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



Mirage—Luggernal Alley—Brown's Hole—Material Prosperity. Trout-Fishing—Indian Fight at Pierre's Hole—And Indian Fort. Uncle Jack Robinson—Col. O'Hara—Young Indian Braves and Squaws. Utes Informed of Modoc Battles by Mormons—New Breed of Coach-Dogs.

From our Correspondent. 

While out on the plateau to-day, I could not help being stuck with the appearance of


which spread over the whole plain near the base of the hills. It was as if an immense lake stretched out between the point where I was and the black hills beyond, showing the shadows below of rock and ravine; and, had I not known the whole to be a desert-waste, with no water near, I could have almost sworn that I was near the sea-shore. Even the sails of vessels appeared at different points, and an immense stone bridge seemed to span one of the narrowest places. What a wonderful illusion this is, and how many men have been led on by it to certain destruction! When weary, thirsty, and worn out, a beautiful lake has appeared in the distance, and the coveted water could be seen sparkling in the sun's rays. It seemed to the famishing traveler to be near at hand, and a few minutes' brisk traveling would bring him to it. But, as he approached, the seeming water receded, and always kept way off beyond his reach. Instead of getting nearer the precious fluid, he was going father and farther out on the burning plains, until at last, utterly worn out, he has laid himself down and died from thirst, which is said to be the most terrible of all deaths. The mirage is caused by heated air which lies near the surface of the ground, and which seems to have the power of reflecting the ray of the sun. Some of these illusions are wonderfully beautiful, and render the sterile plains as gorgeous in appearance as the most splendid dreams of enchantment.

Some time ago, while traveling, I met a lady who inquired of me if I had ever been in.


which is described in Theodore Winthrop's book called "John Brent," and which is supposed to be somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. From the description, I imagine Winthrop wished to locate it in the Uintah Range,—for, being, as he supposes himself, at Fort Bridger, he says:

"How far is Luggernal Alley from Fort Bridger?"

"Fifty miles or so to the south and east. I almost fancy I recognize it in the slight notch in the line of the blue sierra on the horizon."

This would carry it directly into the range of Uintahs. But what Winthrop was trying to describe was undoubtedly


which is 100 miles south of cast from Fort Bridger, and is indeed a remarkable place. Wonderful stories are told of the strange things to be seen in this locality, and it is a favorite wintering-place for men who own herds of horses and cattle; Green River running through its whole extent, and it being shut in by high, rocky walls, which shield it from the winter storms and keep off the cold. Here is what Winthrop says of it: “A pavement of slippery, sheeny rock; great beds of loose stones; barricades of mighty boulders, where a cliff had fallen an ago, before the days of the road-maker race; crevices where an unwary foot might catch; wide rifts where a shaky horse might fall, or a timid horseman drag him down. The blue sky was overhead, the red sun upon the castellated walls a thousand feet above us, the purpling opened before. An arroyo, the channel of a dry torrent, followed the pass. It has made its way as water does, not straightway, but by that potent feminine method of passing under the frowning front of an obstacle, and leaving the dull rock staring there, while the wild creature it would have held is gliding away down the valley."

I imagine Brown's Hole would be somewhat at a loss to discover its own identity were this description read to it; but novel-writers must be allowed some latitude, and plenty has been taken in this instance. However, this hole is a mighty gorge, and the dividing land between two streams in it, though but a few feet wide, rises steep and abrupt for nearly a thousand feet.

All through the mountain-region there seems to be a steady advancement in the way of material prosperity, and the


is gradually reaching out toward the high grounds. Ten years ago, no one dreamed of the number of people who now occupy the new Territories, and then years hence this number may be more than doubled. Great herds of cattle and sheep occupy the ground which was once used by the buffalo and sheep, and every twelvemonth their number is very considerably increased. There is one fact connected with


which I never knew until a few days ago. It is this: The grasses do not die down, as they do in the Eastern States; but the sap runs down in autumn, as it does in a tree and leaves the stalk dry and sere. This is excellent grazing during the winter-months, and, as spring approaches, the sap runs up; and the grass again becomes green and handsome.

It is now the season for


and for a lazy man, or more property a man who is fond of his ease, I know of nothing more pleasant than his spot. The smell of the willows and sage-brush, the faint odor of the smoke from the Indian cannies, or wigwams, near the stream, lull senses, and everything appears peaceful. The read-throated robins, the yellow- breasted meadow-larks, the flat-headed ducks, and the reddish-brown-plumaged falcon-hawks are enjoying themselves in bush and tree, and all seem gladdened by the merry rippling of the bright stream, as it dances along over the pebbles by the velvet greensward. Stretched at full length of the grass, with the fly from one's fishing- line daintily moving down the wrinkled waters, with here and there the black back of a trout visible way down in the dark depths— can anything be more charming than this? I fancy not; and all the wines of France or dugs of India never threw so fairly a mantle over the soil. Wild rose-bushes rise on every hand, fresh from their winter’s sleep, and almost ready to adorn themselves with all their matchless loveliness. Earth has no pleasure equal to trout-fishing in the atmosphere which is perfumed with rose-leaves! Ha! here comes Oliver, and I—land a two-pound trout neatly on the green!

After accomplishing this feat, I stroll off, and soon come to the lodge of an old trapper, and he tells me about the


which was fought on Pierre's Creek, a branch of Snake River, on the 17th of July, 1882. In its details it is not unlike the fights which have lately taken place against the Modocs. It appears that a party belonging to the Rocky Mountain Fur Company was quietly wending its way through the valley which is known as Pierre's Hole, when they suddenly discovered a party of Indians coming down the mountain-side, who proved to be Blackfeet. A parley ensued, when a half-breed, belonging to the Fur Company, shot a Blackfoot warrior dead in his tracks, or, rather, and Indian did so at his bidding. The Blackfeet immediately retreated to a swamp, where, near a beaver dam, they constructed a rude fortress. The white men, sent to their friends, who were in the lower part of the valley, and soon a considerable force of trappers, hunters, and friendly Indians was gathered under the leadership of Capt. William Sublette, Robert Campbell, and Mr. Sinclair. They advanced toward the position of the Indians, which was in a dense thicket of cottonwood trees and bushes. In crawling in on their hands and knees, Capt. Sublette was in the shoulder, and Mr. Sinclair was shot through the body. The trappers, however, closed in promptly, and soon the Blackfoot fort was completely surrounded. The fighting continued all day, and at might the Indians retreated, leaving their dead behind them, and a large amount of peltries, blankets, and savage finery, which was of great value to the captors. Ten Blackfeet were found dead in the fort, and the survivors afterwards admitted that they had lost twenty-six warriors in the battle. Five white men, seven friendly Indians, and one half-breed were killed, and about twenty wounded. The Indians who assisted the whites on this occasion were the Perces, who have always been friendly, and a small party of Flatheads.

This was the great battle of the mountain- region, and it became famous. For years afterward, men recounted their prowess on this occasion with the greatest zest, and all who participated were looked upon as heroes. It was indeed almost creditable affair to the whites, and had a salutary effect upon the red-skins. The Blackfeet became more better than ever in their hatred toward the whites, which bitterness they retain, it would seem, in all its intensity to the present day. The man who gave me these facts participated in the battle, and his name is


familiarly known as Uncle Jack Robertson,—one of the oldest mountaineers now living, and esteemed far and wide as an honorable and kind- hearted man. Jack has "had a heap of rough times," and, according to Walpolistia, it may be said of him "that he has as many lives as a cat,—nay, even as many as one Plutarch is said to have had."

Jack owns a herd of cattle, and his lodge is always open to the people of the frontier, who avail themselves of his hospitality, and eat up what he has. Still, this does not interfere with his equanimity, and he enjoys himself as well as if he were the verlest nabob in the land. So far as I know, he is the only one living who belonged to Gen. Ashley's party of trappers, who came to this region over forty years ago. Many anecdotes are told of him, and he enters into the spirit of all games and parties with as much zest as he did forty years ago. Last winter he attended the balls given by the mountaineers, and danced as merrily as the best of them. The old man is a great favorite wherever he goes, as he is ever ready to do a kindness for any one; and the aid he rendered the California immigrants, years ago, will always reflect credit upon his name. When their teams were broken down, he supplied animals of his own, and helped them along for days and days, and would not receive any pay for his services.

Lately I came across some lines written by my old friend.


upon the occasion of the removal of the remains of the Kentucky volunteers who fell at Buena Vista, from the soil of Mexico to the cemetery at Frankfort, where, on a high bluff overlooking the Kentucky River, their ashes are enshrined beneath marble monuments shaped like tents. This poem is unquestionably one of the finest ever written in the English language. It commences with these lines:

The muffled drum's sad roll has best The soldier's last tattoo; No more of Life's parade shall meet The brave and fallen few. On Fame's eternal camping-ground Their silent tents are spread, And Glory guards, with solemn round, The bivouac of the dead.

Col. O'Hara belonged first to the Kentucky volunteers; was afterwards an Assistant-Quartermaster, with the rank of captain; and was made a brevet Major for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, in Mexico. He served until the close of the war, when he returned to civil life, and afterwards took part in the invasion of Cuba by Opez, and was severely wounded at Cardenas, in 1851. In March, 1855, he became a Captain in the Second Regiment of United States Cavalry, and served as such until Dec. 1, 1856, when resigned, being at that time in Texas, doing duty on the frontier. Subsequently he edited the Mobile register, and when the Rebellion broke out, joined the Confederate cause, where he gained the rank of Colonel. The last time I was near him was at the siege of Atlanta, GA., while he was serving under the Confederate flag, and I following the glorious old stars and stripes. Col. O'Hara died in Barbour County, Ala, on the 7th of June, 1867. He was a man of ardent temperament, true and kind to his friends, and possessed of decided talents. He was wayward, and could not brook the control so necessary in military discipline; but, with all this, was a gallant gentleman and a brave soldier. At evening, after a long day's march, no man could be more companionable and pleasant than he, as he had a fund of anecdote at his command, which was always ready to be drawn upon for the benefit of his friends. It is not too much to say that he was one of the finest writers the South has produced.

The weather in the mountains does not appear to get settled; as it is in the East, so it is here,—threatening all the time, with occasional gusts of wind and flurries of snow.


are appearing in the forests some distance from their reservations, but peacefully inclined, as far as known, though all of them seem well informed in regard to the sad tragedies which have been enacted in the California Lava-Beds. The young men would like to go to war, in order to show their prowess;—for, like all young men, they think a great deal of themselves, and are anxious to bring home something which will make them look like heroes in the eyes of the young squaws. The young Indian women say to their sweethearts, "How can I know anything about your bravery, and skill in a hunter? You have brought in no scalps of horses, and the number of elk and deer killed by you amounts to nothing. In case I marry you, how are you to support me? I am willing to do my share; but I wish to wed a warrior who has made a name for himself, and one who occupies an honorable place among the great men of the nation."

Here then is the


against the whites, or the red neighbors of the Indians: It is, that the young men may occupy an honorable place in the councils of the nation, and prove to the female portion of the community that they, too, have scalped a foeman. It matters very little to whom the scalp belonged, whether to an old or young man or woman, or to a helpless infant, for every scalp counts. No Indian can be considered a warrior until he can show a scalp taken by himself.

I learn from the Agent of the Uintah Utes that


these Indians should not remain in ignorance of what was going on in the Modoc country, and one of the Mormon Bishops wrote a letter to one of the Indian Chiefs, giving an account of what had occurred in the Lava-Beds. This is a strange proceeding, and it is difficult to account for it. Did this white man intend to make the Utes dissatisfied, or was it merely the work of an idle brain? It would hardly be fair to suppose this Mormon Bishop wishes to incite the Utes to massacre the people of the settlements along the line of the Pacific Railroad; but what was his object, if this was not it? We know the Mormons were guilty of the Mountain Meadow massacre,—one of the most cold-blooded that ever occurred in our country; and, if they could do this, are they any too good to endeavor to kill off the inhabitants of our infant settlements?

The disguise of white men as Indians reminds me of a story told of a livery-stable-keeper in Omaha who owned a fine lot of


These dogs are white with black spots all over them, and are noted for their docile, not to say cowardly, dispositions. The dogs belonging to the livery-stable-keeper were beset on all occasions by the other dogs in the streets, and, as they were meek in spirit, were as easily overcome as a lot of sheep. The livery-stable-man stood this as long as he could, when, one day, he found a large white bull-dog, and it immediately occurred to him what to do. He brought that dog, took him to his stable, and there kept him until he got thoroughly acquainted with the coach-dogs. The bull-dog was then sent to the barber's shop, and black spots were neatly printed or dyed all over him, so that he looked like a veritable coach-dog, with a somewhat short nose and elongated lower jaw. The next time the carriage was sent out, this model coach-dog went along, and the street dogs "went for him," thinking they would have their usual sport and victory; but in this they were mistaken; the bull-dog waded in, and the way the hair, guitar-strings, and sausage-meat flew was a caution. Since that time, the coach-dogs have been let alone.