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


Later from the Plains. 

Perils of the Emigrants—Complicity of the Mormons with the Indians—War-like Preparations of the Mormons.

By the arrival of the Senator we have dates from Los Angelos to the 20th of October, and from San Diego to the 17th of the same month. The news is exceedingly important.

THE LATE MASSACRE.—The report of the late massacre is confirmed. The number of persons slaughtered by the Indians was 118. Great excitement prevailed in Los Angelos on the announcement, shortly after the receipt of the news, that parties were in town who corroborated all the statements that had been previously made. A public meeting was called, and the persons referred to attended it and made statements,—a condensation of which we give. Their names are Power and Warn. They had lately returned from Salt Lake City.—Mr. Power, in his narrative, says:

We found the Mormons making very determined preparations to fight the United States troops whenever they may arrive. On our way in, we met three companies of one hundred men each, armed and on the road towards the pass over Fort Bridger. I was told at Fort Bridger that at Fort Supply, twelve miles this side of Fort Bridger, there were four sixty thousand pounds of flour stored at Fort Bridger, for the use of their army. We found companies drilling every evening in the city. The Mormons declared to us that no United States troops should ever cross the mountains. And they talked and acted as if they were willing to take a brush with Uncle Sam.

We remained in Salt Lake five days, and then pushed on, hoping we might overtake a larger train, which had started ten days ahead of us, and which proved to be the train that was massacred. We came on the Battermilk Fort near the lone cedar, one hundred and seventy-five miles, and found the inhabitants greatly enraged at the train which had just passed, declaring that they had abused the Mormon women. The people had refused to sell that train any previsions, and told us they were sorry they had not killed them there; but they knew it would be done before they got in. They stated further that they were holding the Indians in check until the arrival of their chief, when he would follow the train and cut it to pieces.

The next place where we heard of the train was on our arrival at Beaver, 230 miles from Salt Lake. Here we learned that when the train ahead were encamped at Corn Creek, which was thirty-five miles back, and at which place we found the Indians so friendly, an ox died, and the Indians asked for it. Before it was given to them, a Mormon reported that he saw an emigrant go to the carcass and cut it with his knife, and as he did so, would pour some liquid into the cut from a phial. The meat was eaten by the Indians, and three of them died, and several more of them were sick and would die. The people at Beaver seemed also to be incensed against the train for the same reason as before reported. I asked an Indian at Beaver, if there was any truth in the poisoned meat story; he replied in English, that he did not know; that several of the Indians had died, and several were sick. He said their watermelons had made them all sick, and he believed that the Mormons had poisoned them.

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. Matthew and Tanner held a council with them apart and when they left, Matthews told me the entire train had been cut off; and as it was still dangerous to travel the road, they had concluded it was better for us to pass the spot in the night. We continued on, without much conversation, and about dusk met Mr. Dame. (I did not know that he had left Cedar City and three other white men, coming from the scene of the slaughter, in company with a band of some twenty Indian warriors. One of men in company with Mr. Dame was Mr. Haight, President of Cedar City. Mr. Dame said they had been out to see to the burying of the dead; but the dead were not buried. From what I heart, I believe the dead bodies were left lying naked upon the ground, having been stript of their clothing by the Indians. These Indians had a two-horse wagon, filled with something I could not see, as blankets were carefully spread over the top. The wagon was 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 bows and arrows. The hind-most Indians were driving several head of the emigrants' cattle. Mr. Dame and Mr. Haight, and their men, seemed to be on the best terms with the Indians, and they were all in high spirits, as if they were mutually pleased with the accomplishment of some desired object.

While in San Bernardino, I heard many persons express gratification at the massacre. At the church services on Sunday, Captain 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 prophecies concerning Missouri were being fulfilled, and they would all be accomplished.


A few days after the above meeting took place, Mr. Honea, of Arkansas, arrived at Lost Angeles from the plains. In the train in which he came they were subjected to constant and harassing attacks from the Indians ever since they left Salt Lake city. They were behind the train which had been so cruelly massacred at Santa Clara Canon. Two of the men belonging to the train which Mr. Honea accompanied were wounded in a fight with the Indians, and 326 [?] head of cattle driven off.

From the statement published by Mr. Honea, we extract the following:

With the exception of an attack by the Rappaho Indians, on the Arkansas river, on the 20th of June, on the company of Capt. Henry, of Texas, who lost 101 head of cattle, nothing of interest occurred on the journey, nor did they perceive any symptoms of opposition or of armed band, until they came to Fort Bridger, in Utah Territory. Here they saw a large quantity of provisions stored, a considerable member of Indians encamped all around the fort, and heard the people generally speaking of making preparations to go out and meet Gen. Harney. At Fort Bridger was told by a merchant that at Fort Bridger was told by a merchant that at Fort Supply over 100 Indians were encamped, awaiting orders to attack the United States troops.—About 30 miles from Fort Bridger met three companies of men, generally mounted, and all well armed, having abundance of baggage, their wagons being numbered in [masses?].

On the 17th of August, 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.

The train which has been so cruelly massacred, was under the charge of Captain Baker, familiarly known as "Uncle Jack," from Carroll county, Arkansas—Silas Edwards and William Baker, son of the captain, are also known to have been in the train. At Cedar City, Mr. Honea saw President Haight riding a large bay horse which he recognized as having belonged to Mr. Silas Edwards, was informed by Hatch that young Baker had an opportunity of escaping, and went a short distance, but returned; was afterward wounded in the arm; again escaped from the massacre, and proceeded about ten miles this side the Muddy, when he met the Youngs, who had escaped from San Bernardino.—He was advised to return to the Muddy, which he did, when he was met by Hatch and the Indians, and by them cruelly murdered.

Mr. Honea says that in coming into San Bernardino, about fifteen miles the other side of the sink of the Mohave river, he met a mail wagon, for Salt Lake City, having a large quantity of pistols and ammunition. The driver wished to purchase arms for the party, but they refused to sell.

To give an idea of the fraud and extensions practiced by the Mormons on emigrants, Mr. Honea states that their company paid to interpreters, six in all, the enormous sum of $1,815. The duty performed by these guides and interpreters was to conduct the company from Cedar City to Cottonwood Springs, a distance of not over three hundred miles. Yet this contract was not fulfilled, although payment was made in advance.