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On September 11, 1857, 120 men, women and children—pioneers from Arkansas headed because that California—were massacred after gift promised for sure passage through a southern Utah valley known as mountain Meadows.

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They were murdered through a tiny Mormon militia and also its Indian allies in a dreadful ploy: after a four-day gun battle with their attackers, the pioneers accepted a truce that turned out to be a deadly lie. They to be clubbed, stabbed or shot at point-blank range, then stripped and also left to be scavenged through wolves and also buzzards. The only ones spared to be 17 youngsters under the age of eight, that were taken in by local Mormon families, and would later on testify they saw their parents’ clothes and also jewels gift worn by locals.

The country was and remains horrified by what happened at hill Meadows. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has steadfastly denied responsibility. At first, it blamed Indians; later, it asserted a rogue church main was responsible—and after 2 trials, Mormon militia leader john Lee to be hanged in 1877 because that the killings.

But now, a new book, which has been a bestseller in Utah since it showed up last summer, insurance claims the massacre to be ordered through Mormon Prophet Brigham Young. Anxiously awaited is a book due come be released in 2004 by 3 Mormon church chroniclers that will exonerate Young.

True West request the authors of both publications to lay the end their claims. Will Bagley, a history columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune, is the author of Blood the the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at mountain Meadows released by the university of Oklahoma Press. Ron Walker is one of the 3 Mormon chroniclers writing the upcoming rebuttal to be released by Oxford college Press.

Their face-off begins.

Brigham Young go It.

By will Bagley

There room two ways to interpret the evidence around who bespeak the brutal murder of 120 men, women and also children at a remote Utah oasis ~ above the roadway to California on September 11, 1857. Fifty-three years back Juanita Brooks’ classic study, The hill Meadows Massacre, concluded the crime to be the an outcome of one unfortunate circumstance after another. (She additionally established “from the most impeccable Mormon sources” the Brigham Young had obstructed a murder investigation for 18 years, i m sorry made the guilty of felony murder.)

The 2nd explanation is the the massacre to be a calculated action of vengeance.

After 5 years researching and writing around this horrific atrocity, I wondered about I’d ever discover a definitive answer to the question, “Did Brigham Young stimulate the killing at mountain Meadows?”

I to be wrong.

To my surprise, I discovered evidence that encouraged me past a zero of a doubt that Brigham Young issued assignment (probably verbal) to death everyone in the Fancher party other than those of “innocent blood”—children under eight year of age—to meet his sacred vow to “avenge the blood the the prophets” Joseph and also Hyrum Smith, and more specifically, Apostle Parley P. Pratt. As one of John D. Lee’s wives placed it, “The Mormons to be so insulted and also indignant over the death or killing of Pratt that they Raked untold Vengeance on the poor Emigrants.”

When I started writing around the massacre, i realized trying come “prove” anything around this appalling crime would prove only that i was one idiot. The proof has been so corrupted—suppressed, destroyed, and fabricated—it’s hard to identify the date the murders take it place, permit alone map all the ins and also outs the the conspiracy behind the crime. Creating a polemic trying to blame Brigham Young would be self-defeating, simply as writing an apologia to clean his skirts would eventually have to justification murder. Instead I tried come tell the story as honestly and accurately as feasible and let readers comprise their own minds around who notified the slaughter of more than 80 women and also children—and why.

Apparently i succeeded, because critics in the rental of the LDS Church case I don’t “prove” Brigham Young ordered the murders. World make what they desire of the facts in my book, Blood that the Prophets: Brigham Young and also the Massacre at mountain Meadows, yet for many readers, the evidence about who bespeak the massacre is overwhelming.

As any attorney knows, the trouble with a guilty client is he acts guilty, and after the massacre Brigham Young never behaved prefer an innocent man. Young’s fiery discourses calling because that blood and also vengeance, his encourage of Indian assaults on wagon trains and the lies the told come cover up the crime all show he to be intimately involved in fomenting a vicious action of vengeance.

He said he walk it.

Shortly after ~ the outbreak the the polite War, Brigham Young and his entourage visited mountain Meadows because that the first time due to the fact that 1857. He quit at the cairn the U.S. Army’s an initial Dragoons had actually raised in 1859 end the grave of the emigrants who scattered bones they had gathered and buried. Young check out the Bible verse the soldiers had inscribed top top a cedar overcome atop the monument: “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.”

“It need to read,” he said, “‘Vengeance is mine, and I have taken a little.’” Young climate directed the desecration the the grave. “Within 5 minutes,” recalled massacre participant Dudley Leavitt, “not one stone stood ~ above another.”

A few days later Young justified the massacre as a vital act the righteous vengeance. “The agency that was provided up at the hill Meadowes” had the fathers, mothers, brothers, sister “& connections” that the males who murdered the prophets, the told john D. Lee, and also “they Merited their fate.” The only thing that ever before troubled Young “was the resides of the ladies & children, but that under the situations might not it is in avoided.”

“But,” I have the right to hear Mormon chroniclers object, “this is completely circumstantial evidence Young actually ordered the killings.” can be, but it’s no more circumstantial 보다 the evidence O.J. Simpson murdered his wife.

Why did Brigham Young allegedly send a article telling southerly Utahns no to death the emigrants unless he was countermanding vault orders? Why didn’t he use his powers together territorial branch to hunt down the males who cursed this despicable crime? Why go he carry out nothing to return the stolen residential property of the 17 surviving orphans? Why did that threaten moral men who referred to as for righteousness in the matter? Why did that shield the murderers and allow the church’s newspaper come blame the crime ~ above the Paiutes for a dozen years after Jacob Hamblin told that Mormons to be involved? and also why go the Deseret News proceed lying about Mountain meadows to this day?

Finally, why has so much evidence been ruined or purged native Mormon archives, and why has actually so much evidence been suppressed?

There’s one prize to all these questions: Brigham Young bespeak the murders together a righteous plot of vengeance.

Learning just how Eleanor McLean Pratt acquired to Salt Lake City encouraged me Brigham Young “did it.” The 12th Mrs. Pratt had hidden her polygamous husband Parley in Arkansas the previous May, and also she was obsessed with exacting vengeance native his murderers. She thought God’s “legions” would certainly “hunt them under in every land & place.” With aid from Mormon apostles in Missouri, Eleanor come in Utah on July 23, 1857, wherein she allegedly fee that men in the Fancher party had helped her first husband killing Apostle Pratt. She request Mormon authorities hear to “the cry the his blood” and also take swift vengeance against the Fancher train, which had left Arkansas long before Pratt was killed.

How go the widow Pratt cross 1,500 dusty mile in a mere 21 days?

That concern stumped me because that years, and like plenty of other Mormon mysteries the clues have been carefully purged from the documents of Utah’s past. When I learned that Orrin Porter Rockwell, the well known Mormon lawman and “Danite,” had rushed Mrs. Pratt across the levels in document time, i knew what taken place at hill Meadows.

Why? The great historian Harold Schindler spent 40 years learning everything there to be to know about Orrin Porter Rockwell, guy of God/Son that Thunder (the title of his critical biography). Hiding Rockwell’s function in expressing Eleanor to Utah from mine late girlfriend Hal was proof that had been very closely suppressed. And also “the suppressing the evidence,” Andrew Hamilton claimed in 1735, “ought constantly be taken because that the best evidence.”

Brigham Young walk it.

No that Didn’t.

By Ron Walker

Americans reap a good mystery, and they like conspiracies. They are also fascinated by story of murder and especially murder on a cool scale. The no coincidence, then, that pulp fiction and also Hollywood have actually used these ingredients—mystery, conspiracy and mass murder—for years. So do some writer who’ve written about the hill Meadows Massacre.

There is a reasonable to this. It creates a sensation and sells books. Yet it’s no a formula for good history.

Good background must be based on facts. Stubborn facts. Not theories. No circumstantial evidence. Not historic conspiracies produced by authors speculating around the past.

The complying with are a few facts important for an knowledge of this destructive event in Western and also Mormon history.

Brigham Young make the efforts to avoid the massacre.

“In regard to migration trains arriving and also passing v our settlements,” he composed in a letter design to restore calm in southern Utah, “We have to not interfere v them.” this clear and also difficult-to-misread words were rushed come Cedar City after Young received an refer from regional setters there telling him of pending trouble. Tragically, Young’s letter arrived 2 days ~ the massacre, regardless of one that the epos rides in western history. James Haslam, that rode the 500-mile circuit in six days, recalled, Young “told me . . . Not to spare horseflesh.” the didn’t.

Copies that Young’s letter exist both in rough draft and final breeze form. The last is filed in sequential stimulate in Young’s well-preserved and bound letter books. Witnesses later on testified around Haslam’s dramatic come in Salt Lake City, the creating of the letter and also its dispatch South. In short, Young’s letter should be taken at confront value: It was a determined, virtually frantic, effort to protect against the massacre.

No credible proof exists the Young wanted the massacre.

Of course, anti-Young chroniclers say otherwise. For motives, they point to the persecution of the Mormon people and to the previously killing that Mormon leader Joseph and also Hyrum Smith. Adding fuel come Mormon rage, they argue, was the killing, a couple of months prior to the massacre, the Apostle Parley P. Pratt. Pratt had been murdered in Arkansas, whereby the Baker-Fancher party had actually its origin. Wouldn’t these occasions have kindled Young’s anger and led him to look for revenge? movie critics assume, yes.

But history is no assumption. The facts room these: Young speak out versus revenge killings. Justice for his people’s wrongs to be heaven’s responsibility, not his, the said. No one did Pratt’s death stir blood lust. “The seeing of our faithful Elders slaughtered in cold blood,” he composed after his friend’s death, is “at times almost to grevious to it is in borne, but as the spirit within me whispers, tranquility be still.” This advice was never ever changed.

Logically, the idea of notified a massacre as 2,500 U.S. Troops marched upon Salt Lake City is absurd. Young was as well clever—and as well religiously devout—to have destroyed the emigrants and also thus irreparably damage the call of his people. The situation of the Utah war demanded the he husband ethical authority and public opinion.

Young was no complicit in planning or executing the massacre.

With no extr evidence, part historians have actually pointed come a native American council held in Salt Lake City on September 1, 1857. The council sought to produce a Mormon-Indian alliance, and also to do such an setup attractive come the Indians, Young allegedly told them that he would certainly no longer stop them from stealing emigrant livestock on the California Trail.

While this Indian board of directors is important and requires extended scholarly discussion, this much have the right to be said: No evidence argues the council’s focus was the Baker-Fancher party, much much less its destruction. No proof exists the the ind at the the supervisory board agreed to attack. Finally, it is additionally a issue of historic record the none of the Indian leaders at the Salt Lake the supervisory board were later at hill Meadows, except the southerly Ute leader, Ammon, that tried to avoid the massacre.

Evidence exculpates Young.

Because the historic past will constantly be opaque, chroniclers must seek the weight of evidence, and also in this case, the preponderance says Young’s innocence. Specifically telling is the testimony that those that did the killing at the Meadows. These men later insisted that no orders had come indigenous Salt Lake City, and also this testimony contained that offered by those who in later on life left Utah and also Mormonism. Some testimony come in exclusive interviews as soon as there to be no motive to lie.

Likewise, john D. Lee, the only guy convicted that the murders, to be repeatedly readily available leniency in exchange for incriminating Young—the last offer was made simply moments before his execution. Regardless of a growing bitterness toward his previous mentor, Lee refused. “Matters have actually & space being delay with architecture of Cohearce me to do a statement past what ns know,” he composed in his diary. But “I am established by the aid of God never to be affected by each other false witness versus My Neighbour.” Later, he complained the those who doubted him want lies, no truth. Quite than administer them with what they wanted, Lee “chose to die like a man then to live a villain.”

The occasions at mountain Meadows carry out not suggest a conspiracy, and also certainly none including Young.

While several factors for this statement may be suggested, many persuasive is the ebb and flow that the neighborhood decision-making throughout the weeklong event. In this period, militia leader at Cedar City and also at hill Meadows changed their minds several times whether the killing need to go forward. They to be reacting to occasions as they take it place. Also on the work of the slaughter, couriers were apparently hurrying indigenous Cedar City—30 mile to the east—to speak to it off. In short, the massacre is best explained through cascading local occasions in a setup of too much excitement and fear. When it was over, guys quarreled end responsibility, and many vowed that no one should ever know of your deadly work, including, presumably, Brigham Young.

Young was no a man of violence.

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While the church leader’s temper and strong words at the pulpit earned him a call for coercion, in truth, those who knew him finest often speak of his caution and also his abhorrence that bloodshed. Militia orders come the Mormon military carried Young’s words on the reverse: “Shed no blood.”

“When the publications are opened up in the day of judgment,” declared an associate who was in ~ his side in 1857, “these things will it is in proven to heaven and also earth.”

The mountain Meadows Massacre to be a awful atrocity, and the command of part Mormons involved in it to be deplorable: solid words native the Tabernacle pulpit, Saints seeking vengeance since of their past persecution, Young’s risky aboriginal American alliance, senseless plot by some neighborhood Mormon leaders, Utah’s troubling episodes of extralegal violence and also most awful, the damaging killing at hill Meadows. Yet we only make the tragedy worse through saying the it was something other than what the was—by trying to fit events into a pre-conceived theory of conspiracy. That admonition has charging Brigham Young through crimes the he did no commit.