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


Mormons and Indians Butchering Emigrants. 

We have had accounts of the massacre of an emigrant train between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, California, in which over one hundred persons including some sixty women and children lost their lives. A meeting was held at Los Angelos to investigate the matter and a statement of Mr. George Powers, who crossed the Plains just behind the slaughtered train, was submitted to the meeting.

He stated that the Mormons alleged that the emigrants were insulting towards them—calling the Mormon women ill names—and at a place called Corn Creek, near Cedar, and in the Mormon country, an ox died, and the Indians asking for it, the carcass was given to them. The Indians claim, however—on the strength of an assertion made by a Mormon—that before the ox was given to the Indians, an emigrant cut into the meat and poured a vial full of liquid into the flesh, and that thus the Indians who ate of it were poisoned. Other Indians assert that the Mormons themselves gave the Indians poisoned water-melons. What the truth is cannot be known, but there is much reason to supposed that the Mormons incited the Indians to the massacre and then divided the spoils.

A Mr. Warn, who followed, stated that he conversed with one of the war-chiefs, who said that his people had not been poisoned, though some of them had died.

Mr. Powers says that Dame, an old Mormon, said that he could have raised a force to rescue the train, but that he dare not disobey the Mormon Council. The slaughter took place on the 14th of September. Mr. Powers says:

On Saturday, at twelve o'clock, we left Cedar City. About the middle of the afternoon we met the four men who were sent out the night previous, returning in a wagon. They said the entire train had been cut off; and, as it was still dangerous to travel the road, they concluded it was better for us to pass in the night. We continued on without much conversation, and about midnight met Mr. Dame, and three other white men, coming from the scene of slaughter, in company with a band of some twenty Indian warriors. One of the men in company with Mr. Dame, was Mr. Haight, Mormon President of Cedar City. Mr. Dame said they had been out to the burying of the dead; but the dead were not buried. From what I heard, I believe the bodies were lying naked upon the ground, having been stripped of their clothing by the Indians.These Indians had a two horse wagon, driven by a white man, and beside him, there were two or three Indians in it. Many of them had shawls and bundles of women's clothes were tied to their saddles. They were also supplied with guns or pistols, besides bow and arrows. The hindmost Indians were driving several head of the emigrants' cattle. Mr. Dame and Mr. Haight, and their men, seemed to be on the best of terms with the Indians, and they were all in high spirits, as if they were mutually pleased with the accomplishment of some desired object. They thronged around us, and greeted us with noisy cordiality. We did not learn much from them. They passed on, and we drove all night in silence, and at daylight camped, and were told we were three miles beyond the scene of slaughter.

Mr. Powers and his train arrived has at San Bernardine, and he was advised by Mr. Mathews, who, he learned, was a President, or Elder in that place, not to associate with the "damned apostates"; that they were cut-throats of the worst character. If he wished, they would give him constant work at their mill in the mountains, and he must be careful not to talk to much of what he had seen. While in San Bernardine, he heard many persons express gratification at the massacre. At the church services on Sunday, Capt. Hunt occupied the pulpit, and, among other things, he said that the hand of the Lord was in it; whether it was done by white or red skins, it was right! The prophesies concerning Missouri were being fulfilled, and they would all be accomplished. Mr. Mathews said the work had just begun, and it should be carried on until Uncle Sam and all his boys that were left should come to Zion and beg for bread.

Another emigrant, Mr. S. B. Honea, of Arkansas, who left home last May, and has lately arrived at Los Angeles, by the way of Salt Lake City, says that at Fort Bridger—near where Col. Alexander. command was at last accounts—his train met large bodies of Indians, 400 in one camp, and near Fort Bridger they met three companies of mounted Mormons, with ample baggage wagons, equipment, &c. Mr. Honea says, he also here and there had a conversation with one of the Mormon soldiers, an Englishman, who, camping with the company, grew very communicative over the camp-fires. The substance of this conversation, Mr. Honea reports as follows:

He referred in bitter terms to the treatment the Mormons received in Illinois and Missouri, reflected on the unjustness and tyranny of the people of the U. S., and said that the time was come to get even. He said they were on their way to meet Gen. Harney, to see what he was coming for: "If he was coming peaceably, we will let him come, but if not, we will drive him back," were the words used. Another Mormon, named Killian, an old man who lives about seven miles from Salt Lake City, spoke bitterly against the U. S., denounced Judge Drummond, and all the Federal officers, and rejoiced that the time had come when the Saints would be avenged on their enemies—that men were found who could face the enemy, and that Harney, with his 2500 men, never would enter Salt Lake City. He also stated that Gov. Brigham Young had ordered the people to prepare for war—that they should not sell emigrants anything—that they must lay up provisions—that the men and women must not dress up in store clothes any more, but that all must be saved to forward the cause of the Church against the common enemy—that the men must be content with buckskin instead of broadcloth, and have plenty of guns and ammunition.

On the 17th Aug., Mr. Honea passed through the City of Salt Lake. Remained only three or four hours. Had a conversation with a merchant, a Gentile, who stated that on the previous Sunday Brigham Young had declared in the Temple, that henceforth Utah was a separate and independent Territory, and owed no obedience or allegiance to any form or laws but those of their own enactment, and called upon the people to stand together and support him in maintaining the cause of God and the Church. Was told that the house of Gilbert & Garrison had orders from Brigham to pack up and leave before the 1st of November.

During all the residue of this journey the train of Mr. Honea, was harassed by the Indians.—They hired repeatedly Mormon guides, or 'interpreters,' as a protection against the savages, and for this purpose expended $1815—but found that the wretches were acting the traitors' part, and seemed inclined rather to setting the Indians on to attack, than to projecting them. Two men in a train that joined them, Captain Turner and Mr. Collins, were shot and seriously wounded while in the Mormon train of Beaver, by the Indians. While near the Muddy, the Indians made another attack upon Mr. Honea's train, and run off 375 head of cattle.

[From the San Francisco Herald, Nov. 5]

Mr. Pierce, who came by the way of Salt Lake, and joined the other two families at the Sink of the Humbolt, reports some five hundred Indians encamped near Salt Lake, who, as he learned from the Mormons, were retained as allies to operate against the troops sent out by the government. He was also assured that these Indians had been instructed not to molest the emigration this year, as preparations were not sufficiently complete to enable the Mormons were nightly practicing military drill, and there was every evidence of energetic preparations for some great event. Before his family left Salt Lake, vague declarations of a threatening character were made, to the effect that, next year, "the overland emigrants must look out;" and it was even insinuated that the last trains this year might be destroyed. From the Mormon train which recently left Carson Valley, and which these families met on their way, similar statements were vaguely communicated, one Mormon woman even going so far as to congratulate an old lady in one of these families upon her safe arrival so near her destination, and assuring her that "the last trains of this year would not get through so well, for they were to be cut off." We give these statements as we received them from members of these families, and, admitting their correctness, which we have no reason to doubt, they certainly will go far to confirm a terrible suspicion.