The Story of the Mormons, from the Date of Their Origin to the Year 1901

Author: William Alexander Linn

Chapter XII. The Mormon "War"

The government at Washington and the people of the Eastern states knew a good deal more about Mormonism in 1856 than they did when Fillmore gave the appointment of governor to Young in 1850. The return of one federal officer after another from Utah with a report that his office was untenable, even if his life was not in danger, the practical nullification of federal law, and the light that was beginning to be shed on Mormon social life by correspondents of Eastern newspapers had aroused enough public interest in the matter to lead the politicians to deem it worthy of their attention. Accordingly, the Republican National Convention, in June, 1856, inserted in its platform a plank declaring that the constitution gave Congress sovereign power over the territories, and that "it is both the right and the duty of Congress to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism—polygamy and slavery."

A still more striking proof of the growing political importance of the Mormon question was afforded by the attention paid to it by Stephen A. Douglas in a speech in Springfield, Illinois, on June 12, 1856, when he was hoping to secure the Democratic nomination for President. This former friend of the Mormons, their spokesman in the Senate, now declared that reports from the territory seemed to justify the belief that nine-tenths of its inhabitants were aliens; that all were bound by horrid oaths and penalties to recognize and maintain the authority of Brigham Young; and that the Mormon government was forming alliances with the Indians, and organizing Danite bands to rob and murder American citizens. "Under this view of the subject," said he, "I think it is the duty of the President, as I have no doubt it is his fixed purpose, to remove Brigham Young and all his followers from office, and to fill their places with bold, able, and true men; and to cause a thorough and searching investigation into all the crimes and enormities which are alleged to be perpetrated daily in that territory under the direction of Brigham Young and his confederates; and to use all the military force necessary to protect the officers in discharge of their duties and to enforce the laws of the land. When the authentic evidence shall arrive, if it shall establish the facts which are believed to exist, it will become the duty of Congress to apply the knife, and cut out this loathsome, disgusting ulcer."*

* Text of the speech in New York Times of June 23, 1856.

This, of course, caused the Mormons to pour out on Judge Douglas the vials of their wrath, and, when he failed to secure the presidential nomination, they found in his defeat the verification of one of Smith’s prophecies.

The Mormons, on their part, had never ceased their demands for statehood, and another of their efforts had been made in the preceding spring, when a new constitution of the State of Deseret was adopted by a convention over which the notorious Jedediah M. Grant presided, and sent to Washington with a memorial pleading for admission to the Union, "that another star, shedding mild radiance from the tops of the mountains, midway between the borders of the Eastern and Western civilization, may add its effulgence to that bright light now so broadly illumining the governmental pathway of nations"; and declaring that "the loyalty of Utah has been variously and most thoroughly tested." Congress treated this application with practical contempt, the Senate laying the memorial on the table, and the chairman of the House Committee on Territories, Galusha A. Grow, refusing to present the constitution to the House.

Alarmed at the manifestations of public feeling in the East, and the demand that President Buchanan should do something to vindicate at least the dignity of the government, the Mormon leaders and press renewed their attacks on the character of all the federal officers who had criticized them, and the Deseret News urged the President to send to Utah "one or more civilians on a short visit to look about them and see what they can see, and return and report." The value of observations by such "short visitors" on such occasions need not be discussed.

President Buchanan, instead of following any Mormon advice, soon after his inauguration directed the organization of a body of troops to march to Utah to uphold the federal authorities, and in July, after several persons had declined the office, appointed as governor of Utah Alfred Cumming of Georgia. The appointee was a brother of Colonel William Cumming, who won renown as a soldier in the War of 1812, who was a Union party leader in the nullification contest in Jackson’s time, and who was a participant in a duel with G. McDuffie that occupied a good deal of attention. Alfred Cumming had filled no more important positions than those of mayor of Augusta, Georgia, sutler in the Mexican War, and superintendent of Indian affairs on the upper Missouri. A much more commendable appointment made at the same time was that of D. R. Eckles, a Kentuckian by birth, but then a resident of Indiana, to be chief justice of the territory. John Cradlebaugh and C. E. Sinclair were appointed associate justices, with John Hartnett as secretary, and Peter K. Dotson as marshal. The new governor gave the first illustration of his conception of his duties by remaining in the East, while the troops were moving, asking for an increase of his salary, a secret service fund, and for transportation to Utah. Only the last of these requests was complied with.

President Buchanan’s position as regards Utah at this time was thus stated in his first annual message to Congress (December 8, 1857):—

"The people of Utah almost exclusively belong to this [Mormon] church, and, believing with a fanatical spirit that he [Young] is Governor of the Territory by divine appointment, they obey his commands as if these were direct revelations from heaven. If, therefore, he chooses that his government shall come into collision with the government of the United States, the members of the Mormon church will yield implicit obedience to his will. Unfortunately, existing facts leave but little doubt that such is his determination. Without entering upon a minute history of occurrences, it is sufficient to say that all the officers of the United States, judicial and executive, with the single exception of two Indian agents, have found it necessary for their own safety to withdraw from the Territory, and there no longer remained any government in Utah but the despotism of Brigham Young. This being the condition of affairs in the Territory, I could not mistake the path of duty. As chief executive magistrate, I was bound to restore the supremacy of the constitution and laws within its limits. In order to effect this purpose, I appointed a new governor and other federal officers for Utah, and sent with them a military force for their protection, and to aid as a posse comitatus in case of need in the execution of the laws.

"With the religious opinions of the Mormons, as long as they remained mere opinions, however deplorable in themselves and revolting to the moral and religious sentiments of all Christendom, I have no right to interfere. Actions alone, when in violation of the constitution and laws of the United States, become the legitimate subjects for the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate. My instructions to Governor Cumming have, therefore, been framed in strict accordance with these principles."

This statement of the situation of affairs in Utah, and of the duty of the President in the circumstances, did not admit of criticism. But the country at that time was in a state of intense excitement over the slavery question, with the situation in Kansas the centre of attention; and it was charged that Buchanan put forward the Mormon issue as a part of his scheme to "gag the North" and force some question besides slavery to the front; and that Secretary of War Floyd eagerly seized the opportunity to remove "the flower of the American army" and a vast amount of munition and supplies to a distant place, remote from Eastern connections. The principal newspapers in this country were intensely partisan in those days, and party organs like the New York Tribune could be counted on to criticise any important step taken by the Democratic President. Such Mormon agents as Colonel Kane and Dr. Bernhisel, the Utah Delegate to Congress, were doing active work in New York and Washington, and some of it with effect. Horace Greeley, in his "Overland journey," describing his call on Brigham Young a few years later, says that he was introduced by "my friend Dr. Bernhisel." The "Tribune Almanac" for 1859, in an article on the Utah troubles, quoted as "too true" Young’s declaration that "for the last twenty-five years we have trusted officials of the government, from constables and justices to judges, governors, and presidents, only to be scorned, held in derision, insulted and betrayed."* Ulterior motives aside, no President ever had a clearer duty than had Buchanan to maintain the federal authority in Utah, and to secure to all residents in and travellers through that territory the rights of life and property. The just ground for criticising him is, not that he attempted to do this, but that he faltered by the way.**

* Greeley’s leaning to the Mormon side was quite persistent, leading him to support Governor Cumming a little later against the federal judges. The Mormons never forgot this. A Washington letter of April 24, 1874, to the New York Times said: "When Mr. Greeley was nominated for President the Mormons heartily hoped for his election. The church organs and the papers taken in the territory were all hostile to the administration, and their clamor deceived for a time people far more enlightened than the followers of the modern Mohammed. It is said that, while the canvass was pending, certain representatives of the Liberal-Democratic alliance bargained with Brigham Young, and that he contributed a very large sum of money to the treasury of the Greeley fund, and that, in consideration of this contribution, he received assurances that, if he should send a polygamist to Congress, no opposition would be made by the supporters of the administration that was to be, to his admission to the House. Brigham therefore sent Cannon instead of returning Hooper."

** It is curious to notice that the Utah troubles are entirely ignored in the "Life of James Buchanan " (1883) by George Ticknor Curtis, who was the counsel for the Mormons in the argument concerning polygamy before the United States Supreme Court in 1886.

Early in 1856 arrangements were entered into with H. C. Kimball for a contract to carry the mail between Independence, Missouri, and Salt Lake City. Young saw in this the nucleus of a big company that would maintain a daily express and mail service to and from the Mormon centre, and he at once organized the Brigham Young Express Carrying Company, and had it commended to the people from the pulpit. But recent disclosures of Mormon methods and purposes had naturally caused the government to question the propriety of confiding the Utah and transcontinental mails to Mormon hands, and on June 10, 1857, Kimball was notified that the government would not execute the contract with him, "the unsettled state of things at Salt Lake City rendering the mails unsafe under present circumstances." Mormon writers make much of the failure to execute this mail contract as an exciting cause of the "war." Tullidge attributes the action of the administration to three documents—a letter from Mail Contractor W. M. F. Magraw to the President, describing the situation in Utah, Judge Drummond’s letter of resignation, and a letter from Indian Agent T. S. Twiss, dated July 13, 1856, informing the government that a large Mormon colony had taken possession of Deer Creek Valley, only one hundred miles west of Fort Laramie, driving out a settlement of Sioux whom the agent had induced to plant corn there, and charging that the Mormon occupation was made with a view to the occupancy of the country, and "under cover of a contract of the Mormon church to carry the mails."* Tullidge’s statement could be made with hope of its acceptance only to persons who either lacked the opportunity or inclination to ascertain the actual situation in Utah and the President’s sources of information.

* All these may be found in House Ex. Doc. No. 71, 1st Session, 35th Congress.

As to the mails, no autocratic government like that of Brigham Young would neglect to make what use it pleased of them in its struggle with the authorities at Washington. As early as November, 1851, Indian Agent Holman wrote to the Indian commissioner at Washington from Salt Lake City: "The Gentiles, as we are called who do not belong to the Mormon church, have no confidence in the management of the post-office here. It is believed by many that there is an examination of all letters coming and going, in order that they may ascertain what is said of them and by whom it is said. This opinion is so strong that all communications touching their character or conduct are either sent to Bridger or Laramie, there to be mailed. I send this communication through a friend to Laramie, to be there mailed for the States."

Testimony on this point four years later, from an independent source, is found in a Salt Lake City letter, of November 3, 1855, to the New York Herald. The writer said: "From September 5, to the 27th instant the people of this territory had not received any news from the States except such as was contained in a few broken files of California papers.... Letters and papers come up missing, and in the same mail come papers of very ancient dates; but letters once missing may be considered as irrevocably lost. Of all the numerous numbers of Harper’s, Gleason’s, and other illustrated periodicals subscribed for by the inhabitants of this territory, not one, I have been informed, has ever reached here." The forces selected for the expedition to Utah consisted of the Second Dragoons, then stationed at Fort Leavenworth in view of possible trouble in Kansas; the Fifth Infantry, stationed at that time in Florida; the Tenth Infantry, then in the forts in Minnesota; and Phelps’s Battery of the Fourth Artillery, that had distinguished itself at Buena Vista—a total of about fifteen hundred men. Reno’s Battery was added later.

General Scott’s order provided for two thousand head of cattle to be driven with the troops, six months’ supply of bacon, desiccated vegetables, 250 Sibley tents, and stoves enough to supply at least the sick. General Scott himself had advised a postponement of the expedition until the next year, on account of the late date at which it would start, but he was overruled. The commander originally selected for this force was General W. S. Harney; but the continued troubles in Kansas caused his retention there (as well as that of the Second Dragoons), and, when the government found that the Mormons proposed serious resistance, the chief command was given to Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston, a West Point graduate, who had made a record in the Black Hawk War; in the service of the state of Texas, first in 1836 under General Rusk, and eventually as commander-in-chief in the field, and later as Secretary of War; and in the Mexican War as colonel of the First Texas Rifles. He was killed at the battle of Shiloh during the War of the Rebellion.

General Harney’s letter of instruction, dated June 29, giving the views of General Scott and the War Department, stated that the civil government in Utah was in a state of rebellion; he was to attack no body of citizens, however, except at the call of the governor, the judges, or the marshals, the troops to be considered as a posse comitatus; he was made responsible for "a jealous, harmonious, and thorough cooperation" with the governor, accepting his views when not in conflict with military judgment and prudence. While the general impression, both at Washington and among the troops, was that no actual resistance to this force would be made by Young’s followers, the general was told that "prudence requires that you should anticipate resistance, general, organized, and formidable, at the threshold."

Great activity was shown in forwarding the necessary supplies to Fort Leavenworth, and in the last two weeks of July most of the assigned troops were under way. Colonel Johnston arrived at Fort Leavenworth on September 11, assigned six companies of the Second Dragoons, under Lieutenant Colonel P. St. George Cooke, as an escort to Governor Cumming, and followed immediately after them. Major (afterward General) Fitz John Porter, who accompanied Colonel Johnston as assistant adjutant general, describing the situation in later years, said:—

"So late in the season had the troops started on this march that fears were entertained that, if they succeeded in reaching their destination, it would be only by abandoning the greater part of their supplies, and endangering the lives of many men amid the snows of the Rocky Mountains. So much was a terrible disaster feared by those acquainted with the rigors of a winter life in the Rocky Mountains, that General Harney was said to have predicted it, and to have induced Walker [of Kansas] to ask his retention."

Meanwhile, the Mormons had received word of what was coming. When A. O. Smoot reached a point one hundred miles west of Independence, with the mail for Salt Lake City, he met heavy freight teams which excited his suspicion, and at Kansas City obtained sufficient particulars of the federal expedition. Returning to Fort Laramie, he and O. P. Rockwell started on July 18, in a light wagon drawn by two fast horses, to carry the news to Brigham Young. They made the 513 miles in five days and three hours, arriving on the evening of July 23. Undoubtedly they gave Young this important information immediately. But Young kept it to himself that night. On the following day occurred the annual celebration of the arrival of the pioneers in the valley. To the big gathering of Saints at Big Cottonwood Lake, twentyfour miles from the city, Young dramatically announced the news of the coming "invasion." His position was characteristically defiant. He declared that "he would ask no odds of Uncle Sam or the devil," and predicted that he would be President of the United States in twelve years, or would dictate the successful candidate. Recalling his declaration ten years earlier that, after ten years of peace, they would ask no odds of the United States, he declared that that time had passed, and that thenceforth they would be a free and independent state—the State of Deseret.

The followers of Young eagerly joined in his defiance of the government, and in the succeeding weeks the discourses and the editorials of the Deseret News breathed forth dire threats against the advancing foe. Thus, the News of August 12 told the Washington authorities, "If you intend to continue the appointment of certain officers,"—that is, if you do not intend to surrender to the church federal jurisdiction in Utah—"we respectfully suggest that you appoint actually intelligent and honorable men, who will wisely attend to their own duties, and send them unaccompanied by troops"—that is, judges who would acknowledge the supremacy of the Mormon courts, or who, if not, would have no force to sustain them. This was followed by a threat that if any other kind of men were sent "they will really need a far larger bodyguard than twenty-five hundred soldiers."* The government was, in another editorial, called on to "entirely clear the track, and accord us the privilege of carrying our own mails at our own expense," and was accused of "high handedly taking away our rights and privileges, one by one, under pretext that the most devilish should blush at."

* An Englishman, in a letter to the New York Observer, dated London, May 26, 1857, said, "The English Mormons make no secret of their expectation that a collision will take place with the American authorities," and he quoted from a Mormon preacher’s words as follows: "As to a collision with the American Government, there cannot be two opinions on the matter. We shall have judges, governors, senators and dragoons invading us, imprisoning and murdering us; but we are prepared, and are preparing judges, governors, senators and dragoons who will know how to dispose of their friends. The little stone will come into collision with the iron and clay and grind them to powder. It will be in Utah as it was in Nauvoo, with this difference, we are prepared now for offensive or defensive war; we were not then." Young in the pulpit was in his element. One example of his declarations must suffice:—

"I am not going to permit troops here for the protection of the priests and the rabble in their efforts to drive us from the land we possess.... You might as well tell me that you can make hell into a powder house as to tell me that they intend to keep an army here and have peace.... I have told you that if there is any man or woman who is not willing to destroy everything of their property that would be of use to an enemy if left, I would advise them to leave the territory, and I again say so to-day; for when the time comes to burn and lay waste our improvements, if any man undertakes to shield his, he will be treated as a traitor; for judgment will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet."*

* Tullidge’s "History of Salt Lake City," p. 160.

The official papers of Governor Young are perhaps the best illustrations of the spirit with which the federal authorities had to deal.

Words, however, were not the only weapons which the Mormons employed against the government at the start. Daniel H. Wells, "Lieutenant General" and commander of the Nauvoo Legion, which organization had been kept up in Utah, issued, on August 1, a despatch to each of twelve commanding officers of the Legion in the different settlements in the territory, declaring that "when anarchy takes the place of orderly government, and mobocratic tyranny usurps the powers of the rulers, they [the people of the territory] have left the inalienable right to defend themselves against all aggression upon their constitutional privileges"; and directing them to hold their commands ready to march to any part of the territory, with ammunition, wagons, and clothing for a winter campaign. In the Legion were enrolled all the able-bodied males between eighteen and forty-five years, under command of a lieutenant general, four generals, eleven colonels, and six majors.

The first mobilization of this force took place on August 15, when a company was sent eastward over the usual route to aid incoming immigrants and learn the strength of the federal force. By the employment of similar scouts the Mormons were thus kept informed of every step of the army’s advance. A scouting party camped within half a mile of the foremost company near Devil’s Gate on September 22, and did not lose sight of it again until it went into camp at Harris’s Fort, where supplies had been forwarded in advance.

Captain Stewart Van Vliet, of General Harney’s staff, was sent ahead of the troops, leaving Fort Leavenworth on July 28, to visit Salt Lake City, ascertain the disposition of the church authorities and the people toward the government, and obtain any other information that would be of use. Arriving in Salt Lake City in thirty three and a half days, he was received with affability by Young, and there was a frank interchange of views between them. Young recited the past trials of the Mormons farther east, and said that "therefore he and the people of Utah had determined to resist all persecution at the commencement, and that the TROOPS NOW ON THE MARCH FOR UTAH SHOULD NOT ENTER THE GREAT SALT LAKE VALLEY. As he uttered these words, all those present concurred most heartily."* Young said they had an abundance of everything required by the federal troops, but that nothing would be sold to the government. When told that, even if they did succeed in preventing the present military force from entering the valley the coming winter, they would have to yield to a larger force the following year, the reply was that that larger force would find Utah a desert; they would burn every house, cut down every tree, lay waste every field. "We have three years’ provisions on hand," Young added, "which we will cache, and then take to the mountains and bid defiance to all the powers of the government."

* The quotations are from Captain Van Vliet’s official report in House Ex. Doc. No. 71, previously referred to. Tullidge’s "History of Salt Lake City" (p. 16l) gives extracts from Apostle Woodruff’s private journal of notes on the interview between Young and Captain Van Vliet, on September 12 and 13, in which Young is reported as saying: "We do not want to fight the United States, but if they drive us to it we shall do the best we can. God will overthrow them. We are the supporters of the constitution of the United States. If they dare to force the issue, I shall not hold the Indians by the wrist any longer for white men to shoot at them; they shall go ahead and do as they please."

When Young called for a vote on that proposition by an audience of four thousand persons in the Tabernacle, every hand was raised to vote yes. Captain Van Vliet summed up his view of the situation thus: that it would not be difficult for the Mormons to prevent the entrance of the approaching force that season; that they would not resort to actual hostilities until the last moment, but would burn the grass, stampede the animals, and cause delay in every manner.

The day after Captain Van Vliet left Salt Lake City, Governor Young gave official expression to his defiance of the federal government by issuing the following proclamation:—

"Citizens of Utah: We are invaded by a hostile force, who are evidently assailing us to accomplish our overthrow and destruction.

"For the last twenty-five years we have trusted officials of the government, from constables and justices to judges, governors, and Presidents, only to be scorned, held in derision, insulted, and betrayed. Our houses have been plundered and then burned, our fields laid waste, our principal men butchered, while under the pledged faith of the government for their safety, and our families driven from their homes to find that shelter in the barren wilderness and that protection among hostile savages, which were denied them in the boasted abodes of Christianity and civilization.

"The constitution of our common country guarantees unto us all that we do now or have ever claimed. If the constitutional rights which pertain unto us as American citizens were extended to Utah, according to the spirit and meaning thereof, and fairly and impartially administered, it is all that we can ask, all that we have ever asked.

"Our opponents have availed themselves of prejudice existing against us, because of our religious faith, to send out a formidable host to accomplish our destruction. We have had no privilege or opportunity of defending ourselves from the false, foul, and unjust aspersions against us before the nation. 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. We know those aspersions to be false; but that avails us nothing. We are condemned unheard, and forced to an issue with an armed mercenary mob, which has been sent against us at the instigation of anonymous letter writers, ashamed to father the base, slanderous falsehoods which they have given to the public; of corrupt officials, who have brought false accusations against us to screen themselves in their own infamy; and of hireling priests and howling editors, who prostitute the truth for filthy lucre’s sake.

"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 defence, a right guaranteed to us by the genius of the institutions of our country, and upon which the government is based. Our duty to ourselves, to our 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 should not quietly stand still and see those fetters forging around us which were calculated to enslave and bring us in subjection to an unlawful, military despotism, such as can only emanate, in a country of constitutional law, from usurpation, tyranny, and oppression.

"Therefore, I, Brigham Young, Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory of Utah, in the name of the people of the United States in the Territory of Utah, forbid:

"First. All armed forces of every description from coming into this Territory, under any pretence whatever.

"Second. That all forces in said Territory hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment’s notice to repel any and all such invasion.

"Third. Martial law is hereby declared to exist in this Territory from and after the publication of this proclamation, and no person shall be allowed to pass or repass into or through or from this Territory without a permit from the proper officer.

"Given under my hand and seal, at Great Salt Lake City, Territory of Utah, this 15th day of September, A.D. 1857, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-second.


The advancing troops received from Captain Van Vliet as he passed eastward their first information concerning the attitude of the Mormons toward them, and Colonel Alexander, in command of the foremost companies, accepted his opinion that the Mormons would not attack them if the army did not advance beyond Fort Bridger or Fort Supply, this idea being strengthened by the fact that one hundred wagon loads of stores, undefended, had remained unmolested on Ham’s Fork for three weeks. The first division of the federal troops marched across Greene River on September 27, and hurried on thirty five miles to what was named Camp Winfield, on Ham’s Fork, a confluent of Black Fork, which emptied into Greene River. Phelps’s and Reno’s batteries and the Fifth Infantry reached there about the same time, but there was no cavalry, the kind of force most needed, because of the detention of the Dragoons in Kansas.

On September 30 General Wells forwarded to Colonel Alexander, from Fort Bridger, Brigham Young’s proclamation of September 15, a copy of the laws of Utah, and the following letter addressed to "the officer commanding the forces now invading Utah Territory":


GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, September 29, 1857.

"Sir: By reference to the act of Congress passed September 9, 1850, organizing the Territory of Utah, published in a copy of the laws of Utah, herewith forwarded, pp. 146-147, you will find the following:—

’Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, that the executive power and authority in and over said Territory of Utah shall be vested in a Governor, who shall hold his office for four years, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed by the President of the United States. The Governor shall reside within said Territory, shall be Commander-in-chief of the militia thereof’, etc., etc.

"I am still the Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for this Territory, no successor having been appointed and qualified, as provided by law; nor have I been removed by the President of the United States.

"By virtue of the authority thus vested in me, I have issued, and forwarded you a copy of, my proclamation forbidding the entrance of armed forces into this Territory. This you have disregarded. I now further direct that you retire forthwith from the Territory, by the same route you entered. Should you deem this impracticable, and prefer to remain until spring in the vicinity of your present encampment, Black’s Fork or Greene River, you can do so in peace and unmolested, on condition that you deposit your arms and ammunition with Lewis Robinson, Quartermaster General of the Territory, and leave in the spring, as soon as the condition of the roads will permit you to march; and, should you fall short of provisions, they can be furnished you, upon making the proper applications therefor. General D. H. Wells will forward this, and receive any communications you may have to make.

Very respectfully,


"Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Utah Territory."

General Wells’s communication added to this impudent announcement the declaration, "It may be proper to add that I am here to aid in carrying out the instructions of Governor Young."

On October 2 Colonel Alexander, in a note to Governor Young, acknowledged the receipt of his enclosures, said that he would submit Young’s letter to the general commanding as soon as he arrived, and added, "In the meantime I have only to say that these troops are here by the orders of the President of the United States, and their future movements and operations will depend entirely upon orders issued by competent military authority."

Two Mormon officers, General Robinson and Major Lot Smith, had been sent to deliver Young’s letter and proclamation to the federal officer in command, but they did not deem it prudent to perform this office in person, sending a Mexican with them into Colonel Alexander’s camp.* In the same way they received Colonel Alexander’s reply.

* Tullidge’s "History of Salt Lake City," p. 171.

The Mormon plan of campaign was already mapped out, and it was thus stated in an order of their commanding general, D. H. Wells, a copy of which was found on a Mormon major, Joseph Taylor, to whom it was addressed:—


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Chicago: William Alexander Linn, "Chapter XII. The Mormon War," The Story of the Mormons, from the Date of Their Origin to the Year 1901 in The Story of the Mormons, from the Date of Their Origin to the Year 1901 Original Sources, accessed July 24, 2024,

MLA: Linn, William Alexander. "Chapter XII. The Mormon "War"." The Story of the Mormons, from the Date of Their Origin to the Year 1901, in The Story of the Mormons, from the Date of Their Origin to the Year 1901, Original Sources. 24 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Linn, WA, 'Chapter XII. The Mormon "War"' in The Story of the Mormons, from the Date of Their Origin to the Year 1901. cited in , The Story of the Mormons, from the Date of Their Origin to the Year 1901. Original Sources, retrieved 24 July 2024, from