Will Bagley and David Bigler are unsurpassed in their knowledge of 19th Century Utah history. Bagley, and to a lesser extent Bigler, have drawn the wrath of the Mormon Church and LDS "scholars" because of their unwillingness to buy the traditional propaganda promulgated by the Church regarding the cold-blooded murder of 120 pioneers headed for California in 1857.
This book, part of the KINGDOM OF THE WEST SERIES published by The Arthur Clark Co., gathers together the most important documents relating to the Massacre. The story of "what really happened" at Mountain Meadows was, quite surprisingly, well known very soon after the slaughter, despite desperate attempts by Brigham Young and his cohorts to cover it up and shield the guilty. Americans outside of Utah who were familiar with the conditions in Young's "kingdom" had no trouble concluding that it was white Mormons, not poor, docile Southern Utah Indians, who were the prime movers in the event.
However, it took years to thoroughly debunk the LDS two-pronged story line. One, that it was Indians who did the murders. Either the immigrants poisoned the Indians' water supply, which resulted in the death of several Indians who ate dead cattle that drank the poisoned water, or, alternatively, that the travelers directly poisoned the beef carcasses consumed by the Indians. Second, that the migrants deserved what they got because they had traveled through Utah antagonizing the Saints and bragging about their role in the deaths of Church founder Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum thirteen years earlier. (The wagon train was from Arkansas. There is no known connection between any member of the train and those who murdered the Smiths. Likewise, there was no connection between the travelers and the then recent death of the beloved Apostle Parley P. Pratt in Arkansas. The train left Arkansas before Pratt's murder at the hands of a man whose wife was seduced by Pratt into becoming his 12th wife.)
While the Church no longer claims that the Baker-Fancher party "had it coming," it nonetheless clings to the implausible argument that Young was not fully informed concerning the degree of culpability of the participants in the Massacre for years after it occurred, and that only the local Southern Utah yokels, not high Church authorities, were responsible. (See MASSACRE AT MOUNTAIN MEADOWS by Walker, Turley and Leonard (2007), the Church's unofficial official version of the Massacre, commissioned in response to Bagley's BLOOD OF THE PROPHETS (2002)).
This book is a very valuable companion to Bagley's book and others on the Massacre. It will be of interest primarily to those with a fairly substantial knowledge of both the Massacre and the Utah of 1857. Like all of Bagley's and Bigler's work, it is extremely well researched and thoughtfully presented.