About This Record
Also see: Last Words of John D. Lee
LAST CONFESSION AND STATEMENT OF JOHN D. LEE.
WRITTEN AT HIS DICTATION AND DELIVERED TO WILLIAM
ATTORNEY FOR LEE, WITH A REQUEST THAT THE
SAME BE PUBLISHED.
AS A DUTY to myself, my family, and mankind at large, I propose
to give a full and true statement of all that I know and all that I did in
that unfortunate affair, which has cursed my existence, and made me a
wanderer from place to place for the last nineteen years, and which is
known to the world as the MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE.
I have no vindictive feeling
against any one; no enemies to punish by this statement; and no friends to
shield by keeping back, or longer keeping secret, any of the facts
connected with the Massacre.
I believe that I must tell all
that I do know, and tell everything just as the same transpired. I shall
tell the truth and permit the public to judge who is most to blame for the
crime that I am accused of committing. I did not act alone; I had many to
assist me at the Mountain Meadows. I believe that most of those who were
connected with the Massacre, and took part in the lamentable transaction
that has blackened the character of all who were aiders or abettors in the
same, were acting under the impression that they were performing a
religious duty. I know all were acting under the orders and by the command
of their Church leaders; and I firmly believe that the most of those who
took part in the proceedings, considered it a religious duty to
unquestioningly obey the orders which they had received. That they acted
from a sense of duty to the Mormon Church, I
never doubted. Believing
that those with me acted from a sense of religious duty on that occasion,
I have faithfully kept the secret of their guilt, and remained silent and
true to the oath of secrecy which we took on the bloody field,
for many long and bitter years. I have never betrayed those who acted with
me and participated in the crime for which I am convicted, and for which I
am to suffer death.
My attorneys, especially Wells
Spicer and Wm. W. Bishop, have long tried, but tried in vain, to induce me
to tell all I knew of the massacre and the causes which led to
it. I have heretofore refused to tell the tale. Until the last few days I
had in tended to die, if die I must, without giving one word to the public
concerning those who joined willingly, or unwillingly, in the work of
destruction at Mountain Meadows.
To hesitate longer, or to die in
silence, would be unjust and cowardly. I will not keep the secret any
longer as my own, but will tell all I know.
At the earnest request of a
few remaining friends, and by the advice of Mr. Bishop, my counsel,
who has defended me thus far with all his ability, notwithstanding my want
of money with which to pay even his expenses while attending to my case, I
have concluded to write facts as I know them to exist.
I cannot go before the Judge of
the quick and the dead with out first revealing all that I know, as to
what was done, who ordered me to do what I did do, and the motives that
led to the commission of that unnatural and bloody deed.
The immediate orders for the
killing of the emigrants came from those in authority at Cedar City. At
the time of the massacre, I and those with me, acted by virtue of positive
orders from Isaac C. Haight and his associates at Cedar City. Before I
started on my mission to the Mountain Meadows, I was told by Isaac C.
Haight that his orders to me were the result of full consultatation [sic]
with Colonel William H. Dame and all in authority. It is a new thing to
me, if the massacre was not decided on by the head men of the Church, and
it is a new thing for Mormons to condemn those who committed the deed.
Being forced to speak from memory
alone, without the aid of my memorandum books, and not having time to
correct the statements that I make, I will necessarily give many things
out of their regular order. The superiority that I claim for my statement
ALL THAT I DO SAY
IS TRUE AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.
I will begin my statement by
saying, I was born on the 6th day of September, A. D. 1812, in the town of
Kaskaskia, Randolph County, State of Illinois. I am therefore in the
sixty-fifth year of my age.
I joined the Mormon Church at Far
West, Mo., about thirty-nine years ago. To be with that Church and people
I left my home on Luck Creek, Fayette County, Illinois, and went and
joined the Mormons in Missouri, before the troubles at Gallatin, Far West
and other points, between the Missourians and Mormons. I shared the fate
of my brother Mormons, in being mistreated, arrested, robbed and driven
from Missouri in a destitute condition, by a wild and fanatical mob. But
of all this I shall speak in my life, which I shall write for publication
if I have time to do so.
I took an active part with the
leading men at Nauvoo in building up that city. I induced many Saints to
move to Nauvoo, for the sake of their souls. I traveled and preached the
Mormon doctrine in many States. I was an honored man in the Church, and
stood high with the Priesthood, until the last few years. I am now cut off
from the Church for obeying the orders of my superiors, and doing
so without asking questions--for doing as my religion and my religious
teachers had taught me to do. I am now used by the Mormon Church as a
scape-goat to carry the sins of that people. My life is to be taken, so
that my death may stop further enquiry into the acts of the members who
are still in good standing in the Church. Will my death satisfy the nation
for all the crimes committed by Mormons, at the command of the Priesthood,
who have used and now have deserted me? Time will tell. I believe in a
just God, and I know the day will come when others must answer for
their acts, as I have had to do.
I first became acquainted with
Brigham Young when I went to Far West, Mo., to join the Church, in 1837. I
got very intimately acquainted with all the great leaders of the Church. I
was adopted by Brigham Young as one of his sons, and for many years I
confess I looked upon him as an inspired and holy man. While in Nauvoo I
took an active part in all that was done for the Church or the city. I had
charge of the building of the "Seventy Hall;" I was 7th Policeman. My duty
as a police
man was to guard the
residence and person of Joseph Smith, the Prophet. After the death of
Joseph and Hyrum I was ordered to perform the same duty for Brigham Young.
When Joseph Smith was a candidate for the Presidency of the United States
I went to Kentucky as the chairman of the Board of Elders, or head of the
delegation, to secure the vote of that State for him. When I returned to
Nauvoo again I was General Clerk and Recorder for the Quorum of the
Seventy. I was also head or Chief Clerk for the Church, and as such took
an active part in organizing the Priesthood into the order of Seventy
after the death of Joseph Smith.
After the destruction of Nauvoo,
when the Mormons were driven from the State of Illinois, I again shared
the fate of my brethren, and partook of the hardships and trials that
befel [sic] them from that day up to the settlement of Salt Lake City, in
the then wilderness of the nation. I presented Brigham Young with
seventeen ox teams, fully equipped, when he started with the people from
Winter Quarters to cross the plains to the new resting place of the
Saints. He accepted them and said, "God bless you, John." But I never
received a cent for them--I never wanted pay for them, for in giving
property to Brigham Young I thought I was loaning it to the Lord.
After reaching Salt Lake City I
stayed there but a short time, when I went to live at Cottonwood, where
the mines were afterwards discovered by General Connor and his men during
the late war.
I was just getting fixed to live
there, when I was ordered to go out into the interior and aid in forming
new settlements, and opening up the country. I then had no wish or desire,
save that to know and be able to do the will of the Lord's anointed,
Brigham Young, and until within the last few years I have never had a wish
for anything else except to do his pleasure, since I became his adopted
son. I believed it my duty to obey those in authority. I then believed
that Brigham Young spoke by direction of the God of Heaven. I would have
suffered death rather than have disobeyed any command of his. I had this
feeling until he betrayed and deserted me. At the command of Brigham
Young, I took one hundred and twenty-one men, went in a southern direction
from Salt Lake City, and laid out and built up Parowan. George A. Smith
was the leader and chief man in authority in that settlement. I acted
as historian and clerk of
the Iron County Mission, until January, 1851. I went with Brigham Young,
and acted as a committee man, and located Provo, St. George, Fillmore,
Parowan and other towns, and managed the location of many of the
settlements in Southern Utah.
In 1852, I moved to Harmony, and
built up that settlement. I remained there until the Indians declared war
against the whites and drove the settlers into Cedar City and Parowan, for
protection, in the year 1853.
I removed my then numerous family
to Cedar City, where I was appointed a Captain of the militia, and
commander of Cedar City Military Post.
I had commanded at Cedar City
about one year, when I was ordered to return to Harmony, and build the
Harmony Fort. This order, like all other orders, came from Brigham Young.
When I returned to Harmony and commenced building the fort there, the
orders were given by Brigham Young for the reorganization of the military
at Cedar City. The old men were requested to resign their offices, and let
younger men be appointed in their place. I resigned my office of Captain,
but Isaac C. Haight and John M. Higbee refued [sic] to resign, and
continued to hold on as Majors in the Iron Militia.
After returning to Harmony, I was
President of the civil and local affairs, and Rufus Allen was President of
that Stake of Zion, or head of the Church affairs.
I soon resigned my position as
President of civil affairs, and became a private citizen, and was in no
office for some time. In fact, I never held any position after that,
except the office of Probate Judge of the County (which office I held
before and after the massacre), and member of the Territorial Legislature,
and Delegate to the Constitutional Convention which met and adopted a
constitution for the State of Deseret, after the massacre.
I will here state that Brigham
Young honored me in many ways after the affair at Mountain Meadows was
fully reported to him by me, as I will more fully state hereafter in the
course of what I have to relate concerning that unfortunate transaction.
Klingensmith, at my first trial,
and White, at my last trial, swore falsely when they say that they met me
near Cedar City, the Sunday before the massacre. They did not meet me as
they have sworn, nor did they meet me at all on that occasion or on
any similar occasion. I
never had the conversations with them that they testify about. They are
both perjurers, and bore false testimony against me.
There has never been a witness on
the stand against me 'that has testified to the whole truth. Some have
told part truth, while others lied clear through, but all of the witnesses
who were at the massacre have tried to throw all the blame on me, and to
protect the other men who took part in it.
About the 7th of September, 1857,
I went to Cedar City from my home at Harmony, by order of President
Haight. I did not know what he wanted of me, but he had ordered me to
visit him and I obeyed. If I remember correctly, it was on Sunday evening
that I went there. When I got to Cedar City, I met Isaac C. Haight on the
public square of the town. Haight was then President of that Stake of
Zion, and the highest man in the Mormon priesthood in that country, and
next to Wm. H. Dame in all of Southern Utah, and as Lieutenant Colonel he
was second to Dame in the command of the Iron Military District. The word
and command of Isaac C. Haight were the law in Cedar City, at that time,
and to disobey his orders was certain death; be they right or wrong, no
Saint was permitted to question them, their duty was obedience or death.
When I met Haight, I asked him
what he wanted with me. He said he wanted to have a long talk with me on
private and particular business. We took some blankets and went over to
the old Iron Works, and lay there that night, so that we could talk in
private and in safety. After we got to the Iron Works, Haight told me all
about the train of emigrants. He said (and I then believed every word that
be spoke, for I believed it was an impossible thing for one so high in the
Priesthood as he was, to be guilty of falsehood) that the emigrants were a
rough and abusive set of men. That they had, while traveling through Utah,
been very abusive to all the Mormons they met. That they had insulted,
outraged, and ravished many of the Mormon women. That the abuses heaped
upon the people by the emigrants during their trip from Provo to Cedar
City, had been constant and shameful; that they had burned fences and
destroyed growing crops; that at many points on the road they had poisoned
the water, so that all people and stock that drank of the water became
sick, and many had died from the effects of poison. That these vile
Gentiles publicly proclaimed that they had the very
pistol with which the
Prophet, Joseph Smith, was murdered, and had threatened to kill Brigham
Young and all of the Apostles. That when in Cedar City they said they
would have friends in Utah who would hang Brigham Young by the neck until
he was dead, before snow fell again in the Territory.. They also said that
Johnston was coming, with his army, from the East, and they were going to
return from California with soldiers, as soon as possible, and would then
desolate the land, and kill every d--d Mormon man, woman and child that
they could find in Utah. That they violated the ordinances of the town of
Cedar, and had, by armed force, resisted the officers who tried to arrest
them for violating the law. That after leaving Cedar City the emigrants
camped by the company, or cooperative field, just below Cedar City, and
burned a large portion of the fencing, leaving the crops open to the large
herds of stock in the surrounding country. Also that they had given
poisoned meat to the Corn Creek tribe of Indians, which had killed several
of them, and their Chief, Konosh, was on the trail of the emigrants, and
would soon attack them. All of these things, and much more of a like kind,
Haight told me as we lay in the dark at the old Iron Works. I believed all
that he said, and, thinking that he had full right to do all that he
wanted to do, I was easily induced to follow his instructions.
Haight said that unless something
was done to prevent it, the emigrants would carry out their threats and
rob every one of the outlying settlements in the South, and that the whole
Mormon people were liable to be butchered by the troops that the emigrants
would bring back with them from California. I was then told that the
Council had held a meeting that day, to consider the matter, and that it
was decided by the authorities to arm the Indians, give them provisions
and ammunition, and send them after the emigrants, and have the Indians
give them a brush, and if they killed part or all of them, so
much the better.
I said, "Brother Haight, who is
your authority for acting in this way?"
He replied, "It is the will of
all in authority. The emigrants have no pass from any one to go
through the country, and they are liable to be killed as common enemies,
for the country is at war now. No man has a right to go through this
country without a written pass."
We lay there and talked much of
the night, and during that
time Haight gave me very
full instructions what to do, and how to proceed in the whole affair. He
said he had consulted with Colonel Dame, and every one agreed to let the
Indians use up the whole train if they could. Haight then said:
"I expect you to carry out your
I knew I had to obey or die. I had
no wish to disobey, for I then thought that my superiors in the Church
were the mouth pieces of Heaven, and that it was an act of godliness for
me to obey any and all orders given by them to me, without my asking any
My orders were to go home to
Harmony, and see Carl Shirts, my son-in-law, an Indian interpreter, and
send him to the Indians in the South, to notify them that the Mormons and
Indians were at war with the "Mericats" (as the Indians called
all whites that were not Mormons) and bring all the Southern Indians up
and have them join with those from the North, so that their force would be
sufficient to make a successful attack on the emigrants.
It was agreed that Haight would
send Nephi Johnson, another Indian interpreter, to stir up all
the other Indians that he could find, in order to have a large enough
force of Indians to give the emigrants a good hush. He said,
"These are the orders that have been agreed upon by the Council, and it is
in accordance with the feelings of the entire people."
I asked him if it would not have
been better to first send to Brigham Young for instructions, and find out
what he thought about the matter.
"No," said Haight, "that is
unnecessary, we are acting by orders. Some of the Indians are now
on the war-path, and all of them must be sent out; all must go, so as to
make the thing a success.
It was then intended that the
Indians should kill the emigrants, and make it an Indian massacre,
and not have any whites interfere with them. No whites were to be
known in the matter, it was to be all done by the Indians, so that it
could be laid to them, if any questions were ever asked about it. I said
"You know what the Indians are.
They will kill all the party, women and children, as well as the men, and
you know we are sworn not to shed innocent blood."
"Oh h--l!" said he, "there will
not be one drop of innocent
blood shed, if every one of
the d--d pack are killed, for they are the worse lot of out-laws and
ruffians that I ever saw in my life."
We agreed upon the whole thing,
how each one should act, and then left the iron works, and went to
Haight's house and, got breakfast.
After breakfast I got ready to
start, and Haight said to me:
"Go, Brother Lee, and see that the
instructions of those in authority are obeyed, and as you are dutiful in
this, so shall your reward be in the kingdom of God, for God will bless
those who willingly obey counsel, and make all things fit for the people
in these last days."
I left Cedar City for my home at
Harmony, to carry out the instructions that I had received from my
I then believed that he acted by
the direct order and command of William H. Dame, and others even higher in
authority than Colonel Dame. One reason for thinking so was from a talk I
had only a few days before, with Apostle George A. Smith, and he had just
then seen Haight, and talked with him, and I knew that George A. Smith
never talked of things that Brigham Young had not talked over with him
before-hand. Then the Mormons were at war with the United States, and the
orders to the Mormons had been all the time to kill and waste away our
enemies, but lose none of our people. These emigrants were from the
section of country most hostile to our people, and I believed then as I do
now, that it was the will of every true Mormon in Utah, at that time, that
the enemies of the Church should be killed as fast as possible, and that
as this lot of people had men amongst them that were supposed to have
helped kill the Prophets in the Carthage jail, the killing of all of them
would be keeping our oaths and avenging the blood of the Prophets.
In justice to myself I will give
the facts of my talk with George A. Smith.
In the latter part of the month of
August, 1857, about ten days before the company of Captain Fancher, who
met their doom at Mountain Meadows, arrived at that place, General George
A. Smith called on me at one of my homes at Washington City, Washington
County, Utah Territory, and wished me to take him round by Fort Clara, via
Pinto Settlements, to Hamilton Fort, or Cedar City. He said,
"I have been sent down here by the
old Boss, Brigham Young,
to Instruct the brethren of
the different settlements not to sell any of their grain to our enemies.
And to tell them not, to feed it to their animals, for it will all be
needed by ourselves. I am also to instruct the brethren to prepare for a
big fight, for the enemy is coming in large force to attempt our
destruction. But Johnston's army will not be allowed to approach our
settlements from the east. God is on our side and will fight our battles
for us, and deliver our enemies into our hands. Brigham Young has received
revelations from God, giving him the right and the power to call down the
curse of God on all our enemies who attempt to invade our Territory.
Our greatest danger lies in the people of California--a class of
reckless miners who are strangers to God and his righteousness. They are
likely to come upon us from the south and destroy the small settlements.
But we will try and outwit them before we suffer much damage. The people
of the United States who oppose our Church and people are a mob, from the
President down, and as such it is impossible for their armies to prevail
against the Saints who have gathered here in the mountains."
He continued this kind of talk for
some hours to me and my friends who were with me.
General George A. Smith held high
rank as a military leader. He was one of the twelve apostles of the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and as such he was considered by me
to be an inspired man. His orders were to me sacred commands, which I
considered it my duty to obey, without question or hesitation.
I took my horses and carriage and
drove with him to either Hamilton Fort or Cedar City, visiting the
settlements with him, as he had requested. I did not go to hear him preach
at any of our stopping places, nor did I pay attention to what he said to
the leaders in the settlements.
The day we left Fort Clara, which
was then the headquarters of the Indian missionaries under the presidency
of Jacob Hamblin, we stopped to noon at the Clara River. While there the
Indians gathered around us in large numbers, and were quite saucy and
impudent. Their chiefs asked me where I was going and who I had with me. I
told them that he was a big captain.
"Is he, a Mericat Captain?"
"No," I said, "he is a Mormon."
The Indians then wanted to know
more. They wanted to have a talk.
The General told me to tell the
Indians that the Mormons were their friends, and that the Americans were
their enemies, and the enemies of the Mormons, too; that he wanted the
Indians to remain the fast friends of the Mormons, for the Mormons were
all friends to the Indians; that the Americans had a large army just east
of the mountains, and intended to come over the mountains into Utah and
kill all of the Mormons and Indians in Utah Territory; that the Indians
must get ready and keep ready for war against all of the Americans, and
keep friendly with the Mormons and obey what the Mormons told them to
do--that this was the will of the Great Spirit; that if the Indians were
true to the Mormons and would help them against their enemies, then the
Mormons would always keep them from want and sickness and give them guns
and ammunition to hunt and kill game with, and would also help the Indians
against their enemies when they went into war.
This talk pleased the Indians, and
they agreed to all that I asked them to do.
I saw that my friend Smith was a
little nervous and fearful of the Indians, notwithstanding their promises
of friendship. To relieve him of his anxiety I hitched up and started on
our way, as soon as I could do so without rousing the suspicions of the
We had ridden along about a mile
or so when General Smith said,
"Those are savage looking fellows.
I think they would make it lively for an emigrant train if one should come
I said I thought they would attack
any train that would come in their way. Then the General was in a deep
study for some time, when he said,
"Suppose an emigrant train should
come along through this southern country, making threats against our
people and bragging of the part they took in helping kill our Prophets,
what do you think the brethren would do with them? Would they be permitted
to go their way, or would the brethren pitch into them and give them a
I reflected a few moments, and
"You know the brethren are now
under the influence of the late reformation, and are still red-hot for the
The brethren believe the
government wishes to destroy them. I really believe that any train of
emigrants that may come through here will be attacked, and. probably all
destroyed. I am sure they would be wiped out if they had been making
threats again our people. Unless emigrants have a pass from Brigham Young,
or some one in authority, they will certainly never get safely through
My reply pleased him very much,
and he laughed heartily, and then said,
"Do you really believe the
brethren would make it lively for such a train?"
I said, "Yes, sir, I know they
will, unless they are protected by a pass, and I wish to inform you that
unless you want every train captured that comes through here, you
must inform Governor Young that if he wants emigrants to pass, without
being molested, he must send orders to that effect to Colonel Wm. H. Dame
or Major Isaac C. Haight, so that they can give passes to the emigrants,
for their passes will insure safety, but nothing else will,
except the positive orders of Governor Young, as the people are all bitter
against the Gentiles, and full of religious zeal, and anxious to avenge
the blood of the Prophets."
The only reply he made was to the
effect that on his way down from Salt Lake City he had had a long talk
with Major Haight on the same subject, and that Haight had assured him,
and given him to understand, that emigrants who came along without a pass
from Governor Young could not escape from the Territory.
We then rode along in silence for
some distance, when he again turned to me and said,
"Brother Lee, I am satisfied that
the brethren are under the full influence of the reformation, and I
believe they will do just as you say they will with the wicked emigrants
that come through the country making threats and abusing our people."
I repeated my views to him, but at
much greater length, giving my reasons in full for thinking that Governor
Young should give orders to protect all the emigrants that he did not wish
destroyed. I went into a full statement of the wrongs of our people, and
told him that the people were under the blaze of the reformation, full of
wild fire and fanaticism, and that to shed the blood of those who would
dare to speak against the Mormon Church or its leaders, they
would consider doing the
will of God, and that the
people would do it as willingly and cheerfully as they would any other
duty. That the apostle Paul, when he started forth to persecute the
followers of Christ, was not any more sincere than every Mormon was then,
who lived in Southern Utah.
My words served to cheer up the
General very much; he was greatly delighted, and said,
"I am glad to hear so good an
account of our people. God will bless them for all that they do to build
up His Kingdom in the last days."
General Smith did not say one word
to me or intimate to me, that he wished any emigrants to pass in
safety through the Territory. But he led me to believe then, as I believe
now, that he did want, and expected every emigrant to be killed that
undertook to pass through the Territory while we were at war with the
Government. I thought it was his mission to prepare the people
for the bloody work.
I have always believed, since that
day, that General George A. Smith was then visiting Southern Utah to
prepare the people for the work of exterminating Captain Fancher's train
of emigrants, and I now believe that he was sent for that purpose by the
direct command of Brigham Young.
I have been told by Joseph Wood,
Thomas T. Willis, and many others, that they heard George A. Smith preach
at Cedar City during that trip, and that he told the people of Cedar City
that the emigrant's were coming, and he told them that they must not sell
that company any grain or provisions of any kind, for they were a
mob of villains and outlaws, and the enemies of God and the Mormon people.
Sidney Littlefield, of Panguitch,
has told me that he was knowing to the fact of Colonel Wm. H. Dame sending
orders from Parowan to Maj. Haight, at Cedar City, to exterminate the
Francher [sic] outfit, and to kill every emigrant without fail.
Littlefield then lived at Parowan, and Dame was the Presiding Bishop. Dame
still has all the wives he wants, and is a great friend of Brigham Young.
The knowledge of how George A.
Smith felt toward the emigrants, and his telling me that he had a long
talk with Haight on the subject, made me certain that it was the wish of
the Church authorities that Francher [sic] and his train should
be wiped out, and knowing all this, I did not doubt then, and I do not
doubt it now, either, that
Haight was acting by full authority from the Church leaders, and that the
orders he gave to me were just the orders that he had been directed to
give, when he ordered me to raise the Indians and have them attack the
I acted through the whole matter
in a way that I considered it my religious duty to act, and if what I did
was a crime, it was a crime of the Mormon Church, and not a crime for
which I feel individually responsible.
I must here state that
Klingensmith was not in Cedar City that Sunday night. Haight said he had
sent Klingensmith and others over towards Pinto, and around there, to stir
up the Indians and force them to attack the emigrants.
On my way from Cedar City to my
home at Harmony, I came up with a large band of Indians under Moquetas and
Big Bill, two Cedar City Chiefs; they were in their war paint, and fully
equipped for battle. They halted when I came up and said they had had a
big talk with Haight, Higby and Klingensmith, and had got orders from them
to follow up the emigrants and kill them all, and take their property as
the spoil of their enemies.
These Indians wanted me to go with
them and command their forces. I told them that I could not go with them
that evening, that I had orders from Haight, the big Captain, to
send other Indians on the war-path to help them kill the emigrants, and
that I must attend to that first; that I wanted them to go on near where
the emigrants were and camp until the other Indians joined them; that I
would meet them the next day and lead them.
This satisfied them, but they
wanted me to send my little Indian boy, Clem, with them. After some time I
consented to let Clem go with them, and I returned home.
When I got home I told Carl Shirts
what the orders were that Haight had sent to him. Carl was naturally
cowardly and was not willing to go, but I told him the orders must be
obeyed. He then started off that night, or early next morning, to stir up
the Indians of the South, and lead them against the emigrants. The
emigrants were then camped at Mountain Meadows.
The Indians did not obey my
instructions. They met, several hundred strong, at the Meadows, and
attacked the emigrants Tuesday morning, just before daylight, and at the
first fire, as I afterwards learned, they killed seven and wounded sixteen
the emigrants. The latter
fought bravely, and repulsed the Indians, killing some of them and
breaking the knees of two war chiefs, who afterwards died.
The news of the battle was carried
all over the country by Indian runners, and the excitement was great in
all the small settlements. I was notified of what had taken place, early
Tuesday morning, by an Indian who came to my house and gave me a full
account of all that had been done. The Indian said it was the wish of all
the Indians that I should lead them, and that I must go back with him to
I started at once, and by taking
the Indian trail over the mountain, I reached the camp in about twelve
miles from Harmony. To go round by the wagon road it would have been
between forty and fifty miles.
When I reached the camp I found
the Indians in a frenzy of excitement. They threatened to kill me unless I
agreed to lead them against the emigrants, and help them kill them. They
also said they had been told that they could kill the emigrants without
danger to themselves, but they had lost some of their braves, and others
were wounded, and unless they could kill all the "Mericats," as
they called them, they would declare war against the Mormons and kill
every one in the settlements.
I did as well as I could under the
circumstances. I was the only white man there, with a wild and excited
band of several hundred Indians. I tried to persuade them that all would
be well, that I was their friend and would see that they bad their
revenge, if I found out that they were entitled to revenge.
My talk only served to increase
their excitement, and being afraid that they would kill me if I undertook
to leave them, and I would not lead them against the emigrants, so I told
them that I would go south and meet their friends, and hurry them up to
help them. I intended to put a stop to the carnage if I had the power, for
I believed that the emigrants had been sufficiently punished for what they
had done, and I felt then, and always have felt that such wholesale
murdering was wrong.
At first the Indians would not
consent for me to leave them, but they finally said I might go and meet
I then got on my horse and left
the Meadows, and went south.
I had gone about sixteen miles,
when I met Carl Shirts with about one hundred Indians, and a number of
Mormons from the southern settlements. They were going to the scene of the
flict. How they learned of
the emigrants being at the Meadows I never knew, but they did know it, and
were there fully armed, and determined to obey orders.
Amongst those that I remember to
have met there, were Samuel Knight, Oscar Hamblin, William Young, Carl
Shirts, Harrison Pearce, James Pearce, John W. Clark, William Slade, Sr.,
James Matthews, Dudley Leavitt, William Hawley, (now a resident of
Fillmore, Utah Territory,) William Slade, Jr., and two others whose names
I have forgotten. I think they were George W. Adair and John Hawley. I
know they were at the Meadows at the time of the massacre, and I think I
met them that night south of the Meadows, with Samuel Knight and the
The whites camped there that night
with me, but most of the Indians rushed on to their friends at the camp on
I reported to the whites all that
had taken place at the Meadows, but none of them were surprised in the
least. They all seemed to know that the attack was to be made, and all
about it. I spent one of the most miserable nights there that I ever
passed in my life. I spent much of the night in tears and at prayer. I
wrestled with God for wisdom to guide me. I asked for some sign, some
evidence that would satisfy me that my mission was of Heaven, but I got no
satisfaction from my God.
In the morning we all agreed to go
on together to Mountain Meadows, and camp there, and then send a messenger
to Haight, giving him full instructions of what had been done, and to ask
him for further instructions. We knew that the original plan was for the
Indians to do all the work, and the whites to do nothing, only to stay
back and plan for them, and encourage them to do the work. Now we knew the
Indians could not do the work, and we were in a sad fix.
I did not then know that a
messenger had been sent to Brigham Young for instructions. Haight had not
mentioned it to me. I now think that James Haslem was sent to Brigham
Young, as a sharp play on the part of the authorities to protect
themselves, if trouble ever grew out of the matter.
We went to the Meadows and camped
at the springs, about half a mile from the emigrant camp. There was a
larger number of Indians there then, fully three hundred, and I think as
many as four hundred of them. The two Chiefs who were shot in the knee
were in a bad fix. The Indians had killed a number of the emigrants'
horses, and about sixty or seventy head
of cattle were lying dead
on the Meadows, which the Indians bad killed for spite and revenge.
Our company killed a small beef
for dinner, and after eating a hearty meal of it we held a council and
decided to send a messenger to Haight. I said to the messenger, who was
either Edwards or Adair, (I cannot now remember which it was), "Tell
Haight, for my sake, for the people's sake, for God's sake, send me help
to protect and save these emigrants, and pacify the Indians."
The messenger started for Cedar
City, from our camp on the Meadows, about 2 o'clock P. M.
We all staid [sic] on the field,
and I tried to quiet and pacify the Indians, by telling them that I had
sent to Haight, the Big Captain, for orders, and when he sent his order I
would know what to do. This appeared to satisfy the Indians, for said
"The Big Captain will send you
word to kill all the Mericats."
Along toward evening the Indians
again attacked the emigrants. This was Wednesday. I heard the report of
their guns, and the screams of the women and children in the corral.
This was more than I could stand.
So I ran with William Young and John Mangum, to where the Indians were, to
stop the fight. While on the way to them they fired a volley, and three
balls from their guns cut my clothing. One ball went through my hat and
cut my hair on the side of my head. One ball went through my shirt and
leaded my shoulder, the other cut my pants across my bowels. I thought
this was rather warm work, but I kept on until I reached the place where
the Indians were in force. When I got to them, I told them the Great
Spirit would be mad at them if they killed the women and children. I
talked to them some time, and cried with sorrow when I saw that I could
not pacify the savages.
When the Indians saw me in tears,
they called me "Yaw Guts," which in the Indian language means "cry baby,"
and to this day they call me by that name, and consider me a coward.
Oscar Hamblin was a fine
interpreter, and he came to my aid and helped me to induce the Indians to
stop the attack. By his help we got the Indians to agree to be quiet until
word was returned from Haight. (I do not know now but what the messenger
started for Cedar City, after this night attack, but I was so worried and
perplexed at that time, and so much has hap-
pened to distract my
thoughts since then, that my mind is not clear on that subject.)
On Thursday, about noon, several
men came to us from Cedar City. I cannot remember the order in which all
of the people came to the Meadows, but I do recollect that at this time
and in this company Joel White, William C. Stewart, Benjamin Arthur,
Alexander Wilden, Charles Hopkins and ---- Tate, came to us at the camp at
the Springs. These men said but little, but every man seemed to know just
what he was there for. As our messenger had gone for further orders, we
moved our camp about, four hundred yards further up the valley on to a
hill, where we made camp as long as we staid [sic] there.
I soon learned that the whites
were as wicked at heart as the Indians, for every little while during that
day I saw white men. taking aim and shooting at the emigrants' wagons.
They said they were doing it to keep in practice and to help pass off
I remember one man that was
shooting, that rather amused me, for he was shooting at a mark over a
quarter of a mile off, and his gun would not carry a ball two hundred
yards. That man was Alexander Wilden. He took pains to fix up a seat under
the shade of a tree, where he continued to load and shoot until he got
tired. Many of the others acted just as wild and foolish as Wilden did.
The wagons were corraled [sic]
after the Indians had made the first attack. On the second day after our
arrival the emigrants drew their wagons near each other and chained the
wheels one to the other. While they were doing this there was no shooting
going on. Their camp was about one hundred yards above and north of the
spring. They generally got their water from the spring at night.
Thursday morning I saw two men
start from the corral with buckets, and run to the spring and fill their
buckets with water, and go back again. The bullets flew around them thick
and fast, but they got into their corral in safety.
The Indians had agreed to keep
quiet until orders returned from Haight, but they did not keep their word.
They made a determined attack on the train on Thursday morning about
daylight. At this attack the Clara Indians had one brave killed and three
wounded. This so enraged that band that they left for
home that day and drove off
quite a number of cattle with them. During the day I said to John Mangum,
"I will cross over the valley and
go up on the other side, on the hills to the west of the corral, and take
a look at the situation."
I did go. As I was crossing the
valley I was seen by the emigrants, and as soon as they saw that I was a
white man they ran up a white flag in the middle of their corral,
or camp. They 'then sent two little boys from the camp to talk to me, but
I could not talk to them at that time, for I did not know what orders
Haight would send back to me, and until I did know his orders I did not
know how to act. I hid, to keep away from the children. They came to the
place where they had last seen me and hunted all around for me, but being
unable to find me, they turned and went back to the camp in safety.
While the boys were looking for me
several Indians came to me and asked for ammunition with which to kill
them. I told them they must not hurt the children--that if they did I
would kill the first one that made the attempt to injure them. By this act
I was able to save the boys.
It is all false that has been told
about little girls being dressed in white and sent out to me. There never
was anything of the kind done.
I staid [sic] on the west side of
the valley for about two hours, looking down into the emigrant camp, and
feeling all the torture of mind that it is possible for a man to suffer
who feels merciful, and yet knows, as I then knew, what was in store for
that unfortunate company if the Indians were successful in their bloody
While I was standing on the hill
looking down into the corral, I saw two men leave the corral and go
outside to cut some wood; the Indians and whites kept up a steady fire on
them all the time, but they paid no attention to danger, and kept right
along at their work until they had it done, and then they went back into
camp. The men all acted so bravely that it was impossible to keep from
After staying there and looking
down into the camp until I was nearly dead from grief, I returned to the
company at camp. I was worn out with trouble and grief; I was nearly wild
waiting for word from the authorities at Cedar City. I prayed for
word to come that would
enable me to save that band of suffering people, but no such word came. It
never was to come.
On Thursday evening, John M.
Higbee, Major of the Iron Militia, and Philip K. Smith, as he is called
generally, but whose name is Klingensmith, Bishop of Cedar City, came to
our camp with two or three wagons, and a number of men all well armed. I
can remember the following as a portion of the men who came to take part
in the work of death which was so soon to follow, viz.: John M. Higbee,
Major and commander of the Iron Militia, and also first counselor to Isaac
C. Haight; Philip Klingensmith, Bishop of Cedar City; Ira Allen, of the
High Council; Robert Wiley, of the High Council; Richard Harrison, of
Pinto, also a member of the High Council; Samuel McMurdy, one of the
Counselors of Klingensmith; Charles Hopkins, of the City Council of Cedar
City; Samuel Pollock; Daniel McFarland, a son-in-law of Isaac C. Haight,
and acting as Adjutant under Major Higbee; John Ure, of the City Council;
George Hunter, of the City Council; and I honestly believe that John
McFarland, now an attorney-at-law at St. George, Utah, was there--I am not
positive that he was, but my best impression is that he was there: Samuel
Jukes; Nephi Johnson, with a number of Indians under his command; Irvin
Jacobs; John Jacobs; E. Curtis, a Captain of Ten; Thomas Cartwright of the
City Council and High Council; William Bateman, who afterwards carried the
flag of truce to the emigrant camp; Anthony Stratton; A. Loveridge; Joseph
Clews; Jabez Durfey; Columbus Freeman, and some others whose names I
cannot remember. I know that our total force was fifty-four whites and
over three hundred Indians.
As soon as these persons gathered
around the camp, I demanded of Major Higbee what orders he had brought. I
then stated fully all that had happened at the Meadows, so that every
person might understand the situation.
Major Higbee reported as follows:
"It is the orders of the President, that all the emigrants must be put
out of the way. President Haight has counseled with Colonel Dame, or
has had orders from him to put all of the emigrants out of the way; none
who are old enough to talk are to be spared."
He then went on and said
substantially that the emigrants had come through the country as our
enemies, and as the enemies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
Saints. That they
had no pass from any one in authority to
permit them to leave the Territory. That none but friends were permitted
to leave the Territory, and that as these were our sworn enemies, they
must be killed. That they were nothing but a portion of Johnston's army.
That if they were allowed to go on to California, they would raise the war
cloud in the West, and bring certain destruction upon all the settlements
in Utah. That the only safety for the people was in the utter destruction
of the whole rascally lot.
I then told them that God would
have to change my heart before I could consent to such a wicked thing as
the wholesale killing of that people. I attempted to reason with Higbee
and the brethren. I told them how strongly the emigrants were fortified,
and how wicked it was to kill the women and children. I was ordered to be
silent. Higbee said I was resisting authority.
He then said, "Brother Lee is
afraid of shedding innocent blood. Why, brethren, there is not a drop of
innocent blood in that entire camp of Gentile outlaws; they are set of
cut-throats, robbers and assassins; they are a part of the people who
drove the Saints from Missouri, and who aided to shed the blood of our
Prophets, Joseph and Hyrum, and it is our orders from all in authority, to
get the emigrants from their stronghold, and help the Indians kill them."
I then said that Joseph Smith had
told us never to betray any one. That we could not get the emigrants out
of their corral unless we used treachery, and I was opposed to that.
I was interrupted by Higbee,
Klingensmith and Hopkins, who said it was the orders of President Isaac C.
Haight to us, and that Haight had his orders from Colonel Dame and the
authorities at Parowan, and that all in authority were of one mind, and
that they had been sent by the Council at Cedar City to the Meadows to
counsel and direct the way and manner that the company of emigrants should
be disposed of.
The men then in council, I must
here state, now knelt down in a prayer circle and prayed, invoking the
Spirit of God to direct them how to act in the matter.
After prayer, Major Higbee said,
"Here are the orders," and handed me a paper from Haight. It was in
substance that it was the orders of Haight to decoy the emigrants
from their position, and kill all of them that could talk. This order was
writing. Higbee handed it
to me and I read it, and dropped it on the ground, saying,
"I cannot do this."
The substance of the orders were
that the emigrants should be decoyed from their strong-hold, and
all exterminated, so that no one would be left to tell the tale, and then
the authorities could say it was done by the Indians.
The words decoy and
exterminate were used in that message or order, and these orders came
to us as the orders from the Council at Cedar City, and as the orders of
our military superior, that we were bound to obey. The order was signed by
Haight, as commander of the troops at Cedar City.
Haight told me the next day after
the massacre, while on the Meadows, that he got his orders from Colonel
I then left the Council, and went
away to myself, and bowed myself in prayer before God, and asked Him to
overrule the decision of that Council. I shed many bitter tears, and my
tortured soul was wrung nearly from the body by my great suffering. I will
here say, calling upon Heaven, angels, and the spirits of just men to
witness what I say, that if I could then have had a thousand worlds to
command, I would have given them freely to save that company from death.
While in bitter anguish, lamenting
the sad condition of myself and others, Charles Hopkins, a man that I had
great confidence in, came to me from the Council, and tried to comfort me
by saying that he believed it was all right, for the brethren in the
Priesthood were all united in the thing, and it would not be well for
me to oppose them.
I told him the Lord must change my
heart before I could ever do such an act willingly. I will further state
that there was a reign of terror in Utah, at that time, and many a man had
been put out of the way, on short notice, for disobedience, and I had made
some narrow escapes.
At the earnest solicitation of
Brother Hopkins, I returned with him to the Council. When I got back, the
Council again prayed for aid. The Council was called The City Counselors,
the Church or High Counselors; and all in authority, together with the
private citizens, then formed a circle, and kneeling down, so that elbows
would touch each other, several of the brethren prayed for Divine
After prayer, Major Higbee said,
"I have the evidence of God's
approval of our mission. It
is God's will that we carry out our instructions to the letter."
I said, "My God! this is more than
I can do. I must and do refuse to take part in this matter."
Higbee then said to me, "Brother
Lee, I am ordered by President Haight to inform you that you shall receive
a crown of Celestial glory for your faithfulness, and your eternal joy
shall be complete." I was much shaken by this offer, for I had full faith
in the power of the Priesthood to bestow such rewards and blessings, but I
was anxious to save the people. I then proposed that we give the Indians
all of the stock of the emigrants, except sufficient to haul their wagons,
and let them go. To this proposition all the leading men objected. No man
there raised his voice or hand to favor the saving of life, except myself.
The meeting was then addressed by
some one in authority, I do not remember who it was. He spoke in about
this language: "Brethren, we have been sent here to perform a duty. It is
a duty that we owe to God, and to our Church and people. The orders of
those in authority are that all the emigrants must die. Our leaders speak
with inspired tongues, and their orders come from the God of Heaven. We
have no right to question what they have commanded us to do; it is our
duty to obey. If we wished to act as some of our weak-kneed brethren
desire us to do, it would be impossible; the thing has gone too far to
allow us to stop now. The emigrants know that we have aided the Indians,
and if we let them go they will bring certain destruction upon us. It is a
fact that on Wednesday night, two of the emigrants got out of camp and
started back to Cedar City for assistance to withstand the Indian attacks;
they had reached Richards' Springs when they met William C. Stewart, Joel
White and Benjamin Arthur, three of our brethren from Cedar City. The men
stated their business to the brethren, and as their horses were drinking
at the Spring, Brother Stewart, feeling unusually full of zeal
for the glory of God and the upbuilding of the Kingdom of God on earth,
shot and killed one of the emigrants, a young man by the name of Aden.
When Aden fell from his horse, Joel White shot and wounded the other
Gentile; but he unfortunately got away, and returned to his camp and
reported that the Mormons were helping the Indians in all that they were
doing against the emigrants. Now the emigrants will report these facts in
California if we let them go. We must kill them
all, and our orders are to
get them out by treachery if no other thing can be done to get them into
Many of the brethren spoke in the
same way, all arguing that the orders must be carried out.
I was then told the plan of action
had been agreed upon, and it was this: The emigrants were to be decoyed
from their strong-hold under a promise of protection. Brother William
Bateman was to carry a flag of truce and demand a parley, and then I was
to go and arrange the terms of the surrender. I was to demand that all the
children who were so young they could not talk should be put into a wagon,
and the wounded were also to be put into a wagon. Then all the arms and
ammunition of the emigrants should be put into a wagon, and I was to agree
that the Mormons would protect the emigrants from the Indians and conduct
them to Cedar City in safety, where they should be protected until an
opportunity came for sending them to California.
It was agreed that when I had made
the full agreement and treaty, as the brethren called it, the wagons
should start for Hamblin's Ranch with the arms, the wounded and the
children. The women were to march on foot and follow the wagons in single
file; the men were to follow behind the women, they also to march in
single file. Major John M. Higbee was to stand with his militia company
about two hundred yards from the camp, and stand in double file, open
order, with about twenty feet space between the files, so that the wagons
could pass between them. The drivers were to keep right along, and not
stop at the troops. The women were not to stop there, but to follow the
wagons. The troops were to halt the men for a few minutes, until the women
were some distance ahead, out into the cedars, where the Indians were hid
in ambush. Then the march was to be resumed, the troops to form in single
file, each soldier to walk by an emigrant, and on the right-hand side of
his man, and the soldier was to carry his gun on his left arm, ready for
instant use. The march was to continue until the wagons had passed beyond
the ambush of the Indians, and until the women were right in the midst of
the Indians. Higbee was then to give the orders and words, "Do Your Duty."
At this the troops were to shoot down the men; the Indians were to kill
all of the women and larger children, and the drivers of the wagons and I
were to kill the wounded and sick men that were in the wagons. Two
men were to be placed on
horses nearby, to overtake and kill any of the emigrants that might escape
from the first assault. The Indians were to kill the women and large
children, so that it would be certain that no Mormon would be guilty of
shedding innocent blood--if it should happen that there was any
innocent blood in the company that were to die. Our leading men said that
there was no innocent blood in the whole company.
The Council broke up a little
after daylight on Friday morning. All the horses, except two for the men
to ride to overtake those who might escape, and one for Dan McFarland to
ride as Adjutant, so that he could carry orders from one part of the field
to another, were turned out on the range. Then breakfast was eaten, and
the brethren prepared for the work in hand.
I was now satisfied that it was
the wish of all of the Mormon priesthood to have the thing done. One
reason for thinking so was that it was in keeping with the teachings of
the leaders, and as Utah was then at war with the United States we
believed all the Gentiles were to be killed as a war measure, and that the
Mormons, as God's chosen people, were to hold and inhabit the earth and
rule and govern the globe. Another, and one of my strongest reasons for
believing that the leaders wished the thing done, was on account of the
talk that I had with George A. Smith, which I have given in full in this
statement. I was satisfied that Smith had passed the emigrants while on
his way from Salt Lake City, and I then knew this was the train that he
meant when he spoke of a train that would make threats and
illtreat our people, etc.
The people were in the full blaze
of the reformation and anxious to do some act that would add to their
reputation as zealous Churchmen.
I therefore, taking all things
into consideration, and believing, as I then did, that my superiors were
inspired men, who could not go wrong in any matter relating to
the Church or the duty of its members, concluded to be obedient to the
wishes of those in authority. I took up my cross and prepared to do my
Soon after breakfast Major Higbee
ordered the two Indian interpreters, Carl Shirts and Nephi Johnson, to
inform the Indians of the plan of operations, and to place the Indians in
ambush, so that they could not be seen by the emigrants until the work of
death should commence.
This was done in order to make the
emigrants believe that we
had sent the Indians away,
and that we were acting honestly and in good faith, when we agreed to
protect them from the savages.
The orders were obeyed, and in
five minutes not an Indian could be seen on the whole Meadows. They
secreted themselves and lay still as logs of wood, until the order was
given for them to rush out and kill the women.
Major Higbee then called all the
people to order, and directed me to explain the whole plan to them. I did
so, explaining just how every person was expected to act during the whole
Major Higbee then gave the order
for his men to advance. They marched to the spot agreed upon, and halted
there. William Bateman was then selected to carry a flag of truce to the
emigrants and demand their surrender, and I was ordered to go and make the
treaty after some one had replied to our flag of truce. (The emigrants had
kept a white flag flying in their camp ever since they saw me cross the
Bateman took a white flag and
started for the emigrant camp. When he got about half way to the corral,
he was met by one of the emigrants, that I afterwards learned was named
Hamilton. They talked some time, but I never knew what was said between
Brother Bateman returned to the
command and said that the emigrants would accept our terms, and surrender
as we required them to do.
I was then ordered by Major Higbee
to go to the corral and negotiate the treaty, and superintend the whole
matter. I was again ordered to be certain and get all the arms and
ammunition into the wagons. Also to put the children and the sick and
wounded in the wagons, as had been agreed upon in council. Then Major
Higbee said to me:
"Brother Lee, we expect you to
faithfully carry out all the instructions that have been given you by our
Samuel McMurdy and Samuel Knight
were then ordered to drive their teams and follow me to the corral to haul
off the children, arms, etc.
The troops formed in two lines, as
had been agreed upon, and were standing in that way with arms at rest,
when I left them.
I walked ahead of the wagons up to
the corral. When I reached there I met Mr. Hamilton on the outside of the
He loosened the chains from
some of their wagons, and moved one wagon out of the way, so that our
teams could drive inside of the corral and into their camp. It was then
noon, or a little after.
I found that the emigrants were
strongly fortified; their wagons were chained to each other in a circle.
In the centre [sic] was a rifle-pit, large enough to contain the entire
company. This had served to shield them from the constant fire of their
enemy, which had been poured into them from both sides of the valley, from
a rocky range that served as a breastwork for their assailants. The valley
at this point was not more than five hundred yards wide, and the emigrants
had their camp near the center of the valley. On the east and west there
was a low range of rugged, rocky mountains, affording a splendid place for
the protection of the Indians and Mormons, and leaving them in comparative
safety while they fired upon the emigrants. The valley at this place runs
nearly due north and south.
When I entered the corral, I found
the emigrants engaged in burying two men of note among them, who had died
but a short time before from the effect of wounds received by them from
the Indians at the time of the first attack on Tuesday morning. They
wrapped the bodies up in buffalo robes, and buried them in a grave inside
the corral. I was then told by some of the men that seven men were killed
and seventeen others were wounded at the first attack made by the Indians,
and that three of the wounded men had since died, making ten of their
number killed during the siege.
As I entered the fortifications,
men, women and children gathered around me in wild consternation. Some
felt that the time of their happy deliverance had come, while others,
though in deep distress, and all in tears, looked upon me with doubt,
distrust and terror. My feelings at this time may be imagined (but I doubt
the power of man being equal to even imagine how wretched I felt.) No
language can describe my feelings. My position was painful, trying and
awful; my brain seemed to be on fire; my nerves were for a moment
unstrung; humanity was overpowered, as I thought of the cruel, unmanly
part that I was acting. Tears of bitter anguish fell in streams from my
eyes; my tongue refused its office; my faculties were dormant, stupefied
and deadened by grief. I wished that the earth would open and swallow me
where I stood. God knows my suffering
was great. I cannot
describe my feelings. I knew that I was acting a cruel part and doing a
damnable deed. Yet my faith in the godliness of my leaders was such that
it forced me to think that I was not sufficiently spiritual to act the
important part I was commanded to perform. My hesitation was only
momentary. Then feeling that duty compelled obedience to orders,
I laid aside my weakness and my humanity, and became an instrument in the
hands of my superiors and my leaders. I delivered my message and told the
people that they must put their arms in the wagon, so as not to arouse the
animosity of the Indians. I ordered the children and wounded, some
clothing and the arms, to be put into the wagons. Their guns were mostly
Kentucky rifles of the muzzle-loading style. Their ammunition was about
all gone--I do not think there were twenty loads left in their whole camp.
If the emigrants had had a good supply of ammunition they never would have
surrendered, and I do not think we could have captured them without great
loss, for they were brave men and very resolute and determined.
Just as the wagons were loaded,
Dan McFarland came riding into the corral and said that Major Higbee had
ordered great haste to be made, for he was afraid that the Indians would
return and renew the attack before he could get the emigrants to a place
I hurried up the people and
started the wagons off towards Cedar City. As we went out of the corral I
ordered the wagons to turn to the left, so as to leave the troops to the
right of us. Dan McFarland rode before the women and led them right up to
the troops, where they still stood in open order as I left them. The women
and larger children were walking ahead, as directed, and the men following
them. The foremost man was about fifty yards behind the hindmost woman.
The women and children were
hurried right on by the troops. When the men came up they cheered the
soldiers as if they believed that they were acting honestly. Higbee then
gave the orders for his men to form in single file and take their places
as ordered before, that is, at the right of the emigrants.
I saw this much, but about this
time our wagons passed out of sight of the troops, over the hill. I had
disobeyed orders in part by turning off as I did, for I was anxious to be
out of sight of the bloody deed that I knew was to follow. I knew that I
had much to do yet that was
of a cruel and unnatural character. It was my duty, with the two drivers,
to kill the sick and wounded who were in the wagons, and to do so when we
heard the guns of the troops fire. I was walking between the wagons; the
horses were going in a fast walk, and we were fully half a mile from Major
Higbee and his men, when we heard the firing. As we heard the guns, I
ordered a halt and we proceeded to do our part.
I here pause in the recital of
this horrid story of man's inhumanity, and ask myself the question, Is it
honest in me, and can I clear my conscience before my God, if I screen
myself while I accuse others? No, never! Heaven forbid that I should put a
burden upon others' shoulders, that I am unwilling to bear my just portion
of. I am not a traitor to my people, nor to my former friends and comrades
who were with me on that dark day when the work of death was carried on in
God's name, by a lot of deluded and religious fanatics. It is my duty to
tell facts as they exist, and I will do so.
I have said that all of the small
children were put into the wagons; that was wrong, for one little child,
about six months old, was carried in its father's arms, and it was killed
by the same bullet that entered its father's breast; it was shot through
the head. I was told by Haight afterwards, that the child was killed by
accident, but I cannot say whether that is a fact or not. I saw it lying
dead when I returned to the place of slaughter.
When we had got out of sight, as I
said before, and just as we were coming into the main road, I heard a
volley of guns at the place where I knew the troops and emigrants were.
Our teams were then going at a fast walk. I first heard one gun, then a
volley at once followed.
McMurdy and Knight stopped their
teams at once, for they were ordered by Higbee, the same as I was, to help
kill all the sick and wounded who were in the wagons, and to do it as soon
as they heard the guns of the troops. McMurdy was in front; his wagon was
mostly loaded with the arms and small children. McMurdy and Knight got out
of their wagons; each one had a rifle. McMurdy went up to Knight's wagon,
where the sick and wounded were, and raising his rifle to his shoulder,
said: "0 Lord, my God, receive their spirits, it is for thy Kingdom
that I do this." He then shot a man who was lying with his head on
another man's breast; the ball killed both men.
I also went up to the wagon, intending to do my part of the killing. I
drew my pistol and cocked it, but somehow it went off prematurely, and I
shot McMurdy across the thigh, my Pistol ball cutting his buck-skin pants.
McMurdy turned to me and said:
"Brother Lee, keep cool, you are
excited; you came very near killing me. Keep cool, there is no reason for
Knight then shot a man with his
rifle; he shot the man in the head. Knight also brained a boy that was
about fourteen years old. The boy came running up to our wagons, and
Knight struck him on the head with the butt end of his gun, and crushed
his skull. By this time many Indians reached our wagons, and all of the
sick and wounded were killed almost instantly. I saw an Indian from Cedar
City, called Joe, run up to the wagon and catch a man by the hair, and
raise his head up and look into his face; the man shut his eyes, and Joe
shot him in the head. The Indians then examined all of the wounded in the
wagons, and all of the bodies, to see if any were alive, and all that
showed signs of life were at once shot through the head. I did not kill
any one there, but it was an accident that kept me from it, for I fully
intended to do my part of the killing, but by the time I got over the
excitement of coming so near killing McMurdy, the whole of the killing of
the wounded was done. There is no truth in the statement of Nephi Johnson,
where he says I cut a man's throat.
Just after the wounded were all
killed I saw a girl, some ten or eleven years old, running towards us,
from the direction where the troops had attacked the main body of
emigrants; she was covered with blood. An Indian shot her before she got
within sixty yards of us. That was the last person that I saw killed on
About this time an Indian rushed
to the front wagon, and grabbed a little boy, and was going to kill him.
The lad got away from the Indian and ran to me, and caught me by the
knees; and begged me to save him, and not let the Indian kill him. The
Indian had hurt the little fellow's chin on the wagon bed, when he first
caught hold of him. I told the Indian to let the boy alone. I took the
child up in my arms, and put him back in the wagon, and saved his life.
This little boy said his name was Charley Fancher, and that his father was
the train. He was a bright
boy. I afterwards adopted him, and gave him to Caroline. She kept him
until Dr. Forney took all the children East. I believe that William Sloan,
alias Idaho Bill, is the same boy.
After all the parties were dead, I
ordered Knight to drive out on one side, and throw out the dead bodies. He
did so, and threw them out of his wagon at a place about one hundred yards
from the road, and then came back to where I was standing. I then ordered
Knight and McMurdy to take the children that were saved alive, (sixteen
was the number, some say seventeen, I say sixteen,) and drive on to
Hamblin's ranch. They did as I ordered them to do. Before the wagons
started, Nephi Johnson came up in company with the Indians that were under
his command, and Carl Shirts I think came up too, but I know that I then
considered that Carl Shirts was a coward, and I afterwards made him suffer
for being a coward. Several white men came up too, but I cannot tell their
names, as I have forgotten who they were.
Knight lied when he said I went to
the ranch and ordered him to go to the field with his team. I never knew
anything of his team, or heard of it, until he came with a load of armed
men in his wagon, on the evening of Thursday. If any one ordered him to go
to the Meadows, it was Higbee. Every witness that claims that he went to
the Meadows without knowing what he was going to do, has lied, for they
all knew, as well as Haight or any one else did, and they all voted, every
man of them, in the Council, on Friday morning, a little before daylight,
to kill all the emigrants.
After the wagons, with the
children, had started for Hamblin's ranch, I turned and walked back to
where the brethren were. Nephi Johnson lies when he says he was on
horse-back, and met me, or that I gave him orders to go to guard the
wagons. He is a perjured wretch, and has sworn to every thing he could to
injure me. God knows what I did do was bad enough, but he has lied to suit
the leaders of the Church, who want me out of the way.
While going back, to the brethren,
I passed the bodies of several women. In one place I saw six or seven
bodies near each other; they were stripped perfectly naked, and all of
their clothing was torn from their bodies by the Indians.
I walked along the line where the
emigrants had been killed,
and saw many bodies lying
dead and naked on the field, near by where the women lay. I saw ten
children; they had been killed close to each other; they were from ten to
sixteen years of age. The bodies of the women and children were scattered
along the ground for quite a distance before I came to where the men were
I do not know how many were
killed, but I thought then that there were some fifteen women, about ten
children, and about forty men killed, but the statement of others that I
have since talked with about the massacre, makes me think there were fully
one hundred and ten killed that day on the Mountain Meadows, and the ten
who had died in the corral, and young Aden killed by Stewart at Richards'
Springs, would make the total number one hundred and twenty-one.
When I reached the place where the
dead men lay, I was told how the orders had been obeyed. Major Higbee
said, "The boys have acted admirably, they took good aim, and all of the
d--d Gentiles but two or three fell at the first fire."
He said that three or four got
away some distance, but the men on horses soon overtook them and cut their
throats. Higbee said the Indians did their part of the work well, that it
did not take over a minute to finish up when they got fairly started. I
found that the first orders had been carried out to the letter.
Three of the emigrants did get
away, but the Indians were put on their trail and they overtook and killed
them before they reached the settlements in California. But it would take
more time than I have to spare to give the details of their chase and
capture. I may do so in my writings hereafter, but not now.
I found Major Higbee,
Klingensmith. and most of the brethren standing near by where the largest
number of the dead men lay. When I went up to the brethren, Major Higbee
"We must now examine the bodies
I said I did not wish to do any
Higbee then said, "Well, you hold
my hat and I will examine the bodies, and put what valuables I get into
The bodies were all searched by
Higbee, Klingensmith and Wm. C. Stewart. I did hold the hat a while, but I
soon got so sick that I had to give it to some other person, as I was
unable to stand for a few minutes. The search resulted in getting a little
money and a few watches, but there was not much money. Higbee and
Klingensmith kept the property, I suppose, for I
never knew what became of
it, unless they did keep it. I think they kept it all.
After the dead were searched, as I
have just said, the brethren were called up, and Higbee and Klingensmith,
as well as myself, made speeches, and ordered the people to keep the
matter ,a secret from the entire world. Not to tell their wives,
or their most intimate friends, and we pledged ourselves to keep
everything relating to the affair a secret during life. We also took the
most binding oaths to stand by each other, and to always insist that the
massacre was committed by Indians alone. This was the advice of Brigham
Young too, as I will show hereafter.
The men were mostly ordered to
camp there on the field for that night, but Higbee and Klingensmith went
with me to Hamblin's ranch, where we got something to eat, and staid [sic]
there all night. I was nearly dead for rest and sleep; in fact I had
rested but little since the Saturday night before. I took my
saddle-blanket and spread it on the ground soon after I had eaten my
supper, and lay down on the saddle-blanket, using my saddle for a pillow,
and slept soundly until next morning.
I was awakened in the morning by
loud talking between Isaac C. Haight and William H. Dame. They were very
much excited, and quarreling with each other. I got up at once, but was
unable to hear what they were quarreling about, for they cooled down as
soon as they saw that others were paying attention to them.
I soon learned that Col. Dame,
Judge Lewis of Parowan, and Isaac C. Haight, with several others, had
arrived at the Hamblin ranch in the night, but I do not know what time
they got there.
After breakfast we all went back
in a body to the Meadows, to bury the dead and take care of the property
that was left there.
When we reached the Meadows we all
rode up to that part of the field where the women were lying dead. The
bodies of men, women and children had been stripped entirely naked, making
the scene one of the most loathsome and ghastly that can be imagined.
Knowing that Dame and Haight had
quarreled at Hamblin's that morning, I wanted to know how they would act
in sight of the dead, who lay there as the result of their orders. I was
greatly interested to know
what Dame had to say, so I kept close to them, without appearing to be
Colonel Dame was silent for some
time. He looked all over the field, and was quite pale, and looked uneasy
and frightened. I thought then that he was just finding out the difference
between giving and executing orders for wholesale killing. He spoke to
Haight, and said:
"I must report this matter to the
"How will you report it?" said
Dame said, "I will report it just
as it is."
"Yes, I suppose so, and implicate
yourself with the rest?" said Haight.
"No," said Dame. "I will not
implicate myself for I had nothing to do with it."
Haight then said, "That will not
do, for you know a d--d sight better. You ordered it done. Nothing has
been done except by your orders, and it is too late in the day for you to
order things done and then go back on it, and go back on the men who have
carried out your orders. You cannot sow pig on me, and I will be
d--d if I will stand it. You are as much to blame as any one, and you know
that we have done nothing except what you ordered done. I know that I have
obeyed orders, and by G-d I will not be lied on."
Colonel Dame was much excited. He
choked up, and would have gone away, but he knew Haight was a man of
determination, and would not stand any foolishness.
As soon as Colonel Dame could
collect himself, he said:
"I did not think there were so
many of them, or I would not have had anything to do with it."
I thought it was now time for me
to chip in, so I said:
"Brethren, what is the trouble
between you? It will not do for our chief men to disagree."
Haight stepped up to my side, a
little in front of me, and facing Colonel Dame. He was very mad, and said:
"The trouble is just this: Colonel
Dame counseled and ordered me to do this thing, and now
he wants to back out, and go back on me, and by G-d, he shall not do it.
He shall not lay it all on me. He cannot do it. He must not try
to do it. I will blow him to h--l before he shall lay it all on
me. He has got to stand up to what he did, like a little man. He knows he
ordered it, done, and I dare him to deny it."
Colonel Dame was perfectly cowed.
He did not offer to deny it again, but said:
"Isaac, I did not know there were
so many of them."
"That makes no difference," said
Haight, "you ordered me to do it, and you have got to stand up for your
I thought it was now time to stop
the fuss, for many of the young brethren were coming around. So I said:
"Brethren, this is no place to
talk over such a matter. You will agree when you get where you can be
quiet, and talk it over."
Haight said, "There is no more to
say, for he knows he ordered it done, and he has got to stand by it."
That ended the trouble between
them, and I never heard of Colonel Dame denying the giving of the orders
any more, until after the Church authorities concluded to offer me up for
the sins of the Church.
We then went along the field, and
passed by where the brethren were at work covering up the bodies. They
piled the dead bodies up in heaps, in little gullies, and threw dirt over
them. The bodies were only lightly covered, for the ground was hard, and
the brethren did not have sufficient tools to dig with. I suppose it is
true that the first rain washed the bodies all out again, but I never went
back to examine whether it did or not.
We then went along the field to
where the corral and camp had been, to where the wagons were standing. We
found that the Indians had carried off all of the wagon covers, and the
clothing, and the provisions, and had emptied the feathers out of the
feather-beds, and carried off all the ticks.
After the dead were covered up or
buried (but it was not much of a burial,) the brethren were called
together, and a council was held at the emigrant camp. All the leading men
made speeches; Colonel Dame, President Haight. Klingensmith, John M.
Higbee, Hopkins and myself. The speeches were first--Thanks to God for
delivering our enemies into our hands; next, thanking the brethren for
their zeal in God's cause; and then the necessity of always saying the
Indians did it alone, and that the Mormons had nothing to do with it. The
most of the speeches, however, were in the shape of exhortations and
commands to keep the whole matter secret from every one but Brigham Young.
It was voted unanimously that any man who should divulge the secret, or
tell who was present, or do any-
thing that would lead to a
discovery of the truth, should suffer death.
The brethren then all took a most
solemn oath, binding themselves under the most dreadful and awful
penalties, to keep the whole matter secret from every human being, as long
as they should live. No man was to know the facts. The brethren were sworn
not to talk of it among themselves, and each one swore to help kill all
who proved to be traitors to the Church or people in this matter.
It was then agreed that Brigham
Young should be informed of the whole matter, by some one to be selected
by the Church Council, after the brethren had returned home.
It was also voted to turn all the
property over to Klingensmith, as Bishop of the Church at Cedar City, and
he was to take care of the property for the benefit of the Church, until
Brigham Young was notified, and should give further orders what to do with
CONFESSION CONTINUED AND CONCLUDED,
MARCH 16, 1877,
SEVEN DAYS PRIOR TO HIS EXECUTION
DAME then blest the brethren and we prepared to go to our homes. I took my
little Indian boy, Clem, on the horse behind me, and started home. I
crossed the mountains and returned the same way I had come.
When I got in about two miles of
Harmony, I overtook a body of about forty Indians, on their way home from
the massacre. They had a large amount of bloody clothing, and were driving
several head of cattle that they had taken from the emigrants.
The Indians were very glad to see
me, and said I was their Captain, and that they were going to Harmony with
me as my men. It was the orders from the Church authorities to do
everything we could to pacify the Indians, and make them the fast friends
of the Mormons, so I concluded to humor them.
I started on and they marched
after me until we reached the fort at Harmony. We went into the fort and
marched round inside, after which they halted and gave their whoop of
victory, which means much the same with them as the cheers do
with the whites. I then ordered the Indians to be fed; my family gave them
some bread and melons, which they eat [sic], and then they left me and
went to their tribe.
I will here state again that on
the field, before and after the massacre, and again at the council at the
emigrant camp, the day after the massacre, orders were given to keep
everything secret, and if any man told the secret to any human
being, he was to be killed, and I assert as a fact that if any man had
told it then, or for many years afterwards, he would have died,
for some "Destroying Angel" would have followed his trail and
sent him over the "rim of the basin."
that day to this it has been the understanding with all concerned in that
massacre, that the man who divulged the secret should die; he was to be
killed, wherever he was found, for treason to the men who killed the
emigrants, and for his treason to the Church. No man was at
liberty to tell his wife, or any one else, nor were the brethren permitted
to talk of it even among themselves. Such were the orders
and instructions, from Brigham Young down to
the lowest in authority. The orders to lay it all to the Indians,
were just as positive as they were to keep it all secret. This was the
counsel from all in authority, and for years it was faithfully observed.
The children that were saved were
taken to Cedar City, and other settlements, and put out among different
families, where they were kept until they were given up to Dr. Forney, the
Agent of the United States, who came for them.
I did not have anything to do with
the property taken from the emigrants, or the cattle, or anything else,
for some three months after the massacre, and then I only took charge of
the cattle because I was ordered to do so by Brigham Young.
There were eighteen wagons in all
at the emigrant camp. They were all wooden axles but one, and that was a
light iron axle; it had been hauled by four mules. There were something
over five hundred head of cattle, but I never got the half of them. The
Indians killed a large number at the time of the massacre, and drove
others to their tribes when they went home from Mountain Meadows.
Kingensmith put the Church brand on fifty head or more, of the best of the
cattle, and then he and Haight and Higbee drove the cattle to Salt Lake
City and sold them for goods that they brought back to Cedar City to trade
The Indians got about twenty head
of horses and mules. Samuel Knight, one of the witnesses on my trial, got
a large sorrel mare; Haight got a span of average American mules; Joel
White got a fine mare; Higbee got a good large mule; Klingensmith got a
span of mules. Haight, Higbee and Allen each took a wagon. The people all
took what they wanted, and they had divided and used up much over half of
it before I was put in charge.
first time I heard that a messenger had been sent to Brigham Young for
instructions as to what should be done with the emigrants, was three or
four days after I had returned home from the Meadows. Then I heard of it
from Isaac C. Haight, when he came to my house and had a talk with me. He
"We are all in a muddle. Haslem
has returned from Salt Lake City, with orders from Brigham Young to let
the emigrants pass in safety."
In this conversation Haight also
"I sent an order to Highee to save
the emigrants, after I had sent the orders for killing them all, but for
some reason the message did not reach him. I understand the messenger did
not go to the Meadows at all."
I at once saw that we were in a
bad fix, and I asked Haight what was to be done. We talked the matter over
Haight then told me that it was
the orders of the Council that I should go to Salt Lake City and lay the
whole matter before Brigham Young. I asked him if he was not going to
write a report of it to the Governor, as he was the right man to do it,
for he was in command of the militia in that section of country, and next
to Dame in command of the whole district. I told him that it was a matter
which really belonged to the military department, and should be so
He refused to write a report,
"You can report it better than I
could write it. You are like a ember of Brigham's family, and can talk to
him privately and confidentially. I want you to take all of it on yourself
that ou can, and not expose any more of the brethren than you find
absolutely necessary. Do this, Brother Lee, as I order you to do, and you
shall receive a celestial reward for it, and the time will come when all
who acted with us will be glad for the part they have taken, for the time
is near at hand when the Saints are to enjoy the riches of the earth. And
all who deny the faith and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints shall be slain--the sword of vengeance shall shed their
blood; their wealth shall be given as a spoil to our people."
At that time I believed everything
he said, and I fully expected to receive the celestial reward that he
promised me. But now I say, Damn all such "celestial rewards" as
I am to get for what I did on that fatal day.
It was then preached every Sunday
to the people that the Mormons were to conquer the earth at once, and the
people all thought that the millennium had come, and that Christ's reign
upon earth would soon begin, as an accomplished fact.
to the orders of Isaac C. Haight, I started for Salt Lake City to report
the whole facts connected with the massacre, to Brigham Young. I started
about a week or ten days after the massacre, and I was on the way about
ten days. When I arrived in the city I went to the President's house and
gave to Brigham Young a full, detailed statement of the whole affair, from
first to last--only I took rather more on myself than I had done.
He asked me if I had brought a
letter from Haight, with his report of the affair. I said:
"'No, Haight wished me to make a
verbal report of it, as I was an eye witness to much of it."
I then went over the whole affair
and gave him as full a statement as it was possible for me to give. I
described everything about it. I told him of the orders Haight first gave
me. I told him everything. I told him that "Brother McMurdy, Brother
Knight and myself killed the wounded men in the wagons, with the
assistance of the Indians. We killed six wounded men."
He asked me many questions, and I
told him every particular, and everything that I knew. I described
everything very fully. I told him what I had said against killing the
women and children.
Brigham then said:
"Isaac (referring to Haight) has
sent me word that if they had killed every man, woman and child in the
outfit, there would not have been a drop of innocent blood shed by the
brethren: for they were a set of murderers, robbers and thieves."
While I was still talking with
him, some men came into his house to see him, so he requested me to keep
quiet until they left. I did as he directed.
As soon as the men went out, I
continued my recital. I gave him the names of every man that had been
present at the massacre. I told him who killed various ones. In fact I
gave him all the information there was to give.
When I finished talking about the
matter, he said:
"This is the most unfortunate
affair that ever befel [sic] the Church. I am afraid of treachery among
the brethren that were there. If any one tells this thing so that it will
become public, it will work us great injury. I want you to understand now,
that you are never to tell this again, not even to Heber C.
Kimball. It must be kept a secret among ourselves. When you get
want you to sit down and write a long
letter, and give me an account of the affair, charging it to the Indians.
You sign the letter as Farmer to the Indians, and direct it to me as
Indian Agent. I can then make use of such a letter to keep off all
damaging and troublesome enquiries."
I told him that I would write the
letter. (I kept my word; but, as an evidence of his treachery, that same
letter that he ordered me to write, he has given to Attorney
Howard, and he has introduced it in evidence against me on my trial.)
Brigham Young knew when he got
that letter just as well as I did, that it was not a true letter, and that
it was only written according to his orders to throw the public off of the
right trail. He knew that it was written simply to cast all the
blame on the Indians, and to protect the brethren. In writing that letter
I was still obeying my orders and earning that Celestial reward that had
been promised to me.
He then said, "If only men had
been killed, I would not have cared so much; but the killing of the women
and children is the sin of it. I suppose the men were a hard set, but it
is hard to kill women and children for the sins of the men. This whole
thing stands before me like a horrid vision. I must have time to reflect
He then told me to withdraw and
call next day, and he would give me an answer. I said to him,
"President Young, the people all
felt, and I know that I believed I was obeying orders, and acting
for the good of the Church, and in strict conformity with the oaths that
we have all taken to avenge the blood of the Prophets. You must either
sustain the people for what they have done, or you most release us from
the oaths and obligations that we have taken."
The only reply he made was,
"Go now, and come in the morning,
and I will give you an answer."
I went to see him again in the
morning. When I went in, he he [sic] seemed quite cheerful. He said,
"I have made that matter a subject
of prayer. I went right to God with it, and asked Him to take the
horrid vision from my sight, if it was a righteous thing that my
people had done in killing those people at the Mountain Meadows. God
answered me, and at once the vision was removed. I have evidence
God that He has overruled it all for good,
and the action was a righteous one and well intended.
["]The brethren acted from pure
motives. The only trouble is they acted a little prematurely;
they were a little ahead of time. I sustain you and all
of the brethren for what they did. All that I fear is treachery on the
part of some one who took a with you, but we will look to that."
I was again cautioned and
commanded to keep the whole thing as a sacred secret, and again told to
write the report as Indian Farmer, laying the blame on the Indians. That
ended our interview, and I left him, and soon started for my home at
Brigham Young was then satisfied
with the purity of my motives in acting as I had done at the Mountain
Meadows. Now he is doing all he can against me, but I know it is nothing
but cowardice that has made him turn against me as he has at last.
When I reported my interview with
Young to Haight, and gave him Brigham's answer, he was well pleased; he
said that I had done well. He again enjoined secrecy, and said it must
never be told.
I remember a circumstance that
Haight then related to me about Dan. [sic] McFarland. He said:
"Dan will make a bully warrior."
I said, "Why do you think so?"
"Well," said he, "Dan came to me
and said, 'You must get me another knife, because the one I have got has
no good stuff in it, for the edge turned when I cut a fellow's throat that
day at the Meadows. I caught one of the devils that was trying to get
away, and when I cut his throat it took all the edge off of my knife.' I
tell you that boy will make a bully warrior."
I said, "Haight, I don't believe
you have any conscience."
He laughed, and said, "Conscience
be d--d, I don't know what the word means."
I thought over the matter, and
made up my mind to write the letter to Brigham Young and lay it all to the
Indians, so as to get the matter off of my mind. I then wrote the letter
that has been used in the trial. It was as follows:
LETTER OF JOHN D. LEE TO BRIGHAM YOUNG.
HARMONY, WASHINGTON Co., U. T.,
November 20th, 1857.
To His Excellency, Gov. B. Young, Ex-Officio and Superintendent of
DEAR SIR: My report under date
May 11th, 1857, relative to the Indians over whom I have charge as
farmer, showed a friendly relation between them and the whites, which
doubtless would have continued to increase had not the white mans
been the first aggressor, as was the case with Capt. Fancher's company
of emigrants, passing through to California about the middle of
September last, on Corn Creek, fifteen miles south of Fillmore City,
Millard County. The company there poisoned the meat of an ox, which they
gave the Pah Vant Indians to eat, causing four of them to die
immediately, besides poisoning a number more. The company also poisoned
the water where they encamped, killing the cattle of the settlers. This
unguided policy, planned in wickedness by this company, raised the
ire of the Indians, which soon spread through the southern tribes,
firing them up with revenge till blood was in their path, and as the
breach, according to their tradition, was a national one, consequently
any portion of the nation was liable to atone for that offense.
About the 22d of September,
Capt. Fancher and company fell victims to their wrath, near
Mountain Meadows; their cattle and horses were shot down in every
direction, their wagons and property mostly committed to the flames. Had
they been the only ones that suffered we would have less cause of
complaint. But the following company of near the same size had
many of their men shot down near Beaver City, and had it not been for
the interposition of the citizens at that place, the whole company would
have been massacred by the enraged Pah Vants. From this place
they were protected by military force, by order of Col. W. H. Dame,
through the Territory, beside. providing the company with interpreters,
to help them through to the Los Vaagus. On the Muddy, some
three to five hundred Indians attacked the company, while traveling, and
drove off several hundred head of cattle, telling the company that if
they fired a single gun that they would kill every soul. The
interpreters tried to regain the stock, or a portion of them, by
presents, but in vain. The Indians told them to mind their own
their lives would not be safe. Since that
occurrence no company has been able to pass without some of our
interpreters to talk and explain matters to the Indians.
Friendly feelings yet remain
between the natives and settlers and I have no hesitancy in saying that
it will increase so long as we treat them kindly, and deal honestly
toward them. I have been blest in my labors the last year. Much grain
has been raised for the Indians.
I herewith furnish you the
account of W. H. Dame, of Parowan, for cattle, wagons, etc.
From the above report you will
see that the wants of the Natives have increased commensurate with their
experience and practice in the art of agriculture.
With sentiments of high
I am your humble servant,
JOHN D. LEE,
Farmer to Pah Utes Indians.
Gov. B. Young, Ex-officio and
Superintendent of Indian affairs.
forwarded that letter, and thought I had managed the affair nicely.
I put in the expense account of
$2,220, just to show off, and help Brigham Young to get something from the
Government. It was the way his Indian farmers all did. I never gave the
Indians one of the articles named in the letter. No one of the men
mentioned had ever furnished such articles to the Indians, but I did it
this way for safety. Brigham Young never spent a dollar on the Indians in
Utah, while he was Indian Agent. The only money he ever spent on the
Indians was when we were at war with them. Then they cost us some money,
but not much.
Brigham Young, well knowing that I
wrote that letter just for the protection of the brethren, used it to make
up his report to the Government about his acts as Indian Agent. I obeyed
his orders in this, as I did the orders of Haight at the Mountain Meadows,
and I am now getting my pay for my falsehood. I acted conscientiously in
the whole matter, and have nothing to blame myself for, except being so
silly as to allow myself to be duped by the cowardly wretches who are now
seeking safety by hunting me to the death.
The following winter I was a
delegate to the Constitutional Convention, that met in Salt Lake City to
form a constitution, preparatory to the application of Utah for admission
into the Union. I attended during the entire session, and was often in
company with Brigham Young at his house and elsewhere, and he treated me
all the time with great kindness and consideration.
At the close of the session of the
Convention, I was directed by Brigham Young to take charge of all the
cattle, and other property taken from the emigrants, and take care of it
for the Indians. I did as I was ordered. When I got home I gathered up
about two hundred head of cattle, and put my brand on them, and I gave
them to the Indians, as they needed them, or rather when they demanded
them. I did that until all of the emigrant cattle were gone.
This thing of taking care of that
property was an unfortunate thing for me, for when the Indians wanted
beef, they thought they owned everything with my brand on it. So much so,
that I long since quit branding my stock. I preferred taking chances of
leaving them unbranded, for every thing with my brand on was certain to be
taken by the Indians. I know that
it has been reported that the emigrants
were very rich. That is a mistake. Their only wealth consisted in cattle
and their teams. The people were comfortably dressed in Kentucky jean, and
lindsey, but they had no fine clothing that I ever saw.
They had but few watches. I never
owned or carried one of the watches taken from the emigrants in my life,
or had anything to do with any of their property, except to take care or
the cattle for the Indians, as ordered to do by Brigham Young, as I have
before stated in this confession.
There is another falsehood
generally believed in Utah, especially among the Mormons. It is this. It
has generally been reported that Brigham Young was anxious to help Judge
Cradlebaugh arrest all the guilty parties. There is not one word of truth
in the whole statement. Brigham Young knew the name of every man that was
in any way implicated in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. He knew just as
much about it as I did, except that he did not see it, as I had seen it.
If Brigham Young had wanted one
man, or fifty men, or five hundred men arrested, all he would have had to
do would have been to say so, and they would have been arrested instantly.
There was no escape for them if he ordered their arrest. Every man who
knows anything of affairs in Utah at that time knows this is so.
It is true that Brigham made a
great parade at the time, and talked a great deal about bringing the
guilty parties to Justice, but he did not mean a word of it--not a word.
He did go South with Cradlebaugh, but he took good care that Cradlebaugh
caught no person that had been in the massacre.
I know that I had plenty of notice
of their coming, and so did all the brethren. It was one of
Brigham Young's cunning dodges to blind the government. That this is true
I can prove by the statement of what he did at Cedar City while out on his
trip with Judge Cradlebaugh to investigate the matter and
arrest (?) the guilty parties.
Judge Cradelbaugh [sic] and his
men were working like faithful men to find out all about it, but they did
not learn very much. True, they got on the right track, but could not
learn it all, for Brigham Young was along to see that they did not
learn the facts.
While at Cedar City, Brigham
preached one night, but none of the Judge's party heard him. In his
sermon, when speaking of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, he said:
you know who those people were that were killed at the Mountain Meadows? I
will tell you who those people were. They were fathers, mothers, brothers,
sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and children of those who killed the
Saints, and drove them from Missouri, and afterwards killed our Prophets
in Carthage jail. These children that the government has made such a stir
about, were gathered up by the goverment [sic] and carried back to
Missouri, to St. Louis, and letters were sent to their relatives to come
and take them; but their relations wrote back that they did not want
them--that they were the children of thieves, outlaws and murderers, and
they would not take them, they did not wish anything to do with them, and
would not have them around their houses. Those children are now in the
poor house in St. Louis. And yet after all this, I am told that there are
many of the brethren who are willing to inform upon and swear against the
brethren who were engaged in that affair. I hope there is no truth in this
report. I hope there is no such person here, under the sound of my voice.
But if there is, I will tell you my opinion of you, and the fact so far as
your fate is concerned. Unless you repent at once of that unholy
intention, and keep the secret of all that you know, you will die
a dog's death, and be damned, and go to hell. I do not
want to hear of any more treachery among my people."
These words of Brigham Young gave
great comfort to all of us who were out in the woods keeping out of
the way of the officers. It insured our safety and took away our fears.
There has been all sorts of
reports circulated about me, and the bigger the lie that was told the more
readily it was believed.
I have told in this statement just
what I did at the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The evidence of Jacob Hamblin
is false in toto. Hamblin lied in every particular, so far as his
evidence related to me.
It is my fate to die for what I
did; but I go to my death with a certainty that it cannot be worse than my
life has been for the last nineteen years.
Source: Mormonism Unveiled: Or The Life and Confessions Of The Late Mormon
Bishop, John D. Lee
(Written By Himself), Published 1877