Mormon History

Effort to Bring Brigham Young to Justice - 1872

The New York Herald September 14, 1872


Letting In Light on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. 

A Participant in the Slaughter Confesses.

Men and Women Were Murdered in Cold Blood --
Only the Children Spared.


Horrible Record of Bloodthirstiness

                                               SALT LAKE CITY, Sept 13, 1872.
The following is the affidavit in full by one of the least guitly among the participators 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 tne Mormons set afloat the story that they had perished at the bands of the Indians, but from time to time circumstantial evidence has appeared indicating that they were


by the Mormons In revenge for previous outrages upon the latter perpetrated In Illinois and Missouri. A competent witness now says under oath that the Mormon millitia attacked the emigrants, and, alter a flght of several days without result, sent a flag of truce offering them protection if they would lay down their arms. The terms being compiled with, the entire party was butchered by their captors.


State or Nevada, 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 his 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 Cedar City, tarried there one day, and passed on for California. After said company had left Cedar City


for the purpose or 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 settlement in of said Territory. My position as Bishop was subordinate to that of said President. W. H. Dame was President of said Church at Parowan, in said Iron County. Said W. H. Dame was also colonel of said regiment. Said Isaac C. Haight was lieut.-colonel of said regiment, and John D. Lee, of Harmony in said Iron 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 Cedar City, Lieutenant Colonel I. C. Haight expressed in my presence a desire that said company might be permitted to pass on their way in peace; but afterwards he told me that he had


of said company of emigrants except the little children. I do not know whether said headquarters meant the regimental headquarters at Parowan or the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief at Salt Lake City.

When the said company had got to Iron Creek, about twenty miles from Cedar City, Captain Joel White started for the Pinto Creek settlement, through which the 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 on 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 going. 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 headquarters of Colonel Dame. 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 Alien, who told us that "the decree had passed


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 Lieutenant Colonel Haight ordered out a reinforcement. At this time I was ordered out by Captain 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 Lieutenant Colonel Haight said to me that it was the orders from headquarters that all but the little children of said company were to be killed. Said Haight had at that time just returned from headquarters 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 Colonel Dame, Lieutenant Colonel I. 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 headquarters were to kill the entire company except the small children." I was not in the ranks at that time, but on one side talking to a man named Slade, and could not have seen a paper in Major Lee's hands.


Said Lee then 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 that 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 half a mile towards 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.


except seventeen little children, whom 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, Colonel W. H. Dame and Lieutenant-Colonel I. 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 Colonel Dame 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 those after the massacre had occurred, and said orders were given as a Bishop and not in a military sense. At the time of the firing of the first volley


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 believe that I would be assassinated should I attempt to make the same before any Court in the territory of Utah. Alter said Lee returned from Salt Lake City, as aforesaid, said Lee told me that he had reported fully to the President (meaning 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. -- P. D. 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 the 4th day of September, 1872.   O. F. STRICKLAND.

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 in all particulars a true copy thereof. Dated September 5, 1872.

JAMES B. McKEAN, Chief Justice, &c.    

The Mountain Meadows Massacre --
A Terrible Revelation.

Fifteen years ago a very wealthy train of emigrants left Arkansas for California, there to seek new homes. From all reports it was considered the most comfortably outfitted company of emigrants that ever crossed the Plains. In addition to the usual wagons, freighted with provisions, clothing and the portable valuables of their former homes, together with the implements of agriculture and mechanics, there were several carriages for the more convenient traveling of the ladies, the young and the aged. Altogether, the appearance of the train and the excellent conduct and pleasant associations of the emigrants with one another bespoke the moving of farmers and tradespeople in comfortable circumstances. They rested every seventh day in their journey, and engaged in religious exercises in their own way, as had been their custom at home. They appeared to be related to each other by families or by marriage, and with the toddling infant playing in the camp at night might be seen the venerable patriarch of three score years and ten. All seemed happy together. Such was the emigrant train that passed through Utah in 1857 and perished on the Mountain Meadows, two hundred and fifty miles south of Salt Lake City.

During the past fifteen years this Mountain Meadows massacre has been frequently charged to the Mormons, but with unyielding pertinacity they have denied the implication, and with the boldness of their assertions they have managed to induce even astute Congressmen to believe that the massacre was the work of the Indians. But, singularly enough, on the fifteenth anniversary of that foul and treacherous deed, in which one hundred and twenty men, women and children were murdered, there comes to us from the city of the Prophet Brigham the full and frank confession of one of his own bishops that the bloody work was ordered by the Mormon leaders and executed by their militia.

Philip Klingon Smith makes oath before the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial district of the State of Nevada that the massacre of the large body of Arkansas emigrants on their way to California was perpetrated by the Mormon militia, and by order of the Mormon authorities at "headquarters." We need not recite the horrifying story as related in Smith's affidavit, for that can be seen by our readers. Smith was a bishop in the Mormon Church, and was a member of the force sent by the Mormon authorities to massacre the Arkansas emigrants. There seems to be no reason to doubt the statement he makes under oath, and he was certainly in a position to know the facts. We would willingly believe if we could that no people claiming to bo civilized could be guilty of such a horror and base treachery as he describes; but the details are so circumstantial, and the crime was so much in accordance with the fanaticism and revenge of the Mormons generally at that period that the statement cannot be doubted. The motives given for this dreadful butchery are many. One is that it was conceived and carried out in revenge for the injuries sustained by the Mormons in Missouri and Illinois; another is that it was to revenge the killing of a Mormon some time previous in Arkansas by the husband of a woman whom the Mormon had carried off. Of course there would be no justification either of the crime of the Mormon in taking another man's wife or or the husband in taking the life of the wife stealer; but that the Mormons wrought their vengeance on a body of innocent emigrants because they happened to be from the same State as the murderer makes a shallow excuse which the most confessedly brutalized wretches in the world could not expect to pawn off as the true cause. It was, undoubtedly, the desire of the Mormon leaders in carrying out the atrocity to strike such a deadly fear into emigrants that the route across the Territory would be looked on as a grave. They wanted no knowledge of the Territory to go abroad, and they wanted no settlements within, it, save such as filtered through the Mormon Church. This is nakedly what the order to exterminate the Arkansas emigrants meant, no matter what other pretences may have been cunningly circulated to account for it, even among the ignorant Mormons, who would do for revenge what they might fear to do in furtherance of such a bloody policy.

What makes it more horrifying is that after these brave emigrants had fought successfully against their assassins, the Mormon militia, for four days, they were treacherously entrapped by a flag of truce and induced to lay down their arms under a promise of security, and then mercilessly butchered. None but the small children were spared, and these only, perhaps, because the treacherous and brutal Mormons thought they could appropriate persons of such tender years to their own use. There is nothing in the history of civilized countries more fearfully atrocious than this massacre, and no act of treachery dastardly than that by which the emigrants were induced to lay down their arms.

It is an awful confession, and one that will awaken the whole United States to demand that this dark page in our history be illuminated by a full investigation and the prompt punishment of the guilty wretches who slew innocent and unoffending men, women and children.
It was with this confession before them that a few honorable citizens of Utah asked Congress, during its last session to so provide for the holding of courts that the murders in Utah could be properly investigated and the guilty brought to punishment. Brigham Young, who knew what was hanging over his head, sent a deputation of two Mormon Gentiles and their wives, together with his favorite Apostle Cannon, to lobby and corrupt where they could, to prevent legislation. And while that was natural enough for Brigham Young to do, it was currently reported that his financial agent at the seat of government had permanently secured in the judiciary committees of both the Senate and the House all the influence necessary to frustrate every measure that promised the dreaded investigation.

With such a record now sworn to by an eyewitness and a participator in the foul deed it will be interesting to watch the action of the Government. Even at this late day it should promptly investigate tho whole matter and bring the guilty wretches to condign punishment A people who could commit such a crime, and a community that would tolerate and cover it up are unfit to be recognized. as civilized. Fortunately, the frightful ulcer of Mormonism in Utah is in process of being eradicated, and the sooner it is completely removed the better.