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



Slaughter in Cold Blood of a Company of Emigrants.

Affidavit of a Mormon Bishop who Saw the Mountain Meadows Butchery—The Mormon Militia and their Officers the Murderers, Under Orders from Head-Quarters —Cowardly Strategy of the Saints

The following is the affidavit in full by one of the least guilty among the participants in the affair, showing conclusively that the terrible Mountain Meadows massacre was the act of the Mormon authorities. It will be remembered that a large company of emigrants, on their way to California, are known to have been all killed, with the exception of the young children. When their massacre was discovered, the Mormons set afloat the story that they had perished by the hands of the Indians ; but from time to time circumstantial evidence has appeared indicating that they were murdered in cold blood by the Mormons in revenge for previous outrages upon the latter perpetrated in Illinois and Missouri. A competent witness now states under oath that the Mormon militia attacked the emigrants, and after a fight of several days without result, sent in a flag of truce, offering them protection if they would lay down their arms. The terms being complied with, the entire party was butchered by their captors:

STATE OF NAVADA, COUNTY OF LINCOLN, SS.— Personally appeared before me, Peter B. Miller, Clerk of Court of the Seventh Judicial District of the State of Nevada, Philip Klingon Smith, who being duly sworn, on this oath says: My name is Philip Klingon Smith. I reside in the County of Lincoln, in the State of Nevada. I resided at Cedar City, in the County of Iron, in the Territory of Utah, from A.D. 1852 to A.D. 1859. I was residing at Cedar City at the time of the massacre at Mountain Meadows in said Territory of Utah. I had heard that a company of emigrants was on its way from Salt Lake City, bound for California. Said company arrived at said Cedar City; tarried there one day, and passed on for California. After said company had left Cedar City, the militia was called out for the purpose of committing acts of hostility against them. Said call was a regular military call from the superior officers to the subordinate officers and privates of the regiment at Cedar City and vicinity, composing a part of the militia of the Territory of Utah. I do not recollect the number of the regiment. I was at that time the Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at Cedar City. Isaac C Haight was President over said church at Cedar City and the southern settlements in said Territory. My position as Bishop was subordinate to that of said President. W.H. Darue was President of said church at Parowan, in said Iron County. Said W.H. Darue was also Colonel of said regiment. Said Isaac C. Haight was Lieutenant-Colonel of said regiment, and said John D. Lee, of Harmony, in said county, was Major of said regiment. said regiment was duly ordered to muster, armed and equipped as the law directs, and prepared for field operations. I had no command nor office in said regiment at that time, neither did I march with said regiment on the expedition which resulted in said company's being massacred at the Mountain Meadows, in said County of Iron. About four days after said company of emigrants had left Cedar City, that portion of said regiment then mustered at Cedar City, took up its line of march in pursuit of them. About two days after said company had left said Cedar City, Lieut.-Col. J.C. Haight expressed in my presence a desire that said company might be permitted to pass on their way in peace ; but afterward he told me that he had orders from head-quarters to kill all of said company of emigrants except the little children. I do not know whether said head-quarters meant the regimental head-quarters at Parowan, or the head quarters of the Commander-in-Chief at Salt Lake City.

When the said company had got to Iron Creek, about twenty (20) miles from Cedar City, Capt. Joel White started for the Pinto Creek settlements, through which said company would pass, for the purpose of influencing the people to permit said company to pass on their way in peace. I asked and obtained permission of said White to go with him and aid him in his endeavors to save life. When said White and myself got about three miles from Cedar City, we met Major John D. Lee, who asked us where we were gong. I replied that we were going to try to prevent the killing of the emigrants. Lee replied, "I have something to say about that." Lee was at that time on his way to Parowan, the head-quarters of Col. Dawe. Said White and I went to Pinto Creek, remained there one night, and the next day returned to Cedar City, meeting said company of emigrants at Iron Creek. Before reaching Cedar City we met one Ira Allen, who told us "the decree had passed devoting said company to destruction." After the fight had been going on for three or four days a messenger from Major Lee reached Cedar City, who stated that the fight had not been altogether successful, upon which Lieut.-Col. Haight ordered out a reinforcement. At this time I was ordered out by Capt. John M. Higby, who ordered me to muster, "armed and equipped as the law directs." It was a matter of life or death to me to muster or not, and I mustered with the reinforcing troops. It was at this time that Lieut.-Col. Haight said to me that it was orders from head-quarters that all but the little children of said company were to be killed. Said Haight had at that time just returned from head-quarters, at Parowan, where a military council had been held. There had been a like council held at Parowan previous to that, at which were present Col. Dawe, Lieut.-Col. J.C. Haight and Major John D. Lee. The result of this first council was the calling out of said regiment for the purpose already stated. The reinforcement aforesaid was marched to the Mountain Meadows and there formed a junction with the main body. Major Lee massed all the troops at a spring, and made a speech to them, saying that his orders from "head-quarters were to kill the entire company, except the small children." I was not in the ranks at the time, but on one side, walking to a man named Slade, and could not have seen a paper in Major Lee's hands. Said Lee then a sent a flag of truce into the emigrant camp, offering said emigrants that "if they lay down their arms he would protect them." They accordingly laid down their arms, came out from their camp, and delivered themselves up to said Lee. The women and children were then, by the order of said Lee, separated from the men and were marched ahead of the men. After said emigrants had marched about a half a mile toward Cedar City, the order was given to shoot them down. At that time said Lee was at the head of the column; I was in the rear ; I did not hear Lee give the order to fire, but heard it from the under officers as it was passed down the column. The emigrants were then and there shot down, except seventeen little children, which I immediately took into my charge. I do not know the total number of said company, as I did not stop to count the dead. I immediately put the little children in baggage wagons belonging to the regiment, and took them to Hamlin's Ranch, and from there to Cedar City, and procured them homes among the people. John Willis and Samuel Murdy assisted me in taking charge of said children.

On the evening of the massacre, Col. W.H. Dawe and Lieut. J.C. Haight came to Hamlin's, where I had the said children, and fell into a dispute, in the course of which said Haight told Col. Dawe that if he was going to report of the killing of said emigrants, "he should not have ordered it done." I do not know when or where said troops were disbanded. About two weeks after said massacre occurred said Major Lee (who was also Indian Agent) went to Salt Lake City, and, as I believe, reported said fight and its results to the Commander-in-Chief. I was not present at either of the before-mentioned councils, nor at any council connected with the aforesaid military operations, or with said company. I gave no orders except those connected with the saving of the children, and none after were given as Bishop and not in a military sense. At the time of the firing of the first volley I discharged my piece. I did not fire afterward, though several subsequent volleys were fired. After the first fire was delivered I at once set about saving the children. I commenced to gather up the children before the firing had ceased.

I have made the foregoing statement before the above-entitled Court for the reason that I believed that I would be assassinated should I attempt to make the same before any Court in the Territory of Utah. After said Lee Returned from Salt Lake City, as I aforesaid, said Lee told me that he had reported fully to the President, meaning to the Commander-in-Chief, the fight at Mountain Meadows, and the killing of said emigrants. Brigham Young was at that time the Commander-in-Chief of the militia of the Territory of Utah. And further deponent saith not.


Subscribed and sworn to before me this 10th day of April, A.D. 1871.

(Signed,) P.B. MILLER, County Clerk.

[District Court, Seventh Judicial District, Lincoln County, Nevada. Copy of seal.]

UTAH TERRITORY, COUNTY OF SALT LAKE—I, O.F. Strickland, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Utah Territory, hereby certify that I have carefully compared the foregoing copy of affidavit with the original of the same, and that the foregoing copy is a true literal copy of said original, and that such comparison was made this 4th day of September, 1872.


TERRITORY OF UTAH, SALT LAKE COUNTY—I. James B. McKean, Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court of said Territory, do certify that I have carefully compared the above copy of an affidavit with the original of the same, and know the same to be all particulars a true copy thereof.

(Signed) JAS. B. McKEAN.

Dated Sept. 5, 1872. Chief-Justice, &c.