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


Complicity of the Mormons in the Late Emigrant Massacre—The Indians were Tools in the Hands of the Saints. 


The late horrible massacre of more than one hundred emigrants on the Spanish trail from Utah to California, deserves more than a passing notice at the hands of the press. The San Francisco papers give the substance of several statements, tending to show the Mormons were cognizant of the massacre and probably instigated it. The fact is undoubtedly this: The Mormons must have planned and executed it with the Indians, or it could not have occurred. The writer has spent a year in Utah, and during the spring of 1855 passed over the route from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, California, in command of a detachment of United States troops Previous to this march he had seen several months service among the Indians who occupy the country in the vicinity of the late massacre. These Indians have for years been under the tutelage of the Mormons. Their chiefs, Canoshe, Ammon, and others, are members of the Mormon church. Their villages are in close proximity to the Mormon towns, and their fields of grain are adjacent to those of the Mormons. Missionaries reside constantly with the Indians and control their movement. In the event of the death of a chief, his successor is always the one designated by the Mormons. The Indians are armed with rifles and have an abundance of ammunition supplied by the Mormons, and these supplies are purchased with United States money, supplied to Brigham Young in his capacity of Superintendent of Indian Affairs. The whole instruction of the Mormon missionaries has been that the Americans area weak and infirm nation compared with the Mormons, and the natural enemies of the Indian. For years past no small party of Americans has ever traveled this route without assuming the character and name of Mormons as an absolutely necessary precaution to pass through safely. The Mormon settlements stretch from Fillmore City to the Vegas river, at intervals of a few miles; and so close is the connection between the Mormon people and the Indians, that it is absolutely impossible for a train to be attacked anywhere on this route without the knowledge and consent of the Mormons. I beg leave to say that this is no charge hastily made—no inconsiderate evidence—but an incontestable fact; and its truth can be attested by hundreds of people in California who have traveled the route, and called themselves Mormon to avoid a fate similar to that of the hundred and eighteen men, women and children slaughtered at Mountain Meadows.

The writer of this letter camped two days at Mountain Meadows, two days on the Santa Clara, and two days on the Muddy. At the approach of the troops the Mormon missionaries left the Indian tribes and went to the nearest Mormon settlement, after instructing the Indians to attack the troops. Nothing but an exhibition of superior strength and constant vigilance prevented repeated attacks. Several times the mules and horses were driven oft by the Indians, and as often recovered. The chiefs of the tribes on the Virgin and Muddy rivers told the writer of their instructions to attack the troops, and of the representations of the Mormons that the Americans were a weak people and the enemy of the Indian. I repeat that it is not reasonable to suppose that this massacre could have been committed without the complicity of the Mormons. The circumstances of the case show that they could have prevented it, or rescued the greater portion of the train, as the fight lasted many hours, and they were made aware of it by expresses.

The facts here stated with reference to the Instructions of the Mormon missionaries, and the march of the troops, have been on file in the War Department, in the form of an official report, more than three years.

ARMY. ASTOR HOUSE, Nov. 30, 1857.