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†††Special Report on the Mountain Meadows Massacre

(The first published federal report on the events of September 1857 in Utah)

By Brevet Major J. H. Carleton, U.S.A.

May 25, 1859

J.H. Carleton/faithandreasonforum.org

J. H. Carleton





Camp at Mountain Meadows,

Utah Territory, May 25th, 1859

Major: When I left Los Angeles, the 23rd ultimo, General Clarke, commanding the Department of California, directed me to bury the bones of the victims of that terrible massacre which took place on this ground in September, 1857. The fact of this massacre of (in my opinion) at least 120 men, women and children, who were on their way from the State of Arkansas to California, has long been well known. I have endeavored to learn the circumstances attending it, and have the honor to submit the following as the result of my inquiries on this point:

Dr. Brewer, United States Army, whom I met with Captain Campbell's command on the Santa Clara River on the 15th inst., informed me that as he was going up the Platte River on the 11th of June, 1857, he passed a train of emigrants near O'Fallons Bluffs. The train was called "Perkin's Train," a man named Perkins, who had previously been to California, having charge of it as a conductor; that he afterwards saw the train frequently; the last time he saw it, it was at Ash Hollow on the North Fork of the Platte.

The Doctor says the train consisted of, say, 40 wagons; there were a few tents besides, which the emigrants used in addition to these wagons when they encamped. There seemed to be about 40 heads of families, many women, some unmarried, and many children. A doctor accompanied them. The train seemed to consist of respectable people, well to do in the world. They were well dressed, were quiet, orderly, genteel; had fine stock; had three carriages along, and other evidences which went to show that this was one of the finest trains that had been seen to cross the plains. It was so remarked upon by the officers who were with the doctor at that time. From reports afterwards received, and comparing the dates with the probable rate of travel, he believed this was the identical train which was destroyed at Mountain Meadows.

I could get no information of these emigrants of a date anterior to this. Here seems to be given the first glimpse of their number, character, and condition; and an authentic glimpse, too, if the train destroyed was the one seen by the doctor, of which there can hardly be any doubt. The doctor was confirmed in his belief that the train he saw was the one destroyed, by many reasons. Among them one fact seemed to be very convincing. He observed a carriage in the train in which some ladies rode, to whom he made one or more visits as they journeyed along. There was something peculiar in the construction of the carriage and its ornaments its blazoned stag's head upon the panels, etc. This carriage, he says, is now in the possession of the Mormons. Besides, he afterwards heard as a fact that this train had been entirely destroyed.

The people who owned it would not have been likely to have to sell such an important part of their means of transportation midway their journey. The road upon which these emigrants were seen by Dr. Brewer crosses the Rocky Mountains through the South Pass, and thence goes on down into the Great Basin to Salt Lake City, and thence Southward along the western base of the Wasatch Mountains to what is called the rim of the basin. Here the "divide" is crossed, when it descends upon the valley of the Santa Clara affluent toward the Colorado. Fillmore City is upon one of the many streams which run westward down from the Wasatch Mountains into the basin. It is about 140 miles from Salt Lake City; then upon another stream, 90 miles farther south, is Prawn [Parowan] City; then upon still another stream, 18 miles south of Prawn [Parowan], is Cedar City; then to a settlement on Pinto Creek is 24 miles; thence to Hamblin's house, on the northern slope of the Mountain Meadows, 6 miles.

From Hamblin's house over the rim of the basin to the southern point of the Mountain Meadows, where there is a large spring, is 4 miles, 1,000 yards. This swell of land or watershed, called the rim of the basin, runs west across nearly midway the valley called the Mountain Meadows. This valley runs north and south; its northern portion is drained into the basin, its southern toward the Santa Clara. Down on the Santa Clara is a Mormon settlement called "The Fort": here some 30 families reside. It is 34 miles from Mountain Meadows. East of Cedar City, say 18 miles, on the east slope of the Wasatch Range, drained by Virgin River, is the town of Harmony, of 100 families; and farther down the Virgin River, 12 miles from "The Fort," on the Santa Clara, is Washington City, also of 100 families. The Santa Clara joins the Virgin River near Washington City.

The Pah Vent Indians live near Fillmore City. The Pah Ute Indians are scattered along from Parowan southward to the Colorado.

The train of emigrants proceeding southward from Fillmore toward the Mountain Meadows are next seen, so far as my inquiries go, by a Mr. Jacob Hamblin, a leading Mormon, who has charge of "the Fort," on the Santa Clara, and resides there in the winter season, but who has a cattle ranch and a house, where he lives in the summer time, at the Mountain Meadows. I here give what he said, and which I wrote down sentence by sentence, as he related it. He told me he had given the same information to Judge Cradlebaugh:

"About the middle of August, 1857, I started on a visit to Great Salt Lake City. At Corn Creek, 8 miles south of Fillmore City, I encamped with a train of emigrants who said they were mostly from Arkansas. There were, in my opinion, not over 30 wagons. There were several tents, and they had from 400 to 500 head of horned cattle, 25 head of horses, and some mules.

This information I got in conversation with one of the men of the train. The people seemed to be ordinary frontier homespun' people, as a general thing. Some of the outsiders were rude and rough and calculated to get the ill will of the inhabitants. Several of the men asked me about the condition of the road and the disposition of the Indians, and where there would be a good place to recruit their stock.

I asked them how many men they had. They said they had between forty and fifty "that would do to tie to." I told them I considered if they would keep a good lookout that the Indians did not steal their animals, half that number would be safe, and that the Mountain Meadows was the best place to recruit their animals before they entered upon the desert, I recommended this spring, and the grazing about here, four miles south of my house, as the place where they should stop. The most of these men seemed to have families with them. They remarked that this one train was made up near Salt Lake City of several trains that had crossed the plains separately, and being Southern people, had preferred to take the southern route. This was all of importance that passed between us, and I went on my journey and they proceeded on theirs. On my way back home, at Fillmore City, I heard it said that that Company, meaning the train referred to, had poisoned a small spring at Corn Creek, where I had met them.

There was some considerable excitement about it among the citizens of Fillmore and among the Pah-Vent Indian who live within 8 miles of that place. I was told that eighteen head of cattle had died from drinking the water; that six of the Pah-Vents had been poisoned from eating the flesh of the cattle that died, and that one or two of these Indians had also died. Mr. Robinson, a citizen of Fillmore, whose son was buried the day I got there, said that the boy had been poisoned in 'trying out' the tallow of the dead cattle. I am satisfied that he believed what he said about it. I thought at the time that the spring had been poisoned as stated. I encamped that night with a company from Iron County, who told me that the Company from Arkansas had all been killed at Mountain Meadows except seventeen children.

I afterwards met, between Beaver and Pine Creek, Colonel Daim [William H. Dame] of Parowan, who confirmed what these people from Iron County had said. He further stated that the Indians were collecting on the Muddy with a determination to 'wipe out' another company of emigrants which was several days in rear of the first. He mentioned that the Indians had supplied themselves with arms and ammunition from the train destroyed at the Meadows. After consulting with him, he advised me to go forward and spare no pains in trying to prevent their carrying their purpose into execution, and he gave me an order to press into service any animal I might require for that purpose. I got a horse at Beaver about 8 o'clock that evening, and the next evening at Pinto Creek, 83 miles distant, I met Mr. Dudley Leavett [Leavitt], from