"Horrible Massacre of Emigrants!!" The Mountain Meadows Massacre in Public Discourse


Horrible Massacre of Emigrants by Indians. 

[Correspondence of the Los Angeles (Cal.) Star.]

I take this opportunity of informing you of the murder of an entire train of emigrants, on their way from Missouri and Arkansas to this State, via Great Salt Lake city; which took place, according to the best information I can possibly acquire, (which is, primarily, through Indians,) at the Mountain Meadows, which are at or near the Rim of the Great Basin, and some distance south of the most southern Mormon settlements, between the 10th and 12th ultimo. It is absolutely one of the most horrible massacres I have ever had the painful necessity of relating.

The company consisted of about 130 or 185 (sic) men, women, and children, and including some 40 or 45 capable of bearing arms. They were in possession of quite an amount of stock, consisting of horses, mules and oxen. The encampment was attacked about daylight in the morning, so say the Indians, by the combined forces of all the various tribes immediately in that section of the country. It appears that the majority of them were slain at the first onset made by the Indians.

The remaining force formed themselves into the best position their circumstances would allow: but before they could make the necessary arrangements for protecting themselves from the arrows, there were but few left who were able to bear arms. After having corralled their wagons, and dug a dutch (sic) for their protection they continued to fire upon the Indians for one or two days, but the Indians had so secreted themselves, that, according to their own statement, there was not one of them killed, and but few wounded. They (the emigrants) sent them out a flag of truce, borne by a little girl; and gave themselves up to the mercy of the savages, who immediately rushed in and slaughtered all of them, with the exception of fifteen infant children, that have since been purchased, with much difficulty, by the Mormon interpreters.

I presume it would be unnecessary for all practical purposes to relate the causes which gave rise to the above described catastrophe, from the simple fact that it will be attributed to the Mormon people, let the circumstances of the case be what they may. But it seems, from a statement which I received from Elders Wm. Mathew and Wm. Hyde, who were in Great Salt Lake city at the time the train was there, recruiting their “fit out;” and were on the road to this place at the time when they were murdered, but several days' journey in the rear—somewhere about the Beaver Mountains, which is between Parawan and Fillmore cities—that the causes were something like these: The train camped at Corn Creek, near Fillmore City, where there is an Indian village, the inhabitants of which have raised a crop of wheat, and a few melons &c. And in trading with the Indians they gave them cash for wheat, and they not knowing the value of coin were severely cheated. They wanted a blanket for a sack of wheat, but they gave them fifty cents, and told them that amount would buy a blanket.

They also had an ox with them which had died, and they put strychnine in him, for the purpose of poisoning the Indians; also put poison of some description in the water, which is standing in holes. This occasioned several deaths among them, within a few days after the departure of the train. And upon this, it seems, the Indians gathered themselves together and had no doubt chosen the place of attack, and arranged everything, before the train arrived at the place where they were murdered.

It was ascertained by some of the interpreters, from a few of the Indians who were left at Corn Creek, that most of the Indians in the country had left; but they could not learn for what for purpose, and before any steps could be taken to ascertain for certain, what was the cause, the story was told-they were all killed.