Chapter Twenty-Nine

The Utah War

“Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Utah War,” Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (2003), 368–79

The Latter-day Saints considered themselves loyal American citizens and were indignant when they heard a large army was on its way west to put down a “Mormon rebellion.” Recalling the persecutions of earlier years, the settlers feared being driven once again from their homes. For the next few months the Saints prepared to defend themselves. Church leaders and members alike were unwilling to suffer oppression again.

Two issues were at the center of the Church’s conflict with the federal government: the Saints’ practice of plural marriage and the Church’s control of the Utah territorial government. When Utah reapplied for statehood in 1856 and ran into stiff opposition, the “Mormon question” entered national politics.

The national Republican party was founded in 1854 as a staunchly anti-slavery party and fielded its first presidential candidate in 1856. In its platform it urged Congress to prohibit in the territories the twin relics of barbarism—polygamy and slavery. The Democrats, not wishing to imply support of polygamy by their support of slavery, denounced the Mormons as vehemently as the Republicans did. Successful Democratic candidate James Buchanan vowed during his presidential campaign that if elected he would replace Brigham Young as governor of Utah.

About this same time new troubles developed in Utah between the Saints and some disgruntled territorial officials who took it upon themselves to try to change the Latter-day Saints’ way of life. Letters and verbal reports from the surveyor general, three Indian agents, two supreme court justices, and the former United States mail contractor reached Washington, D.C., further poisoning the minds of eastern politicians against the Church. The worst damage was caused by Associate Judge William W. Drummond, who came into conflict with the Saints as soon as he arrived in Utah in 1854. He attacked the jurisdiction of the probate courts, which Utahns considered their most important legal defense against enemy assaults. He was also an unprincipled man who brought a Washington, D.C., prostitute to Utah as his mistress. At times he had her sit on the bench with him while he harangued the Saints about their lack of morals. It was later learned that he had abandoned his wife and children in the East.1

When Levi Abrahams, a Jewish convert to Mormonism, made a truthful comment regarding the judge’s character, Drummond sent his body servant to Abrahams’s home in Fillmore to horsewhip him. Both the judge and his servant were later arrested for assault and battery with intent to commit murder. When freed on bail, Drummond quietly fled to California and then to New Orleans, where he made public a letter of resignation he had written to the Buchanan administration. He alleged that the Mormons had destroyed the territorial supreme court records, their leaders were disrespectful of federal officials, a secret oath-bound band operated in Utah that knew no law save Brigham Young’s, the Mormons and not the Indians had massacred John W. Gunnison’s surveying party in 1854, and a state of rebellion existed in Utah.2

Unfortunately Drummond’s charges were believed and used to form a major part of the Buchanan administration’s image of the Church. Shortly after receiving the letter, President Buchanan, without investigating the situation in Utah or communicating his intentions to Governor Young, appointed Alfred Cumming of Georgia to be governor and directed a military force of twenty-five hundred men to escort him to Salt Lake City. The military orders of 18 May 1857 came from Secretary of War John B. Floyd, who was bitterly anti-Mormon and who advocated the need for military force. Secretary of State Lewis Cass, however, urged Cumming to uphold the law but not to interfere with the Mormons’ way of living.3

Alfred Cumming (1802–73)

Alfred Cumming (1802–73) served as governor of the Utah Territory from 1858 to 1861. Prior to this appointment, he had served as mayor of Augusta, Georgia, in 1836.

Courtesy of Utah State Historical Society

Throughout the summer of 1857 many politicians of both major parties spoke out against the Latter-day Saints and their alleged wrongdoing. Among them was Senator Stephen A. Douglas, who was trying to mend some political fences in his home state of Illinois, where rabid anti-Mormon feelings still existed. The Saints were especially stung by Douglas’s denunciation, since they had considered him a loyal friend. They remembered a prophecy by Joseph Smith to Douglas in 1843 and printed it in the Deseret News. The Prophet had declared that Douglas would one day aspire to the presidency of the United States, but that if he ever lifted his hand against the Latter-day Saints, he would “feel the weight of the hand of the Almighty upon you.”4 Douglas became the Democratic candidate for President in 1860, but he was defeated by Abraham Lincoln.

The Church Responds

On 1 July 1857,5 officials of Brigham Young’s mail delivery and express company, the Y. X. Company, stopped at the federal post office in Independence, Missouri, to pick up the mail. En route they had become curious when they saw several supply trains heading west on the overland route. In Independence they learned that the government had simultaneously canceled the mail contract with the Y. X. Company and sent a large consignment of federal troops to Utah. The supply trains they had observed were for the army. Abraham O. Smoot, mayor of Salt Lake City and leader of this group of trusted Latter-day Saints, and his companions Porter Rockwell and Judson Stoddard, sped as quickly as possible to Salt Lake City with the news, arriving on 23 July. On 24 July they found Brigham Young and many of the Saints in Big Cottonwood Canyon celebrating the Saints’ first ten years in the Great Basin. Not wanting to dampen the merry event, Brigham Young waited until nightfall to announce the government’s designs.

After pondering how to meet this “invasion,” Church leaders in early August issued a broadside proclamation to the citizens of Utah:

“We are invaded by a hostile force, who are evidently assailing us to accomplish our overthrow and destruction. …

“… The government has not condescended to cause an investigating committee, or other persons to be sent, to inquire into and ascertain the truth, as is customary in such cases. …

“The issue which has thus been forced upon us, compels us to resort to the great first law of self-preservation, and stand in our own defense and right, guarantied unto us by the genius of the institutions of our country, and on which the government is based. Our duties to ourselves and families requires us not to tamely submit to be driven and slain, without an attempt to preserve ourselves. Our duty to our country, our holy religion, our God, to freedom and liberty, requires that we shall not quietly stand still.”6

The broadside proclaimed three intentions: to forbid all armed forces from coming into Utah Territory on whatever pretense, to hold all forces in Utah in readiness to repel any invasion, and to declare martial law in the territory.7

Brigham Young then mustered the territorial militia and ordered that no grain or other staple be sold to passing immigrants or speculators. He ordered the building of fortifications and also selected raiding parties to harass the army and supply trains. He also sent a group known as the White Mountain Expedition to find another suitable location for settlement, should the Saints have to abandon their homes. Missionaries and settlers in distant colonies were called home to aid the defense. Companies of immigrants on the plains were safely guided into the valley, and all emigration plans for the next season were cancelled.

Governor Young sent Samuel W. Richards with a letter to President Buchanan informing him that his army could not enter Utah until satisfactory arrangements were made by a peace commission. Elder Richards also carried a letter to the Saints’ long-time friend Thomas L. Kane asking him to intervene with the government on the Church’s behalf. Richards also went to New York, where he was interviewed by the New York Times, which published the Saints’ point of view “without prejudice.”8

On 7 September, Captain Stewart Van Vliet of the Quartermaster Corps arrived in Salt Lake City to arrange for food and forage for the incoming army. He tried to assure Church leaders of the army’s peaceful intentions. Van Vliet was the first official contact the Saints had with either the military or the government since the problems had arisen. Treated kindly, Van Vliet interviewed Church leaders, inspected their resistance measures, and attended a public meeting in the Old Tabernacle, where he heard many recountings of the persecutions in Missouri and Illinois. Speakers insisted that the people would burn their homes, destroy their crops, and harass the troops before they would allow them to enter the valley. The Saints pledged unanimous support of Brigham Young’s resistance policy.9

Van Vliet became convinced that the Mormons were not in rebellion against the authority of the United States, but that they felt justified in preparing to defend themselves against an unwarranted military invasion. Unsuccessful in making arrangements for the troops, he returned to the army and then to Washington, D.C., where he became a strong advocate of peaceful reconciliation. He was accompanied by the Utah congressional delegate, John M. Bernhisel, who carried more letters to Thomas L. Kane.

Meanwhile, Brigham Young went forward with his plans. In mid-September 1857 he proclaimed martial law in the territory and forbade the entry of armed forces. He ordered the Nauvoo Legion to prepare for the invasion. In nearly every Utah community, preparations for defense were accelerated. He also instructed bishops in the villages to prepare to burn everything should hostilities actually break out.

Mountain Meadows Massacre

The same week that Captain Van Vliet appeared in Salt Lake City, a tragic event took place nearly three hundred miles to the south; it can best be understood in the context of the war hysteria surrounding the approach of federal troops to Utah. As soon as it was known that an army was coming, George A. Smith, who was responsible for the southern settlements, went to southern Utah to mobilize troops and put that region on war alert.10

George A. Smith (1817–75)

George A. Smith (1817–75) was a participant in Zion’s Camp, a missionary, an Apostle, a counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, Church historian, and a member of the Utah legislature. He was a cousin of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

About this same time the Fancher Train—an emigrant company composed of several families from Arkansas and a group of horsemen who called themselves the Missouri Wildcats—made its way through central Utah. They were taking the southern route to California because of the lateness of the season.11 Since Utah was under martial law, the party was unable to buy grain and supplies. Some of the travelers, however, pilfered from local farmers. Some also boasted about participating in the Haun’s Mill Massacre, the murder of Joseph Smith, and other mob actions against the Mormons. A few local settlers connected the group from Arkansas with the recent brutal murder of Elder Parley P. Pratt in that state. Some of the Saints thought this party was a scouting or reconnoitering party in advance of the federal army.12

The Indian problem in southern Utah complicated these circumstances. The Saints had endeavored to cultivate good relationships with the Indians, but there was still danger. The Indians distinguished between the “Mericats” (any Americans traveling through Utah), whom they entirely distrusted, and the “Mormonee,” whom they generally liked. The possibility existed, however, that the Indians would turn on the Mormon settlers.13

On Tuesday, 7 September 1857, a band of Indians attacked the Fancher Train, which was camped thirty-five miles from Cedar City. The emigrants were well armed, and the Indians were forced to retreat.

Meanwhile, the citizens in Cedar City had met and discussed what course to pursue relative to the Fancher Train. Some of those with quicker tempers argued that the emigrants should be destroyed. They were afraid the emigrants might join a California-based army and fight against the Saints as they had publicly threatened to do. It was decided to dispatch a messenger, James Haslam, to seek the advice of Brigham Young. With little rest or sleep, Haslam reached Salt Lake City in only three days and obtained a letter from President Young urging the Saints to let the emigrants go in peace. As Haslam left Salt Lake City, Brigham urged, “Go with all speed, spare no horse flesh. The emigrants must not be meddled with, if it takes all Iron county to prevent it. They must go free and unmolested.”14 Haslam hastened to Cedar City, arriving on Sunday, 13 September, two days too late.

James Holt Haslam (1825–1913)

James Holt Haslam (1825–1913) was born in Bolton, England. He came to Utah in 1851 and settled in Cedar City. He later moved to Wellsville in northern Utah, where he lived the rest of his life.

John D. Lee, who had been appointed “Indian Farmer” by Brigham Young in the absence of Jacob Hamblin, the Indian agent, had been sent to quiet the Indians. He arrived at the Indian camp shortly after the first skirmish between them and the emigrants had occurred. Finding the Indians highly excited, Lee was in the dangerous situation of being the only white man present. He finally convinced the Indians that they would get their revenge, and he was allowed to leave.

Later that night, more Indians arrived at the camp together with a few white men from Cedar City. Sometime during the night, a diabolical plan was concocted, partly to placate the angry Indians. The next day, the morning of 11 September, the whites promised the emigrants protection if they would give up their weapons. The men of the Iron County militia, acting under orders from their local commanders, killed the men, while Indians slew the women and older children, approximately 120 in all. Only eighteen very young children were spared. They were later returned, with government help, to relatives in the East.15

The dead were buried in shallow graves, and commitments were made to blame the massacre entirely upon the Indians. More than two weeks after the tragedy, John D. Lee was sent to Salt Lake City to report the incident to Brigham Young. Lee placed all the blame on the Indians as had previously been agreed. Later Brigham Young learned that members of the Iron County militia had been full participants in the affair. He offered Governor Alfred Cumming full support in an investigation, but none was undertaken at the time because the Mormons had been pardoned for all alleged crimes in connection with the Utah War.16

For the next two decades, rumors and allegations continued to circulate, and finally the case came to trial in the 1870s. John D. Lee, a key participant, but certainly not the only officer responsible for the deed, was the only Latter-day Saint indicted. Lee was tried twice. The first trial resulted in a hung jury. Lee was finally convicted in September 1876 and a year later was taken by federal officials to the area of Mountain Meadows and executed.17

Warfare Averted

At the time of the Mountain Meadows massacre18 the United States army was approaching the area called South Pass in what is now Wyoming. They were under the temporary command of Lieutenant Colonel Edmund B. Alexander. Two Utah militiamen claiming to be California immigrants mingled with the troops. They heard firsthand the anti-Mormon threats that did not represent the official instructions of the expedition, but made Church leaders in Utah nervous about a possible confrontation. Mormon scouts watched the movements of the troops throughout their entire march.

Following Governor Young’s declaration of martial law in September, General Daniel H. Wells of the Nauvoo Legion sent about eleven hundred men east to Echo Canyon, which lay on the route through the mountains to Salt Lake City. These soldiers built walls and dug trenches from which they could act as snipers. They also loosened huge boulders that could easily be sent crashing down on the moving columns, and they constructed ditches and dams that could be opened to flood the enemy’s path.

Lot Smith (1830–92)

Lot Smith (1830–92) served in the Mormon Battalion when he was sixteen years old. In 1869 he was called on a mission to England. He later served as president of the Little Colorado Stake for ten years.

Forty-four “Mormon raiders,” a unit of the Nauvoo Legion under the direction of Major Lot Smith, were sent to eastern Utah (now western Wyoming) to harass the oncoming troops. They were instructed, among other things, “on ascertaining the locality or route of the troops, proceed at once to annoy them in every possible way. Use every exertion to stampede their animals, and set fire to their trains. Burn the whole country before them and on their flanks. Keep them from sleeping by night surprises. … Take no life, but destroy their trains, and stampede or drive away their animals, at every opportunity.”19

On the night of 4 October, Major Smith and twenty others rode up to a lead wagon train carrying freight for the army. To the wagon masters it appeared that Smith commanded a large body of troops, and they were sufficiently impressed to evacuate their wagons when ordered to do so. James Terry recorded in his journal, “I never saw a scareder lot in my life until they found that they was not going to be hurt. They laughed and said they was glad the wagons was going to be burnt as they would not have to bull whack any more, as they called it. The teamsters were permitted to take their private clothing and guns out of the wagons and then they were burnt.”20

The next morning Lot Smith and his men met another train loaded with supplies moving toward the valley. After disarming the teamsters, Lot rode out and met the captain, who was securing cattle, and demanded his pistols. The captain replied, “‘No man ever took them yet, and if you think you can, without killing me, try it.’ We were all the time riding towards the train, with our noses about as close together as two Scotch terriers would have held theirs—his eyes flashing fire; I couldn’t see mine—I told him that I admired a brave man, but that I did not like blood—you insist on my killing you, which will only take a minute, but I don’t want to do it. We had by this time reached the train. He, seeing that his men were under guard, surrendered, saying: ‘I see you have me at a disadvantage, my men being disarmed.’ I replied that I didn’t need the advantage and asked him what he would do if we should give them their arms. ‘I’ll fight you!’ ‘Then,’ said I, ‘We know something about that too—take up your arms!’ His men exclaimed, ‘Not by a d—n sight! We came out here to whack bulls, not to fight.’ ‘What do you say to that, Simpson?’ I asked. ‘Damnation,’ he replied, grinding his teeth in the most violent manner, ‘If I had been here before and they had refused to fight, I would have killed every man of them.’”21

In this and succeeding engagements, the raiders torched a total of seventy-four wagons, containing enough supplies to outfit the large army for three months. They also captured fourteen hundred of the two thousand head of cattle accompanying the expedition. Major Smith’s militia assisted in burning the two key Mormon outposts, Fort Bridger and Fort Supply, which government forces had expected to occupy.

These tactics succeeded so well in delaying the army that when its commanding officer, Colonel (soon to become General) Albert Sidney Johnston, finally joined his troops in early November, it was clearly too late in the season to reach Salt Lake City. It took the army fifteen days to push thirty-five miles through storms and sub-zero weather to burned-out Fort Bridger. Approximately twenty-five hundred American soldiers and several hundred civilian officials (including Governor Cumming and his wife), freighters, and camp followers spent a miserable winter in western Wyoming in a city of tents and improvised shelters called Camp Scott and in a newly created community named “‘Eckelsville,’ after the new chief justice of the territory.”22 Meanwhile, the eastern press expressed second thoughts about the whole enterprise, and President James Buchanan in Washington and Brigham Young in Utah weighed their options for 1858.23

Albert Sidney Johnston (1803–62)

Albert Sidney Johnston (1803–62) was from Kentucky. He graduated from West Point in 1826, fought in the Black Hawk War, and fought with the army of the Republic of Texas. He served as a Confederate general during the Civil War and was killed at the Battle of Shiloh.

Courtesy of Utah State Historical Society

Peace Established

In the early winter24 three influential men—Captain Stewart Van Vliet, Utah Congressional delegate John M. Bernhisel, and Colonel Thomas L. Kane—visited President Buchanan in Washington and urged him to send an investigation commission to Utah. Not yet willing to take that step, Buchanan gave his unofficial blessing to Kane to go to Salt Lake City to try to achieve a peaceful solution.25 Leaving on a steamer from New York in January 1858 at his own expense, Kane sailed to California via Panama. He traveled under the name of Dr. Osborne to avoid having his movements known.

Colonel Kane arrived in Salt Lake City on 25 February and was most cordially received. Except for telling the leading authorities of the Church, he kept his true identity secret for some time to ascertain whether the Saints would be as friendly to a stranger in 1858 as they had been to him a decade earlier in Winter Quarters. Brigham Young and other Church leaders were certain that God had sent him. After several meetings with the leaders of the Church, Kane convinced them to allow the new governor, Alfred Cumming, to enter Utah Territory unmolested. Brigham Young insisted, however, that the army not come in with Cumming.

In early March, accompanied by an escort of Mormon militiamen, Kane, who was in poor health, traveled to Camp Scott in bitterly cold weather. As he neared the camps he dismissed the escorts and rode in alone. A shot from one of the guards nearly hit him. Courageously he identified himself and after much wrangling was successful in meeting with Governor Cumming. He persuaded Cumming that he would be recognized by the people in Utah as their new governor and that they were not in a state of rebellion against the government. He also explained that the Mormons would not allow the army to remain in the Salt Lake Valley.

In April, Colonel Kane and Governor Cumming left Camp Scott without a U.S. military escort. When Cumming arrived in Salt Lake City he found that Kane was right. Governor Cumming was treated with dignity and respect. Brigham Young delivered the territorial records and seal to the new governor, and after several meetings, good feelings were engendered. For the next three years Cumming administered his office with tact and diplomacy, and he won the respect and confidence of the people. For his part in the negotiations, Colonel Thomas L. Kane won the undying gratitude of the Latter-day Saints.

Before Kane and Cumming arrived in Salt Lake City, Church leaders had decided in a “council of war” that the Saints in northern Utah would evacuate their homes and move south to avoid conflict with the United States army when it arrived later in the season. Brigham Young vowed, “Rather than see my wives and daughters ravished and polluted, and the seeds of corruption sown in the hearts of my sons by a brutal soldiery, I would leave my home in ashes, my gardens and orchards a waste, and subsist upon roots and herbs, a wanderer through these mountains for the remainder of my natural life.”26

For this “move south,” the Church was divided into three groups, each with a specific mission: (1) Those living in southern Utah were not to move, but were instructed to send wagons, teams, and teamsters to northern Utah to assist in the move. (2) The young and vigorous Saints living in northern Utah would remain behind to irrigate crops and gardens, guard property, and set fire to the straw-filled homes if need be. And (3) some thirty-five thousand Saints living north of Utah Valley were to actually make the move. Each ward was allotted a strip of land in one of four counties south of Salt Lake County. Provisions were to be moved first and then families.

The move was carried out in strict military order, each ward being organized into tens, fifties, and hundreds, with a captain over each. Families were expected to transport their own furniture, in addition to food and clothing. One pioneer teenager recorded, “We packed all we had into father’s one wagon and waited for the command to leave. At night we lay down to sleep, not knowing when word would come of the army which we thought was coming to destroy us. …

“… One morning father told us that we should leave with a large company in the evening. …

“Along in the middle of the day father scattered leaves and straw in all the rooms and I heard him say: ‘Never mind, little daughter, this house has sheltered us, it shall never shelter them.’”27

Hulda Cordelia Thurston, a young girl living in Centerville, Utah, recalled the difficulty of the move: “In the spring of 1858 we moved at the time of the great Mormon exodus. We went as far south as Spanish Fork, and on the Spanish Fork bottoms there was good feed for our stock and plenty of fish in the river. At that time all the people living north of Utah Valley moved south leaving their homes with furniture, farming implements, in fact their all, not knowing where they were going nor what their destiny. …

“During that exodus I shall never forget the distress and poverty of the people. I have seen men wearing trousers made of carpet, their feet wrapped in burlap or rags. Women sewed cloth together and made moccasins for their feet. Many women and children were barefoot. One good sister, a neighbor who had a family of seven, told my mother that aside from the clothing on their bodies, she could tie up in a common bandanna handkerchief every article of clothing they possessed. She would put the children to bed early Saturday night and repair and wash and iron their clothing preparatory for Sunday. The people were practically all poor for we had, had several years of great scarcity of crops because of the grasshoppers.”28 Upon arriving at their destination, families lived either in the boxes of their heavy covered wagons, canvas tents, dugouts, or in temporary board shanties and cabins.

Church records and assets were removed or buried by the public works department. One group hid all the stone that had been cut for the Salt Lake Temple, and leveled and covered over its foundation so that the plot would resemble a plowed field and remain unmolested. Another group boxed all of the tithing grain in bins and transported twenty thousand bushels to specially erected granaries in Provo. Additional wagon trains carried machinery and equipment to be housed in hastily constructed warehouses and sheds.

The move south occupied almost two months. It was completed by mid-May. A daily average of six hundred wagons passed through Salt Lake City during the first two weeks of the month. An estimated thirty thousand Saints left their homes in Salt Lake and the northern settlements.29 Governor Cumming and his wife pleaded with Church members not to leave their homes, but the Saints chose to heed their prophet. The exodus of such a large body of people drew national and international attention to the Church. The London Times reported: “We are told that they have embarked for a voyage over five hundred miles of untracked desert.” The New York Times declared: “We think it would be unwise to treat Mormonism as a nuisance to be abated by a posse comitatus.”30

The move placed the United States government in an unfavorable light as a persecutor of an innocent people, and demonstrated the leadership ability of Brigham Young.

Fortunately, negotiations between the government and the Church kept the army from invading. Some time early in 1858, President Buchanan decided to send a peace commission to Utah; in early June two commissioners, Ben McCulloch and Lazarus W. Powell, arrived in Salt Lake City, carrying an offer of pardon for the Saints if they would reaffirm their loyalty to the government. Church leaders were indignant at the idea of a pardon, for they had never been disloyal. Nevertheless, after several negotiation sessions, it was accepted. Church leaders felt they could accept the pardon because of the raiding activities of the Nauvoo Legion. One of the agreements between the peace commission and Church leaders was that the army would quietly enter the capital city and then establish a federal military post at least forty miles away from both Salt Lake City and Provo.

On 26 June 1858 the army entered the quiet and mostly deserted capital city. As they marched they sang, “One Eyed Riley,” a coarse, yet long treasured, barracks ditty reported to have had a thousand verses, most of which are unprintable.31 The band had to be commanded to stop and serenade Governor Cumming at his new home. Because they believed him to be sympathetic to the Latter-day Saints, they were less than enthusiastic in their performance. Only a few Latter-day Saints had been left behind to set the torch to the city if the army did not respect its pledge to leave the property alone. Those Saints who were left behind saw Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke take off his hat and place it over his heart as a gesture of respect for the soldiers he had led in the long march of the Mormon Battalion. In the next few days General Johnston led his troops to Cedar Valley, west of Utah Lake, and established Camp Floyd, named after the Secretary of War. On 1 July, Brigham Young authorized the return of the bedraggled Saints to their homes.

Army Occupation

Tension between the soldiers and the Saints existed throughout the army’s deployment, but fortunately no serious long-term conflicts developed. This was largely due to the restraint exercised by General Johnston, who, while he did not have much fondness for the Saints, recognized the need to keep order among his troops.

The negative effect of the army in Utah was the introduction of various vices into the territory. Frequently street fights broke out in Salt Lake City and in nearby towns between gamblers, teamsters, and other camp followers. Saloons and houses of prostitution were also established in Utah. Main Street in Salt Lake City for a short time was nicknamed “Whiskey Street.” The prevailing social fabric was damaged. A bitterly anti-Mormon newspaper, the Valley Tan, began publication in November 1858 and ran for sixteen months. This newspaper charged the people of the Utah Territory as being murderers and traitors; it was circulated chiefly at Camp Floyd. The Saints’ isolation from so-called “civilization” had clearly ended. The presence of the army symbolized the growing number of Gentiles who would come to live among them.32

Masthead of the Valley Tan

Masthead of the Valley Tan

Three new United States judges came to Utah with the army. Each enthusiastically tried to undermine the Latter-day Saint way of life. One of these, Judge John Cradlebaugh, with General Johnston’s consent, took one thousand soldiers with him to Provo to back up his work in court. This excited the townspeople to the point of hysteria, which could have easily escalated into a major confrontation. Through the efforts of Governor Cumming and others, the Buchanan administration in Washington ordered the troops withdrawn to Camp Floyd, and the crisis ended.33

The army’s stay in Utah, however, also proved an economic windfall to the Saints. A small community named Fairfield, settled in 1855 by John Carson and located adjacent to Camp Floyd, grew to a population of seven thousand. Many citizens found a market for agricultural and other goods. When the army finally abandoned the fort in the summer of 1861, approximately four million dollars worth of surplus goods were sold for a fraction of their value. The government conducted a war surplus sale, which greatly enriched the Utah economy. Colonel Cooke presented the camp flagpole as a gift to Brigham Young on 27 July 1861. President Young had the flagpole placed on the hillside east of the Lion House, and the United States flag flew from it for many years.34 In addition, a few soldiers investigated the religion of the Latter-day Saints and joined the Church.

From 1859 to 1861 Church leaders quietly and cautiously resumed sending missionaries to preach the glad message to the inhabitants of the earth and encouraged the Saints to gather to Zion. Missionaries again proselyted in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and western Europe. Emigration, both by wagon train and handcart, resumed slowly in 1859 and more vigorously in 1860. Once more President Young initiated a new period of geographical expansion. He did not reinstitute the far-flung settlements, such as San Bernardino and Fort Lemhi, but instead gradually stretched the boundaries of the agriculturally based colonies in the valleys of the mountains. Thirty new settlements were founded in 1859 and another sixteen in 1860. This pattern continued throughout the 1860s. Most of the new communities were in Cache and Bear Lake valleys in northern Utah and southern Idaho, as well as in the Wasatch, Sevier, and Sanpete valleys of Utah.

Show References


  1. The previous three paragraphs are derived from James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976), pp. 296–98; Eugene E. Campbell, “Governmental Beginnings,” in Richard D. Poll, et al., eds., Utah’s History, 2d ed. (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1989), p. 165.

  2. B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Century One, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1930), 4:202–3.

  3. Campbell, “Governmental Beginnings,” p. 166.

  4. “History of Joseph Smith,” Deseret News, 24 Sept. 1856, p. 225.

  5. Section derived from Leonard J. Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985), pp. 250–51, 253–55; Allen and Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, pp. 300–303; Campbell, “Governmental Beginnings,” pp. 166–67.

  6. In “Citizens of Utah,” Pioneer and Democrat, 1 Jan. 1858, p. 2.

  7. See “Citizens of Utah,” p. 2.

  8. In Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 4:242.

  9. Derived from Allen and Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, pp. 301–2.

  10. Previous two paragraphs derived from Allen and Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, pp. 303–4.

  11. Campbell, “Governmental Beginnings,” p. 170.

  12. Derived from Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, pp. 257–58.

  13. Derived from Allen and Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, p. 304.

  14. In Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 4:150.

  15. Derived from Campbell, “Governmental Beginnings,” p. 171.

  16. Derived from Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, p. 260.

  17. In Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 5:605–7.

  18. Section derived from Allen and Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, pp. 301, 306–7.

  19. In Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, p. 255.

  20. James Parshall Terry, “Utah War Incidents,” in Voices from the Past: Diaries, Journals, and Autobiographies, Campus Education Week Program (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1980), p. 66.

  21. In Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 4:284.

  22. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 4:314.

  23. Campbell, “Governmental Beginnings,” p. 168.

  24. Section derived from Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, pp. 261–67, 272, 274–75; Allen and Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, pp. 307–9.

  25. Campbell, “Governmental Beginnings,” p. 169.

  26. Letter from Brigham Young to Elder W. I. Appleby, 6 Jan. 1858, in Brigham Young Letterpress copybooks, typescript, LDS Historical Department, Salt Lake City.

  27. In E. Cecil McGavin, U.S. Soldiers Invade Utah (Boston: Meador Publishing Co., 1937), p. 216.

  28. Hulda Cordelia Thurston Smith, “Sketch of the life of Jefferson Thurston,” July 1921, typescript, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum, Salt Lake City, pp. 17–18.

  29. See Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1964), p. 535.

  30. In Bancroft, History of Utah, p. 536; posse comitatus is a group organized to keep the public peace, usually in emergencies.

  31. See James M. Merrill, Spurs to Glory: The Story of the United States Cavalry (Chicago: Rand McNally and Co., 1966), p. 102.

  32. Derived from Allen and Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, pp. 309–10; Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 4:521–22.

  33. Derived from Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, pp. 276, 278.

  34. See Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 4:540–44.