Establishing Zion
Eugene E. Campbell

Chapter 17.
The Civil War Years

[p.289]Abraham Lincoln’s election as U.S. president in November 1860 was the culminating event leading to secession and the Civil War. Although Lincoln was moderate on slavery and generous toward the South, he represented a party with a membership located almost entirely in the north. Unfortunately, the new president did not take office until 4 March 1861, and in the meantime the nation drifted without strong leadership.

The Mormons were interested in and concerned about the success of the Republican party. As early as 19 November 1860, Brigham Young commented on Lincoln’s election and quipped that some Democrats were moving to Utah, where they believed their property would be safer. A month later, on 20 December, the same day that South Carolina seceded from the Union, Young revealed his attitude in a letter to William H. Hooper, Utah’s representative in Congress. He wrote, “While the waves of commotion are breaking near the whole country, Utah in her rocky fortress is biding her time to step in and rescue the constitution and aid all lovers of freedom in sustaining such laws as will secure justice and rights to all irrespective of creed or party.”

South Carolina’s action, once it became known in Utah, was seen as fulfillment of a 25 December 1832 prophecy by Joseph Smith, which read, in part: “Behold the southern states shall be divided against the northern states and the southern states will call on other nations even the nation of Great Britain as it is called and they shall also call upon other nations in order to defend themselves against [p.290] other nations and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.”1 Mormons also expected that this war would lead to the destruction of all nations and to the Second Coming. Although the Civil War did not break out until 9 April 1861, the addresses in the annual church General Conference during the first week in April were concerned with secession. Young said,

The whole government is gone; it is as weak as water. I heard Joseph Smith say nearly thirty years ago they shall have mobbings to their hearts content if they do not redress the wrongs of the Latter-day Saints. Mobs will not decrease but increase until the whole government becomes a mob, and eventually it will be state against state, city against city, and neighborhood against neighborhood; Methodist against Methodist and so on, and those who will not take up the sword against their neighbors must flee to Zion.

Heber C. Kimball affirmed, “We shall never secede from the Constitution of the United States.… The South will secede from the North and the North will secede from us and God will make his people free as fast as we are able to bear it. They send their poor, miserable creatures here to rule us. But the day is not far distant when we will be ruled by the men whom God almighty appoints.”

A few months later, John Taylor, speaking at a 4th of July celebration, set the tone of Mormon attitudes toward the conflict:

We have been banished from the pale of what is termed civilization and forced to make a home in the desert place. Shall we join the North to fight against the South? No. Shall we join the South against the North? As emphatically, No. Why? They have both, as before shown, brought it upon themselves, and we have had no hand in the matter. Whigs, Democrats, Americans, and Republicans have all in turn endeavored to stain their hands in innocent blood and whatever others may do we cannot conscientiously help to wear down the fabric we are sworn to uphold. We know no South, no North, no East, no West; we abide strictly and positively by the constitution and cannot by the intrigues or sophism of either party be cajoled into any other attitude.

[p.291] Mormon leaders consistently expressed their feelings that the war had been brought on by the wickedness of the United States, which had rejected Mormonism and permitted the death of the prophet of God and his servants. Because no effort had been made to punish the guilty or to prevent recurrences, the Mormons saw no reason to wonder at secession and dismemberment of such a union. Although the waste of lives was lamentable, a war between the states would avenge the death of Joseph Smith.

The Saints seemed especially gratified that Jackson County was a war zone and that Missouri would suffer the penalty of its cruelties to the Mormons. Besides avenging the blood of the innocent, the Lord would also prepare the way before his coming, which Mormons believed would occur in Jackson County, Missouri. In a letter to Amasa Lyman, William Clayton wrote that such a spirit seemed to operate on Brigham Young’s mind: “All Latter-day Saints will not stay here [in Utah] forever. He [Young] talks much and frequently about Jackson County, Missouri.”2

An interesting summary of the church’s teachings in regard to the Civil War and the federal government was written by territorial governor Stephen S. Harding, who arrived in Utah on 7 July 1862. After only six weeks, he wrote a letter to his superiors in Washington, D.C., describing the preaching he had heard in the Tabernacle and elsewhere:

A … most important inquiry about these people is this—are they loyal to the government of the United States? I am compelled to answer in the negative and will state some of my reasons which determine my judgment.

In the first place Brigham Young and other preachers are constantly inculcating in the minds of the crowded audiences who sit beneath their teachings every Sabbath that the United States is of no consequence, that it lies in ruins, and that the prophecy of Joseph Smith is being fulfilled to the letter. According to the prophecy, the United States as a nation is to be destroyed. That the Gentiles, as they call all persons outside of their church, will continue to fight with each other until they perish and then the Saints are to step in and quietly enjoy the possession of the land and also what is left of the ruined cities and desolated places. And that Zion is to be built up, not only in the valleys and the mountains but the great center of their power and glory is to be in Missouri where [p.292] the Saints under the lead of their prophet were expelled many years ago.

Harding mentioned that the Mormons seemed to delight in the fact that the Indians would also be able to benefit after the Gentiles had been cut off.

Harding reported that he had sat in the bowery Sabbath after Sabbath, listening to such declarations, and had seen the Saints wink and chuckle when news of a disaster reached them. “In all the meetings that I have attended,” he wrote, “not one word, not one prayer, has been uttered or offered up for the saving of our cause and for the restoration of peace, but on the contrary the God of the Saints has been implored to bring swift destruction on all nations, peoples, and institutions that stand in the way of the triumph of this people.” Just two weeks earlier, Harding had heard Heber C. Kimball claim that he was a prophet of the living God and say, “The government of the United States is dead, thank God, dead. It is not worth the head of a pin.” Kimball reportedly continued that the worst had not yet happened, that those Gentiles left after the war would be destroyed by pestilence, famine and earthquake, “to which infernal sentiment,” Harding wrote, “the crowded benches around me sent up a hearty Amen.”

According to Harding, Brigham Young himself taught followers that the governments of the earth were false and should be overthrown, that God had only delegated to the priesthood the right to set up a government. God would appoint a ruler, and all persons who otherwise pretended to have authority to govern were usurpers. Young was said to have asserted that although the Constitution of the United States was a revelation, it had fulfilled its purpose—the formation of a government so that the Mormon church could be organized. According to Young, slavery had nothing to do with the present disturbances, which were in consequence of the persecution the Saints had suffered at the hands of the American people.

Despite such attitudes, Mormon leaders remained loyal to the federal government, perhaps because of the presence of U.S. troops. Upon completion of the telegraph in October 1861, Young sent the first message over the line to J. H. Wade, president of the Pacific Telegraph Company in Cleveland, Ohio, offering congratulations and stating that “Utah has not seceded but is firm for the Constitution and laws of our once happy country.” And when the acting governor, Frank Fuller, requested Lieutenant General Daniel H. Wells, [p.293] commander of Utah’s territorial militia, to supply a force of twenty mounted men for thirty days to protect the Overland Trail, the volunteers were on their way the very next day under the command of Robert T. Burton. Young made their task easier when he said, “This I promise you as a servant of the Lord that not one of you shall fall by the hand of an enemy.”

The Mormon troops reached Independence Rock twenty days after leaving home. Here they joined Colonel William O. Collins, the acting divisional commander of the Upper Missouri and Platte River districts of the federal forces and became a part of the regular army of the United States. Captain Lot Smith and his company, which had previously hindered the progress of Johnston’s Army, were now assigned duty near the Pioneer Crossing of the North Platte River to protect mail and telegraph lines from Fort Bridger to the Sierra Nevada mountains. On 24 June, Smith wrote to Brigham Young from Independence Rock:

I had an interview with Brigadier General [James] Craig who has just arrived by stage at this point. He expressed himself as much pleased with our promptness in responding to the call of the Federal government and the exertions we have made in overcoming speedily the obstacles on the road to reach this point and spoke well of our people generally. He stated that he had telegraphed President Lincoln to this effect and intended writing him in greater length by mail.… He also remarked that the Utah Cavalry were the most efficient troops he had in the service and he proposed to recommend that our service be extended an additional 90 days.

However, this assignment did not materialize because another contingent of the U.S. Army under Colonel Patrick E. Connor arrived from the west to take the place of the Mormon troops.

With the outbreak of the war, Connor enlisted in the Union Army and was appointed colonel of the third California Volunteer Infantry and ordered to Utah to protect the Overland Mail Route. Connor hurried to Salt Lake City on 9 September 1862, where he met with Governor Harding and other federal officials. His 14 September report to the commanding general in San Francisco was extremely critical of Mormon society:

It would be impossible for me to describe what I saw and heard in Salt Lake. So as to make you realize the enormity of Mormonism suffice it that I found them a community of traitors, murderers, fanatics, and whores. The people publicly rejoice at the reverse to our arms and thank [p.294] God that the American government is gone as they term it, while their prophet and bishops preach treason from the pulpit. Federal officers are entirely powerless and talk in whispers for fear of being overheard by Brigham’s spies. Brigham Young rules with despotic sway and death by assassination is the penalty of disobedience to his command.

He also discussed the location of the fort:

I found another location which I like better than Fort Crittenden for various reasons. It commands the city and a thousand troops would be more efficient than three thousand on the other side of the Jordan. If the general decides that I shall locate there I intend to quietly entrench my position and then say to the Saints of Utah: “enough of your treason.” But if it was intended that I shall merely protect the Overland Mail and permit Mormons to act and utter treason than I had as well locate at Crittenden. The federal officials desire and beg that I locate near the city. The governor especially is very urgent in the matter.

Connor succeeded in convincing General Crum that he should establish his troops on the high bench overlooking Salt Lake City where he could have a commanding position, with guns aimed directly at the home of Brigham Young, if he wished. Because rumors had reached Connor that his troops might meet with resistance, he entered the valley with a war-like demonstration. Stopping only to pay military respects to Governor Harding, Connor located his troops on the hillside overlooking the Mormon capital, which he named Camp Douglas. Brigham Young’s reaction was decidedly bitter:

We have done everything that has been required us. Can there be anything reasonable and constitutional be asked that we would not perform? No. But if the government of the United States should now ask for a battalion of men to fight in the present battlefields of the nation while there is a camp of soldiers from abroad located within the corporate limits of this city I would not ask one man to go. I would see them in hell first.

Young saw no need to send the California volunteers to Utah, especially under such a prejudiced leader as Connor. But leaders in Washington could only look at the record, which included Mormon expressions of disloyalty, resistance to the army in 1857-58, unwillingness to furnish troops to the Civil War, and constant preaching of millennial disasters. Washington found it difficult to trust such people to guard the Overland Mail and agreed that the Mormons needed to be guarded. Thus Connor and his troops were established at Camp [p.295] Douglas with one eye on the Overland Mail and the other on the Mormons.3

The following year, on 9 July 1864, under the pretext that Mormons were depreciating the national currency in favor of the gold standard, Connor appointed Captain Charles Hempstead as Provost Marshal of Salt Lake City. Connor detailed a company of the second California cavalry as provost guards and, as if waging war, quartered them on South Temple street across from the entrance to the Tabernacle. Mormons deeply resented this action and referred to it as an outrage upon the feelings of the citizens and petitioned the governor for the removal of the offending unit. Connor reported to superiors that he was simply preparing to resist any attack and that the Mormons, knowing the city was now at the mercy of his guns, were quieting down already although continuing military drills.

Brigham Young was in Provo when the provost guard was established in downtown Salt Lake City. Rumor spread rapidly that it was an attempt to arrest him by military force. He left for Salt Lake City the next day, escorted by a mounted guard of 200 men. This guard swelled to 500 upon reaching Salt Lake City. Later 5,000 men assembled for any required defensive action. Major General Irving McDowell, the department commander in San Francisco, reminded Connor that his assignment was to guard the mail route not to solve territorial problems and ordered the provost guard removed from the city. He warned Connor against risking war with the Mormons, since such a development would weaken troop strength.

The provost guard incident marked the climax of Mormon-Gentile hostility during the Civil War. Successive northern victories pointed to the defeat of the secessionist cause. Mormon attitudes toward the war were changing. Leaders no longer applauded the war and even seemed to question the idea that it was God’s punishment. They began to recognize that the Millennium was not imminent and that the government was not going to collapse. They still predicted the ultimate fulfillment of prophecies, but, as Wilford Woodruff admitted, “The end is not yet.”

[p.296] In October 1863 General Conference, Brigham Young estimated that “perhaps one million men had gone to the silent grave in this useless war in a little over two years.” Young’s use of the term “useless” seems to connote a different attitude than what he had earlier expressed. John Taylor added, “We hear statement after statement, testimony after testimony of raping, murders, burning, desolation, bloodshed, starvation and so on until the recital has become sickening to hear.” By 1864 Young even lamented the conditions in Jackson County:

We inquired by friends who come here in the immigration how it is back there when they came. They said you can ride all day in some places but recently inhabited and not see any inhabitants, any plowing, sowing, any planting. He may ride through the large districts of the country and see one vast desolation. A gentleman said here that one hundred families were burned alive in their own houses in the county of Jackson, Missouri. Whether this is true or not it is not for me to say, but the thought of it is painful.

Such sentiments reflect the humanity of the Mormon leaders in face of the reality of an overwhelming national tragedy.

Though unrelated to the Civil War, the Morrisite Affair, which led to more bitterness and misunderstanding between the Mormons and federal officials, occurred during this period, as well. Several hundred church members, who rejected Brigham Young’s leadership, chose to follow Joseph Morris,4 who announced that God had called him to be the prophet, seer, and revelator for the Mormon church. According to Morris, Brigham Young should attend only to the temporal affairs of the kingdom. Young refused to dignify Morris’s proposal for a dual presidency and apparently regarded Morris as demented.

By 1859, Morris had claimed a second revelation which gave him the full keys of the kingdom. Other revelations followed in 1860 and later. These experiences led Morris to believe that the Mormon church was in a state of apostasy. Morris specifically identified Young’s counselor, George A. Smith, as one of Lucifer’s fallen angels who [p.297] was “rushing the church headlong to destruction.” Morris blamed Smith for the Mountain Meadow Massacre, among other things.

Morris announced that he was the seventh angel spoken of by John the Revelator, sent by Jesus Christ to preside over the church and prepare for the Second Coming. Working as a farm laborer in the little community of Slaterville, near Ogden, in 1860, Morris converted his employer, who bore witness that the spirit had told him Morris was a prophet of God.5 Others were converted. By the fall of 1860, thirty-one Mormons had been excommunicated for following the self-proclaimed prophet. Forced to leave Slaterville, Morris happened to meet John Cook of South Weber, who invited him to his home. When Cook’s brother, Richard Cook, bishop of South Weber (also known as Kingston Fort), converted, church officials dispatched apostles John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff to investigate the situation.

The two apostles, accompanied by the Ogden stake presidency, convened a meeting in a little adobe schoolhouse on 11 February 1861. In a dramatic confrontation, Cook asserted his belief in Morris’s prophetic calling and Morris announced that he was the seventh angel and held the keys of the kingdom and that all would soon acknowledge his authority. Taylor and Woodruff asked all who believed in Morris to make it known. Morris and Cook, as well as the nine men and seven women who responded, were promptly excommunicated.

Undaunted, Morris announced the organization of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Most High” on 6 April 1861. Richard Cook was named first counselor and John Banks,6 formerly assistant presiding bishop of the Mormon church, was second counselor. A quorum of twelve apostles was also chosen. Within a week, the new church claimed fifty-three members, which grew to 200 during the first three months. A little over a year later, Morris’s following had increased to almost one thousand, only about one-half of which were baptized.

The principal attraction of Morris’s teachings was his declaration of the imminence of the Millennium. Asserting that Christ would [p.298] soon return, Morris promised followers that they would own all of the property now held by the Mormons. On 30 December 1862, Morris announced a revelation calling on his followers to comply with the Law of Consecration immediately, promising that Christ’s coming would follow such compliance. Most of the members complied, but some soon became dissatisfied and tried to reclaim their property. These dissident members were imprisoned within Kingston Fort, the Morrisite stronghold. When word reached territorial authorities that people were being held against their will, a writ of habeas corpus was obtained from territorial chief justice John F. Kinney and taken to Kingston Fort by Deputy U.S. Marshal Judson Stoddard. Morrisite leaders refused to recognize this writ and a similar one issued three weeks later. Kinney then requested that the territorial militia be activated as a posse comitatus to secure release of the prisoners.

Fearing armed resistance, a posse of 500 men led by Deputy Marshal Robert T. Burton surrounded the Morrisite fortress on 13 June. By this time the posse had increased to approximately one thousand men armed with a variety of weapons, including a small cannon. Morris refused to surrender and instead assured followers that Christ was testing their faith and would stop their enemies at the right time. The posse fired a warning cannon shot which accidentally fell into the assembled congregation, killing two women and shattering the lower jaw of a third. This led to armed resistance and a three-day seige. When it became clear that Christ would not rescue the beleaguered Morrisites, they hoisted a flag of surrender and permitted Burton and a contingent of soldiers to enter the fort. Apparently Morris refused to surrender to Burton’s custody and gun-play ensued, leaving Morris and two women dead and John Banks mortally wounded. Ninety-nine men were taken prisoner and marched to Salt Lake City. Months later seven were convicted of second-degree murder in conjunction with the deaths of two posse members, and sixty-seven others were fined $100 each.

Governor Harding, believing that the affair was based on Mormon anger, pardoned all of the Morrisites and requested Connor to protect them. Most of the Morrisites chose to leave Utah and relocate near Soda Springs, Idaho, where Connor helped them settle.

For non-Mormons the Morrisite Affair was another sign that the Mormons were not ready for self-government. If they could not tolerate defection from their own fold, they could not be trusted to administer justice to all citizens regardless of their faith. C. LeRoy Anderson, a historian of the Morrisite movement, has asserted that [p.299] if the Saints had “shown more compassion and tolerance for those they considered duped, misguided and even weak-minded, they would have demonstrated in a most convincing way that they were dedicated, not only to even-handed justice, but to mercy as well.”

Loyal church members must have wondered what type of people could be led from the fold by such a man as Morris. Was millennialism so important in the conversion process in the early church? And was Brigham Young’s practical approach so concerned with material things that church members longed for spiritual experiences? Almost half of the baptized Morrisites bore Scandinavian names. Perhaps language difficulties and the tendency of the English-speaking Saints to belittle the Scandinavians was a factor. Then, too, the call to abandon their homes and farms as Johnston’s Army approached in the summer of 1858 had exacerbated their poverty and left many of the members dissatisfied with church leadership. This incident was a serious loss for the church, considering that 1,000 members renounced Brigham Young’s leadership and only 40,000 Mormons lived within the region.

Although the Morrisite Affair was disconcerting and annoying, Mormon leaders thought that the Civil War provided an ideal opportunity to gain admission into the Union. Utah territorial delegate William Hooper reminded Congress that Utah was showing its loyalty by trying to get into the Union while others were trying to get out, “notwithstanding our grievances which are far greater than any of those of the seceding states.” Writing to LDS official George Q. Cannon, Hooper said, “I consider we can redress our grievances better in the Union than out of it. At least we’ll give our worthy Uncle an opportunity of grafting us into his family. And if he doesn’t want us we must carve out our own future.”

On 6 January 1862, the people of Salt Lake City met in a mass meeting to choose delegates for a constitutional convention. They passed resolutions pointing out past difficulties due to strangers who were not interested in making a home in the territory. These men were not acquainted with the tastes and requirements of the Mormon people and often were disposed to sin, thus producing serious abuses and sanctioning crimes by letting the guilty go unpunished.

After a two-day recess, the convention reconvened on 22 January, at which time a constitution for the State of Deseret was unanimously adopted. This instrument of government was essentially the same as the proposed constitution of 1856 with only slight amendments. On the following day the delegates nominated Brigham Young as governor, Heber C. Kimball as lieutenant governor, and John M. [p.300] Bernhisel as representative to Congress. A general election held on 3 March ratified these nominations and designated William H. Hooper and George Q. Cannon to be U.S. senators. The constitution, with a memorial seeking statehood, was presented to Congress on 9 June. It remained in the Committee on Territories until 22 December when committee members decided not to pursue the territory’s petition.

The failure to secure admission did not dissolve the State of Deseret as far as the Mormons were concerned. It functioned as a ghost government behind the territorial administration, not only during the war period but for several years afterward. When asked why the unofficial legislative sessions were held, Brigham Young explained that it was “in order that the machinery of government would be ready to function when Congress should recognize the state organization. Privately, the men have thus thought of themselves as the council of the Kingdom of God ready to assume greater political responsibility when the heavenly king might see fit to use them.” Once again the idea of the Millennium and its imminence played an important role in the life of the Mormon people.

Notwithstanding their need for more states and the assertion by church leaders that they loved the Constitution and were loyal to the Union, Congress was in no mood to admit them. Justin Morrill of Vermont had introduced an anti-bigamy law in the House of Representatives in the spring of 1860. Morrill’s bill was passed by the House and received by the Senate but was left untouched when the 36th Congress adjourned just before the Civil War in March 1861. When the 37th Congress convened, and the southern states were not represented, the Republicans had a clear majority. On 8 April 1862, Morrill again introduced his bill to punish and prevent the practice of polygamy. The bill annulled the Utah Legislative Act of 1851, which incorporated the Mormon church and gave it the right to regulate marriage. Morrill’s bill also provided that no religious body in the territories should hold real estate of value in excess of $50,000. The Morrill Bill passed the Senate by a vote of 37 to 2, and Abraham Lincoln signed it into law on 8 July 1862.

Governor Harding had arrived in Utah on 7 July 1862, one day before Lincoln signed the anti-bigamy law. He promised to represent Lincoln’s policy of pouring oil on troubled waters by delivering a brilliant 24th of July speech. He commended the Mormons for their achievements and promised cooperation and non-interference with the right of conscience in religious worship. He praised the transformation of the desert as a miracle of labor, stating that “wonderful [p.301] progress had been made by a wonderful people.” His address radiated a spirit of appreciation and kindliness.

Harding at this point seemed relatively unaware of the gossip, rumors, accusations, and bitterness that pervaded the Utah atmosphere, although he must have known of the unpopularity of earlier territorial officials. But the Morrisite tragedy would influence Harding profoundly. Although it climaxed a month before his arrival, he was confronted with its aftermath. Connor, with his California volunteers, came to Utah on 9 September 1862 and influenced the governor’s attitude toward the Mormons.

By the time Harding delivered his message to the territorial legislature in December, he was sharply critical of the institutions and practices of the Utahns. Legislators listened with indignation and refused to publish the speech. Most offensive was the governor’s reference to the practice of polygamy. Anomalies in the moral world, he pointed out, cannot long endure side by side. Either the laws and opinions of the general community must become subordinate to Mormon customs and opinions or the Mormons must yield to general customs. “The conflict is irrepressible,” he concluded. He advised conformity with the act of Congress concerning the practice of polygamy, despite prevailing local opinion that the statute was unconstitutional. Furthermore he questioned the loyalty of the people to the national government and otherwise found fault with the conduct of local officials.

In letters written to his superiors in Washington, on 30 August and on 3 September, Harding criticized Mormon institutions and attitudes and questioned the wisdom of giving statehood to Utah in view of the attitudes of the people and their leaders towards the federal government. Harding’s letters probably had a good deal to do with the fact that Congress refused to consider statehood for the State of Deseret when they voted in December.

On 3 February 1863, Harding sent a long communication to secretary of state William H. Seward, denouncing the Mormons and joining with judges Charles B. Waite and Thomas J. Drake in a covert attempt to have Congress deprive Utah’s citizens of local judiciary and military powers. The Mormons, upon learning of these political schemes, held a mass meeting on 3 March to condemn the action and adopt resolutions asking for the resignation of the offending federal officials. When the officials refused to resign, the Mormons sent a petition to Lincoln asking him to remove Harding and associate justices Waite and Drake and to appoint other officials in their place. A counter petition circulated at Fort Douglas, which supported the [p.302] retention of Harding and the judges, also reached Lincoln. But in harmony with his policy of keeping peace with the Mormons, Lincoln removed Harding. To placate the Gentiles, he also removed Judge Kinney and Secretary Fuller, who were reported to be too friendly to the Saints. Tension mounted when rumors spread that Connor’s forces planned to arrest Brigham Young on charges of polygamy and take him to the states for trial. The local militia was armed against such a move. Armed guards were stationed around Young’s home, and signals were adopted by which armed men could be quickly assembled. In response to one such signal, a thousand men appeared within half an hour and another thousand soon thereafter.

Harding left the territory on 11 June. In his successor, James Duane Doty, Lincoln found a man to represent his policy in relation to the Mormons. Doty had been serving as Indian superintendent of the territory and had won the respect of Gentiles and Mormons alike. Impatient with narrow partisanship, he had sought to bring opposing forces together. His experience and temperament qualified him well for that difficult task.

While serving as superintendent of Indian Affairs, Doty had pleaded for more government help for the Indians in Utah, but Washington officials, more concerned with the Civil War than Indian needs, failed to send supplies. Instead they encouraged him to negotiate treaties to end hostilities. He was aided in these negotiations by the vigorous action of Connor’s troops against the Shoshone in the Battle of Bear River in January 1863. In what is often described as a massacre, the soldiers killed at least 224 Indians (according to the official report) and perhaps as many as 300, including almost 90 women and children. In retaliation, Indians attacked Mormon colonies in Cache Valley. But by July, Doty was able to negotiate a treaty with the Eastern Shoshone at Fort Bridger and the Northwestern Shoshone at Box Elder. Two other treaties were negotiated by Doty’s successor, I. H. Irish: one with the Western Shoshone in Ruby Valley, Nevada, the other with the Shoshone-Goshute in Tooele Valley. Both treaties asked for safe passage for military forces and the right to establish military posts, wagon roads, and mail, telegraph and railroad routes as well as the right to build and maintain ferries on streams in the area. In return, the government promised to hold the reservation lands in perpetuity and provide regular cash grants for a specific number of years. Unfortunately for the Indians, ratification of the treaties by the U.S. Senate usually took several years and were sometimes refused, leaving the tribes without lands or government benefits.

[p.303] A case in point was the treaty with the Utes negotiated by I. H. Irish and signed at Spanish Fork in June 1865 in the presence of Brigham Young. The Utes agreed to move to the newly created Uintah Reservation and to give up all lands outside of the reservation in return for which government negotiators promised $25,000 a year for the next ten years; $20,000 a year for the following twenty years; and $15,000 a year for the ensuing thirty years. The agents also agreed to sell the established Indian farms and to provide schools for the reservation. The Utes moved to the reservation, but when the treaty was rejected by the U.S. Senate four years later, they were left without their land and apparently without legal claim against the government.7

Despite the Mormon belief that the Indians were Israelites with an important millennial role to play, and notwithstanding efforts to educate Indians to the ways of civilization and to convert them to Mormonism, the gap between Mormon needs and the Indian view of life was too great to bridge in the pioneer period. By 1869 the Indians were reduced in numbers and property and either resettied on undesirable reservation lands or existed in small groups on the outskirts of Mormon communities, living off the charity of Mormon colonists.

Governor Doty helped to negotiate the treaties but died before they were violated and nullified. He lived long enough, however, to help bring the antagonistic factions in Utah together in a tenuous unity during the last months of the Civil War.

Using the re-election of Lincoln as a common cause for celebration, Doty was able to bring Mormons and Gentiles together in a mile-long parade with participants from both the Nauvoo Legion (or territorial militia) and the California volunteers. Later, at a banquet given by the city council to the officers of Camp Douglas, Salt Lake mayor Abraham Smoot toasted the health of President Lincoln and the success of the Union armies. Captain Charles Hempstead [p.304] responded to the health of the mayor and city officials. At the conclusion of the festivities, the citizens of Salt Lake City witnessed a promising spectacle as the Nauvoo Legion escorted the California volunteers back to Camp Douglas. This portended a better future, and even Connor was led to propose during the parade that the Union Vedette, an anti-Mormon newspaper he had established at Camp Douglas, had served its purpose and should be discontinued. A little over a month later, when Lincoln was assassinated, Mormons and Gentiles met together in the Tabernacle to hear the virtues and accomplishments of the man who had preserved the Union through four years of civil strife. The Tabernacle was more than crowded, the scene impressive and solemn, and all present shared the deep sorrow of the occasion.

Two months later Governor Doty died and was mourned by the citizens of Utah. Schuyler Colfax, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, estimated that Doty was a most “judicious executive and the best this territory ever had, who performed his delicate and responsible duties with firmness and yet with discretion.” This statement may have belittled Brigham Young’s service, but most would no doubt agree that Doty had done an excellent job. Unfortunately, this brief period of friendliness was only the calm before the storm, for attitudes and events were developing both inside and outside the church that would threaten the continued growth of the Mormon kingdom and lead to defensive measures that would separate Mormons from the rest of the country to a greater degree than ever before.[p.305]

Notes:

1. This prophecy, not published until 1851, was made when South Carolina, dissatisfied with the tariff bill passed by Congress, announced that it would nullify the act. President Andrew Jackson responded by threatening “to hang every man in South Carolina” to enforce the law. However, both South Carolina and Jackson backed down and solved the problem by compromise. Recalling the prophecy in 1843, Smith said, “I prophesied in the name of the Lord God that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man, will be in South Carolina. It may probably arise through the slave question.”

2. Young was so enthused about returning to Missouri that he prophesied in 1862 that the Saints would go back to Jackson County within the next seven years and proposed in 1863 that missionaries be sent there.

3. In 1863 an early morning salute would be fired at Fort Douglas on receipt of information that Connor had been promoted to the rank of brigadier general because of his victory over the Northern Shoshone. Believing that danger threatened, the Mormons would sound an alarm—perhaps an attempt was being made to seize Brigham Young. A thousand or more Mormon minute men would quickly assemble to protect the city. Such would be the extent of the distrust and lack of communication between the fort and the city over the next decade.

4. Joseph Morris joined Mormonism in England in 1847 at the age of twenty-three. Arriving in the United States, he stayed at St. Louis for two years, then served for a time as president of the Mormon branch in Pittsburgh before coming to Salt Lake in 1853. Three unsuccessful marriages by 1857 embittered him against local leaders and the frenzy of the Mormon Reformation gave him the opportunity to denounce the evils he saw around him.

5. It was rumored that some church members in Slaterville were experimenting with spiritualism and were open to new religious experiences.

6. John Banks had been a person of considerable promise and importance in the Mormon church. One of the first converts to Mormonism in England, he was an intelligent, gifted speaker. He was sustained as assistant presiding bishop in 1851 but released in 1853 to fill a two-year mission to Ohio. Angered when he was not re-appointed to the presiding bishopric after his mission, he attacked Brigham Young physically and was excommunicated for unchristianlike conduct. He was rebaptized a few days later but was excommunicated again a year later on 23 December 1859 and then became involved in the Morrisite movement.

7. Such treatment encouraged a minor Ute leader named Black Hawk to retaliate against the Mormons who had settled in their territory. Beginning with about 30 raiders in 1865, Black Hawk’s followers rose to around 300 by the winter of 1866-67, and their raids kept the people of central and southern Utah on alert for three years. During this time approximately 25 settlements were abandoned. By the time peace negotiations had been settled in the summer of 1868, an estimated 80 Indians and 75 whites had lost their lives as a result of the conflict. The cost in economic terms was approximately $1.5 million, which the Mormons essentially bore since no government funds were received for the costs of the military nor for losses sustained as a result of government policies.