The Utah War and Its Mountain Meadows Massacre:
Lessons Learned, Surprises Encountered

The Utah War and Its Mountain Meadows Massacre: Lessons Learned, Surprises Encountered

William P. MacKinnon


For those of you thinking about the substantial differences
between Rick Turley’s[1] and my backgrounds, I suppose it would be natural to wonder if you are about to
witness some sort of adversarial contest on a controversial subject—a hot
format in this highly political season of presidential debates. You know, a
sort of Oklahoma versus Kansas game, but among
historians. Let me assure you that this is not what tonight is about.

This event began with Bishop John Drayton’s invitation for
me to speak about the Utah War of 1857–58, the 150th anniversary of which
is now being commemorated. After I accepted, the thought struck me that tonight’s
session would be all the richer if I could bring with me Richard E. (Rick)
Turley Jr., Assistant Church Historian and Recorder of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as one of the leading authorities on the
Mountain Meadows Massacre, the war’s principal atrocity. John and then Rick
readily agreed to this format, and so here we are.

What we are now going to do is to chat somewhat informally
for about twenty minutes each, with me dealing with the context of the Utah War
and Rick focusing on the massacre. Then we will jointly field questions from
you for the balance of the time available. The style and tone is not intended
to be adversarial but rather will be that of two friends and colleagues
respectfully discussing interrelated events from somewhat different experiences
and perspectives. Our aim is not to win an argument
but to shed light (rather than generate heat) about what happened 150 years
ago, why, and with what consequences. Our focus will be on the principal
lessons we have learned about the Utah War and its Mountain Meadows Massacre.
We will also share with you some of the surprises encountered along the
way—both from our research and from the dialogue flowing from the public’s
reaction to the books that the two of us have just published.[2]

For Rick and me, it has been a long journey in quite
different ways. My interest in the Utah War started exactly a half century ago
in New Haven, Connecticut, as an undergraduate surrounded not only by Gothic
architecture, gargoyles, and moats but also by an extraordinary trove of
unexploited manuscripts in the Yale Collection of Western Americana. In Rick
Turley’s case, his journey, rooted in decades of interest in and responsibility
for Mormon history, began in earnest nearly a decade ago along the Wasatch
Front in the Salt Lake City headquarters of the LDS Church’s Family and Church
History Department. Strange bedfellows? I suppose we are; yet Rick and I have
become close friends as well as collaborators. I suspect that this relationship
flows in part from our differences as well as from a common determination that
civility of discourse rather than raw antagonism is what this subject needs
after 150 years of conflict. In thinking about the diversity of our
experiences, I note that three weeks ago Rick found himself in northwest
Arkansas meeting with descendants of the Mountain Meadows Massacre victims. On
the same day I, a Presbyterian originally from Upstate New York, found myself
afoot in Utah climbing to the stand of the Mormon Logan Tabernacle to deliver a
lecture in honor of Leonard J. Arrington, late historian of the LDS Church. And
here we are tonight; me in another LDS stake center and Rick Turley, the pride
of New York’s Oxford University Press, hard in the lee of my publisher, the
University of Oklahoma Press, and its venerable Arthur H. Clark Company imprint.
What an opportunity! Our cup runneth over.

Lessons Learned and Surprises Encountered

Now on to the Utah War. In thinking
about lessons learned from my fifty years of research, it is a little difficult
to separate lessons from surprises encountered. So perhaps instead of trying to
compartmentalize the two rigorously, I will simply deal with them together as I
go along, noting where I encountered something that for me was really

The Utah War: Still Unknown but Emerging

Perhaps the most important lesson that I have learned about
the Utah War is that few Americans have even heard of it, let alone understand
it. There is a sort of national amnesia about this part of our history,
prompted in part by the overshadowing enormity of the Civil War that followed
four years later and partly by embarrassment over the conflict in both the Mormon
Church and the U.S. Army for different reasons. This lesson came home to me not
only during my visit to Logan, Utah, on September 25 but also on September 20
when I spoke at a James Buchanan symposium in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. My hope
is that what you hear tonight will prompt you to explore this colorful,
admittedly offbeat subject a bit more.

So what was the Utah War? In one sense it was President
James Buchanan’s effort to replace Brigham Young as governor of Utah Territory
and to install his successor with an army escort of 2,500 troops, a change that
Young resisted with guerrilla tactics until a settle­ment was reached a
year later in 1858. Over the years I have come to define it more formally as
the armed confrontation over power and authority during 1857–58 between
the civil-religious leadership of Utah Territory, led by Governor Brigham
Young, and the administration of President James Buchanan—a conflict that
pitted perhaps the nation’s largest, most experienced territorial militia
(called the Nauvoo Legion) against an expeditionary force that ultimately grew
to involve almost one-third of the U.S. Army. It was the nation’s most
extensive and expensive military undertaking during the period between the
Mexican-American and Civil wars. In my view, what it was not was a crusade against Mormonism to eradicate polygamy—the principle and
practice were not illegal in 1857, and President Buchanan, a pretty good
lawyer, went out of his way to make that point. Neither was it a campaign to
suppress a Mormon “rebellion,” a term that Buchanan used only
cautiously and that I never use, although I must say that at the point at which
Governor Young declared martial law, forbade free transit within and across
Utah, and issued orders to kill U.S. Army officers and their mountaineer
guides, it becomes more difficult to avoid the “R” word.

For those of you unfamiliar with this conflict, I realize
that this is a less-than-complete definition of the war, but hopefully it is
enough to start us along tonight, and I will be happy to answer questions later
either here or by e-mail.[3]

Labels and Language Matter

When I started down this road in 1958, I used the term “Utah
Expedition” for not only the U.S. Army brigade commanded by Colonel Albert
Sidney Johnston but also for the broader conflict to which the Buchanan administration
committed it. Decades later my collaborator, the late Professor Richard D. Poll
of Provo, led me to an understanding that the label—”Utah Expedition”—overlooks
the fact that there was a large group of people engaged on the other side who
had nothing to do with the army, specifically Utah Territory’s Mormon
population. So since then I have been using “Utah War” and have
reserved “Utah Expedition” solely for the federal side. The flip side
of this one-sidedness is the use of the term “Johnston’s Army,” an
ethnocentric label used primarily in Utah and few other places. To me it is an
understandable but unfortunate term that trivializes and personalizes the war
in much the same way that “Seward’s Folly” was once used to diminish
the federal government’s purchase of Alaska for $7.2 million. I was surprised
to learn that the participants did not even use the term “Johnston’s Army.”
It took root in Mormon Utah only decades later for political and cultural reasons.

While we are on the
subject of labels, I would note that within the institutional army there is an
aversion to using the term “war” for this conflict. The military
prefers to call it a “campaign” or an “expedition.” The
army’s logic is that there was neither a congressional declaration of war nor
pitched battles between massed troops and wholesale bloodletting on the scale
of the Civil War battles. Quite true, but I continue to think that “war”
is an appropriate, common-sense term—as with the way we talk about the “Indian
Wars” in this part of the country. After all, consider that for years Camp
Floyd, Utah, near Salt Lake City, was the nation’s largest army garrison; the
confrontation was so costly that it virtually bankrupted the U.S. Treasury and
devastated Utah’s economy; its financing forced the resignation of the United
States Secretary of War; the war’s move south—an effort to flee the
approaching army—put thirty thousand Mormon refugees on the road from
northern Utah to Provo and perhaps beyond; Brigham Young and scores of others
were indicted by a federal grand jury for treason; and the Mountain Meadows
Massacre alone, the conflict’s greatest atrocity, was the worst incident of
organized mass murder of unarmed civilians in the nation’s history until the
1995 Oklahoma City bombing. So for me “Utah War” as a working
descriptor is good enough.

The War’s Origins and Conclusion

One of my other foundational conclusions is that the war did
not just well up one spring day in 1857 soon after President Buchanan’s inauguration
because of a single critical incident. Neither did it end when most people
think of it as concluding—on June 26, 1858, the day that Albert Sidney
Johnston and his troops marched into and through Salt Lake City to establish
Camp Floyd.

Instead, the confrontation was nearly ten years in the
making, with Mormon-federal relations—already poor before the 1847 LDS
arrival in the Salt Lake Valley—steadily deteriorating immediately
thereafter. By Buchanan’s inauguration on March 4, 1857, virtually every interface
between the territorial and federal governments had become a battleground: the
selection and performance of mail contractors; relations with and allegiances
of Utah’s Indian tribes; matters of land ownership and the accuracy of federal
surveys; financial stewardship of congressional appropriations for the
territory; the administration of Utah’s federal courts and criminal justice
system; and, perhaps most important, the background, competence, and behavior
of appointees to federal office in Utah. In addition to these administrative or
governmental pinch points, there were highly public upsets over other incidents
such as the 1852 announcement of the principle of plural marriage; the uneven
treatment of non-Mormon emigrants passing through Utah to the Pacific Coast;
responsibility for the massacre of the U.S. Army’s Gunnison Expedition in 1853;
a series of other uninvestigated, unprosecuted murders; repeated congressional
rejection of statehood for Deseret; and a related controversy over whether
Brigham Young was or was not seeking Mormon independence outside the Union. At
the heart of these clashes was the disconnect implicit in two conflicting
philosophies of governance: Brigham Young’s vision of Utah as a millennially
oriented theocracy operating under his autocratic leadership on the one hand,
and on the other the U.S. government’s view of Utah as just another federal
territory intended to function under republican principles and responsive to
Congress through a federally sworn governor whose term of office, in Brigham
Young’s case, had run out in 1854.

It was surprising to me to discover that, despite this
background of seriously deteriorating relations, as Buchanan became president “the
Mormon problem” was not a front-rank issue for the nation, preoccupied as it was with the slavery issue and civil
turmoil in Utah’s eastern neighbor, Kansas Territory. Reflecting these
priorities, Buchanan’s inaugural address made no reference to Utah, Mormons,
polygamy, or Brigham Young. For those who would point to the 1856 platform
plank of the new Republican party—drafted to advocate the eradication of
polygamy and slavery as “the twin relics of barbarism”—as a
critical incident, I would note that as you get into the origins of that plank,
you will discover that it was not the result of an anti-Mormon political
groundswell, but rather was the somewhat isolated, even casual, work of a
single California delegate to the Republicans’ Philadelphia convention. He
later confessed that he thought of the polygamy issue somewhat casually one
morning as he strolled to the convention hall. The Republicans’ 1856
presidential nominee, John C. Fremont, never used this provocative slogan in
his campaigning; Fremont, in fact, felt that he owed his life and that of his
exploring expedition to the Utah Mormons who came to their aid when they
stumbled out of the mountains in desperate shape during the winter of

With respect to the war’s conclusion, it is fair to say that
the “active” phase ended with the army’s passage through Salt Lake,
but on that same day—with a petition to President Buchanan signed by
Brigham Young and the entire church leadership—the confrontation morphed
or changed shape from a military conflict into a political-cultural struggle
that took decades to run its course. The war unleashed a wide range of societal
forces—political, religious, economic, and even geographic—that,
among other things, barred statehood for Utah until 1896. In some cases the
issues set in motion by these forces are still unresolved today. For example, I
would say that today’s Sagebrush Rebellion in the West is in many ways a
downstream by-product of the Utah War. Ask yourself why, in 1996, President
Bill Clinton felt it best to announce his unilateral, highly unpopular creation
of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument not in southern Utah—where
the new park was to be located and where local residents muttered to New York
newspaper reporters about “Johnston’s Army”—but rather from the
relative political safety of northern Arizona. Even as I look at this year’s
presidential campaign, I see lingering connections to the Utah War. My favorite
example of this linkage runs to the remarkable story of a soldier who served on
both sides of that conflict, U.S. Army Private Charles Henry Wilcken. Wilcken
enlisted in a federal artillery regiment soon after arriving in New York from
Germany during the spring of 1857, and by the fall he found himself in the
midst of the army’s Utah Expedition. Near the Mormon trading post of Fort
Bridger, Wilcken deserted, crossed into the Nauvoo Legion’s lines, converted to
Mormonism, and eventually became the bodyguard, coachman, nurse, and pallbearer
for Presidents John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff as well as the adopted son of
Apostle George Q. Cannon. Oh, yes . . . Wilcken also became the grandfather of
George Wilcken Romney, who ran for president in 1968, and the great-grandfather
of Mitt Romney, one of this year’s candidates.

It Takes Two to Tango: Leader Accountability and Responsibility

During the course of my research into the papers of Brigham
Young and James Buchanan, I came to realize that the war was far more complex
than the picture that I first encountered of it as “Buchanan’s Blunder,”
a cartoonish, one-dimensional portrayal of “Old Buck” as a hapless, doddering
bachelor cast as a sort of Sheriff of Nottingham in pursuit of a nimble,
much-married Brigham Young’s Robin Hood. I came to realize that,
notwithstanding Buchanan’s multiple misjudgments, this one-sided view of him
was largely the result of a very effective, fascinating Mormon effort to seize
the moral high ground immediately after the war with the national controversy
over Buchanan’s handling of the southern secession crisis and the treasonous
decision of his vice president and several cabinet secretaries to become
Confederate generals. By the end of the nineteenth century, this image campaign
had produced a view of the Utah War as what has come to be called Buchanan’s
Blunder, much as, at about the same time, a group of former Confederate generals
worked effectively to fabricate the “Myth of the Lost Cause.” Under
this latter campaign the Civil War was repackaged by former Confederates as the
War Between the States, a conflict fought not to preserve chattel slavery but
rather for a higher motive—to protect a noble, agrarian way of life from
the onslaught of the grasping, materialistic industrialists of the North. In
the process, the images of both Brigham Young and Robert E. Lee underwent a
radical transformation from what they had been in 1858 and 1865, respectively.
For example, in the case of Lee, whose son “Rooney” had dropped out
of Harvard in May 1857 to join the Utah Expedition’s Sixth U.S. Infantry, it
was a virtual canonization. Interestingly, for Lee this process involved, among
other measures, the expurgation of several unseemly anti-Mormon comments from
his letters before their publication.

If Buchanan had made mistakes aplenty, so too had Brigham
Young. In Buchanan’s case, he knew shockingly little in 1857 about either conditions in Utah or Brigham Young’s likely reaction to his
removal as governor. Compounding this serious shortfall in intelligence was a
series of horrible selection decisions—the appointment of a homicidal,
ham-handed brevet brigadier general, William S. Harney, as the Utah Expedition’s
initial commander and Alfred Cumming, an inexperienced four-hundred-pound
alcoholic, as Young’s successor. These were appointments that bring to mind the
old lesson about nothing being as expensive as bad management.

In Young’s case, the biggest, most costly blunder was the
miscalculation by which for years he indulged in hostile, violent rhetoric as
governor, behavior that brought down on him and his people needlessly the full
force of the U.S. government. As a result, Utah and Mormonism changed forever.
In the process, as Rick Turley’s and my books illustrate, the Utah Territory
for which Brigham Young was responsible as governor, U.S. superintendent of
Indian affairs, and militia commander as well as prophet, seer, and revelator
took on a tone in which violence welled up, including the Mountain Meadows
Massacre. This atrocity not only took the lives of 120 innocent children,
women, and disarmed men but also stained the reputations of generations of
uninvolved Mormons and their church. It was a tragedy unbelievably costly in
multiple ways. As I see it, the move south—frequently portrayed as a
brilliant public relations gambit by Brigham Young to gain East Coast
sympathy—was another huge mistake that disrupted Utah’s economy for years
and required enormous sacrifices from Mormon families, especially their
womenfolk. Whoever later coined the aphorism that “Texas is hell on horses
and women” had not seen Utah during the summer of 1858.

So my take is that both leaders—Brigham Young as well
as James Buchanan—blundered and were accountable for the Utah War and its
violence, but in unequal and quite different ways. That is not the same thing
as saying a plague on both the White House and the Lion House.

One of the principal lessons here is the old one about the
impossibility of serving effectively two masters—as in Brigham Young’s
case, when he eagerly sought to serve simultaneously both the federal
government, in a myriad of overlapping civil and military roles, as well as his
church as its supreme religious leader. This was a hopeless conflict of
interest, and it all came crashing down with tragic results and by-products
during 1857–58.

Geography Matters: the War’s Impact and Consequences

I mentioned earlier that the Utah War unleashed a series of
societal forces, including geography, that in many
ways is still playing out today. Four graphic examples quickly come to mind,
all of which are loaded with surprises.

First, the Utah Territory to which President Buchanan dispatched
troops in 1857 was not today’s familiar, near-rectangular entity but rather was
an enormous, sprawling territory that stretched from Kansas and the Continental
Divide on the east to the California border on the west. Some of Utah’s initial
counties were more than six hundred miles wide. In the decade following the
Utah War, partly as a sort of congressional payback, Utah lost a huge portion
of her territory in six “bites” to form and enlarge Nevada, Colorado,
Nebraska, and Wyoming. James Buchanan’s last official act was to sign the
enabling legislation carving Nevada and Colorado out of a politically
vulnerable Utah’s western and eastern flanks. The Utah War had geographic as
well as military consequences.

Second, the U.S. Army’s Ives Expedition of topographical engineers, assigned in 1857 to ascend the Colorado River
from the Gulf of California to determine its head of navigation and whether the
Colorado might be a shorter, less expensive way of injecting troops and
supplies into southern Utah, stumbled into what we today call the Grand Canyon.
What a discovery and with what consequences!

Third, as the Ives Expedition steamed up the Colorado in December
1857 in support of Albert Sidney Johnston, Russian Tsar Alexander II was
worrying in St. Petersburg about rumors afield on the Pacific Coast. The
speculation was that Brigham Young was planning to lead a mass exodus out of
Utah to a refuge on the Pacific Coast, such as Russian America. Acutely aware
of the difficulty of defending this vast, distant region and conscious of the
seizure by other Americans only a few years earlier of Mexican Texas and Alta
California (including Utah), Alexander authorized the beginning of negotiations
that led to the 1867 American purchase of Alaska.

Worried about the same rumors, only concerned that the Mormon
target was Vancouver’s Island rather than Russian America, Queen Victoria’s
government in London took steps to remove its Pacific Coast possessions from
the ineffective administration of the Hudson’s Bay Company. It then established
the more defensible crown colony of British Columbia in June 1858.

Reflecting these four little vignettes and others, I now
appreciate even more one of the principal tenets of the Arthur H. Clark Company’s
Kingdom in the West series of books—that the story of the Mormon experience
on the American frontier is not just one of a Utah adventure but rather is a
story with regional (western) and even international sweep.

Colorful Characters on Both Sides

Among my most delightful surprises in digging through mounds
of Utah War records was the realization that on both sides of the conflict were
dozens of colorful people whose extraordinary later lives have somehow become
disconnected in American history from an awareness of the impact of their
youthful, formative Utah War experiences. I only have time to mention a few of
my favorite examples.

First, I want to go back to Robert E. Lee’s son, “Rooney,”
whom I suppose I could call the Harvard dropout. Within a few years he was no
longer a second lieutenant in the Sixth U.S. Infantry in Utah but rather was
the youngest major general in the Confederate States Army. When young General
Lee’s destiny led to his capture on a Virginia battlefield by a Union army
lieutenant colonel of the Pennsylvania cavalry, who would that officer have
been? It was Samuel P. Spear, formerly the tough sergeant major of the Second
U.S. Dragoons, who recognized Rooney Lee from their Utah Expedition days.
Spear, by the way, was a man who despite his rough, frontier background went on
to become a brigadier general and, after the Civil War, the leader of the
Fenian invasion of Quebec from Vermont.

On the Mormon side, I was startled to find Ogden resident
Jonathan Browning, one of the West’s premier gunsmiths and paterfamilias of
what would later become America’s most famous firearms dynasty. In Yale’s
Beinecke library I found a fascinating December 1857 letter in which Jonathan
Browning offered the Nauvoo Legion the design of an innovative aerial torpedo
for use in exploding army ammunition wagons. Browning offered this design at
roughly the same time that Brigham Young was writing to the same Legion
commander to advocate the use of medieval longbows and crossbows for mountain
warfare. What a contrast! It is ironic that the company later founded by
Browning’s sons produced or licensed virtually every automatic weapon used by
U.S. armed forces from the late 1800s through World War II.

From Sergeant Major Samuel Spear’s Second Dragoons also
emerged Private John Jerome (“Johnny”) Healy, who post-war became the
sheriff of Fort Benton, Montana; a founder of Alberta’s notorious,
whiskey-soaked “Fort Whoop-Up”; coiner of the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police’s unofficial motto (“They always get their man”); a trading
and transportation magnate for Chicago’s Cudahy family during the Yukon gold
rush of the 1890s; the model for a central figure in Jack London’s first novel, A
Daughter of the Snows
; and the failed developer of a subterranean
railroad tunnel to connect Siberia and Alaska beneath the Bering Strait.

Finally, I would mention that there is even an Oklahoma component
to these fascinating stories of frontier legends who served in Utah. I have in mind Private Benjamin Harrison Clark of the Utah
Expedition’s volunteer battalion. After his Utah service, Clark enlisted in the
Union army, drifted south, married into the Cheyenne tribe, and learned its
language before becoming one of the outstanding army guides and interpreters
out of Fort Sill during the brutal campaigns of the 1860s on the south plains
for Generals Custer, Sherman, Sheridan, and Miles. When he died in 1913, Ben
Clark was the caretaker for Fort Reno, Oklahoma, a post named to honor the Utah
Expedition’s ordnance chief, Captain Jesse L. Reno, who died in the Civil War
as a major general with brave old Barbara Fritchie’s famous American flag
stuffed in his saddle bags.

We will leave to another day the colorful story of Jenny
Goodale, a Shoshone who was the lone woman to accompany Captain Randolph B.
Marcy on his epic march from Fort Bridger to New Mexico and back during the
winter of 1857–58. She took part in what became the most arduous winter
march in American military history. Jenny Goodale held up and survived under
conditions so brutal that when Marcy’s starving, exhausted detachment emerged
from the New Mexico mountains, one of his sergeants
gorged himself to death. What a story!

The Complexities of Messrs. Young and Kane

One of the more important lessons about the Utah War that I
learned was how complex both Brigham Young and his close non-Mormon friend
Thomas L. Kane were as individuals. From my comments of a moment ago, you will
recognize that I came to develop an understanding of some of the flat spots in
Brigham Young’s style and decision making. At the same
time, I also came to realize that alongside the rough and sometimes brutal side
of his behavior there was also a pastoral, empathetic side to his leadership.
If we have time later, I can go into several examples.[4] So too with Kane, about whom I am to give a lecture at Brigham
Young University next month. Kane, a key figure in settling the Utah
War, was not only courageous, noble, and
philanthropic—a man who did more for the church than perhaps any other
nonmember—he was also self-promoting and at times manipulative and
cynical. My favorite example of this darker side of his psyche runs to Kane’s
introduction in April 1858 of the new governor, Alfred Cumming, to Brigham
Young, his predecessor. As a good church historian, George A. Smith recorded
that “Col. Kane visited Gov. Young [and] told him that he had caught the
fish, now you can cook it as he had a mind to.” If Messrs. Young and Kane
were not the odd couple, they were a complex pair whose actions and intent
cannot always be taken at face value by historians, as Alfred Cumming and James
Buchanan also were to learn.

Myth versus Realities

Like all other American military conflicts, the Utah War,
both sides of it, spawned myths and legends—plenty of them. Much to my
surprise, I have come to realize that many of these are true, while still
others are at least partially so. It is a finding that has brought me to a new
respect for oral traditions and folklore. The story of the U.S. Marine Corps’
Second Lieutenant Robert L. Browning is one of these. For 150 years the corps’
headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard has nurtured the unverified story that
an unidentified Marine officer had accompanied Albert Sidney Johnston’s Utah
Expedition west. Now we know that the legend was true and that Marine
Lieutenant Browning was the man, a refugee from a court-martial at the Boston
Navy Yard and the wrath of an incompatible skipper. Another legend, that of the
Nauvoo Legion’s use of silver bullets during the Utah War, falls under the
sort-of-true category. There are some folklorists who believe that this tale
even took on a later life to become incorporated into the story of the Lone
Ranger and his silver bullets as it took to the
airwaves in the late 1930s from radio station WXYZ in Detroit. Flatly untrue
was the self-promoting myth that Buffalo Bill Cody invented in the 1870s to claim
that he had participated in the Utah War as an eleven-year-old assistant
teamster protected at Fort Bridger by Wild Bill Hickok, who in fact was never

Finally, one of the strongest—almost universally
accepted—myths of the Utah War was that it was a “bloodless”
conflict, an expensive, harmless campaign without casualties. This is perhaps
the most significant myth of the conflict. Alas, I must report that it is
untrue and that there was a substantial amount of bloodshed during the
confrontation. Not on the scale of the Civil War, of course, but roughly on a
par with the loss of life during the mid-to-late 1850s in Utah’s neighbor to
the east, a frontier territory that earned the enduring nickname “Bleeding
Kansas.” I found that when it came to bloodshed and setting it in motion,
neither the Mormon Nauvoo Legion nor the federal Utah Expedition had clean
hands during 1857–58.


[1] These
remarks are from a presentation given at the LDS stake center in Norman,
Oklahoma, on 17 October 2008. Richard E. Turley Jr. also spoke at this session.
A version of these remarks will also appear in a forthcoming issue of Mormon
Historical Studies.

[2] William P.
MacKinnon, At
Sword’s Point, Part 1: A Documentary History of the Utah War to 1858
(Norman, OK: Arthur H. Clark, 2008); Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley Jr.,
and Glen M. Leonard, Massacre at Mountain Meadows (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2008).


[4] See
MacKinnon, unpublished remarks for Sunday devotional meeting, Mormon History
Association annual conference, Assembly Hall, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, 27
May 2007.