DAILY ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS.
Denver, Colorado, Wed., Nov. 25, 1874.
MOUNTAIN MEADOW MASSACRE.
Something About an Almost Forgotten Crime -- John D. Lee's
Dreadful Secret -- The Worst Villain That Ever Went Unhung --
Even the Navajoes Rejoice at His Arrest.
For weeks past the telegraph dispatches from Salt Lake have contained allusions to the Mountain Meadow massacre, and a
few days since it was announced that John D. Lee had been arrested, and that in due time he would tell all he knew
about it. Whether he will do so remains to be seen, but it is predicted by many that he never will tell all, for if he
did, the people would be so outraged by his confessions that they would tear him limb from limb.
SCENE OF THE MASSACRE.
The scene of the horrible massacre at Mountain Meadow is situated about three hundred and fifty miles west of south
from Great Salt Lake City, on the old emigrant route leading to Los Angeles, California. In the spring of 1859 Judge
John Cradlebaugh, who at that time was the federal judge of the district in which the Mountain Meadow was located,
determined to make an effort to, if possible, expose the persons engaged in the massacre. General Johnson, who afterward
went into the confederate army, and was killed at the battle of Shiloh, was in command of the troops in Utah at the
time, and sent a detachment of troops with
Judge Cradlebaugh. The command went as far
south as the Santya Clara -- a clear, bright and rapid river, some twenty-five miles beyond the Mountain Meadow, where
it camped and remained about ten days.
AN INDIAN CHIEF'S STORY.
During the stay there Judge Cradlebaugh was visited by the Indian chiefs of the section, who gave him their version of
the massacre. They admitted that a portion of their men were engaged in the massacre, but were not there when the
attack commenced. One of them told Judge Cradlebaugh that after the attack had been made a white man came to their
camp with a piece of paper, which, he said, Brigham Young had sent, that directed them to go and help whip the emigrants.
A portion of the band went, but, said the old liar, they did not assist in the fight. He gave, as a reason, that the
emigrants had long guns and were remarkably accurate marksmen. He said that his brother (the chief's name was Jackson)
was shot in the hip while running across the meadow at a distance of two hundred yards from the corral where the
emigrants were. He said the Mormons were all painted to look like Indians. This chief said the Indians got a part of
the clothing taken from the train, but that the Mormons took all the guns, horses, cattle and wagons. He gave the names
of John D. Lee, President Haight and Bishop Higbee as the big captains. It might be proper here to remark that the
Indians in the southern part of the territory of Utah are not numerous, and are a very low, cowardly set, very few of
them being armed with guns. They are not formidable, and it was the general impression of those forming Judge
Cradlebaugh's party, that all the Indians in the southern part of the territory would, under no circumstances, carry
on a fight against ten white men.
THE EMIGRANT TRAIN.
The company was composed of about thirty families, and one hundred and thirty to one hundred and forty persons,
principally from Johnson county, Arkansas. It is generally conceded that the company was abundantly supplied with
traveling and extra horses, cattle, etc. They had thirty good wagons, and about sixty mules and horses, and six hundred
head of cattle -- some of the cattle blooded stick. The emigrants arrived in Salt Lake valley in the latter part of
July, and traveled south, stopping for several days at Provo City [Corn] creek, Fillmore and Sevier river. The train
reached the Mountain Meadow on the second or third of September, 1857, and halted, determining to remain until the
following Monday, on which day the attack was made upon them.
THE FIRST ATTACK.
The first attack was made by going down the ravine, then following up the bed of the spring to near it, then at daylight
firing upon the men around the camp-fires, in which attack ten or twelve of the emigrants were killed or wounded, the
stock of the emigrants having been previously driven behind the hill and up the ravine. The emigrants soon got in
condition to repel the attack, shoved their wagons together, subk the wheels in the earth and threw up quite an
intrenchment. The fighting afterward continued as a siege, the assailants occupying the hill, and firing at any of the
emigrants that exposed themselves, having a barricade of stones along the crest of a hill as a protection. The siege
was continued for five days, the besiegers appearing in the garb of Indians. The Mormons and Ondians, seeing that they
could not capture the train without making some sacrifices of life on their part, and getting weary of the fight,
resolved to accomplish by strategy what they were not able to do by force. The fight had been going on for five days,
and no aid was received from any quarter, although the family of Jacob Hamlin, the Indian agent of the United States,
and a Mormon, was living at the upper end of the valley, and within hearing of the reports of the guns; and the town of
Cedar City, with from five hundred to eight hundred inhabitants, was not more than twenty-five miles away.
HOPE OF RESCUE.
A wagon appeared containing President Haight and John D. Lee, among others of the Mormon church. They professed to be
on good terms with the Indians, and represented the Indians as being very mad. They also proposed to intercede, and
settle the matter with the Indians. After several hours of parley, they having apparently visited the Indians, they
gave the ultimatum of the savages, which was that the emigrants should march out of their camp, leaving everything
behind them, even their guns. It was promised by the Mormon bishops that they would bring a force and guard the
emigrants back to the settlement.
THE FATAL TRAP SPRUNG.
The terms were agreed to; the emigrants being desirous of saving the lives of their families. The Mormons retired and
subsequently appeared at the corral with thirty or forty armed men. The emigrants were marched out, the women and
children in front, and the men behind, the Mormon guard being in the rear. When they had marched in this way about
a mile, at a given signal the slaughter commenced. The men were most all shot down at the first fire from the guard.
Two only escaped, who fled to the desert, and were followed 150 miles before they were overtaken and slaughtered.
The women and children ran on, two or three hundred yards farther, when they were overtaken, and with the aid of the
Indians they were butchered in a most cruel manner. Seventeen only of the small children were saved, the eldest being
seven years. Thus, on the 10th day of September, 1857, was consummated one of the most cruel, cowardly, and bloody
murders known to history.
JUDGE CRADLEBAUGH'S INVESTIGATIONS.
Judge Cradlebaugh proposed to hold an examining court, bit as orders were issued that the military should not be used
in protecting the courts, his plans had to be abandoned. While at Cedar City, however, the judge was visited by a number
of Mormons, apostates, who gave him every assurance that they would furnish an abundance of evidence in regard to the
matter, so soon as they were assured of military protection. In fact, some of the persons engaged in the act came to
see the judge in the night, and gave a full account of the matter, intending, when protection was at hand, to become
witnesses. They claimed that they had been forced into the matter by the bishops. Their statements corroborated what
the Indians had previously said. The deputy United States marshals during their trip, succeeded in finding twelve of
the surviving children. They were all found in the custody of the Mormon families, who, however, claimed to have
purchased them from the Indians. Some of the children related the circumstances of the butchery. One of them said to
Judge Cradlebaugh: "Oh, I wish I was a man; I know what I would do; I'd shoot Mr. Lee; for I saw him shoot my mother."
During Judge Cradlebaugh's excursion to the scene of the massacre he discovered that the remains of the victims had
never been buried -- although two years years had passed since the slaughter. At a later period a detachment of troops,
under command of Major General Carlton, gathered the remains together and buried them near the spring beside which
they were encamped when attacked by the Mormons. At the time he was there, he erected a monument to the memory of the
dead. It was constructed by raising a large pile of rock in the form of a cone, in the centre of which was erected a
beam twelve of fifteen feet in height. On one of the stones he caused to be engraved, "Here lie the bones of 120 men,
women and children, from Arkansas, murdered on the 10th day of September, 1857." Upon a cross-tree on the beam, he
caused to be painted, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay." A year or two later the monument was
destroyed -- not one stone being left on another.
TESTIMONY OF CAPTAIN R. P. CAMPBELL.
Captain R. P. Campbell, of the United States army, in his report of the expedition to the scene of the Mountain Meadows
"Here I found human skulls, bones, and hair scattered about, and scraps of clothing of men, women,
and children. I saw one girl’s dress, apparently that of a child of ten or twelve years of age.
These were the remains of a party of peaceful inhabitants of the United States, consisting of men,
women, and children, and numbering about one hundred and fifty, who were removing with their effects
from the state of Arkansas to the state of California. These emigrants were here met by the Mormons
(assisted by such of the wretched Indians of the neighborhood as they could force or persuade to join,)
and massacred, with the exception of such infant children as the Mormons thought too young to remember
or tell of the affair. The Mormons had their faces painted so as to disguise themselves as Indians.
The Mormons were led on by John B. Lee, then a high dignitary in the self-styled church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Isaac Haight, now a dignitary in the same. This affair began by a
surprise. The emigrants were encamped near a spring from which there is a ravine. Along this ravine
the Mormons and Indians crept to the spring during the night. When the emigrants arose in the morning,
they were fired upon, and some twelve or fifteen of them killed. The emigrants then seized their arms,
and defended themselves so bravely that, after four days, the Mormons and Indians had not succeeded
in exterminating them. This horrid affair was finished by an act of treachery. John D. Lee, having
washed the paint from his face, came to the emigrants and told them that if they would surrender
themselves, and give their property to the Indians, the Mormons would conduct them back to Cedar
City. The emigrants then surrendered, with their wives and children. They were taken about a mile
and a half from the spring, where they, their wives, and their children (with the exception of some
infants) were killed. These facts were derived from the children who did remember and could tell of
the matter, from the Indians, and from the Mormons themselves. This affair occurred in the month of
This man, Lee, who has just been arrested, has never denied, we believe, that he was present at the massacre, but
pretended that he was there to prevent bloodshed; but incontestible evidence implicates him as the leader of the
murderers. The surviving children, some of whom are still in Mormon families in Southern Utah, point him out as the
fiend who killed their mothers and fathers, and it is a matter of wonder that these children haven’t been butchered,
too, years ago. No longer than a year ago one of these children recognized a jewel on a Mormon woman which had been
the property of the child’s mother before the massacre. Governor Arny, now in this city, says that the Navajo chiefs,
who are accompanying him to Washington, were overjoyed when told by the interpreters of Lee’s arrest. They charged
him with having murdered emigrants and prospectors, crossing from Colorado and New Mexico into Southern Utah, and
then laying it to the Navajos. They also say that Lee led the party, last summer, which assassinated three of their
tribe on the Colorado river.
Note: Most of the above article was reprinted in the Topeka Daily Commonwealth of December 2, 1874.