman who violates the covenants made with their God in the Mormon temple, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out. Your own blood must atone for it, and the judgments of the almighty will come, sooner or later, and every man or woman will have to atone for breaking their covenants." (Journal of Discourses, vol. III p. 247)
The Oath of Vengeance against the American people and the Government for the death of Joseph Smith was a very important part of the temple ceremony for many years. Because of this temple ceremony vow of vengeance upon this nation, a protest was filed in 1903 in the United States Senate to have Reed Smoot, a Mormon Apostle who had been elected a Senator from Utah, removed from office on the grounds that he had taken this treasonous oath in the endowment ritual. It became the subject of a United States Senate Investigation. The complete record of this episode was published in U.S. Senate Document 486 (59th Congress, 1st Session) Proceedings Before the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the United States Senate in the Matter of the Protests Against the Right of Reed Smoot, a Senator from the State of Utah, to hold his Seat. 4 vols. [1 vol. index] Washington: Government Printing Office, 1906).
John Hawley made these statements in his testimony concerning the Smoot investigation:
"I went to Salt Lake City in 1856. They gave the endowments of washing and anointing, and then there was an oath taken in Utah to avenge the blood of the prophet... In taking the endowments at Salt Lake there was the oath required, and the oath that was required was to 'avenge the death or blood of the prophet.' We were made to swear to avenge the death of Joseph Smith the Martyr, together with that of his brother Hyrum, on this American nation, and that we should teach our children and children's children to do so. 'The penalty for this grip and oath was disembowelment,' I would not have discussed the method of these endowments when I was a member of the Utah Church. The penalty for revealing or disclosing these secrets was disembowelment. The grips and tokens of the priesthood were what we were not to disclose... I kept the obligation while living in Salt Lake City."
Brigham Young stated,"Furthermore, every one who had passed through their endowment, in the Temple, were placed under the most sacred obligation to avenge the blood of the Prophet, whenever an opportunity offered, and to teach their children to do the same, thus making the entire Mormon people sworn and avowed enemies of the American nation." (Confessions of John D. Lee, p. 160)
It was a serious matter for a Mormon if they broke the covenants they made in the temple. The threats were real. The Danites saw to it that punishment was swift and without mercy. This oath was one of the reasons that the Mountain Meadow Massacre took place. This oath was finally removed about 1927.
President Brigham Young sent George A. Smith ahead of the wagon train with instructions to tell the Saints not to sell any commodities to the Francher Party, and under no circumstances were they to provide any help to them. If this order were disobeyed the penalty would be personal harm or even death to themselves or their families. Juanita Brooks, Mormon historian and author states, "At Parowan, the gates of that fort were closed and the company passed by that town. Here one man, William Leany, recognized a member of the company, William Aiden, as the son of a man who had befriended him while he was on a mission. He gave Aiden some vegetables from his garden, knowing well that he was acting in direct opposition to the official orders. A few days later he was called out of his house and struck over the head by one of the local police [Danites] on the charge that he had rendered aid and comfort to the enemy. He was left for dead, and indeed never did fully recover from the blow." (Confessions of John D. Lee, p. 206)
Parowan had been built and enclosed with a fort as to protect the Mormons against Indian attacks early in the settlement of the territory. But Brigham Young had since embraced the Indians as fellow persecuted people who had been driven out of their homelands by the despised U. S. Government, and by now, the Mormons had made peace with them, even baptizing their famous chiefs, Wa-kara and Kanosh.
(Kanosh was the Indian Chief who was accused of killing Captain John Gunnison and his men on Oct. 28, 1853. The Gunnison Party was in Utah at the time, surveying for the U.S. Government. However, there was testimony that white men dressed up as Indians committed the Gunnison massacre.) (The Unsolicited Chronicler by Robert K. Fielding)
Previous to the Mountain Meadow Massacre, on September 4th, 1857, Brigham Young sent a request to all leaders of the Indian tribes in the Utah territory to come to Salt Lake City as soon as possible. He met with them and told them that the U. S. Government was sending troops to Utah for the purpose of exterminating the Mormons and the Indian tribes in the territory. He told them it was necessary for them to join in with the Mormons to help fight the enemy and save their own people. This created such frenzy among the Indian Chiefs that they promised to join in and help the Mormons. The Indians became their allies.
It is believed by many that in the private meeting that Brigham Young had with Chief Kanosh the order to exterminate the emigrant wagon train was given, and the Chief's reward for the extermination would be part of the booty and some of the cattle to help feed his people. The agreement between Brigham Young and the Indian leaders in Salt Lake City was made and put into motion.
Brigham Young gave Apostle George A. Smith direct orders to make a trip south to warn the settlements and priesthood leaders of the approaching wagon train, and inform them that Chief Kanosh was going to attack the settlers. Bishop, and Indian Agent, John D. Lee stated that the original plan was to stir up the Indians to attack the wagon train. But as the scene unfolds, the Indians were not capable of doing the deed themselves, so the Mormons were left to finish the job. It then became the responsibility of George A. Smith to meet with the priesthood leaders and make arrangements to exterminate the emigrants.
"On Friday, September 4th, just before sunset, the Fancher train entered Mountain Meadows, a five-mile-long valley surrounded by pinion-dotted foothills. Opening from a narrow entrance on the east and expanding into an oasis of creeks and cottonwoods, the meadow closed with a bottleneck exit into the rugged Beaver Mountains to the west. The travelers apparently thought the location was safe from Indian attacks, for they did not circle their wagons, as they had done throughout the rest of the journey.
On Sunday, September 6th, the emigrants held a Sabbath service in a big tent they had faithfully transported across the country. Late that night, according to subsequent trial testimony, John D. Lee and his accomplices, some of them Indians, painted their faces and hid in the low hills surrounding the campsite. They took up strategic positions to prevent escapes, controlling access to the meadow from all sides. At dawn on Monday, the emigrants awakened and began their morning routines. Suddenly they heard shots. In the barrage that followed, 6 or 7 men from the wagon train were killed, 15 more were wounded. The other side suffered an unknown number of casualties. The pioneers drove their enemy back. They dragged their wagons into a circular barricade. Apparently assuming Paiutes had attacked them, they dug a rifle pit while awaiting help from neighboring Mormons." (American Heritage Magazine
Charles Fancher sent William A. Aden and two other young men from the wagon train for help. They were able to sneak past the Indians and rush toward Cedar City in hopes that the Mormon leaders would send immediate help to the wagon train to ward off the Indians. The three men traveled about 7 miles to a watering hole called Leachey Springs. There they met up with twenty men on their way to join John D. Lee at the massacre. Aden approached the Mormon men and asked for help. Immediately William C. Stewart took out his rifle, shot and killed William A. Aden, and wounded the other two men. (The fate of the two wounded men is written in the Major J. H. Carleton Report.)
"The next day there seemed to be a standoff, and the emigrants burrowed in further. Each time they ventured to the stream for water, bullets turned them back. On the fifth day of the siege, Friday, September 11th, Lee and a fellow Danite came into the camp carrying a white flag. They were greeted with cheers. Lee told the party that he had learned of the ambush, hastily recruited Mormons to come to the rescue, and gotten the Paiutes to agree to a truce."When I entered the corral, I found the emigrants engaged in burying two men of note,"Lee would later write."The men, women and children gathered around me in wild consternation. Some felt that the time of their happy deliverance had come ... my position was painful, trying and awful, my brain seemed to be on fire."If they relinquished their arms to the Mormons, he told them, they would be escorted safely out of the meadow.
The desperate emigrants agreed. All the children under eight, the age of innocence, according to Mormon doctrine were placed in one wagon. The wounded men were placed in a second wagon, and both wagons rolled north out of the campsite. All the women followed, some carrying infants, and all the children over eight, who walked a few hundred feet, smiling and waving, as they caught a glimpse of the militia they thought had come to save them. Then came the men in single file, spaced several feet apart, each accompanied by an armed Mormon.
Suddenly, on a hill overlooking the site, another Danite raised his hand and shouted, "HALT! DO YOUR DUTY!" At that command, each Mormon shot the man beside him, as others, including Indians, hiding in the embankment ahead, butchered the women and children. The 18 surviving children, ranging in age from 18 months to 8 years, were weak from thirst, their skin and clothing smeared with the blood of their parents, brothers, and sisters. The killers spared these few and distributed them to local families. Over the next 75 years, some of them would tell the story often, even testifying in detail. But what they had seen always seemed unbelievable. Federal authorities rescued 17 of them in 1859, two years after they had been captured, and returned them to relatives in Arkansas." (American Heritage)
The Mormon historian B. H. Roberts called the Mountain Meadow Massacre, "the most lamentable episode in Utah history, and in the History of the Church." (Comprehensive History of the Church, vol. 4 p. 139)
The Mormon writer William E. Berrett gives this description of the massacre: "It was a deliberately planned massacre, treacherously carried into execution. On the morning of Sept. 11, a flag of truce was sent to the emigrant camp and terms of surrender proposed. The emigrants were to give up their arms. The wounded were to be loaded into wagons, followed by the women and children, and the men to bring up the rear, single file. Thus they were to be conducted by the whites to Cedar City. This was agreed too, and the march began. ... The white men at a given signal, fell upon the unarmed emigrant men...only the smallest children were spared." (The Restored Church, pp. 468-469)
The Indians acknowledged having participated in the massacre of the emigrants, but said that the Mormons persuaded them into it. (Senate Executive Document 42, 36 Cong., 1 sess., 94-95, as cited in The Mountain Meadows Massacre, p. 194; p. 252 of 1962 edition)
"By maneuvering politically with the backstage help of a figure who would be the Mormon's most important defender, Brigham Young managed to stave off a federal investigation of the massacre for years. Thomas Leiper Kane, a wealthy Pennsylvanian who had met the Mormons during their exodus from Illinois, was Young's lobbyist and veritable secret agent in Washington both before and after the Civil War. Kane first negotiated personally with General Johnston and ultimately concluded a deal with the Buchanan administration that forestalled any further federal invasion or punishment of past Mormon crimes in return for Brigham's stepping down as territorial governor.
By 1859, stories about the massacre had been published in California and in underground Utah papers, covering Major Carleton's discovery of skeletons, his initial investigation and report, and the rescue of the children." (American Heritage Magazine)
SpecialReport on the Mountain Meadow Massacre
Brevet Major J. H. Carleton, U.S.A.
May 25, 1859
Note: This typescript (prepared in December 1998) has been compared for accuracy with a typewritten transcription of the published House document. Bracketed insertions in the text have been included for clarity, to note corrections in names, or to add complete names. The bracketed identification of the surviving children is a suggestion based on information on the memorial that was placed at Mountain Meadows in 1990.
57th Congress (House of Representatives) Document no. 605 1st Session.
MOUNTAIN MEADOW MASSACRE
Congress of the United States,
In the House of Representatives
May 10th, 1902
Resolves, that there be printed as a House document 5,000 copies of the Special Report of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, as compiled by J. H. Carleton, Brevet Major, United States Army, Captain First Dragoons.
Attest: A. McDowell, Clerk
SPECIAL REPORT OF THE MOUNTAIN MEADOW MASSACRE BY J. H. CARLETON, BREVET MAJOR; UNITED STATES ARMY, CAPTAIN, FIRST DRAGOONS.
Camp at Mountain Meadows,
Utah Territory, May 25th, 1859
Major: "When I left Los Angeles, the 23rd ultimo, General Clarke, commanding the Department of California, directed me to bury the bones of the victims of that terrible massacre which took place on this ground in September, 1857. The fact of this massacre of (in my opinion) at least 120 men, women and children, who were on their way from the State of Arkansas to California, has long been well known. I have endeavored to learn the circumstances attending it, and have the honor to submit the following as the result of my inquiries on this point:
Dr. Brewer, United States Army, whom I met with Captain Campbell's command on the Santa Clara River on the 15th inst., informed me that as he was going up the Platte River on the 11th of June, 1857, he passed a train of emigrants near O'Fallons Bluffs. The train was called "Perkin's Train," a man named Perkins, who had previously been to California, having charge of it as a conductor; that he afterwards saw the train frequently; the last time he saw it, it was at Ash Hollow on the North Fork of the Platte.
The Doctor says the train consisted of, say, 40 wagons; there were a few tents besides, which the emigrants used in addition to these wagons when they encamped. There seemed to be about 40 heads of families, many women, some unmarried, and many children. A doctor accompanied them. The train seemed to consist of respectable people, well to do in the world. They were well dressed, were quiet, orderly, genteel; had fine stock; had three carriages along, and other evidences which went to show that this was one of the finest trains that had been seen to cross the plains. It was so remarked upon by the officers who were with the doctor at that time. From reports afterwards received, and comparing the dates with the probable rate of travel, he believed this was the identical train which was destroyed at Mountain Meadows.
I could get no information of these emigrants of a date anterior to this. Here seems to be given the first glimpse of their number, character, and condition; and an authentic glimpse, too, if the train destroyed was the one seen by the doctor, of which there can hardly be any doubt. The doctor was confirmed in his belief that the train he saw was the one destroyed, by many reasons. Among them one fact seemed to be very convincing. He observed a carriage in the train in which some ladies rode, to whom he made one or more visits as they journeyed along. There was something peculiar in the construction of the carriage and its ornaments its blazoned stag's head upon the panels, etc. This carriage, he says, is now in the possession of the Mormons. Besides, he afterwards heard as a fact that this train had been entirely destroyed.
The people who owned it would not have been likely to have to sell such an important part of their means of transportation midway their journey. The road upon which these emigrants were seen by Dr. Brewer crosses the Rocky Mountains through the South Pass, and thence goes on down into the Great Basin to Salt Lake City, and thence Southward along the western base of the Wasatch Mountains to what is called the rim of the basin. Here the "divide" is crossed, when it descends upon the valley of the Santa Clara affluent toward the Colorado. Fillmore City is upon one of the many streams which run westward down from the Wasatch Mountains into the basin. It is about 140 miles from Salt Lake City; then upon another stream, 90 miles farther south, is Prawn [Parowan] City; then upon still another stream, 18 miles south of Prawn [Parowan], is Cedar City; then to a settlement on Pinto Creek is 24 miles; thence to Hamblin's house, on the northern slope of the Mountain Meadows, 6 miles.
From Hamblin's house over the rim of the basin to the southern point of the Mountain Meadows, where there is a large spring, is 4 miles, 1,000 yards. This swell of land or watershed, called the rim of the basin, runs west across nearly midway the valley called the Mountain Meadows. This valley runs north and south; its northern portion is drained into the basin, its southern toward the Santa Clara. Down on the Santa Clara is a Mormon settlement called "The Fort": here some 30 families reside. It is 34 miles from Mountain Meadows. East of Cedar City, say 18 miles, on the east slope of the Wasatch Range, drained by Virgin River, is the town of Harmony, of 100 families; and farther down the Virgin River, 12 miles from "The Fort," on the Santa Clara, is Washington City, also of 100 families. The Santa Clara joins the Virgin River near Washington City.
The Pah Vent Indians live near Fillmore City. The Pah Ute Indians are scattered along from Parowan southward to the Colorado.
The train of emigrants proceeding southward from Fillmore toward the Mountain Meadows are next seen, so far as my inquiries go, by a Mr. Jacob Hamblin, a leading Mormon, who has charge of "the Fort," on the Santa Clara, and resides there in the winter season, but who has a cattle ranch and a house, where he lives in the summer time, at the Mountain Meadows. I here give what he said, and which I wrote down sentence by sentence, as he related it. He told me he had given the same information to Judge Cradlebaugh:"About the middle of August, 1857, I started on a visit to Great Salt Lake City. At Corn Creek, 8 miles south of Fillmore City, I encamped with a train of emigrants who said they were mostly from Arkansas. There were, in my opinion, not over 30 wagons. There were several tents, and they had from 400 to 500 head of horned cattle, 25 head of horses, and some mules.
This information I got in conversation with one of the men of the train. The people seemed to be ordinary frontier homespun' people, as a general thing. Some of the outsiders were rude and rough and calculated to get the ill will of the inhabitants. Several of the men asked me about the condition of the road and the disposition of the Indians, and where there would be a good place to recruit their stock.
I asked them how many men they had. They said they had between forty and fifty "that would do to tie to." I told them I considered if they would keep a good lookout that the Indians did not steal their animals, half that number would be safe, and that the Mountain Meadows was the best place to recruit their animals before they entered upon the desert, I recommended this spring, and the grazing about here, four miles south of my house, as the place where they should stop. The most of these men seemed to have families with them. They remarked that this one train was made up near Salt Lake City of several trains that had crossed the plains separately, and being Southern people, had preferred to take the southern route. This was all of importance that passed between us, and I went on my journey and they proceeded on theirs. On my way back home, at Fillmore City, I heard it said that that Company, meaning the train referred to, had poisoned a small spring at Corn Creek, where I had met them.
There was some considerable excitement about it among the citizens of Fillmore and among the Pah-Vent Indian who live within 8 miles of that place. I was told that eighteen head of cattle had died from drinking the water; that six of the Pah-Vents had been poisoned from eating the flesh of the cattle that died, and that one or two of these Indians had also died. Mr. Robinson, a citizen of Fillmore, whose son was buried the day I got there, said that the boy had been poisoned in 'trying out' the tallow of the dead cattle. I am satisfied that he believed what he said about it. I thought at the time that the spring had been poisoned as stated. I encamped that night with a company from Iron County, who told me that the Company from Arkansas had all been killed at Mountain Meadows except seventeen children.
I afterwards met, between Beaver and Pine Creek, Colonel Daim [William H. Dame] of Parowan, who confirmed what these people from Iron County had said. He further stated that the Indians were collecting on the Muddy with a determination to 'wipe out' another company of emigrants which was several days in rear of the first. He mentioned that the Indians had supplied themselves with arms and ammunition from the train destroyed at the Meadows. After consulting with him, he advised me to go forward and spare no pains in trying to prevent their carrying their purpose into execution, and he gave me an order to press into service any animal I might require for that purpose. I got a horse at Beaver about 8 o'clock that evening, and the next evening at Pinto Creek, 83 miles distant, I met Mr. Dudley Leavett [Leavitt], from the settlements on the Santa Clara.
I told him what I had heard. He told me it was true, and that all the Indians in the Southern Country were greatly excited and "All Hell" could not stop them from killing or from at least robbing the other train of its stock. He further stated that several interpreters from the Santa Clara had gone on with this last grain. I told him to return and get the best animal he could find on my ranch and go on as fast as he could and endeavor to stop further mischief being done. That is, if the Indians ran off the stock of the train, for himself and all the interpreters to go and recover it, if possible, and prevent further depredation. He left me under these instructions.
The next morning, which, I think, was the 18th of September 1857, I arrived at my ranch, 4 miles from the Meadows. Here I had left my family. I found at the ranch three little white girls in the care of my wife, the oldest six or seven years of age, the next about three, and the next about one. The youngest had been shot through one of her arms below the elbow by a large ball, breaking both bones and cutting the arm half off. My wife, having a young child of her own, and these three little orphans besides, my home appeared to be anything but cheerful. About one or two o'clock that day I came down to the point where the massacre had taken place, in company with an Indian boy named Albert, who had been brought up in my family.
The boy told me that the inhabitants from Cedar City had come down and buried the murdered people in three large heaps, which he pointed out to me; the boy showed me two girls who had run some ways off before they were killed. The wolves had dug open the heaps, dragged out the bodies, and were then tearing the flesh from them. I counted 19 wolves at one of these places. I have since learned from the people who assisted in burying the bodies that there were 107 men, women and children found dead upon the ground. I am satisfied that all were not found. The most of the bodies were stripped of all their clothing, were then in a state of putrefaction, and presented a horrible sight. There was no property left upon the ground except one white ox, which is still at my ranch.
The following summer, when the bones had lost their flesh, I reburied them, assisted by a Mr. Fuller.
The Indians have told me that they made an attack on the emigrants between daylight and sunrise as the men were standing around the camp fires, killing and wounding 15 at the first charge, which was delivered from the ravine near the spring close to the wagons and from a hill to the west. That the emigrants immediately corralled their wagons and threw up an entrenchment to shelter themselves from the balls. When I first saw the ditch, it was about 4 feet deep and the bank about 2 feet high. The Indians say they then ran off the stock but kept parties at the spring to prevent the emigrants from getting to the water, the emigrants firing upon them every time they showed themselves, and they returned the fire. This was kept up for six or seven days. The Indians say that they lost but one man, killed and three or four wounded.
At the end of six or seven days, they say, a man among them who could talk English called to the emigrants and told them if they would go back to the settlements and leave all their property, especially their arms, they would spare their lives, but if they did not do so they would kill the whole of them. The emigrants agreed to this and started back on the road toward my ranch. About a mile from the spring there are some scrub-oak bushes and tall sage growing on either side of the road and close to it. Here a large body of Indians lay in ambush, who, when the emigrants approached, fell upon them in their defenseless condition and with bows and arrows and stones and guns and knives murdered all, without regard to sex or age, except a few infant children, seventeen of which have since been recovered.
This is what the Indians told me nine days after the massacre took place. From the position of the bodies this latter part of their story seems to be corroborated, and I should judge that the women and children were in advance of the men when the last attack upon them was made. When I buried the bones last summer, I observed that about one third of the skulls were shot through with bullets and about one third seem to be broken with stones.
The train I sent Leavett [Leavitt] to protect had gotten as far as the canyon, 5 miles below the Muddy, when the Indians made a descent upon its loose stock, driving off, as the immigrants have since said, 200 head of cattle. Leavett and the other interpreters recovered between 75 and 100 head, which were brought to my ranch. Of these the Indians afterwards demanded and stole some 40 head, and last January I turned over to Mr. Lane from California, the balance.
These are all the facts within my knowledge connected with the destruction of the one and the passing along of the other of these two trains."
Mrs. Hamblin is a simple-minded person of about 45, and evidently looks with the eyes of her husband at everything. She may really have been taught by the Mormons to believe it is no great sin to kill gentiles and enjoy their property. Of the shooting of the emigrants, which she had herself heard, and knew at the time what was going on, she seemed to speak without a shudder, or any very great feeling; but when she told of the 17 orphan children who were brought by such a crowd to her house of one small room there in the darkness of night, two of the children cruelly mangled and the most of them with their parents' blood still wet upon their clothes, and all of them shrieking with terror and grief and anguish, her own mother heart was touched. She at least deserves kind consideration for her care and nourishment of the three sisters, and for all she did for the little girl, "about one year old who had been shot through one of her arms, below the elbow, by a large ball, breaking both bones and cutting the arm half off."
A Snake Indian boy, called Albert Hamblin, but whose Indian name was a word which meant "hungry," who is now about 17 or 18 years of age, says that Mr. Jacob Hamblin brought him beyond where Camp Floyd is situated and that he has lived with Mr. Hamblin about six years here and about three years up north. He was sent by Mr. Hamblin to my camp at Mountain Meadow on the 20th day of May 1859, and in speaking of the massacre at this place related what follows in very good English:
"In the first part of September a year and a half ago, I was at Mr. Hamblin's ranch 4 miles from here. My business was to herd the sheep. I saw the train come along the road and pass down this way. It was near sundown. I drove the sheep home and went after wood, when I saw the train encamp at this spring from a high point of land where I was cutting wood.
When the train passed me, I saw a good many women and children. It was night when I got home. Another Indian boy, named John, who lives at the Vegas and talked some English, was with me. He lived with a man named Sam Knight, at Santa Clara. After the train had been camped at the spring three nights, the fourth day in the morning, just before light, when we were all abed at the house, I was waked up by hearing a good many guns fired. I could hear guns fired every little while all day until it was dark. Then I did not know what had been done. During the day, as we, John and I, sat on a hill herding sheep, we saw the Indians driving off all the stock and shoot some of the cattle; at the same time we could see shooting going on down around the train; emigrants shooting at the Indians from the corral of wagons, and Indians shooting at them from the tops of the hills around. In this way they fought on for about a week."
I asked an Indian what he was killing those people for. He was mad, and told me unless I kept 'my mouth shut' he would kill me. Three men came down from Cedar City to our house while the fighting was going on. They said they came after cattle. Other men passed to and from Santa Clara to our house during the nights. The three men from Cedar City stayed about the house a while "pitching horseshoe quoits" while the fighting was on, when they afterwards went back to Cedar City. Dudley Leavitt came up from Santa Clara in the night while the emigrants were camped here; but he did not see them. He went on to Cedar City to buy flour. When he got to the house we told him the emigrants were fighting here. One afternoon, near night, after they had fought nearly a week, John and I saw the women and children and some leave the wagons and go up the road toward our house. There were no Indians with them.
John and I could see where the Indians were hid in the oak bushes and sage right by the side of the road a mile or more on their route; and I said to John, I would like to know what the emigrants left their wagons for, as they were going into "a worse fix than ever they saw." The women were on ahead with the children. The men were behind, altogether 'twas a big crowd. Soon as they got to the place where the Indians were hid in the bushes each side of the road, the Indians pitched right into them and commenced shooting them with guns and bows and arrows, and cut some of the men's throats with knives. The men run in every direction, the Indians after them yelling and whooping. Soon as the women and children saw the Indians spring out of the bushes, they all cried out so loud that John and I heard them.
The women scattered and tried to hide in the bushes, but the Indians shot them down; two girls ran up the slope towards the east about a quarter of a mile; John and I ran down and tried to save them; the girls hid in some bushes. A man, who is an Indian doctor, also told the Indians not to kill them. The girls then came out and hung around him for protection, he trying to keep the Indians away. The girls were crying out loud. The Indians came up and seized the girls by their hands and dresses and pulled and pushed them away from the doctor and shot them. By this time it was dark, and the other Indians came down the road and had got nearly through killing all the others. They were about half an hour killing the people from the time they first sprang out upon them from the bushes.
Some time in the night Tullis and the Indians brought some of the children in a wagon up to the house. The children cried nearly all night. One little one, a baby, just commencing to walk around, was shot through the arm. One of the girls had been hit through the ear. Many of the children's clothes were bloody. The next morning we kept three children and the rest were taken to Cedar City; also the next morning the train of wagons went up to Cedar City with all the goods. The Indians got all the flour. Some of it I saw buried this side of Pinto Creek. There were two yoke of cattle to each wagon as they passed up. The rest of the stock had been killed to be eaten by the Indians while the fight was going on, except some which were driven over the mountains this way and that.
The Indians stripped naked the dead bodies; that is all the men; some of the women had their underclothes left. There were a good many men who came over from Pinto Creek and about, and stayed around the house while the fight went on. I saw John D. Lee there about the house during that time. He lives in Harmony--and Richard Robinson, Prime Coleman, Amos Thornton, Brother Dickinson, who all live at Pinto Creek. Thornton I saw at the house. When father (John Hamblin) came back, I came down with him onto the ground. The bodies were all buried then so we could not see them. There were plenty of wolves around. The two girls had been buried also and I did show them to father, the Indians buried the bodies taking spades from the wagons. The people from Cedar City came down three days later, after the massacre, but the Indians had buried all the bodies before they came. This is all I know about it."
This Albert Hamblin is nearly a grown man in point of size, and from appearance and bearing has evidently had engrafted upon his native viciousness all the bad traits of the community in which he lives. Two of the children are said to have pointed him out to Dr. Forney as an Indian whom they saw kill their two sisters.
His story is artfully made up, evidently part truth and part falsehood. Leavitt could not have passed up from "The Fort" to Cedar City without knowing where the emigrants were besieged, as the road runs near the spring where the corral was, and between it and some hills occupied by the Mormons and Indians. That Albert stayed upon a neighborhood hill "herding sheep" day after day while the fight lasted, and then to the house of nights to go to sleep cannot be true. That Mormons were passing and re-passing upon the road, day and night, and did not know what was going on is simply absurd to one conversant with the surroundings of the place.
In this Indian's statement that some of the Mormons at the house were "pitching horseshoe quoits," a glance is given at the fiendish levity with which the murdering, day by day, of this artfully entrapped party of gentile men, women and children was regarded. This "pitching of horseshoe quoits" was during the time when dropping shots from the Indians and the other Mormon concealed around the springs and behind the crest of hills kept back the perishing emigrants from water. There was time enough for some to go up to Hamblin's house for refreshments. No danger of the emigrants getting away. It was all safe in that quarter. "There is time enough for us to have a game of quoits, the other boys will take care of matters down there."
The general will hardly fail to observe the discrepancy between Hamblin's statement and that of Albert in relation to the burial of the two girls and in relation to the burial of the bodies of the others who had been murdered. Hamblin says the people from Cedar City buried them; Albert that the Indians did it, taking spades from the wagons, not a likely thing for bona fide Indians to do. My own opinion is that the remains were not buried at all until after they had been dismembered by the wolves and the flesh stripped from the bones, and then only such bones were buried as lay scattered along nearest the road.
Albert had evidently been trained in his statement. He gave much of it after cross-questioning, keeping always the Mormons in the background and the Indians conspicuously the prominent figures and actors, as Hamblin and his wife had endeavored to do. It was not until after I told him that Hamblin and his wife had informed me that John D. Lee and other Mormons were there and had asked him how it was possible he had not seen them, that he recollected about "Brother Lee" and "Brothers" Prime Coleman, Amos Thornton, Richard Robinson, and "Brother" Dickinson from Pinto Creek. He too had fallen into the general custom of the people and called every man "brother."
I questioned other Mormons in relation to the massacre, but many of them said they had moved from the northern part of the Territory since it took place; others, that they were harvesting at Parowan, Cedar, and at "The Fort," and knew nothing of it until it was all over. Even "Brother" Prime Coleman [said] that he was harvesting near Parowan just before that time with Brother Benjamin Nell, but when the massacre took place he was down on the Muddy River with Brother Ira Hatch to keep down disturbances there among the Indians. (The Muddy is 163 miles from Parowan, on the road to California; he had to pass Mountain Meadows to go there.) He said that as he and Hatch were coming back they saw in the sand the tracks of three men who wore fine boots. This was at Beaver Dams (between Mountain Meadows and the Muddy and 50 miles from the Meadows).
He and Hatch were frightened at this sign, were afraid of robbers, and did not stop, even for water, until they reached the Santa Clara, 2 miles off. At Pine Valley, near Mountain Meadows, they first heard of the massacre. There is no doubt but that all three of these men were active participants in the butchering at the Meadows. The foregoing is the Mormon story of the Massacre. As it took place on Hamblin's ranch and within hearing of his family, it was impossible for them to be "out harvesting" or "up north" or "down on the Muddy"; he himself had gone to Salt Lake City. At least he says so; but even this, I think, needs proof. Some account had to be made up, and the one most likely to be believed was that the whole matter had been started by the Indians and carried out by them, because the emigrants had poisoned a spring near Fillmore City. Mr. Rodgers, United States Deputy Marshal, who accompanied Judge Cradlebaugh in his tour to the South, told me that the water in the spring referred to runs with such volume and force "a barrel of arsenic would not poison it."
While the Mormons say the Indians were the murderers, they speak with no sympathy of the suffer[er]s, but rather in extenuation of the crime by saying the emigrants were not fit to live; that besides poisoning the spring "they were impudent to the people on the road, robbed their hen roosts and gardens, and were insulting to the church; called their oxen "Brigham Young," "Heber Kimball," etc., and altogether were a rough, ugly set that ought to have been killed anyway."
But there is another side to this story. It is said that some two years since Bishop Parley Pratt was shot in Cherokee Nation near Arkansas by the husband of a woman who had run off with that saintly prelate. The Mormons swore vengeance on the people of Arkansas, one of who was this injured husband. The wife came on to Salt Lake City after the bishop was killed and still lives there.
About this time, also, the Mormon troubles with the United States commenced, and the most bitter hostility against the Gentiles became rife throughout Utah among all the Latter-Day Saints. It will be recollected that even while these emigrants were pursuing their journey overland to California, Colonel Alexander was following upon their trace with two or more regiments of troops ordered to Utah to assist, if necessary, in seeing the laws of the land properly enforced in that territory.
This train was undoubtedly a very rich one. It is said the emigrants had nearly nine hundred head of fine cattle, many horses and mules, and one stallion valued at $2,000; that they had a great deal of ready money besides. All this the Mormons at Salt Lake City saw as the train came on. The Mormons knew the troops were marching to their country, and a spirit of intense hatred of the Americans and towards our Government was kindled in the hearts of this whole people by Brigham Young, Orson Hyde, and other leaders, even from the pulpits.
Here, opportunely, was a rich train of emigrants--American Gentiles. That is, the most obnoxious kind of Gentiles--and not only that, but these Gentiles were from Arkansas, where the saintly Pratt had gained his crown of martyrdom. Is not here some thread which may be seized as a clue to this mystery so long hidden as to whether or not the Mormons were accomplices in the massacre? This train of Arkansas Gentiles was doomed from the day it crossed through the South Pass and had gotten fairly down in the meshes of the Mormon spider net, from which it was never to become disentangled.
Judge Cradlebaugh informed me that about this time Brigham Young, preaching in the tabernacle and speaking of the trouble with the United States, said that up to that moment he had protected emigrants who had passed through the Territory, but now he would turn the Indians loose upon them. It is a singular point worthy of note that this sermon should have been preached just as the rich train had gotten into the valley and was now fairly entrapped; a sermon good, coming from him, as a letter of marque to these land pirates who listened to him as an oracle. The hint thus shrewdly given out was not long in being acted upon.
From that moment these emigrants, as they journeyed southward, were considered the authorized, if not legal, prey of the inhabitants. All kinds of depredations and extortions were practiced upon them. At Parowan they took some wheat to the mill to be ground. The bishop replied, "Yes, but do you take double toll." This shows the spirit with which they were treated. These things are now leaking out; but some of those who were then Mormons have renounced their creed, and through them much is learned which, taken in connection with the facts that are known, served to develop the truth. It is said to be a truth that Brigham Young sent letters south, authorizing, if not commanding, that the train should be destroyed.
A Pah-Ute chief, of the Santa Clara band, named "Jackson," who was one of the attacking party, and had a brother slain by the emigrants from their corral by the spring, says that orders came down in a letter from Brigham Young that the emigrants were to be killed; and a chief of the Pah-Utes named Touche, now living on the Virgin River, told me that a letter from Brigham Young to the same effect was brought down to the Virgin River band by a young man named Huntingdon [Oliver B. Huntington], who, I learn, is an Indian Interpreter and lives at present at Salt Lake City.
Jackson says there were 60 Mormons led by Bishop John D. Lee, of Harmony, and a prominent man in the church named [Isaac C.] Haight, who lives at Cedar City. That they were all painted and disguised as Indians.
That this painting and disguising was done at a spring in a canyon about a mile northeast of the spring where the emigrants were encamped, and that Lee and Haight led and directed the combined force of Mormons and Indians in the first attack, throughout the siege, and at the last massacre. The Santa Clara Indians say that the emigrants could not get to the water, as besiegers lay around the spring ready to shoot anyone who approached it. This could easily have been done. Major [Henry] Prince, Paymaster, U.S.A., and Lieutenant Ogle, First Dragoons, on the 17th inst., stood at the ditch which was in the corral and placed some men at the spring 28 yards distant, and they could just see the other men's heads, both parties standing erect. This shows how vital a point the Assailants occupied; how close it was to the assailed, and how well protected it was from the direction of the corral.
The following account of the affair is, I think, susceptible of legal proof by those whose names are known, and who, I am assured, are willing to make oath to many of the facts which serve as links in the chain of evidence leading toward the truth of this grave question: By whom were these 120 men, women, and children murdered?
It was currently reported among the Mormons at Cedar City, in talking among themselves, before the troops ever came down south, (when all felt secure of arrest or prosecution), and nobody seemed to question the truth of it--that a train of emigrants of fifty or upward of men, mostly with families, came and encamped at this spring at Mountain Meadows in September 1857. It was reported in Cedar City, and was not, and is not doubted--even by the Mormons--that John D. Lee, Isaac C. Haight, John M. Higby [Higbee] (the first resides at Harmony, the last two at Cedar City), were the leaders who organized a party of fifty or sixty Mormons to attack this train.
They had also all the Indians which they could collect at Cedar City, Harmony and Washington City to help them, a good many in number. This party then came down, and at first the Indians were ordered to stampede the cattle and drive them away from the train. Then they commenced firing on the emigrants; this firing was returned by the emigrants; one Indian was killed, a brother of the chief of the Santa Clara Indians, another shot through the leg, who is now a cripple at Cedar City. There were without doubt a great many more killed and wounded. It was said the Mormons were painted and disguised as Indians. The Mormons say the emigrants fought "like lions" and they saw that they could not whip them by any fair fighting.
After some days fighting the Mormons had a council among themselves to arrange a plan to destroy the emigrants. They concluded, finally, that they could send some few down and pretend to be friends and try and get the emigrants to surrender. John D. Lee and three or four others, headmen, from Washington, Cedar, and Parowan (Haight and Higby [Higbee] from Cedar), had their paint washed off and dressing in their usual clothes, took their wagons and drove down toward the emigrant's corral as they were just traveling on the road on their ordinary business. The emigrants sent out a little girl towards them. She was dressed in white and had a white handkerchief in her hand, which she waved in token of peace. The Mormons with the wagon waved one in reply, and then moved on towards the corral. The emigrants then came out, no Indians or others being in sight at this time, and talked with these leading Mormons with the three wagons.
They talked with the emigrants for an hour or an hour and a half, and told them that the Indians were hostile, and that if they gave up their arms it would show that they did not want to fight; and if they, the emigrants, would do this they would pilot them back to the settlements. The migrants had horses which had remained near their wagons; the loose stock, mostly cattle, had been driven off--not the horses. Finally the emigrants agreed to these terms and delivered up their arms to the Mormons with whom they had counseled. The women and children then started back toward Hamblin's house, the men following with a few wagons that they had hitched up. On arriving at the Scrub Oaks, etc., where the other Mormons and Indians lay concealed, Higby [Higbee], who had been one of those who had inveigled the emigrants from their defenses, himself gave the signal to fire, when a volley was poured in from each side, and the butchery commenced and was continued until it was consummated.
The property was brought to Cedar City and sold at public auction. It was called in Cedar City, and is so called now by the Facetious Mormons, "property taken at the siege of Sebastopol." The clothing stripped from the corpses, bloody and with bits of flesh upon it, shredded by the bullets from the persons of the poor creatures who wore it, was placed in the cellar of the tithing office (an official building), where it lay about three weeks, when it was brought away by some of the party; but witnesses do not know whether it was sold or given away. It is said the cellar smells of it even to this day.
It is reported that John D. Lee, Haight, and Philip Smith [Klingonsmith] (the latter lives in Cedar City) went to Salt Lake City immediately after the massacre, and counseled with Brigham Young about what should be done with the property. They took with them the ready money they got from the murdered emigrants and offered it to Young. He said he would have nothing to do with it. He told them to divide the cattle and cows among the poor. They had taken some of the cattle to Salt Lake City merchants there. Lee told Brigham that the Indians would not be satisfied if they did not have a share of the cattle. Brigham left it to Lee to make the distribution. One or two of the Mormons did not like it that Lee had this authority, as they say he swindled them out of their share. Lee was the smartest man of the lot.
The wagons, carriages, and rifles, etc., were distributed among the Mormons. Lee has a carriage reported be one of them. The Indians have but few of the rifles.
Much of this seems to be corroborated by a man named Whitelock, a dentist, now at Camp Floyd. Whitelock says he was told by a Mormon, who acknowledged that he was present at the massacre, but who is now in California, "that orders to destroy the emigrants first came from above" (Salt Lake City) and that a party of armed men under the command of a man named John D. Lee, who was then a bishop in the church, but who has since (as Brigham Young says) been deposed, left the settlements of Beaver City, north of Parowan, Parowan City, and Cedar City on whatwas called a "secret expedition," and after an absence of a few days returned, bringing back strange wagons, cattle, horses, mules and also household property.
There is legal proof that this property was sold at the official tithing office of the church. Whitelock says that this man could not report the details of the massacre without tears and trembling. He said he was so horrified at these atrocities he fled away from Utah to California. The man said he saw children clinging around the knees of the murderers, begging for mercy and offering themselves as slaves for life could they be spared. But their throats were cut from ear to ear as an answer to their appeal.
There are now wagons, carriages, and cattle in possession of the Mormons which can be sworn to, it is said, as having belonged to these emigrants by those who saw them upon the plains.
Two hundred and forty eight head of cattle were sold on the Jordan River after the arrival of the Army to United States commissaries by Mormons, and it is said that they can be traced as having come through the hands of Lee and [William H.] Hooper, who was Mormon Secretary of State, and were without doubt the cattle taken from the emigrants. Others are seen in the hands of the Mormons which are believed to have been captured at the time of the massacre. The Pah-Ute Indians of the Muddy River said to me that they know the Mormons had charged them with the massacre of the emigrants, but said they, "where are the wagons, the cattle, the clothing, the rifles, and other property belonging to the train? We have not got or had them. No, you find all these things in the hands of the Mormons." There is some logical reasoning in that, creditable at least to the obscure minds of miserable savages, whatever be the truth.
But there is not the shadow of a doubt that the emigrants were butchered by the Mormons themselves, assisted doubtless by the Indians. The idea of letting the emigrants come on to an obscure quarter of the Territory, amid the fastnesses of the mountains, with a formidable desert extending from that point to California, over which a stranger to the country, without sustenance, escape with his life; to a point were the Indians were numerous enough to lend assistance, and who could plausibly be charged with the crime in case, in the future any people should give trouble by asking ugly questions on the subject, exhibits consideration as to future contingencies of which these miserable Indians, at least are entirely incapable.
Besides, "fifty men that would do to tie to" in a fight, all well armed and experts in the use of the rifle, could have wiped out ten times their number of Pah-Ute Indians armed only with the bow and arrow. Hamblin himself, their agent, informed that to his certain knowledge in 1856 there were but three guns in the whole tribe. I doubt if they had many more in 1857. The emigrants were to be destroyed with as little loss to the Mormons as possible, and no one old enough to tell the tale was to be left alive. To effect this the whole plans and operations, from beginning to end, display skill, patience, pertinacity and forecast, which no people here at the time were equal to except the Mormons themselves. Hamblin says three men escaped. They were doubtless herding when the attack was made, or crept out of a corral by night.
The fate of one of these he had never learned. He must have been murdered off the road or perished of hunger and thirst in the mountains. At all events he never went through to California or he would have been heard from. One got as far as the Muddy River, ninety odd miles from Mountain Meadows. There the Indians cut his throat. The other got as far as Las Vegas, 45 miles still farther towards California, where he arrived totally naked, some Indians having stripped him of his clothes. Hamblin said an acquaintance of his coming from that way had seen marks in the sand where the Indians had thrown him down and where there had been struggling when he was stripped. The Las Vegas Indians cut his throat likewise. The Mormons had a fort at Las Vegas, now abandoned, but which was occupied at that time.
Here is something which seems to point to the "tracks in the sand of three men who wore fine boots" which brothers Ira Hatch and Prime Coleman saw at the Beaver Dams, and at which they became so frightened that they didn't stop to get water, although there was none other within 20 miles. During this "Siege of Sebastapol" or after the final massacre, it was doubtless discovered that the three emigrants had escaped, and Brothers Hatch and Coleman, perhaps two Mormons named Young, were sent in pursuit to cut them off on the desert or to get the Indians to do it. Hatch talks Pah-Ute like a native, and is now an interpreter of their language whenever needed. One of the Youngs, who now lives at Cotton Farm, near the confluence of The Virgin and Santa Clara, tells this story of the emigrants murdered on the Muddy:
"He and his brother, each on horseback, and leading a third horse, were traveling from California, as he says, to Utah. Just before they arrived at Muddy River they met one of the emigrants on foot. He had been wounded; was unarmed and without provisions or water. It was at daybreak. He had traveled already nearly 100 miles from the Mountain Meadows. He seemed to be terror stricken. His mind was wandering. He talked incoherently about the massacre and his purposes. Under the awful scenes he had witnessed, the pain of his wound, and the privations he had endured his senses had given away. They told him of the long deserts ahead of which, if he pursued his way, he would certainly perish. They persuaded him to return with them; mounted him on their lead horse, and so came on to the Muddy, where they stopped to prepare breakfast. One of the Young's laid his coat, containing in its pocket $500 all their money, on a bush. And commenced frying some cakes at a fire which had been kindled.
The Indians gathered around in great numbers. The chief would seize the cakes from the pan as fast as they were done, and eat them. At last one of the Youngs struck the chief with a knife, whereupon all the Indians rose to kill the three men. Young says he and his brother drew their revolvers, and holding them on the Indians, kept them at a distance until they got to their horses, had mounted, and were out of arrow shot. They then looked back for the emigrant who had seemed as he sat abstracted by the fire, hardly to comprehend what was going on. He had not left the spot where he sat. Three or four Indians had him down and were cutting his throat. They themselves, then made off, leaving coat, money, and all their provisions."
This is their story, but the truth doubtless was the Youngs, Hatch and Coleman, had followed up the man; had found him beyond the Muddy, brought him back, and then set the Indians upon him. The fate of these three men seems to close the scenes of this terrible tragedy on all the grown people of that fine train which was seen journeying prosperously forward at O'Fallons Bluffs on the 11th of the preceding June. There were doubtless atrocious episodes connected with the massacre of the women, which will never be known. Mr. Rogers, the deputy marshal, told me that Bishop John D. Lee is said to have taken a beautiful lady away to a secluded spot. There she implored him for more than life. She too, was found dead. Her throat had been cut from ear to ear.
The little children whom we left this John D. Lee distributing at Hamblin's house after that sad night, have at length been gathered together and are now at Indian Farm, 12 miles south of Fillmore City, or at Salt Lake City in the custody for Dr. Forney, United States Indian agent. They are 17 in number. Sixteen of these were seen by Judge Cradlebaugh, Lieutenant Kearney, and others, and gave the following information in relation to their personal identity, etc. The children were varying from 3 to 9 years of age, 10 girls, 6 boys, and were questioned separately.
The first is a boy named Calvin, between 7 and 8 [John Calvin Miller, 6]; does not remember his surname; says he was by his mother [Matilda] when she was killed, and pulled the arrows from her back until she was dead; says he had two brothers older than himself, named James [see below] and Henry, and three sisters, Nancy, Mary [see below] and Martha.
The second is a girl who does not remember her name. The others say it is Demurr [Georgia Ann Dunlap, 18 mos.].
The third is a boy named Ambrose Mariam Tagit [Emberson Milam Tackitt, 4]; says he had two brothers older than himself and one younger. His father, mother, and two elder brothers were killed, his younger brother [William Henry, listed below] was brought to Cedar City; says he lived in Johnson County, but does not know what State; says it took one week to go from where he lived with his grandfather and grandmother who are still living in the States.
The fourth is a girl obtained of John Morris, a Mormon, at Cedar City. She does not recollect anything about herself [Mary Miller, 4 (see next below)].
Fifth. A boy obtained of E. H. Grove [Joseph Miller, 1, whose older brother, Calvin (above)], says that the girl obtained of Morris is named Mary and is his sister.
The sixth is a girl who says her name is Prudence Angelina [Prudence Angeline Dunlap, 5]. Had two brothers, Jessie [Thomas J., 17] and John (John H., 16], who were killed. Her father's name was William [Lorenzo Dow Dunlap], and she had an Uncle Jessie [Jesse Dunlap].
The seventh is a girl. She says her name is Francis Harris, or Horne, remembers nothing of her family [Sarah Frances Baker, 3].
The eighth is a young boy, too young to remember anything about himself [Felix Marion Jones, 18 mos.].
The ninth is a boy whose name is William W. Huff [William Henry Tackitt, 19 mos.].
The tenth is a boy whose name is Charles Fancher [Christopher "Kit" Carson Fancher, 5].
The eleventh is a girl who says her name is Sophronia Huff [Nancy Saphrona Huff, 4].
The twelfth is a girl who says her name is Betsy [Martha Elizabeth Baker, 5].
The thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth are three sisters named Rebecca, Louisa and Sara Dunlap [Rebecca J. Dunlap, 6; Louisa Dunlap, 4; Sarah E. Dunlap, 1]. These three sisters were the children obtained of Jacob Hamblin.
I have no note of the sixteenth [Triphenia D. Fancher, 22 mos.].
The seventeenth is a boy who was but six weeks old at the time of the massacre [William Twitty Baker, 9 mos.]. Hamblin's wife brought him to my camp on the 19th instant. The next day they took him on to Salt Lake City to give him up to Dr. Forney. He is a pretty little boy and hardly dreamed he had again slept upon the ground where his parents had been murdered.
These children, it is said, could not be induced to make any developments while they remained with the Mormons, from fear, no doubt, having been intimidated by threats. Dr. Forney, it is said, came southward for them under the impression that he would find them in the hands of the Indians.
The Mormons say the children were in the hands of the Indians and were purchased by them for rifles, blankets, etc., but the children say they have never lived with the Indians at all. The Mormons claimed of Dr. Forney sums of money, varying from $200 to $400, for attending them when sick, for feeding and clothing them, and for nourishing the infants from the time when they assumed to have purchased them from the Indians.
Murders of the parents and despoilers of their property, these Mormons, rather these relentless, incarnate fiends, dared even to come forward and claim payment for having kept these little ones barely alive; these helpless orphans whom they themselves had already robbed of their natural protectors and support. Has there ever been an act which at all equaled this devilish hardihood in more than devilish effrontery? Never, but one; and even then the price was but "30 pieces of silver."
On my arrival at Mountain Meadows, the 16th instant, I encamped near the spring where the emigrants had encamped, and where they had entrenched themselves after they were first fired upon. The ditch they there dug is not yet filled up.
The same day Captain Reuben P. Campbell, United States Second Dragoons, with a command of three companies of troops, came from his camp at Santa Clara and camped there also. Judge Cradlebaugh and Deputy Marshall Rogers had come down from Provo with Captain Campbell, and had been inquiring into the circumstances of the massacre. The judge cannot receive too much praise for the resolute and thorough manner with which he pursues him investigation. On his way down past this spot, and before my arrival, Captain Campbell had caused to be collected and buried the bones of 26 of the victims. Dr. Brewer informed me that the remains of 18 were buried in one grave, 12 in another and 6 in another.
On the 20th I took a wagon and a party of men and made a thorough search for others amongst the sage brushes for a least a mile back from the road that leads to Hamblin's house. Hamblin himself showed Sergeant Fritz of my party a spot on the right-hand side of the road where had partially covered up a great many of the bones. These were collected, and a large number of others on the left hand side of the road up the slopes of the hill, and in the ravines and among the bushes. I gathered many of the disjointed bones of 34 persons. The number could easily be told by the number of pairs of shoulder blades and by lower jaws, skulls, and parts of skulls, etc.
These, with the remains of two others gotten in a ravine to the east of the spring, where they had been interred at but little depth, 34 in all, I buried in a grave on the northern side of the ditch. Around and above this grave I caused to be built of loose granite stones, hauled from the neighboring hills, a rude monument, conical in form and fifty feet in circumference at the base, and twelve feet in height. This is surmounted by a cross hewn from red cedar wood. From the ground to top of cross is twenty four feet. On the transverse part of the cross, facing towards the north, is an inscription carved in the wood. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." And on a rude slab of granite set in the earth and leaning against the northern base of the monument there are cut the following words:
"Here 120 men, women, and children were massacred in cold blood early in September, 1857. They were from Arkansas."
I observed that nearly every skull I saw had been shot through with rifle or revolver bullets. I did not see one that had been "broken in with stones." Dr. Brewer showed me one, that probably of a boy of eighteen, which had been fractured and slit, doubtless by two blows of a bowie knife or other instrument of that character.
I saw several bones of what must have been very small children. Dr. Brewer says from what he saw he thinks some infants were butchered. The mothers doubtless had these in their arms, and the same shot or blow may have deprived both of life.
The scene of the massacre, even at this late day, was horrible to look upon. Women's hair, in detached locks and masses, hung to the sage bushes and was strewn over the ground in many places. Parts of little children's dresses and of female costume dangled from the shrubbery or lay scattered about; and among these, here and there, on every hand, for at least a mile in the direction of the road, by two miles east and west, there gleamed, bleached white by the weather, the skulls and other bones of those who had suffered. A glance into the wagon when all these had been collected revealed a sight which can never be forgotten.
The idea of the melancholy procession of that great number of women and children, followed at a distance by their husbands and brothers, after all their suffering, their watching, their anxiety and grief, for so many gloomy days and dismal nights at the corral, thus moving slowly and sadly up to the point where the Mormons and Indians lay in wait to murder them; these doomed and unhappy people literally going to their own funeral; the chill shadows of night closing darkly around them, sad precursors of the approaching shadows of a deeper night, brings to the mind a picture of human suffering and wretchedness on the one hand, and of human treachery and ferocity upon the other, that cannot possibly be excelled by any other scene that ever before occurred in real life.
I caused the distance to be measured from point to point on the scene of the massacre. From the ditch near the spring to the point upon the road where the men attacked and destroyed, and where their bones were mostly found, is one mile 565 yards. Here there is a grave where Capt. Campbell's command buried some of the remains. To the next point, also marked by a similar grave made by Captain Campbell, and where the women and children were butchered; a point identified from their bones and clothing have been found near it, it is one mile, 1,135 yards. To the swell across the valley called the Rim of the Basin, is one mile 1,334 yards. To Hamblin's house four miles, 1,049 yards.
Major Henry Prince, United States Army, drew a map of the ground about the spring where the entrenchment was dug, and embracing the neighboring hill behind which the Mormons had cover. On the crests of these hills are still traces of some rude little parapets made of loose stones and loop holed for rifles. Marks of bullets shot from the corral are seen upon these stones. I enclose this map and also a drawing of the valley as it appears looking northward from a point below the spring and another drawing giving a near view of the monument. These latter are not so good as I could wish for, but they will serve to give a tolerably correct idea of what they are intended to represent. They were made by Mr. Moeller, who has lived many years among the Mormons.
In pursuing the bloody thread which runs throughout this picture of sad realities, the question how this crime, that for hellish atrocity has no parallel in our history, can be adequately punished often comes up and seeks in vain for an answer. Judge Cradlebaugh says that with Mormon juries the attempt to administer justice in their Territory is simply a ridiculous farce. He believes the Territory ought at once to be put under martial law. This may be the only practical way in which even a partial punishment can be meted out to these Latter-Day devils.
But how inadequate would be the punishment of a few, even by death, for this crime for which nearly the whole Mormon population, from Brigham Young down, were more or less instrumental in perpetrating.
There are other heinous crimes to be punished besides this. Martial law would at best be but a temporary expedient. Crime is found in the footsteps of the Mormons wherever they go, and so the evil must always exist as long as the Mormons themselves exist. What is their history? What their antecedents? Perhaps the future may be judged by the past.
In their infancy as a religious community, they settled in Jackson County, Mo. There, in a short time, from the crimes and depredations they committed, they became intolerable to the inhabitants, whose self preservation compelled them to ride and drive the Mormons out by force of arms. At Nauvoo, again another experiment was tried with them. The people of Illinois exercised forbearance toward them until it literally "ceased to be a virtue." They were driven thence as they had been from Missouri, but fortunately this time with the loss on their part of those two shallow imposters, but errant miscreants, the brothers Smith.
The United States took no wholesome heed of these lessons taught by Missouri and Illinois. The Mormons were permitted to settle amid the fastnesses of the Rocky Mountains, with a desert on each side, and upon the great thoroughfare between the two oceans. Over this thoroughfare our Citizens have hitherto not been able to travel without peril to their lives and property, except, forsooth, Brigham Young pleased to grant them his permission and give them his protection. "He would turn the Indians loose upon them."
The expenses of the army in Utah, past and to come (figure that), the massacre at the Mountain Meadows, the unnumbered other crimes, which have been and will yet be committed by this community, are but preliminary gusts of the whirlwind our Government has reaped and is yet to reap for the wind it had sowed in permitting the Mormons ever to gain foothold within our borders.
They are an ulcer upon the body politic. An ulcer which it needs more than cutlery to cure. It must have excision, complete and thorough extirpation, before we can ever hope for safety or tranquility. This is no rhetorical phrase made by a flourish of the pen, but is really what will prove to be an earnest and stubborn fact. This brotherhood may be contemplated from any point of view, and but one conclusion can be arrived at concerning it. The Thugs of India were an inoffensive, moral, law-abiding people in comparison.
I have made this a special report, because the information here given, however crude, I thought to be of such grave importance it ought to be put permanently on record and deserved to be kept separate and distinct from a report on the ordinary occurrences of a march. Some of the details might, perhaps, have been omitted, but there has been a great and fearful crime perpetrated, and many of the circumstances connected with it have long been kept most artfully concealed. But few direct rays even now shine in upon the subject. So that however indistinct and unimportant they may at present appear to be, even the faint side lights given by these details may yet lend assistance in exploring some obscure recess of the matter where the great truths, that should be diligently and persistently sought for, may yet happily be discovered.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
James Henry Carleton,
Brevet Major, U.S.A., Captain in the First Dragoons.
Major W. W. Mackall, Ass't. Adjutant-General, U.S.A., San Francisco, California.
H. Doc. 605
As the early accounts of the Mountain Meadows Massacre spread, the evidence of Mormon involvement grew, including eyewitness testimony from older surviving children, who had watched as white men washed off war paint in a stream, and reports of the rich spoils dispersed among local farmers or sent to Salt Lake City. This gathering evidence triggered a new wave of outrage and anti-Mormon sentiment throughout the country, but the atrocity was soon eclipsed by the uproar of Lincoln's election and the outbreak of the Civil War.
In the post-Civil War period, the now-aging issue of the massacre surfaced again, during a renewed push for statehood. To appease anti-statehood forces in Congress demanding some acknowledgment of and punishment for the incident, John D. Lee was the single Mountain Meadows culprit arrested. He went through two trials. At the first, in 1875, the jury of eight Mormons and four Gentiles predictably deadlocked, with all the Mormons voting for acquittal. Following a public outcry, Lee stood trial again the next year. Previously unavailable Mormon witnesses appeared with vivid testimony that marked him and absolved all higher church officials. He was convicted by an all-Mormon jury and ordered executed.
The pages, which follow, contain John D. Lee's own account of the massacre as published in Mormonism Unveiled. John D. Lee was a Danite in Missouri and served in the Council of 50 under Brigham Young.
LAST CONFESSION AND STATEMENT OF JOHN D. LEE.
(1877 edition of Mormonism Unveiled)
"I was requested by John Doyle Lee, after he had been sentenced to be shot for the part he took in the commission of the Mountain Meadow Massacre, to publish an account of his life and confessions, in order to inform the world how it was that he acted as he had, and why he was made a scape-goat by the Mormon Church."
Wm. W. Bishop
Confidential Att'y of John D, Lee
Pioche, Nevada, May 17, 1877
WRITTEN AT HIS DICTATION AND DELIVERED TO WILLIAM W. BISHOP, ATTORNEY FOR LEE, WITH A REQUEST THAT THE SAME BE PUBLISHED
"AS A DUTY to myself, my family, and mankind at large, I propose to give a full and true statement of all that I know and all that I did in that unfortunate affair, which has cursed my existence, and made me a wanderer from place to place for the last nineteen years, and which is known to the world as the MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE.
I have no vindictive feeling against any one; no enemies to punish by this statement; and no friends to shield by keeping back, or longer keeping secret, any of the facts connected with the Massacre.
I believe that I must tell all that I do know, and tell everything just as the same transpired. I shall tell the truth and permit the public to judge who is most to blame for the crime that I am accused of committing. I did not act alone; I had many to assist me at the Mountain Meadows. I believe that most of those who were connected with the Massacre, and took part in the lamentable transaction that has blackened the character of all who were aiders or abettors in the same, were acting under the impression that they were performing a religious duty. I know all were acting under the orders and by the command of their Church leaders; and I firmly believe that the most of those who took part in the proceedings, considered it a religious duty to unquestioningly obey the orders which they had received. That they acted from a sense of duty to the Mormon Church, I never doubted. Believing that those with me acted from a sense of religious duty on that occasion, I have faithfully kept the secret of their guilt, and remained silent and true to the oath of secrecy which we took on the bloody field, for many long and bitter years. I have never betrayed those who acted with me and participated in the crime for which I am convicted, and for which I am to suffer death.
My attorneys, especially Wells Spicer and Wm. W. Bishop, have long tried, but tried in vain, to induce me to tell all I knew of the massacre and the causes which led to it. I have heretofore refused to tell the tale. Until the last few days I had in- tended to die, if die I must, without giving one word to the public concerning those who joined willingly, or unwillingly, in the work of destruction at Mountain Meadows.
To hesitate longer, or to die in silence, would be unjust and cowardly. I will not keep the secret any longer as my own, but will tell all I know.
At the earnest request of a few remaining friends, and by the advice of Mr. Bishop, my counsel, who has defended me thus far with all his ability, notwithstanding my want of money with which to pay even his expenses while attending to my case, I have concluded to write facts as I know them to exist.
I cannot go before the Judge of the quick and the dead with out first revealing all that I know, as to what was done, who ordered me to do what I did do, and the motives that led to the commission of that unnatural and bloody deed.
The immediate orders for the killing of the emigrants came from those in authority at Cedar City. At the time of the massacre, I and those with me, acted by virtue of positive orders from Isaac C. Haight and his associates at Cedar City. Before I started on my mission to the Mountain Meadows, I was told by Isaac C. Haight that his orders to me were the result of full consultation with Colonel William H. Dame and all in authority. It is a new thing to me, if the massacre was not decided on by the head men of the Church, and it is a new thing for Mormons to condemn those who committed the deed.
Being forced to speak from memory alone, without the aid of my memorandum books, and not having time to correct the statements that I make, I will necessarily give many things out of their regular order. The superiority that I claim for my statement is this:
ALL THAT I DO SAY IS TRUE AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH:
I will begin my statement by saying, I was born on the 6th day of September, A. D. 1812, in the town of Kaskaskia, Randolph County, State of Illinois. I am therefore in the sixty-fifth year of my age.
I joined the Mormon Church at Far West, Mo., about thirty-nine years ago. To be with that Church and people I left my home on Luck Creek, Fayette County, Illinois, and went and joined the Mormons in Missouri, before the troubles at Gallatin, Far West and other points, between the Missourians and Mormons. I shared the fate of my brother Mormons, in being mistreated, arrested, robbed and driven from Missouri in a destitute condition, by a wild and fanatical mob. But of all this I shall speak in my life, which I shall write for publication if I have time to do so.
I took an active part with the leading men at Nauvoo in building up that city. I induced many Saints to move to Nauvoo, for the sake of their souls. I traveled and preached the Mormon doctrine in many States. I was an honored man in the Church, and stood high with the Priesthood, until the last few years. I am now cut off from the Church for obeying the orders of my superiors, and doing so without asking questions--for doing as my religion and my religious teachers had taught me to do. I am now used by the Mormon Church as a scapegoat to carry the sins of that people. My life is to be taken, so that my death may stop further enquiry into the acts of the members who are still in good standing in the Church.
Will my death satisfy the nation for all the crimes committed by Mormons, at the command of the Priesthood, who have used and now have deserted me? Time will tell. I believe in a just God, and I know the day will come when others must answer for their acts, as I have had to do.
I first became acquainted with Brigham Young when I went to Far West, Mo., to join the Church, in 1837. I got very intimately acquainted with all the great leaders of the Church. I was adopted by Brigham Young as one of his sons, and for many years I confess I looked upon him as an inspired and holy man. While in Nauvoo I took an active part in all that was done for the Church or the city. I had charge of the building of the "Seventy Hall;" I was 7th Policeman. My duty as a police man was to guard the residence and person of Joseph Smith, the Prophet. After the death of Joseph and Hyrum I was ordered to perform the same duty for Brigham Young. When Joseph Smith was a candidate for the Presidency of the United States I went to Kentucky as the chairman of the Board of Elders, or head of the delegation, to secure the vote of that State for him. When I returned to Nauvoo again I was General Clerk and Recorder for the Quorum of the Seventy. I was also head or Chief Clerk for the Church, and as such took an active part in organizing the Priesthood into the order of Seventy after the death of Joseph Smith.
After the destruction of Nauvoo, when the Mormons were driven from the State of Illinois, I again shared the fate of my brethren, and partook of the hardships and trials that befell them from that day up to the settlement of Salt Lake City, in the then wilderness of the nation. I presented Brigham Young with seventeen ox teams, fully equipped, when he started with the people from Winter Quarters to cross the plains to the new resting place of the Saints. He accepted them and said, "God bless you, John." But I never received a cent for them--I never wanted pay for them, for in giving property to Brigham Young I thought I was loaning it to the Lord.
After reaching Salt Lake City I stayed there but a short time, when I went to live at Cottonwood, where the mines were afterwards discovered by General Connor and his men during the late war.
I was just getting fixed to live there, when I was ordered to go out into the interior and aid in forming new settlements, and opening up the country. I then had no wish or desire, save that to know and be able to do the will of the Lord's anointed, Brigham Young, and until within the last few years I have never had a wish for anything else except to do his pleasure, since I became his adopted son. I believed it my duty to obey those in authority. I then believed that Brigham Young spoke by direction of the God of Heaven. I would have suffered death rather than have disobeyed any command of his. I had this feeling until he betrayed and deserted me. At the command of Brigham Young, I took one hundred and twenty-one men, went in a southern direction from Salt Lake City, and laid out and built up Parowan. George A. Smith was the leader and chief man in authority in that settlement. I acted under him as historian and clerk of the Iron County Mission, until January 1851. I went with Brigham Young, and acted as a committee man, and located Provo, St. George, Fillmore, Parowan and other towns, and managed the location of many of the settlements in Southern Utah.
In 1852, I moved to Harmony, and built up that settlement. I remained there until the Indians declared war against the whites and drove the settlers into Cedar City and Parowan, for protection, in the year 1853.
I removed my then numerous family to Cedar City, where I was appointed a Captain of the militia, and commander of Cedar City Military Post.
I had commanded at Cedar City about one year, when I was ordered to return to Harmony, and build the Harmony Fort. This order, like all other orders, came from Brigham Young. When I returned to Harmony and commenced building the fort there, the orders were given by Brigham Young for the reorganization of the military at Cedar City. The old men were requested to resign their offices, and let younger men be appointed in their place. I resigned my office of Captain, but Isaac C. Haight and John M. Higbee refused to resign, and continued to hold on as Majors in the Iron Militia.
After returning to Harmony, I was President of the civil and local affairs, and Rufus Allen was President of that Stake of Zion, or head of the Church affairs.
I soon resigned my position as President of civil affairs, and became a private citizen, and was in no office for some time. In fact, I never held any position after that, except the office of Probate Judge of the County (which office I held before and after the massacre), and member of the Territorial Legislature, and Delegate to the Constitutional Convention which met and adopted a constitution for the State of Deseret, after the massacre.
I will here state that Brigham Young honored me in many ways after the affair at Mountain Meadows was fully reported to him by me, as I will more fully state hereafter in the course of what I have to relate concerning that unfortunate transaction.
Klingensmith, at my first trial, and White, at my last trial, swore falsely when they say that they met me near Cedar City, the Sunday before the massacre. They did not meet me as they have sworn, nor did they meet me at all on that occasion or on any similar occasion. I never had the conversations with them that they testify about. They are both perjurers, and bore false testimony against me.
There has never been a witness on the stand against me that has testified to the whole truth. Some have told part truth, while others lied clear through, but all of the witnesses who were at the massacre have tried to throw all the blame on me, and to protect the other men who took part in it.
About the 7th of September 1857, I went to Cedar City from my home at Harmony, by order of President Haight. I did not know what he wanted of me, but he had ordered me to visit him and I obeyed. If I remember correctly, it was on Sunday evening that I went there. When I got to Cedar City, I met Isaac C. Haight on the public square of the town. Haight was then President of that Stake of Zion, and the highest man in the Mormon priesthood in that country, and next to Wm. H. Dame in all of Southern Utah, and as Lieutenant Colonel he was second to Dame in the command of the Iron Military District. The word and command of Isaac C. Haight were the law in Cedar City, at that time, and to disobey his orders was certain death; be they right or wrong, no Saint was permitted to question them, their duty was obedience or death.
When I met Haight, I asked him what he wanted with me. He said he wanted to have a long talk with me on private and particular business. We took some blankets and went over to the old Iron Works, and lay there that night, so that we could talk in private and in safety. After we got to the Iron Works, Haight told me all about the train of emigrants. He said (and I then believed every word that be 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 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.
That these vile Gentiles publicly proclaimed that they had the very pistol with which the Prophet, Joseph Smith, 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 he 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 d--d Mormon man, woman and child that they could find in Utah. That they violated the ordinances of the town of Cedar, and had, by armed force, resisted the officers who tried to arrest them for violating the law. That after leaving Cedar City the emigrants camped by the company, or cooperative field, just below Cedar City, and burned a large portion of the fencing, leaving the crops open to the large herds of stock in the surrounding country. Also that they had given poisoned meat to the Corn Creek tribe of Indians, which had killed several of them, and their Chief, Konosh, was on the trail of the emigrants, and would soon attack them. All of these things, and much more of a like kind, Haight told me as we lay in the dark at the old Iron Works. I believed all that he said, and, thinking that he had full right to do all that he wanted to do, I was easily induced to follow his instructions.
Haight said that unless something was done to prevent it, the emigrants would carry out their threats and rob every one of the outlying settlements in the South, and that the whole Mormon people were liable to be butchered by the troops that the emigrants would bring back with them from California. I was then told that the Council had held a meeting that day, to consider the matter, and that it was decided by the authorities to arm the Indians, give them provisions and ammunition, and send them after the emigrants, and have the Indians give them a brush, and if they killed part or all of them, so much the better.
I said, "Brother Haight, who is your authority for acting in this way?"
He replied,"It is the will of all in authority. The emigrants have no pass from any one to go through the country, and they are liable to be killed as common enemies, for the country is at war now. No man has a right to go through this country without a written pass."
We lay there and talked much of the night, and during that time Haight gave me very full instructions what to do, and how to proceed in the whole affair. He said he had consulted with Colonel Dame, and every one agreed to let the Indians use up the whole train if they could. Haight then said:
"I expect you to carry out your orders."
I knew I had to obey or die. I had no wish to disobey, for I then thought that my superiors in the Church were the mouth pieces of Heaven, and that it was an act of godliness for me to obey any and all orders given by them to me, without my asking any questions.
My orders were to go home to Harmony, and see Carl Shirts, my son-in-law, an Indian interpreter, and send him to the Indians in the South, to notify them that the Mormons and Indians were at war with the "Mericats" (as the Indians called all whites that were not Mormons) and bring all the Southern Indians up and have them join with those from the North, so that their force would be sufficient to make a successful attack on the emigrants.
It was agreed that Haight would send Nephi Johnson, another Indian interpreter, to stir up all the other Indians that he could find, in order to have a large enough force of Indians to give the emigrants a good hush. He said,"These are the orders that have been agreed upon by the Council, and it is in accordance with the feelings of the entire people."
I asked him 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," said Haight, "that is unnecessary, we are acting by orders. Some of the Indians are now on the war-path, and all of them must be sent out; all must go, so as to make the thing a success."
It was then intended that the Indians should kill the emigrants, and make it an Indian massacre, and not have any whites interfere with them. No whites were to be known in the matter, it was to be all done by the Indians, so that it could be laid to them, if any questions were ever asked about it. I said to Haight:
"You know what the Indians are. They will kill all the party, women and children, as well as the men, and you know we are sworn not to shed innocent blood."
"Oh h--l!" said he, "there will not be one drop of innocent blood shed, if every one of the d--d pack are killed, for they are the worse lot of out-laws and ruffians that I ever saw in my life."
We agreed upon the whole thing, how each one should act, and then left the iron works, and went to Haight's house and, got breakfast.
After breakfast I got ready to start, and Haight said to me:
"Go, Brother Lee, and see that the instructions of those in authority are obeyed, and as you are dutiful in this, so shall your reward be in the kingdom of God, for God will bless those who willingly obey counsel, and make all things fit for the people in these last days."
I left Cedar City for my home at Harmony, to carry out the instructions that I had received from my superior.
I then believed that he acted by the direct order and command of William H. Dame, and others even higher in authority than Colonel Dame. One reason for thinking so was from a talk I had only a few days before, with Apostle George A. Smith, and he had just then seen Haight, and talked with him, and I knew that George A. Smith never talked of things that Brigham Young had not talked over with him before-hand. Then the Mormons were at war with the United States, and the orders to the Mormons had been all the time to kill and waste away our enemies, but lose none of our people. These emigrants were from the section of country most hostile to our people, and I believed then as I do now, that it was the will of every true Mormon in Utah, at that time, that the enemies of the Church should be killed as fast as possible, and that as this lot of people had men amongst them that were supposed to have helped kill the Prophets in the Carthage jail, the killing of all of them would be keeping our oaths and avenging the blood of the Prophets.
In justice to myself I will give the facts of my talk with George A. Smith.
In the latter part of the month of August, 1857, about ten days before the company of Captain Fancher, who met their doom at Mountain Meadows, arrived at that place, General George A. Smith called on me at one of my homes at Washington City, Washington County, Utah Territory, and wished me to take him round by Fort Clara, via Pinto Settlements, to Hamilton Fort, or Cedar City. He said,
"I have been sent down here by the old Boss, Brigham Young, to instruct the brethren of the different settlements not to sell any of their grain to our enemies. And to tell them not, to feed it to their animals, for it will all be needed by ourselves. I am also to instruct the brethren to prepare for a big fight, for the enemy is coming in large force to attempt our destruction. But Johnston's army will not be allowed to approach our settlements from the east. God is on our side and will fight our battles for us, and deliver our enemies into our hands. Brigham Young has received revelations from God, giving him the right and the power to call down the curse of God on all our enemies who attempt to invade our Territory. Our greatest danger lies in the people of California--a class of reckless miners who are strangers to God and his righteousness. They are likely to come upon us from the south and destroy the small settlements. But we will try and outwit them before we suffer much damage. The people of the United States who oppose our Church and people are a mob, from the President down, and as such it is impossible for their armies to prevail against the Saints who have gathered here in the mountains."
He continued this kind of talk for some hours to me and my friends who were with me.
General George A. Smith held high rank as a military leader. He was one of the twelve apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and as such he was considered by me to be an inspired man. His orders were to me sacred commands, which I considered it my duty to obey, without question or hesitation.
I took my horses and carriage and drove with him to either Hamilton Fort or Cedar City, visiting the settlements with him, as he had requested. I did not go to hear him preach at any of our stopping places, nor did I pay attention to what he said to the leaders in the settlements.
The day we left Fort Clara, which was then the headquarters of the Indian missionaries under the presidency of Jacob Hamblin, we stopped to noon at the Clara River. While there the Indians gathered around us in large numbers, and were quite saucy and impudent. Their chiefs asked me where I was going and who I had with me. I told them that he was a big captain.
"Is he, a Mericat Captain?"
"No," I said, "he is a Mormon."
The Indians then wanted to know more. They wanted to have a talk.
The General told me to tell the Indians that the Mormons were their friends, and that the Americans were their enemies, and the enemies of the Mormons, too; that he wanted the Indians to remain the fast friends of the Mormons, for the Mormons were all friends to the Indians; that the Americans had a large army just east of the mountains, and intended to come over the mountains into Utah and kill all of the Mormons and Indians in Utah Territory; that the Indians must get ready and keep ready for war against all of the Americans, and keep friendly with the Mormons and obey what the Mormons told them to do--that this was the will of the Great Spirit; that if the Indians were true to the Mormons and would help them against their enemies, then the Mormons would always keep them from want and sickness and give them guns and ammunition to hunt and kill game with, and would also help the Indians against their enemies when they went into war.
This talk pleased the Indians, and they agreed to all that I asked them to do.
I saw that my friend Smith was a little nervous and fearful of the Indians, notwithstanding their promises of friendship. To relieve him of his anxiety I hitched up and started on our way, as soon as I could do so without rousing the suspicions of the Indians.
We had ridden along about a mile or so when General Smith said,
"Those are savage looking fellows. I think they would make it lively for an emigrant train if one should come this way."
I said I thought they would attack any train that would come in their way. Then the General was in a deep study for some time, when he said,
"Suppose an emigrant train should come along through this southern country, making threats against our people and bragging of the part they took in helping kill our Prophets, what do you think the brethren would do with them? Would they be permitted to go their way, or would the brethren pitch into them and give them a good drubbing?"
I reflected a few moments, and then said,
"You know the brethren are now under the influence of the late reformation, and are still red-hot for the gospel. The brethren believe the government wishes to destroy them. I really believe that any train of emigrants that may come through here will be attacked, and. probably all destroyed. I am sure they would be wiped out if they had been making threats again our people. Unless emigrants have a pass from Brigham Young, or some one in authority, they will certainly never get safely through this country."
My reply pleased him very much, and he laughed heartily, and then said,
"Do you really believe the brethren would make it lively for such a train?"
I said, "Yes, sir, I know they will, unless they are protected by a pass, and I wish to inform you that unless you want every train captured that comes through here, you must inform Governor Young that if he wants emigrants to pass, without being molested, he must send orders to that effect to Colonel Wm. H. Dame or Major Isaac C. Haight, so that they can give passes to the emigrants, for their passes will insure safety, but nothing else will, except the positive orders of Governor Young, as the people are all bitter against the Gentiles, and full of religious zeal, and anxious to avenge the blood of the Prophets."
GEORGE A. SMITH:
The only reply he made was to the effect that on his way down from Salt Lake City he had had a long talk with Major Haight on the same subject, and that Haight had assured him, and given him to understand, that emigrants who came along without a pass from Governor Young could not escape from the Territory.
We then rode along in silence for some distance, when he again turned to me and said,
"Brother Lee, I am satisfied that the brethren are under the full influence of the reformation, and I believe they will do just as you say they will with the wicked emigrants that come through the country making threats and abusing our people."
I repeated my views to him, but at much greater length, giving my reasons in full for thinking that Governor Young should give orders to protect all the emigrants that he did not wish destroyed. I went into a full statement of the wrongs of our people, and told him that the people were under the blaze of the reformation, full of wild fire and fanaticism, and that to shed the blood of those who would dare to speak against the Mormon Church or its leaders, they would consider doing the will of God, and that the people would do it as willingly and cheerfully as they would any other duty. That the apostle Paul, when he started forth to persecute the followers of Christ, was not any more sincere than every Mormon was then, who lived in Southern Utah.
My words served to cheer up the General very much; he was greatly delighted, and said,
"I am glad to hear so good an account of our people. God will bless them for all that they do to build up His Kingdom in the last days."
General Smith did not say one word to me or intimate to me, that he wished any emigrants to pass in safety through the Territory. But he led me to believe then, as I believe now, that he did want, and expected every emigrant to be killed that undertook to pass through the Territory while we were at war with the Government. I thought it was his mission to prepare the people for the bloody work.
I have always believed, since that day, that General George A. Smith was then visiting Southern Utah to prepare the people for the work of exterminating Captain Fancher's train of emigrants, and I now believe that he was sent for that purpose by the direct command of Brigham Young.
I have been told by Joseph Wood, Thomas T. Willis, and many others, that they heard George A. Smith preach at Cedar City during that trip, and that he told the people of Cedar City that the emigrant's were coming, and he told them that they must not sell that company any grain or provisions of any kind, for they were a mob of villains and outlaws, and the enemies of God and the Mormon people.
Sidney Littlefield, of Panguitch, has told me that he was knowing to the fact of Colonel Wm. H. Dame sending orders from Parowan to Maj. Haight, at Cedar City, to exterminate the Fancher outfit, and to kill every emigrant without fail. Littlefield then lived at Parowan, and Dame was the Presiding Bishop. Dame still has all the wives he wants, and is a great friend of Brigham Young.
The knowledge of how George A. Smith felt toward the emigrants, and his telling me that he had a long talk with Haight on the subject, made me certain that it was the wish of the Church authorities that Fancher and his train should be wiped out, and knowing all this, I did not doubt then, and I do not doubt it now, either, that Haight was acting by full authority from the Church leaders, and that the orders he gave to me were just the orders that he had been directed to give, when he ordered me to raise the Indians and have them attack the emigrants.
I acted through the whole matter in a way that I considered it my religious duty to act, and if what I did was a crime, it was a crime of the Mormon Church, and not a crime for which I feel individually responsible.
I must here state that Klingensmith was not in Cedar City that Sunday night. Haight said he had sent Klingensmith and others over towards Pinto, and around there, to stir up the Indians and force them to attack the emigrants.
On my way from Cedar City to my home at Harmony, I came up with a large band of Indians under Moquetas and Big Bill, two Cedar City Chiefs; they were in their war paint, and fully equipped for battle. They halted when I came up and said they had had a big talk with Haight, Higby and Klingensmith, and had got orders from them to follow up the emigrants and kill them all, and take their property as the spoil of their enemies.
These Indians wanted me to go with them and command their forces. I told them that I could not go with them that evening, that I had orders from Haight, the big Captain, to send other Indians on the war-path to help them kill the emigrants, and that I must attend to that first; that I wanted them to go on near where the emigrants were and camp until the other Indians joined them; that I would meet them the next day and lead them.
This satisfied them, but they wanted me to send my little Indian boy, Clem, with them. After some time I consented to let Clem go with them, and I returned home.
When I got home I told Carl Shirts what the orders were that Haight had sent to him. Carl was naturally cowardly and was not willing to go, but I told him the orders must be obeyed. He then started off that night, or early next morning, to stir up the Indians of the South, and lead them against the emigrants. The emigrants were then camped at Mountain Meadows.
The Indians did not obey my instructions. They met, several hundred strong, at the Meadows, and attacked the emigrants Tuesday morning, just before daylight, and at the first fire, as I afterwards learned, they killed seven and wounded sixteen of the emigrants. The latter fought bravely, and repulsed the Indians, killing some of them and breaking the knees of two war chiefs, who afterwards died.
The news of the battle was carried all over the country by Indian runners, and the excitement was great in all the small settlements. I was notified of what had taken place, early Tuesday morning, by an Indian who came to my house and gave me a full account of all that had been done. The Indian said it was the wish of all the Indians that I should lead them, and that I must go back with him to the camp.
I started at once, and by taking the Indian trail over the mountain, I reached the camp in about twelve miles from Harmony. To go round by the wagon road it would have been between forty and fifty miles.
When I reached the camp I found the Indians in a frenzy of excitement. They threatened to kill me unless I agreed to lead them against the emigrants, and help them kill them. They also said they had been told that they could kill the emigrants without danger to themselves, but they had lost some of their braves, and others were wounded, and unless they could kill all the "Mericats," as they called them, they would declare war against the Mormons and kill every one in the settlements.
I did as well as I could under the circumstances. I was the only white man there, with a wild and excited band of several hundred Indians. I tried to persuade them that all would be well, that I was their friend and would see that they bad their revenge, if I found out that they were entitled to revenge.
My talk only served to increase their excitement, and being afraid that they would kill me if I undertook to leave them, and I would not lead them against the emigrants, so I told them that I would go south and meet their friends, and hurry them up to help them. I intended to put a stop to the carnage if I had the power, for I believed that the emigrants had been sufficiently punished for what they had done, and I felt then, and always have felt that such wholesale murdering was wrong.
At first the Indians would not consent for me to leave them, but they finally said I might go and meet their friends.
I then got on my horse and left the Meadows, and went south.
I had gone about sixteen miles, when I met Carl Shirts with about one hundred Indians, and a number of Mormons from the southern settlements. They were going to the scene of the conflict. How they learned of the emigrants being at the Meadows I never knew, but they did know it, and were there fully armed, and determined to obey orders.
Amongst those that I remember to have met there, were Samuel Knight, Oscar Hamblin, William Young, Carl Shirts, Harrison Pearce, James Pearce, John W. Clark, William Slade, Sr., James Matthews, Dudley Leavitt, William Hawley, (now a resident of Fillmore, Utah Territory,) William Slade, Jr., and two others whose names I have forgotten. I think they were George W. Adair and John Hawley. I know they were at the Meadows at the time of the massacre, and I think I met them that night south of the Meadows, with Samuel Knight and the others.
The whites camped there that night with me, but most of the Indians rushed on to their friends at the camp on the Meadows.
I reported to the whites all that had taken place at the Meadows, but none of them were surprised in the least. They all seemed to know that the attack was to be made, and all about it. 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 my God.
In the morning we all agreed to go on together to Mountain Meadows, and camp there, and then send a messenger to Haight, giving him full instructions of what had been done, and to ask him for further instructions. 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.
I did not then know that a messenger had been sent to Brigham Young for instructions. Haight had not mentioned it to me. I now think that James Haslem was sent to Brigham Young, as a sharp play on the part of the authorities to protect themselves, if trouble ever grew out of the matter.
We went to the Meadows and camped at the springs, about half a mile from the emigrant camp. There was a larger number of Indians there then, fully three hundred, and I think as many as four hundred of them. The two Chiefs who were shot in the knee were in a bad fix. The Indians had killed a number of the emigrants' horses, and about sixty or seventy head of cattle were lying dead on the Meadows, which the Indians had killed for spite and revenge.
Our company killed a small beef for dinner, and after eating a hearty meal of it we held a council and decided to send a messenger to Haight. I said to the messenger, who was either Edwards or Adair, (I cannot now remember which it was), "Tell Haight, for my sake, for the people's sake, for God's sake, send me help to protect and save these emigrants, and pacify the Indians."
The messenger started for Cedar City, from our camp on the Meadows, about 2 o'clock P. M.
We all staid on the field, and I tried to quiet and pacify the Indians, by telling them that I had sent to Haight, the Big Captain, for orders, and when he sent his order I would know what to do. This appeared to satisfy the Indians, for said they,
"The Big Captain will send you word to kill all the Mericats."
Along toward evening the Indians again attacked the emigrants. This was Wednesday. I heard the report of their guns, and the screams of the women and children in the corral.
This was more than I could stand. So I ran with William Young and John Mangum, to where the Indians were, to stop the fight. While on the way to them they fired a volley, and three balls from their guns cut my clothing. One ball went through my hat and cut my hair on the side of my head. One ball went through my shirt and leaded my shoulder, the other cut my pants across my bowels. I thought this was rather warm work, but I kept on until I reached the place where the Indians were in force. When I got to them, I told them the Great Spirit would be mad at them if they killed the women and children. I talked to them some time, and cried with sorrow when I saw that I could not pacify the savages.
When the Indians saw me in tears, they called me "Yaw Guts," which in the Indian language means, "cry baby," and to this day they call me by that name, and consider me a coward. Oscar Hamblin was a fine interpreter, and he came to my aid and helped me to induce the Indians to stop the attack. By his help we got the Indians to agree to be quiet until word was returned from Haight. (I do not know now but what the messenger started for Cedar City, after this night attack, but I was so worried and perplexed at that time, and so much has happened to distract my thoughts since then, that my mind is not clear on that subject.)
On Thursday, about noon, several men came to us from Cedar City. I cannot remember the order in which all of the people came to the Meadows, but I do recollect that at this time and in this company Joel White, William C. Stewart, Benjamin Arthur, Alexander Wilden, Charles Hopkins and ---- Tate, came to us at the camp at the Springs. These men said but little, but every man seemed to know just what he was there for. As our messenger had gone for further orders, we moved our camp about four hundred yards further up the valley on to a hill, where we made camp as long as we stayed there.
I soon learned that the whites were as wicked at heart as the Indians, for every little while during that day I saw white men taking aim and shooting at the emigrants' wagons. They said they were doing it to keep in practice and to help pass off the time.
I remember one man that was shooting, that rather amused me, for he was shooting at a mark over a quarter of a mile off, and his gun would not carry a ball two hundred yards. That man was Alexander Wilden. He took pains to fix up a seat under the shade of a tree, where he continued to load and shoot until he got tired. Many of the others acted just as wild and foolish as Wilden did.
The wagons were corralled after the Indians had made the first attack. On the second day after our arrival the emigrants drew their wagons near each other and chained the wheels one to the other. While they were doing this there was no shooting going on. Their camp was about one hundred yards above and north of the spring. They generally got their water from the spring at night.
Thursday morning I saw two men start from the corral with buckets, and run to the spring and fill their buckets with water, and go back again. The bullets flew around them thick and fast, but they got into their corral in safety.
The Indians had agreed to keep quiet until orders returned from Haight, but they did not keep their word. They made a determined attack on the train on Thursday morning about daylight. At this attack the Clara Indians had one brave killed and three wounded. This so enraged that band that they left for home that day and drove off quite a number of cattle with them. During the day I said to John Mangum, "I will cross over the valley and go up on the other side, on the hills to the west of the corral, and take a look at the situation."
I did go. As I was crossing the valley I was seen by the emigrants, and as soon as they saw that I was a white man they ran up a white flag in the middle of their corral, or camp. They 'then sent two little boys from the camp to talk to me, but I could not talk to them at that time, for I did not know what orders Haight would send back to me, and until I did know his orders I did not know how to act. I hid, to keep away from the children. They came to the place where they had last seen me and hunted all around for me, but being unable to find me, they turned and went back to the camp in safety.
While the boys were looking for me several Indians came to me and asked for ammunition with which to kill them. I told them they must not hurt the children--that if they did I would kill the first one that made the attempt to injure them. By this act I was able to save the boys.
It is all false that has been told about little girls being dressed in white and sent out to me. There never was anything of the kind done.
I stayed on the west side of the valley for about two hours, looking down into the emigrant camp, and feeling all the torture of mind that it is possible for a man to suffer who feels merciful, and yet knows, as I then knew, what was in store for that unfortunate company if the Indians were successful in their bloody designs.
While I was standing on the hill looking down into the corral, I saw two men leave the corral and go outside to cut some wood; the Indians and whites kept up a steady fire on them all the time, but they paid no attention to danger, and kept right along at their work until they had it done, and then they went back into camp. The men all acted so bravely that it was impossible to keep from respecting them.
After staying there and looking down into the camp until I was nearly dead from grief, I returned to the company at camp. I was worn out with trouble and grief; I was nearly wild waiting for word from the authorities at Cedar City. I prayed for word to come that would enable me to save that band of suffering people, but no such word came. It never was to come.
On Thursday evening, John M. Higbee, Major of the Iron Militia, and Philip K. Smith, as he is called generally, but whose name is Klingensmith, Bishop of Cedar City, came to our camp with two or three wagons, and a number of men all well armed. I can remember the following as a portion of the men who came to take part in the work of death which was so soon to follow, viz.: John M. Higbee, Major and commander of the Iron Militia, and also first counselor to Isaac C. Haight; Philip Klingensmith, Bishop of Cedar City; Ira Allen, of the High Council; Robert Wiley, of the High Council; Richard Harrison, of Pinto, also a member of the High Council; Samuel McMurdy, one of the Counselors of Klingensmith; Charles Hopkins, of the City Council of Cedar City; Samuel Pollock; Daniel McFarland, a son-in-law of Isaac C. Haight, and acting as Adjutant under Major Higbee; John Ure, of the City Council; George Hunter, of the City Council; and I honestly believe that John McFarland, now an attorney-at-law at St. George, Utah, was there--I am not positive that he was, but my best impression is that he was there: Samuel Jukes; Nephi Johnson, with a number of Indians under his command; Irvin Jacobs; John Jacobs; E. Curtis, a Captain of Ten; Thomas Cartwright of the City Council and High Council; William Bateman, who afterwards carried the flag of truce to the emigrant camp; Anthony Stratton; A. Loveridge; Joseph Clews; Jabez Durfey; Columbus Freeman, and some others whose names I cannot remember. I know that our total force was fifty-four whites and over three hundred Indians.
As soon as these persons gathered around the camp, I demanded of Major Higbee what orders he had brought. I then stated fully all that had happened at the Meadows, so that every person might understand the situation.
Major Higbee reported as follows: "It is the orders of the President, that all the emigrants must be put out of the way. President Haight has counseled with Colonel Dame, or has had orders from him to put all of the emigrants out of the way; none who are old enough to talk are to be spared."
He then went on and said substantially that the emigrants had come through the country as our enemies, and as the enemies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That they had no pass from any one in authority to permit them to leave the Territory. That none but friends were permitted to leave the Territory, and that as these were our sworn enemies, they must be killed. That they were nothing but a portion of Johnston's army. That if they were allowed to go on to California, they would raise the war cloud in the West, and bring certain destruction upon all the settlements in Utah. That the only safety for the people was in the utter destruction of the whole rascally lot.
I then told them that God would have to change my heart before I could consent to such a wicked thing as the wholesale killing of that people. I attempted to reason with Higbee and the brethren. I told them how strongly the emigrants were fortified, and how wicked it was to kill the women and children. I was ordered to be silent. Higbee said I was resisting authority.
He then said, "Brother Lee is afraid of shedding innocent blood. Why, brethren, there is not a drop of innocent blood in that entire camp of Gentile outlaws; they are set of cut-throats, robbers and assassins; they are a part of the people who drove the Saints from Missouri, and who aided to shed the blood of our Prophets, Joseph and Hyrum, and it is our orders from all in authority, to get the emigrants from their stronghold, and help the Indians kill them."
I then said that Joseph Smith had told us never to betray any one. That we could not get the emigrants out of their corral unless we used treachery, and I was opposed to that.
I was interrupted by Higbee, Klingensmith and Hopkins, who said it was the orders of President Isaac C. Haight to us, and that Haight had his orders from Colonel Dame and the authorities at Parowan, and that all in authority were of one mind, and that they had been sent by the Council at Cedar City to the Meadows to counsel and direct the way and manner that the company of emigrants should be disposed of.
The men then in council, I must here state, now knelt down in a prayer circle and prayed, invoking the Spirit of God to direct them how to act in the matter.
After prayer, Major Higbee said, "Here are the orders," and handed me a paper from Haight. It was in substance that it was the orders of Haight to decoy the emigrants from their position, and kill all of them that could talk. This order was in writing. Higbee handed it to me and I read it, and dropped it on the ground, saying,
"I cannot do this."
The substance of the orders were that the emigrants should be decoyed from their strong-hold, and all exterminated, so that no one would be left to tell the tale, and then the authorities could say it was done by the Indians.
The words decoy and exterminate were used in that message or order, and these orders came to us as the orders from the Council at Cedar City, and as the orders of our military superior, that we were bound to obey. The order was signed by Haight, as commander of the troops at Cedar City.
Haight told me the next day after the massacre, while on the Meadows, that he got his orders from Colonel Dame.
I then left the Council, and went away to myself, and bowed myself in prayer before God, and asked Him to overrule the decision of that Council. I shed manybitter tears, and my tortured soul was wrung nearly from the body by my great suffering. I will here say, calling upon Heaven, angels, and the spirits of just men to witness what I say, that if I could then have had a thousand worlds to command, I would have given them freely to save that company from death.
While in bitter anguish, lamenting the sad condition of myself and others, Charles Hopkins, a man that I had great confidence in, came to me from the Council, and tried to comfort me by saying that he believed it was all right, for the brethren in the Priesthood were all united in the thing, and it would not be well for me to oppose them.
I told him the Lord must change my heart before I could ever do such an act willingly. I will further state that there was a reign of terror in Utah, at that time, and many a man had been put out of the way, on short notice, for disobedience, and I had made some narrow escapes.
At the earnest solicitation of Brother Hopkins, I returned with him to the Council. When I got back, the Council again prayed for aid. The Council was called The City Counselors, the Church or High Counselors; and all in authority, together with the private citizens, then formed a circle, and kneeling down, so that elbows would touch each other, several of the brethren prayed for Divine instructions.
After prayer, 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."
I said, "My God! this is more than I can do. I must and do refuse to take part in this matter."
Higbee then said to me, "Brother Lee, I am ordered by President Haight to inform you that you shall receive a crown of Celestial glory for your faithfulness, and your eternal joy shall be complete." I was much shaken by this offer, for I had full faith in the power of the Priesthood to bestow such rewards and blessings, but I was anxious to save the people. I then proposed that we give the Indians all of the stock of the emigrants, except sufficient to haul their wagons, and let them go. To this proposition all the leading men objected. No man there raised his voice or hand to favor the saving of life, except myself.
The meeting was then addressed by some one in authority, I do not remember who it was. He spoke in about this language: "Brethren, we have been sent here to perform a duty. It is a duty that we owe to God, and to our Church and people. The orders of those in authority are that all the emigrants must die. Our leaders speak with inspired tongues, and their orders come from the God of Heaven. We have no right to question what they have commanded us to do; it is our duty to obey. If we wished to act as some of our weak-kneed brethren desire us to do, it would be impossible; the thing has gone too far to allow us to stop now. The emigrants know that we have aided the Indians, and if we let them go they will bring certain destruction upon us. It is a fact that on Wednesday night, two of the emigrants gotout of camp and started back to Cedar City for assistance to withstand the Indian attacks; they had reached Richards' Springs when they met William C. Stewart, Joel White and Benjamin Arthur, three of our brethren from Cedar City. The men stated their business to the brethren, and as their horses were drinking at the Spring, Brother Stewart, feeling unusually full of zeal for the glory of God and the upbuilding of the Kingdom of God on earth, shot and killed one of the emigrants, a young man by the name of Aden. When Aden fell from his horse, Joel White shot and wounded the other Gentile; but he unfortunately got away, and returned to his camp and reported that the Mormons were helping the Indians in all that they were doing against the emigrants. Now the emigrants will report these facts in California if we let them go. We must kill them all, and our orders are to get them out by treachery if no other thing can be done to get them into our power."
Many of the brethren spoke in the same way, all arguing that the orders must be carried out.
I was then told the plan of action had been agreed upon, and it was this: The emigrants were to be decoyed from their strong-hold under a promise of protection. Brother William Bateman was to carry a flag of truce and demand a parley, and then I was to go and arrange the terms of the surrender. I was to demand that all the children who were so young they could not talk should be put into a wagon, and the wounded were also to be put into a wagon. Then all the arms and ammunition of the emigrants should be put into a wagon, and I was to agree that the Mormons would protect the emigrants from the Indians and conduct them to Cedar City in safety, where they should be protected until an opportunity came for sending them to California.
It was agreed that when I had made the full agreement and treaty, as the brethren called it, the wagons should start for Hamblin's Ranch with the arms, the wounded and the children. The women were to march on foot and follow the wagons in single file; the men were to follow behind the women, they also to march in single file. Major John M. Higbee was to stand with his militia company about two hundred yards from the camp, and stand in double file, open order, with about twenty feet space between the files, so that the wagons could pass between them. The drivers were to keep right along, and not stop at the troops. The women were not to stop there, but to follow the wagons. The troops were to halt the men for a few minutes, until the women were some distance ahead, out into the cedars, where the Indians were hid in ambush. Then the march was to be resumed, the troops to form in single file, each soldier to walk by an emigrant, and on the right-hand side of his man, and the soldier was to carry his gun on his left arm, ready for instant use. The march was to continue until the wagons had passed beyond the ambush of the Indians, and until the women were right in the midst of the Indians. Higbee was then to give the orders and words, "Do Your Duty." At this the troops were to shoot down the men; the Indians were to kill all of the women and larger children, and the drivers of the wagons and I were to kill the wounded and sick men that were in the wagons. Two men were to be placed on horses nearby, to overtake and kill any of the emigrantsthat might escape from the first assault. The Indians were to kill the women and large children, so that it would be certain that no Mormon would be guilty of shedding innocent blood--if it should happen that there was any innocent blood in the company that were to die. Our leading men said that there was no innocent blood in the whole company.
The Council broke up a little after daylight on Friday morning. All the horses, except two for the men to ride to overtake those who might escape, and one for Dan McFarland to ride as Adjutant, so that he could carry orders from one part of the field to another, were turned out on the range. Then breakfast was eaten, and the brethren prepared for the work in hand.
I was now satisfied that it was the wish of all of the Mormon priesthood to have the thing done. One reason for thinking so was that it was in keeping with the teachings of the leaders, and as Utah was then at war with the United States we believed all the Gentiles were to be killed as a war measure, and that the Mormons, as God's chosen people, were to hold and inhabit the earth and rule and govern the globe. Another, and one of my strongest reasons for believing that the leaders wished the thing done, was on account of the talk that I had with George A. Smith, which I have given in full in this statement. I was satisfied that Smith had passed the emigrants while on his way from Salt Lake City, and I then knew this was the train that he meant when he spoke of a train that would make threats and ill-treat our people, etc.
The people were in the full blaze of the reformation and anxious to do some act that would add to their reputation as zealous Churchmen.
I therefore, taking all things into consideration, and believing, as I then did, that my superiors were inspired men, who could not go wrong in any matter relating to the Church or the duty of its members, concluded to be obedient to the wishes of those in authority. I took up my cross and prepared to do my duty.
Soon after breakfast Major Higbee ordered the two Indian interpreters, Carl Shirts and Nephi Johnson, to inform the Indians of the plan of operations, and to place the Indians in ambush, so that they could not be seen by the emigrants until the work of death should commence.
This was done in order to make the emigrants believe that we had sent the Indians away, and that we were acting honestly and in good faith, when we agreed to protect them from the savages.
The orders were obeyed, and in five minutes not an Indian could be seen on the whole Meadows. They secreted themselves and lay still as logs of wood, until the order was given for them to rush out and kill the women.
Major Higbee then called all the people to order, and directed me to explain the whole plan to them. I did so, explaining just how every person was expected to act during the whole performance.
Major Higbee then gave the order for his men to advance. They marched to the spot agreed upon, and halted there. William Bateman was then selected to carry a flag of truce to the emigrants and demand their surrender, and I was ordered to go and make the treaty after some one had replied to our flag of truce. (The emigrants had kept a white flag flying in their camp ever since they saw me cross the valley.)
Bateman took a white flag and started for the emigrant camp. When he got about half way to the corral, he was met by one of the emigrants that I afterwards learned was named Hamilton. They talked some time, but I never knew what was said between them.
Brother Bateman returned to the command and said that the emigrants would accept our terms, and surrender as we required them to do.
I was then ordered by Major Higbee to go to the corral and negotiate the treaty, and superintend the whole matter. I was again ordered to be certain and get all the arms and ammunition into the wagons. Also to put the children and the sick and wounded in the wagons, as had been agreed upon in council. Then Major Higbee said to me:
"Brother Lee, we expect you to faithfully carry out all the instructions that have been given you by our council."
Samuel McMurdy and Samuel Knight were then ordered to drive their teams and follow me to the corral to haul off the children, arms, etc.
The troops formed in two lines, as had been agreed upon, and were standing in that way with arms at rest, when I left them.
I walked ahead of the wagons up to the corral. When I reached there I met Mr. Hamilton on the outside of the camp. He loosened the chains from some of their wagons, and moved one wagon out of the way, so that our teams could drive inside of the corral and into their camp. It was then noon, or a little after.
I found that the emigrants were strongly fortified; their wagons were chained to each other in a circle. In the center was a rifle-pit, large enough to contain the entire company. This had served to shield them from the constant fire of their enemy, which had been poured into them from both sides of the valley, from a rocky range that served as a breastwork for their assailants. The valley at this point was not more than five hundred yards wide, and the emigrants had their camp near the center of the valley. On the east and west there was a low range of rugged, rocky mountains, affording a splendid place for the protection of the Indians and Mormons, andleaving them in comparative safety while they fired upon the emigrants. The valley at this place runs nearly due north and south.
When I entered the corral, I found the emigrants engaged in burying two men of note among them, who had died but a short time before from the effect of wounds received by them from the Indians at the time of the first attack on Tuesday morning. They wrapped the bodies up in buffalo robes, and buried them in a grave inside the corral. I was then told by some of the men that seven men were killed and seventeen others were wounded at the first attack made by the Indians, and that three of the wounded men had since died, making ten of their number killed during the siege.
As I entered the fortifications, men, women and children gathered around me in wild consternation. Some felt that the time of their happy deliverance had come, while others, though in deep distress, and all in tears, looked upon me with doubt, distrust and terror. My feelings at this time may be imagined (but I doubt the power of man being equal to even imagine how wretched I felt.) No language can describe my feelings. My position was painful, trying and awful; my brain seemed to be on fire; my nerves were for a moment unstrung; humanity was overpowered, as I thought of the cruel, unmanly part that I was acting. Tears of bitter anguish fell in streams from my eyes; my tongue refused its office; my faculties were dormant, stupefied and deadened by grief. I wished that the earth would open and swallow me where I stood. God knows my suffering was great. I cannot describe my feelings. I knew that I was acting a cruel part and doing a damnable deed. Yet my faith in the godliness of my leaders was such that it forced me to think that I was not sufficiently spiritual to act the important part I was commanded to perform. My hesitation was only momentary. Then feeling that duty compelled obedience to orders, I laid aside my weakness and my humanity, and became an instrument in the hands of my superiors and my leaders. I delivered my message and told the people that they must put their arms in the wagon, so as not to arouse the animosity of the Indians. I ordered the children and wounded, some clothing and the arms, to be put into the wagons. Their guns were mostly Kentucky rifles of the muzzle-loading style. Their ammunition was about all gone--I do not think there were twenty loads left in their whole camp. If the emigrants had had a good supply of ammunition they never would have surrendered, and I do not think we could have captured them without great loss, for they were brave men and very resolute and determined.
Just as the wagons were loaded, Dan McFarland came riding into the corral and said that Major Higbee had ordered great haste to be made, for he was afraid that the Indians would return and renew the attack before he could get the emigrants to a place of safety.
I hurried up the people and started the wagons off towards Cedar City. As we went out of the corral I ordered the wagons to turn to the left, so as to leave the troops to the right of us. Dan McFarland rode before the women and led them right up to the troops, where they still stood in open order as I left them. The women and larger children were walking ahead, as directed, and the men following them. The foremost man was about fifty yards behind the hindmost woman.
The women and children were hurried right on by the troops. When the men came up they cheered the soldiers as if they believed that they were acting honestly. Higbee then gave the orders for his men to form in single file and take their places as ordered before, that is, at the right of the emigrants.
I saw this much, but about this time our wagons passed out of sight of the troops, over the hill. I had disobeyed orders in part by turning off as I did, for I was anxious to be out of sight of the bloody deed that I knew was to follow. I knew that I had much to do yet that was of a cruel and unnatural character. It was my duty, with the two drivers, to kill the sick and wounded who were in the wagons, and to do so when we heard the guns of the troops fire. I was walking between the wagons; the horses were going in a fast walk, and we were fully half a mile from Major Higbee and his men, when we heard the firing. As we heard the guns, I ordered a halt and we proceeded to do our part.
THE MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE:
I here pause in the recital of this horrid story of man's inhumanity, and ask myself the question, Is it honest in me, and can I clear my conscience before my God, if I screen myself while I accuse others? No, never! Heaven forbid that I should put a burden upon others' shoulders, that I am unwilling to bear my just portion of. I am not a traitor to my people, nor to my former friends and comrades who were with me on that dark day when the work of death was carried on in God's name, by a lot of deluded and religious fanatics. It is my duty to tell facts as they exist, and I will do so.
I have said that all of the small children were put into the wagons; that was wrong, for one little child, about six months old, was carried in its father's arms, and it was killed by the same bullet that entered its father's breast; it was shot through the head. I was told by Haight afterwards, that the child was killed by accident, but I cannot say whether that is a fact or not. I saw it lying dead when I returned to the place of slaughter.
When we had got out of sight, as I said before, and just as we were coming into the main road, I heard a volley of guns at the place where I knew the troops and emigrants were. Our teams were then going at a fast walk. I first heard one gun, then a volley at once followed.
McMurdy and Knight stopped their teams at once, for they were ordered by Higbee, the same as I was, to help kill all the sick and wounded who were in the wagons, and to do it as soon as they heard the guns of the troops. McMurdy was in front; his wagon was mostly loaded with the arms and small children. McMurdy and Knight got out of their wagons; each one had a rifle. McMurdy went up to Knight's wagon, where the sick and wounded were, and raising his rifle to his shoulder, said: "0 Lord, my God, receive their spirits, it is for thy Kingdom that I do this." He then shot a man who was lying with his head on another man's breast; the ball killed both men.
I also went up to the wagon, intending to do my part of the killing. I drew my pistol and cocked it, but somehow it went off prematurely, and I shot McMurdy across the thigh, my Pistol ball cutting his buck-skin pants. McMurdy turned to me and said: "Brother Lee, keep cool, you are excited; you came very near killing me. Keep cool, there is no reason for being excited."
Knight then shot a man with his rifle; he shot the man in the head. Knight also brained a boy that was about fourteen years old. The boy came running up to our wagons, and Knight struck him on the head with the butt end of his gun, and crushed his skull. By this time many Indians reached our wagons, and all of the sick and wounded were killed almost instantly. I saw an Indian from Cedar City, called Joe, run up to the wagon and catch a man by the hair, and raise his head up and look into his face; the man shut his eyes, and Joe shot him in the head. The Indians then examined all of the wounded in the wagons, and all of the bodies, to see if any were alive, and all that showed signs of life were at once shot through the head. I did not kill any one there, but it was an accident that kept me from it, for I fully intended to do my part of the killing, but by the time I got over the excitement of coming so near killing McMurdy, the whole of the killing of the wounded was done. There is no truth in the statement of Nephi Johnson, where he says I cut a man's throat.
Just after the wounded were all killed I saw a girl, some ten or eleven years old, running towards us, from the direction where the troops had attacked the main body of emigrants; she was covered with blood. An Indian shot her before she got within sixty yards of us. That was the last person that I saw killed on that occasion.
About this time an Indian rushed to the front wagon, and grabbed a little boy, and was going to kill him. The lad got away from the Indian and ran to me, and caught me by the knees; and begged me to save him, and not let the Indian kill him. The Indian had hurt the little fellow's chin on the wagon bed, when he first caught hold of him. I told the Indian to let the boy alone. I took the child up in my arms, and put him back in the wagon, and saved his life. This little boy said his name was Charley Fancher, and that his father was Captain of the train. He was a bright boy. I afterwards adopted him, and gave him to Caroline. She kept him until Dr. Forney took all the children East. I believe that William Sloan, alias Idaho Bill, is the same boy.
After all the parties were dead, I ordered Knight to drive out on one side, and throw out the dead bodies. He did so, and threw them out of his wagon at a place about one hundred yards from the road, and then came back to where I was standing. I then ordered Knight and McMurdy to take the children that were saved alive, (sixteen was the number, some say seventeen, I say sixteen,) and drive on to Hamblin's ranch. They did as I ordered them to do. Before the wagons started, Nephi Johnson came up in company with the Indians that were under his command, and Carl Shirts I think came up too, but I know that I then considered that Carl Shirts was a coward, and I afterwards made him suffer for being a coward. Several white men came up too, but I cannot tell their names, as I have forgotten who they were.
Knight lied when he said I went to the ranch and ordered him to go to the field with his team. I never knew anything of his team, or heard of it, until he came with a load of armed men in his wagon, on the evening of Thursday. If any one ordered him to go to the Meadows, it was Higbee. Every witness that claims that he went to the Meadows without knowing what he was going to do, has lied, for they all knew, as well as Haight or any one else did, and they all voted, every man of them, in the Council, on Friday morning, a little before daylight, to kill all the emigrants.
After the wagons, with the children, had started for Hamblin's ranch, I turned and walked back to where the brethren were. Nephi Johnson lies when he says he was on horseback, and met me, or that I gave him orders to go to guard the wagons. He is a perjured wretch, and has sworn to every thing he could to injure me. God knows what I did do was bad enough, but he has lied to suit the leaders of the Church, who want me out of the way.
While going back, to the brethren, I passed the bodies of several women. In one place I saw six or seven bodies near each other; they were stripped perfectly naked, and all of their clothing was torn from their bodies by the Indians.
I walked along the line where the emigrants had been killed, and saw many bodies lying dead and naked on the field, near by where the women lay. I saw ten children; they had been killed close to each other; they were from ten to sixteen years of age. The bodies of the women and children were scattered along the ground for quite a distance before I came to where the men were killed.
I do not know how many were killed, but I thought then that there were some fifteen women, about ten children, and about forty men killed, but the statement of others that I have since talked with about the massacre, makes me think there were fully one hundred and ten killed that day on the Mountain Meadows, and the ten who had died in the corral, and young Aden killed by Stewart at Richards' Springs, would make the total number one hundred and twenty-one.
When I reached the place where the dead men lay, I was told how the orders had been obeyed. Major Higbee said, "The boys have acted admirably, they took good aim, and all of the d--d Gentiles but two or three fell at the first fire."
He said that three or four got away some distance, but the men on horses soon overtook them and cut their throats. Higbee said the Indians did their part of thework well, that it did not take over a minute to finish up when they got fairly started. I found that the first orders had been carried out to the letter.
Three of the emigrants did get away, but the Indians were put on their trail and they overtook and killed them before they reached the settlements in California. But it would take more time than I have to spare to give the details of their chase and capture. I may do so in my writings hereafter, but not now.
I found Major Higbee, Klingensmith, and most of the brethren standing near by where the largest number of the dead men lay. When I went up to the brethren, Major Higbee said, "We must now examine the bodies for valuables."
I said I did not wish to do any such work.
Higbee then said, "Well, you hold my hat and I will examine the bodies, and put what valuables I get into the hat."
The bodies were all searched by Higbee, Klingensmith and Wm. C. Stewart. I did hold the hat a while, but I soon got so sick that I had to give it to some other person, as I was unable to stand for a few minutes. The search resulted in getting a little money and a few watches, but there was not much money. Higbee and Klingensmith kept the property, I suppose, for I never knew what became of it, unless they did keep it. I think they kept it all.
After the dead were searched, as I have just said, the brethren were called up, and Higbee and Klingensmith, as well as myself, made speeches, and ordered the people to keep the matter, a secret from the entire world. Not to tell their wives, or their most intimate friends, and we pledged ourselves to keep everything relating to the affair a secret during life. We also took the most binding oaths to stand by each other, and to always insist that the massacre was committed by Indians alone. This was the advice of Brigham Young too, as I will show hereafter.
The men were mostly ordered to camp there on the field for that night, but Higbee and Klingensmith went with me to Hamblin's ranch, where we got something to eat, and stayed there all night. I was nearly dead for rest and sleep; in fact I had rested but little since the Saturday night before. I took my saddle blanket and spread it on the ground soon after I had eaten my supper, and lay down on the saddle blanket, using my saddle for a pillow, and slept soundly until next morning.
I was awakened in the morning by loud talking between Isaac C. Haight and William H. Dame. They were very much excited, and quarreling with each other. I got up at once, but was unable to hear what they were quarreling about, for they cooled down as soon as they saw that others were paying attention to them.
I soon learned that Col. Dame, Judge Lewis of Parowan, and Isaac C. Haight, with several others, had arrived at the Hamblin ranch in the night, but I do not know what time they got there.
After breakfast we all went back in a body to the Meadows, to bury the dead and take care of the property that was left there.
When we reached the Meadows we all rode up to that part of the field where the women were lying dead. The bodies of men, women and children had been stripped entirely naked, making the scene one of the most loathsome and ghastly that can be imagined.
Knowing that Dame and Haight had quarreled at Hamblin's that morning, I wanted to know how they would act in sight of the dead, who lay there as the result of their orders. I was greatly interested to know what Dame had to say, so I kept close to them, without appearing to be watching them.
Colonel Dame was silent for some time. He looked all over the field, and was quite pale, and looked uneasy and frightened. I thought then that he was just finding out the difference between giving and executing orders for wholesale killing. He spoke to Haight, and said:
"I must report this matter to the authorities."
"How will you report it?" said Haight.
Dame said, "I will report it just as it is."
"Yes, I suppose so, and implicate yourself with the rest?" said Haight.
"No," said Dame. "I will not implicate myself for I had nothing to do with it."
Haight then said, "That will not do, for you know a d--d sight better. You ordered it done. Nothing has been done except by your orders, and it is too late in the day for you to order things done and then go back on it, and go back on the men who have carried out your orders. You cannot sow pig on me, and I will be d--d if I will stand it. You are as much to blame as any one, and you know that we have done nothing except what you ordered done. I know that I have obeyed orders, and by G-d I will not be lied on."
Colonel Dame was much excited. He choked up, and would have gone away, but he knew Haight was a man of determination, and would not stand any foolishness.
As soon as Colonel Dame could collect himself, he said:
"I did not think there were so many of them, or I would not have had anything to do with it."
I thought it was now time for me to chip in, so I said:
"Brethren, what is the trouble between you? It will not do for our chief men to disagree."
Haight stepped up to my side, a little in front of me, and facing Colonel Dame. He was very mad, and said:
"The trouble is just this: Colonel Dame counseled and ordered me to do this thing, and now he wants to back out, and go back on me, and by G-d, he shall not do it. He shall not lay it all on me. He cannot do it. He must not try to do it. I will blow him to h--l before he shall lay it all on me. He has got to stand up to what he did, like a little man. He knows he ordered it, done, and I dare him to deny it."
Colonel Dame was perfectly cowed. He did not offer to deny it again, but said:
"Isaac, I did not know there were so many of them."
"That makes no difference," said Haight, "you ordered me to do it, and you have got to stand up for your orders."
I thought it was now time to stop the fuss, for many of the young brethren were coming around. So I said:
"Brethren, this is no place to talk over such a matter. You will agree when you get where you can be quiet, and talk it over."
Haight said, "There is no more to say, for he knows he ordered it done, and he has got to stand by it."
That ended the trouble between them, and I never heard of Colonel Dame denying the giving of the orders any more, until after the Church authorities concluded to offer me up for the sins of the Church.
We then went along the field, and passed by where the brethren were at work covering up the bodies. They piled the dead bodies up in heaps, in little gullies, and threw dirt over them. The bodies were only lightly covered, for the ground was hard, and the brethren did not have sufficient tools to dig with. I suppose it is true that the first rain washed the bodies all out again, but I never went back to examine whether it did or not.
We then went along the field to where the corral and camp had been, to where the wagons were standing. We found that the Indians had carried off all of the wagon covers, and the clothing, and the provisions, and had emptied the feathers out of the feather-beds, and carried off all the ticks.
After the dead were covered up or buried (but it was not much of a burial,) the brethren were called together, and a council was held at the emigrant camp. All the leading men made speeches; Colonel Dame, President Haight. Klingensmith, John M. Higbee, Hopkins and myself. The speeches were first--Thanks to God for delivering our enemies into our hands; next, thanking the brethren for their zeal in God's cause; and then the necessity of always saying the Indians did it alone, and that the Mormons had nothing to do with it. The most of the speeches, however, were in the shape of exhortations and commands to keep the whole matter secret from every one but Brigham Young. It was voted unanimously that any man who should divulge the secret, or tell who was present, or do anything that would lead to a discovery of the truth should suffer death.
The brethren then all took a most solemn oath, binding themselves under the most dreadful and awful penalties, to keep the whole matter secret from every human being, as long as they should live. No man was to know the facts. The brethren were sworn not to talk of it among themselves, and each one swore to help kill all who proved to be traitors to the Church or people in this matter.
It was then agreed that Brigham Young should be informed of the whole matter, by some one to be selected by the Church Council, after the brethren had returned home.
It was also voted to turn all the property over to Klingensmith, as Bishop of the Church at Cedar City, and he was to take care of the property for the benefit of the Church, until Brigham Young was notified, and should give further orders what to do with it.
CONFESSION CONTINUED AND CONCLUDED, MARCH 16, 1877, SEVEN DAYS PRIOR TO LEE'S EXECUTION:
COLONEL DAME then blest the brethren and we prepared to go to our homes. I took my little Indian boy, Clem, on the horse behind me, and started home. I crossed the mountains and returned the same way I had come.
When I got in about two miles of Harmony, I overtook a body of about forty Indians, on their way home from the massacre. They had a large amount of bloody clothing, and were driving several head of cattle that they had taken from the emigrants.
The Indians were very glad to see me, and said I was their Captain, and that they were going to Harmony with me as my men. It was the orders from the Church authorities to do everything we could to pacify the Indians, and make them the fast friends of the Mormons, so I concluded to humor them.
I started on and they marched after me until we reached the fort at Harmony. We went into the fort and marched round inside, after which they halted and gave their whoop of victory, which means much the same with them as the cheers do with the whites. I then ordered the Indians to be fed; my family gave them some bread and melons, which they ate, and then they left me and went to their tribe.
I will here state again that on the field, before and after the massacre, and again at the council at the emigrant camp, the day after the massacre, orders were given to keep everything secret, and if any man told the secret to any human being, he was to be killed, and I assert as a fact that if any man had told it then, or for many years afterwards, he would have died, for some "Destroying Angel" would have followed his trail and sent him over the "rim of the basin."
From that day to this it has been the understanding with all concerned in that massacre that the man who divulged the secret should die; he was to be killed, wherever he was found, for treason to the men who killed the emigrants, and for his treason to the Church. No man was at liberty to tell his wife, or any one else, nor were the brethren permitted to talk of it even among themselves. Such were the orders and instructions, from Brigham Young down to the lowest in authority. The orders to lay it all to the Indians, were just as positive as they were to keep it all secret. This was the counsel from all in authority, and for years it was faithfully observed.
The children that were saved were taken to Cedar City, and other settlements, and put out among different families, where they were kept until they were given up to Dr. Forney, the Agent of the United States, who came for them.
I did not have anything to do with the property taken from the emigrants, or the cattle, or anything else, for some three months after the massacre, and then I only took charge of the cattle because I was ordered to do so by Brigham Young.
There were eighteen wagons in all at the emigrant camp. They were all wooden axles but one, and that was a light iron axle; it had been hauled by four mules. There were something over five hundred head of cattle, but I never got the half of them. The Indians killed a large number at the time of the massacre, and drove others to their tribes when they went home from Mountain Meadows. Kingensmith put the Church brand on fifty head or more, of the best of the cattle, and then he and Haight and Higbee drove the cattle to Salt Lake City and sold them for goods that they brought back to Cedar City to trade on.
The Indians got about twenty head of horses and mules. Samuel Knight, one of the witnesses on my trial, got a large sorrel mare; Haight got a span of average American mules; Joel White got a fine mare; Higbee got a good large mule; Klingensmith got a span of mules. Haight, Higbee and Allen each took a wagon. The people all took what they wanted, and they had divided and used up much over half of it before I was put in charge.
The first time I heard that a messenger had been sent to Brigham Young for instructions as to what should be done with the emigrants, was three or four days after I had returned home from the Meadows. Then I heard of it from Isaac C. Haight, when he came to my house and had a talk with me. He said:
"We are all in a muddle. Haslem has returned from Salt Lake City, with orders from Brigham Young to let the emigrants pass in safety."
In this conversation Haight also said:
"I sent an order to Higbee to save the emigrants, after I had sent the orders for killing them all, but for some reason the message did not reach him. I understand the messenger did not go to the Meadows at all."
I at once saw that we were in a bad fix, and I asked Haight what was to be done. We talked the matter over again.
Haight then told me that it was the orders of the Council that I should go to Salt Lake City and lay the whole matter before Brigham Young. I asked him if he was not going to write a report of it to the Governor, as he was the right man to do it, for he was in command of the militia in that section of country, and next to Dame in command of the whole district. I told him that it was a matter, which really belonged to the military department, and should be so reported.
He refused to write a report, saying:
"You can report it better than I could write it. You are like a member of Brigham's family, and can talk to him privately and confidentially. I want you to take all of it on yourself that you can, and not expose any more of the brethren than you find absolutely necessary. Do this, Brother Lee, as I order you to do, and you shall receive a celestial reward for it, and the time will come when all who acted with us will be glad for the part they have taken, for the time is near at hand when the Saints are to enjoy the riches of the earth. And all who deny the faith and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints shall be slain--the sword of vengeance shall shed their blood; their wealth shall be given as a spoil to our people."
At that time I believed everything he said, and I fully expected to receive the celestial reward that he promised me. But now I say, "Damn all such "celestial rewards" as I am to get for what I did on that fatal day.
It was then preached every Sunday to the people that the Mormons were to conquer the earth at once, and the people all thought that the millennium had come, and that Christ's reign upon earth would soon begin, as an accomplished fact.
According to the orders of Isaac C. Haight, I started for Salt Lake City to report the whole facts connected with the massacre, to Brigham Young. I started about a week or ten days after the massacre, and I was on the way about ten days. When I arrived in the city I went to the President's house and gave to Brigham Young a full, detailed statement of the whole affair, from first to last--only I took rather more on myself than I had done.
He asked me if I had brought a letter from Haight, with his report of the affair. I said:
"No, Haight wished me to make a verbal report of it, as I was an eye witness to much of it."
I then went over the whole affair and gave him as full a statement as it was possible for me to give. I described everything about it. I told him of the orders Haight first gave me. I told him everything. I told him that "Brother McMurdy, Brother Knight and myself killed the wounded men in the wagons, with the assistance of the Indians. We killed six wounded men."
He asked me many questions, and I told him every particular, and everything that I knew. I described everything very fully. I told him what I had said against killing the women and children.
Brigham then said:
"Isaac (referring to Haight) has sent me word that if they had killed every man, woman and child in the outfit, there would not have been a drop of innocent blood shed by the brethren: for they were a set of murderers, robbers and thieves."
While I was still talking with him, some men came into his house to see him, so he requested me to keep quiet until they left. I did as he directed.
As soon as the men went out, I continued my recital. I gave him the names of every man that had been present at the massacre. I told him who killed various ones. In fact I gave him all the information there was to give.
When I finished talking about the matter, he 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 enquiries."
I told him that I would write the letter. (I kept my word; but, as an evidence of his treachery, that same letter that he ordered me to write, he has given to Attorney Howard, and he has introduced it in evidence against me on my trial.)
Brigham Young knew when he got that letter just as well as I did, that it was not a true letter, and that it was only written according to his orders to throw the public off of the right trail. He knew that it was written simply to cast all the blame on the Indians, and to protect the brethren. In writing that letter I was still obeying my orders and earning that Celestial reward that had been promised to me.
He then said, "If only men had 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. I must have time to reflect upon it."
He then told me to withdraw and call next day, and he would give me an answer. I said to him, "President Young, the people all felt, and I know that I believed I was obeying orders, and acting for the good of the Church, and in strict conformity with the oaths that we have all taken to avenge the blood of the Prophets. You must either sustain the people for what they have done, or you most release us from the oaths and obligations that we have taken."
The only reply he made was,
"Go now, and come in the morning, and I will give you an answer."
I went to see him again in the morning. When I went in, he seemed quite cheerful. He 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 of 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."
I was again cautioned and commanded to keep the whole thing as a sacred secret, and again told to write the report as Indian Farmer, laying the blame on the Indians. That ended our interview, and I left him, and soon started for my home at Harmony.
Brigham Young was then satisfied with the purity of my motives in acting as I had done at the Mountain Meadows. Now he is doing all he can against me, but I know it is nothing but cowardice that has made him turn against me as he has at last.
When I reported my interview with Young to Haight, and gave him Brigham's answer, he was well pleased; he said that I had done well. He again enjoined secrecy, and said it must never be told.
I remember a circumstance that Haight then related to me about Dan McFarland. He said:
"Dan will make a bully warrior."
I said, "Why do you think so?"
"Well," said he, "Dan came to me and said, 'You must get me another knife, because the one I have got has no good stuff in it, for the edge turned when I cut a fellow's throat that day at the Meadows. I caught one of the devils that was trying to get away, and when I cut his throat it took all the edge off of my knife.' I tell you that boy will make a bully warrior."
I said, "Haight, I don't believe you have any conscience."
He laughed, and said, "Conscience be d--d, I don't know what the word means."
I thought over the matter, and made up my mind to write the letter to Brigham Young and lay it all to the Indians, so as to get the matter off of my mind. I then wrote the letter that has been used in the trial. It was as follows:
LETTER OF JOHN D. LEE TO BRIGHAM YOUNG
HARMONY, WASHINGTON Co., U. T.,
November 20th, 1857.
To His Excellency, Gov. B. Young, Ex-Officio and Superintendent of Indian Affairs:
DEAR SIR: My report under date May 11th, 1857, relative to the Indians over whom I have charge as farmer, showed a friendly relation between them and the whites, which doubtless would have continued to increase had not the white mans been the first aggressor, as was the case with Capt. Fancher's company of emigrants, passing through to California about the middle of September last, on Corn Creek, fifteen miles south of Fillmore City, Millard County. The company there poisoned the meat of an ox, which they gave the Pah Vant Indians to eat, causing four of them to die immediately, besides poisoning a number more. The company also poisoned the water where they encamped, killing the cattle of the settlers. This unguided policy, planned in wickedness by this company, raised the ire of the Indians, which soon spread through the southern tribes, firing them up with revenge till blood was in their path, and as the breach, according to their tradition, was a national one, consequently any portion of the nation was liable to atone for that offense.
About the 22d of September, Capt. Fancher and company fell victims to their wrath, near Mountain Meadows; their cattle and horses were shot down in every direction, their wagons and property mostly committed to the flames. Had they been the only ones that suffered we would have less cause of complaint. But the following company of near the same size had many of their men shot down near Beaver City, and had it not been for the interposition of the citizens at that place, the whole company would have been massacred by the enraged Pah Vants. From this place they were protected by military force, by order of Col. W. H. Dame, through the Territory, beside providing the company with interpreters, to help them through to the Los Vaagus. On the Muddy, some three to five hundred Indians attacked the company, while traveling, and drove off several hundred head of cattle, telling the company that if they fired a single gun that they would kill every soul. The interpreters tried to regain the stock, or a portion of them, by presents, but in vain. The Indians told them to mind their own business, or their lives would not be safe. Since that occurrence no company has been able to pass without some of our interpreters to talk and explain matters to the Indians.
Friendly feelings yet remain between the natives and settlers and I have no hesitancy in saying that it will increase so long as we treat them kindly, and deal honestly toward them. I have been blest in my labors the last year. Much grain has been raised for the Indians.
I herewith furnish you the account of W. H. Dame, of Parowan, for cattle, wagons, etc.
From the above report you will see that the wants of the Natives have increased commensurate with their experience and practice in the art of agriculture.
With sentiments of high consideration,
I am your humble servant,
JOHN D. LEE,
Farmer to Pah Utes Indians.
Gov. B. Young, Ex-officio and Superintendent of Indian affairs.
I forwarded that letter, and thought I had managed the affair nicely.
I put in the expense account of $2,220, just to show off, and help Brigham Young to get something from the Government. It was the way his Indian farmers all did. I never gave the Indians one of the articles named in the letter. No one of the men mentioned had ever furnished such articles to the Indians, but I did it this way for safety. Brigham Young never spent a dollar on the Indians in Utah, while he was Indian Agent. The only money he ever spent on the Indians was when we were at war with them. Then they cost us some money, but not much.
Brigham Young, well knowing that I wrote that letter just for the protection of the brethren, used it to make up his report to the Government about his acts as Indian Agent. I obeyed his orders in this, as I did the orders of Haight at the Mountain Meadows, and I am now getting my pay for my falsehood. I acted conscientiously in the whole matter, and have nothing to blame myself for, except being so silly as to allow myself to be duped by the cowardly wretches who are now seeking safety by hunting me to the death.
The following winter I was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention that met in Salt Lake City to form a constitution, preparatory to the application of Utah for admission into the Union. I attended during the entire session, and was often in company with Brigham Young at his house and elsewhere, and he treated me all the time with great kindness and consideration.
At the close of the session of the Convention, I was directed by Brigham Young to take charge of all the cattle, and other property taken from the emigrants, and take care of it for the Indians. I did as I was ordered. When I got home I gathered up about two hundred head of cattle, and put my brand on them, and I gave them to the Indians, as they needed them, or rather when they demanded them. I did that until all of the emigrant cattle were gone.
This thing of taking care of that property was an unfortunate thing for me, for when the Indians wanted beef, they thought they owned everything with my brand on it. So much so, that I long since quit branding my stock. I preferred taking chances of leaving them unbranded, for every thing with my brand on was certain to be taken by the Indians. I know that it has been reported that the emigrants were very rich. That is a mistake. Their only wealth consisted in cattle and their teams. The people were comfortably dressed in Kentucky jean, and lindsey, but they had no fine clothing that I ever saw.
They had but few watches. I never owned or carried one of the watches taken from the emigrants in my life, or had anything to do with any of their property, except to take care or the cattle for the Indians, as ordered to do by Brigham Young, as I have before stated in this confession.
There is another falsehood generally believed in Utah, especially among the Mormons. It is this. It has generally been reported that Brigham Young was anxious to help Judge Cradlebaugh arrest all the guilty parties. There is not one word of truth in the whole statement. Brigham Young knew the name of every man that was in any way implicated in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. He knew just as much about it as I did, except that he did not see it, as I had seen it.
If Brigham Young had wanted one man, or fifty men, or five hundred men arrested, all he would have had to do would have been to say so, and they would have been arrested instantly. There was no escape for them if he ordered their arrest. Every man who knows anything of affairs in Utah at that time knows this is so.
It is true that Brigham made a great parade at the time, and talked a great deal about bringing the guilty parties to Justice, but he did not mean a word of it--not a word. He did go South with Cradlebaugh, but he took good care that Cradlebaugh caught no person that had been in the massacre.
I know that I had plenty of notice of their coming, and so did all the brethren. It was one of Brigham Young's cunning dodges to blind the government. That this is true I can prove by the statement of what he did at Cedar City while out on his trip with Judge Cradlebaugh to investigate the matter and arrest (?) the guilty parties.
Judge Cradelbaugh and his men were working like faithful men to find out all about it, but they did not learn very much. True, they got on the right track, but could not learn it all, for Brigham Young was along to see that they did not learn the facts.
While at Cedar City, Brigham preached one night, but none of the Judge's party heard him. In his sermon, when speaking of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, he said:
"Do you know who those people were that were killed at the Mountain Meadows? I will tell you who those people were. They were fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and children of those who killed the Saints, and drove them from Missouri, and afterwards killed our Prophets in Carthage jail. These children that the government has made such a stir about, were gathered up by the government and carried back to Missouri, to St. Louis, and letters were sent to their relatives to come and take them; but their relations wrote back that they did not want them--that they were the children of thieves, outlaws and murderers, and they would not take them, they did not wish anything to do with them, and would not have them around their houses. Those children are now in the poor house in St.Louis. And yet after all this, I am told that there are many of the brethren who are willing to inform upon and swear against the brethren who were engaged in that affair. I hope there is no truth in this report. I hope there is no such person here, under the sound of my voice. But if there is, I will tell you my opinion of you, and the fact so far as your fate is concerned. Unless you repent at once of that unholy intention, and keep the secret of all that you know, you will die a dog's death, and be damned, and go to hell. I do not want to hear of any more treachery among my people."
These words of Brigham Young gave great comfort to all of us who were out in the woods keeping out of the way of the officers. It insured our safety and took away our fears.
There has been all sorts of reports circulated about me, and the bigger the lie that was told the more readily it was believed.
I have told in this statement just what I did at the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The evidence of Jacob Hamblin is false in to. Hamblin lied in every particular, so far as his evidence related to me.
It is my fate to die for what I did; but I go to my death with a certainty that it cannot be worse than my life has been for the last nineteen years.
John Doyle Lee
"On the cold, windy morning of March 23, I877, the condemned man wore a hat, coat, and muffler to the place of his execution, not far from the ground where he had given the order to execute his victims. Overgrazing and torrential floods in 1861 and again in 1873 had ravaged the rich emerald grass, but the slope and bend of the valley were much the same as when Lee and his men had ridden in nearly two decades before. Now he sat patiently on his coffin and waited as a photographer set up his equipment for the official pictures of the scene.
When the camera was ready and the five-man firing squad in place, anonymous behind covered wagons, Lee rose. "I have been sacrificed in a cowardly, dastardly manner," he said. His accusers hoped that to spare himself in the final moment, he would at last incriminate Young, who government prosecutors believed had ordered him to commit the atrocity. Instead, Lee shook hands with a few men standing nearby and methodically removed his hat, coat, and muffler. Blindfolded, he gave the riflemen a final order: "Center my heart, boys. Don't mangle my body." At the volley he fell back silently onto the rough-hewn coffin, his blood spilling into the ground in symbolism all Mormons understood. Two of his 64 children, by 18 wives, took his body to nearby Panguitch, with his temple robes under his corpse. Of the dozens, if not hundreds, of men involved in the massacre at Mountain Meadows, Lee was the only one ever brought to justice.
The story, it would seem, had been laid to rest. The markers at the site remained obscure and hard to reach, the history texts vague and exonerating of the Mormons. Despite all the agitation over the last 144 years, despite the volatility of the issues, and despite the connection with a religion of 11 million adherents, amazingly little has been written on the subject, and the event has been dealt with literarily mainly in fiction and in a handful of nineteenth-century anti-Mormon creeds. The original 1887 edition of Mark Twain's Roughing It contained an appendix about the massacre that was deleted from later editions. A few authors wrote of the 'Avenging Angels,' most notably Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in A Study in Scarlet, but without mention of the massacre.
In 1945 the Mormon historian and niece of the late President David O. McKay, Fawn Brodie, wrote a controversial biography of Joseph Smith, No Man Knows My History, for which she was excommunicated. Because of this publication Juanita Brooks was encouraged to write her benchmark 1950 book, Mountain Meadows Massacre. That volume was an original attempt at exposing the massacre and its cover-up and resulted in the 1961 reinstatement of Lee into the Mormon Church. But only recently was it revealed that Brooks, herself a descendant of one of the participants, had admitted to burning crucial historical documents because "they were just too incriminating" of the Church. A critical study of the event was published in 1976, in a little-known nonfiction book written by a children's author, William Wise.
What happened at Mountain Meadows is history that will not die or go away. The Mountain Meadows Massacre is an American tragedy. The valley is still littered with the debris of unsettled history. For all the reconstructions of the scene, the precise site of the massacre has never been established. Nor do we know, except for the first fragments of evidence assembled by the scientists in 1999, exactly how the victims were killed and where more than a hundred bodies were disposed of. This is an American mystery, and inextricably tied to that mystery is the question of Brigham Young's part.
As a 'Prophet, Seer, and Revelator' of the Church, Young is revered and therefore considered not subject to the scrutiny or judgment of other mortals. "There has been no realistic handling of Young by Mormon scholars," says the historian Will Bagley, himself a Mormon. "To continue to blame it on the Paiutes is disgraceful." At stake is not only the esteem of the Church within its own ranks of 11 million souls and as a $25 billion financial empire, but how it is seen by an outside world.
Oddly enough, the most significant new contribution to the literature of the episode is the oldest published record. In the spring of 2000, the Western historian R. Kent Fielding compiled and edited all the Salt Lake Tribune's reports on the trials of John D. Lee, a comprehensive collection that presents an unmistakable portrait of Lee as a scapegoat and of Brigham Young as an active and impassioned participant camouflaging this own role in the massacre. The newspaper's contemporaneous summaries of the trial transcripts show the involvement of dozens of Mormon leaders, from Philip Klingonsmith to William H. Dame, Isaac C. Haight, John M. Higbee, and many others, to have constituted an unbroken chain from Church officials to their Prophet in Salt Lake City. The official concealment and subterfuge began, according to Lee's later confession, the day after the massacre; "The brethren involved were sworn not to talk of it among themselves, and each one swore to help kill all who proved traitors to the Church or the people.... It was then agreed that Brigham Young should be informed of the whole matter."
Fielding's work, on the heels of a similarly revealing history of the massacre of Captain Gunnison and his party, establishes conclusively Brigham Young's role in many depredations of the era, including Mountain Meadows, albeit most conclusively after the fact. The transcripts make clear that "the cause of justice in the Lee trials," as Fielding wrote, "had been manipulated."
Will Bagley takes it further. After a painstaking reevaluation of original nineteenth-century sources and a fresh examination of supporting evidence in Church documents, he contends that Young participated in the earliest decisions to slaughter everyone on the train. "He not only engineered the cover-up but gave orders to the Paiutes prior to the massacre about the distribution of the wagon train's livestock," Bagley concludes in his newly released book, The Blood of the Prophets, published 2002 by the University of Oklahoma Press. "Young was operating with a political purpose. He was in a terribly weak position with the U.S. government and had a ragtag militia and a ragtag group of Indians. His only hope against the federal government was to close the overland road to California."
These events occurred at a time in history when instructions by cautious leaders were almost always oral. But it was also a time when an extraordinary amount of evidence was committed to writing. Young rarely met alone with any of his followers, and Church records detailed every meeting with meticulous exactitude. "If the LDS Church really wants to heal, it will throw open its archives," a dissident Mormon historian recently said. However, such candor seems unlikely." (American Heritage Magazine)
Mormonism, born with one man's vision and fueled by passions of persecution, supernatural visions, and spiritual supremacy had changed otherwise good men into cold-blooded murderers. Heber C. Kimball, First Counselor to Brigham Young, had told the Saints "Learn to do as you are told. If you are told by your leaders to do a thing, do it, none of your business whether it be right or wrong."
Strong hatred, deep-seeded beliefs, greed, and unquestioning loyalty to the Church Hierarchy were all combined in the final tragedy at Mountain Meadows. Perhaps most relevant to the events at Mountain Meadow was the role of a church doctrine more secret, sacred, and controversial than polygamy: the belief in BLOOD ATONEMENT, that there are certain sins that can be forgiven only when the sinner's (Gentiles) own blood spills on the ground. This doctrine was a reality in the lives of the Saints. Not even the most sympathetic apologists of the Mormon Church have been able to deny it. Whatever other motives or circumstances shaped the terrible events of that September week, the extermination of the Fancher train was undeniably an act of religious fanaticism unparalleled by any other religious event in the country's history, until Sept 11, 2001. It would be bad history to pretend that there were no "Holy Religious Murders" in Utah.
UP DATE, 8-3-1999:
For over a century and a half many of the bones of 120 emigrants from Arkansas lay buried in a mass grave in the southwestern corner of Utah, a beautiful spring-fed valley known as Mountain Meadow. This wagon train on its way from Arkansas to California became the victims of Mormons and Indians who saw the group as a real and imminent threat to their way of life.
To the shock of those watching on August 3, 1999, a backhoe's claw tore open the grave exposing the skeletal remains of men, women, and children who had been brutally murdered in 1857.
For several years descendants of those who had died at the massacre site had expressed concern about the deteriorating condition of the monument. In 1998 the LDS (Mormon) Church, owners of the land, had agreed to restore the gravesite. This excavation was part of that renovation. However, the Mormon Church was totally unprepared for the legal and political controversy that followed when the skeletons of so many men, women, and children were unearthed.
The first-reaction comment of one of the men who unearthed the skeletons was to dump them back into the hole and swear an oath of secrecy. But after giving it a second thought the men realized they were legally bound by Utah State law to inform the proper authorities of the find. They eventually called Washington County Sheriff, Kirk Smith.Smith said it was a very humbling experience. "I saw buttons, some pottery, and bones of adults and children. But the children—that was what really hit me hard."
Utah state archeologist, Kevin Jones, was immediately called in. He explained to a group of state officials, including Governor Mike Leavitt, the state law which required any unidentified human remains found on private property be forensically examined. Jones issued a permit and the remains were taken to Church owned, Brigham Young University lab, allowing scientists to determine the age, sex, race, stature, health condition, and cause of death. "We were under pressure from the very beginning to get done what we needed to do very quickly," Jones said.
Shannon Novak, a University of Utah forensic anthropologist was allowed to study the remains. Novak thought the work would take perhaps six months to complete. She said: "This [kind of work] is giving the dead a chance to speak." The bones were beginning to tell their story when she received an unexpected phone call from BYU archaeologist, Shane Baker, on the evening of September 8. Baker was on the scene when the discovery was made the month earlier. He had been hired by the Mormon Church to examine the meadow to make sure the grave would not be disturbed, before earthmoving equipment was sent in.
Novak was not prepared for the conversation that ensued. Baker told her the antiquities permit had been rewritten. He informed her that she would have to surrender the bones by the end of the next day. She was able to secure only one extra day and told Baker he could have them back the morning of September 10.
Knowing that time was now her enemy, Novak, her research assistant, Derrina Kopp, a photographer, and other experts sorted through the fragments. By the time they finished, she concluded the bones represented at least 28 people. It further became evident that white men's methods rather than Paiute Indians' had accomplished the murders. The examination also disclosed that some of the victims, including several women and at least one child, had been killed while facing their executioners head-on, by point-blank gunshots between their eyes, rather than being shot in the back while fleeing, as earlier accounts had claimed. Novak found that at least two small children were beaten to death. One of the children was about four the other about seven. There was no evidence that any of the victims had been scalped, or that any of them had been shot with arrows, as had been claimed through the years.
Utah's governor, Mike Leavitt, who happens to be a descendant of an apparent participant in the massacre, had given the order to have the bones reburied immediately. Novak's examination was still not complete, including DNA testing. Nevertheless, she was forced to surrender the bones.
Marian Jacklin, a U.S. Forest Service archeologist, was one of many who fought the state's decision to halt the inquiry. "Those bones could tell the story and this was their only opportunity," she said. Jones commented that the bones should be studied to help future generations better understand the past. "None of them got to tell their story.This was our only opportunity for them to tell us what happened to them," Jones said.
Hundreds of victims' relatives around the country petitioned the state of Utah to retrieve the remains of their ancestors, some demanding DNA testing. Their request fell on deaf ears. The governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, speaking for the descendants living in his state, requested federal stewardship of the site, which would remove it from Church control. Again, the request fell on deaf ears.
"It's like having Lee Harvey Oswald in charge of JFK's tomb," said Scott Francher, a descendant of one of the leaders of the wagon train.
On Sept 10, 1999, Church officials put the bones back in the ground. The next day, Sept. 11, hundreds made the trek to the valley to dedicate the new memorial. Mormon Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, spoke a Christian message of peace and reconciliation. Then he reached a portion of the speech written by Church lawyers: "That which we have done here must never be construed as an acknowledgement on the part of the church of any complicity in the occurrences of that fateful day." Hinckley said.
The remark stunned many in the crowd, including Francher, who said, "Hinckley kind of blew it." Mormon author and historian, Will Bagley said, "I don't think he had to so much accept responsibility, but he didn't have to stand up and totally deny any involvement at all."
So why is it important to know what really happened? "It's terribly important," said Jim Loewen, author of Lies Across America, a book that traces inaccurate historical markers. "Whether they were Mormon visitors from nearby or transcontinental visitors from Vermont, the average tourist would have inferred that Indians did it," he said, "And this was one of the characterization that Native Americans were savages. We don't need any more misconceptions about Native Americans."
Today Mormons still downplay the Church's involvement in the killings of these doomed souls.Most refuse to acknowledge any Mormon would be a party to murderous deeds.Homogenized accounts of possible scenarios are much more palatable to a church determined to look to the future rather than face a troublesome past.
I was ashamed when I found out that members of my family had been involved in the cold-blooded murders of those innocent travelers, and that others of my family had received some of the booty. As a member of the Mormon Church my Mormon leaders and friends told me that Indians, and Indians alone, had murdered, raped, and robbed the Fancher Party in Southern Utah.
During my study to find the truth, I visited the sight at Mountain Meadow quite often. It was impossible to comprehend what happened nearly a century and a half before on this very spot. The reality that as many as 120 men, women, and children, had been attacked, besieged for five days, persuaded to surrender under a flag of truce and a pledge of safe passage, and then murdered, tore at the very core of my being. As I sat on top of the hill that overlooks the valley I tried to envision how the tragedy unfolded. It was hard to imagine the horror and distress of the men, women and children; the cries of despair; the intense fear. How were the fathers to protect their families? How could the mothers protect their children? It must have been such a horrible scene that God himself would have had to hide His face, so as not to witness the inhumanity of man.
This atrocity was one of the worst in the history of the West. It was the worst butchery of white pioneers in the whole colonization of America, and it was, by definition, an elaborate criminal conspiracy of planners, participants, and protectors. The murders were carried out with grizzly swiftness and precision. The brethren involved were sworn not to talk of it among themselves, and each one swore to help kill all who proved traitors to the Church or the Saints.
My Great Grandfather, James Holt, was threatened by the Danites, with his life, if he went to the proper authorities and told them about the massacre. He and his family were living in Torry, Utah at the time. His sister's husband had been at the massacre and told James what had happened there. James recorded the information in his journal. Somehow the Church authorities found out about the journal. They sent the Danites to silence James, whatever the cost, and take the journal. Because of the threats of the Danites and family involvement, the journal was thrown down the Holt well taking its horrible secrets with it.
Because I had family involved in the murders of these innocent people I wrote a letter of apology to the people of Arkansas:
"If our ancestors... who were involved, or knew about, the Mountain Meadow Massacre... were here today, I'm in hopes they would say something like this.
First... A heart-felt apology to God for thinking that You would sanction the taking of innocent lives of men, women and children, all in the name of Deity.
I apologize... to Christ, who taught me to love one another, and to value all people.
I apologize... to my wife, children and family. I am so sorry that I was involved in the treacherous murder of all those innocent people.
I apologize... for listening to priesthood leaders, who told me this was the will of the Lord, so that His church could move foreword and "avenge the death of the prophet, Joseph Smith."
I apologize... to the men who witnessed my part in what I did on that horrible afternoon.
I apologize... to the American people for creating such an awful page in history...
But most of all, I apologize...to those whom I murdered, to the children who witnessed the cruel, senseless murders of their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, and to the families of those who were brutally murdered by men who were following orders issued by the Mormon Hierarchy."
While living in St. George, Utah, we were invited to attend a lecture that was being given by a relative of Mormon historian, Juanita Brooks. The topic was the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The audience was 95 percent Mormons. The presentation leaned toward the Mormons being justified in their actions against the wagon train. With the study that I had done concerning the topic I couldn't just sit there and let them slander the innocent. I stood up and said, "Would you like to hear the rest of the story?" With no verbal objections I proceeded to tell it. As you can imagine the information was not well received. One man in particular went into a rage and said that he was tired of being persecuted and if he were placed in the same situation as the early Saints, he would have done the same thing. He walked over to me shaking his fist. I was prepared for the worst. Instead of hitting me with his fist he put his hand on my shoulder and attacked me with his piercing eyes and strong language. Eventually he went back to his seat and the meeting continued. Except now the tone was different. The speaker softened his attack on the immigrants and the hostile feelings in the room subsided. As I sat there in my chair I hoped that I had said something that would start people thinking about how cruel and sometimes even deadly we as humans can be, all in the name of God!
Note: A new book entitled Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and The Massacre at Mountain Meadows was released on October 1, 2002, written by the famous western author Will Bagley, who has done 26 years of extensive research on the Massacre. This book is well worth reading, for it gives ample evidence that Brigham Young gave the order for the attack. Another great book is Juanita Brooks book, The Mountain Meadows Massacre.