Mormon apologists routinely assert that Brigham Young did not know about, nor approve of, the attack on the Baker-Fancher emigrant train beforehand. But historical research shows that Brigham Young clearly planned and approved of the specific attack on the Baker-Fancher train, during a war council which he held with 12 southern Indian chiefs six days before the attack. I detailed this in a response to a TBM named Kevin Zoellner on alt.religion.mormon in 2001. My remarks are in the <<double arrows>> and no arrows, while Kevin's are in the <<<triple arrows>>> and <single arrows.>
Kevin Zoellner wrote:
>>>I found this quote interesting, considering the argument about whether or not BY
ordered the MMM.
>>>"The 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 said: "we are all in a muddle. Haslem has returned from Salt
> >Lake City, with orders from Brigham Young to let the emigrants pass in
>>>From the Confessions of John D. Lee
>>Kevin, I've explained this numerous times already. Lee made his above
statement soon after the massacre, before he had any inkling of Young's
involvement. If you'll continue to read his "Confessions," you'll discover
that after all the facts became clear to him, he stated:
>>"I did not know then 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."
>Yes, I read that part.
If you read it, it's rather telling that you did not cite it. That makes one
think that you're interested in only citing evidence that absolves Young, and
ignoring any which indicts him.
>>In other words, Young's letter to Haight was a "cover your ass" effort.
Young and Hamblin had met with southern Indian chiefs only days before the
massacre, to plan the attack and the divvying up of the Fancher party's goods.
>Yes, it was a cover your ass attempt by the local authorities,
That view doesn't make any sense. If the local southern Mormon leaders had
wanted to cover their asses, they wouldn't have plotted or carried out the
attack to begin with; and they MOST CERTAINLY wouldn't have sent a messenger to
Young to get his counsel on what action to take, yet then turn around and
massacre the Fancher party without waiting on Haslem to return with Young's
message. Your theory requires Haight to have said something like "Hey guys,
let's send somebody to ask Brigham what to do with these people, and if we
don't hear back from him, let's whack 'em." The local Mormons would not have
made such a decision without getting the okay from above beforehand.
Also, as DuWayne recently pointed out (and as I have pointed out many times in
the past), the very fact that local leaders felt they needed to ask Young's
"counsel" on whether or not to massacre 120+ American citizens demonstrates
that Young's approval of the attack was a possibility. It also demonstrates
Young's absolute power over the life or death of everyone in his domain.
As I've stated many times, Young's letter to Haslem instructed Haight to "let
the emigrants pass in safety," but his next sentence was "The Indians, I
expect, will do as they please." That indicates that Young's intention was for
the Indians to commit the crime, so that the Mormons could "plausibly deny" any
culpability. But Young's plan went awry when the Indians couldn't finish off
the emigrants, and the Mormons had to go in and deceive them into giving up
their arms, and then finish the massacre along with the Indians.
>however nothing I have read yet indicates that Young was anywhere around to
talk to the indians.
Kevin, I've documented this many times, and you've been here on ARM to read
it. I can only assume that you want so strongly to believe that Young's
statements and policies weren't behind the MMM, that you entrance yourself into
a state of intellectual denial of the facts.
ONE MORE TIME:
"Recently I was given access to an electrostatic copy of the daily journal of
Brigham Young. Under date of September 1, 1857, the entry reads: 'Kanosh the
Pavaunt chief with several of his band visited me gave me some council and
presents. A spirit seems to be takeing possession of the Indians to assist
Israel. I can hardly restrain them from exterminating the Americans.'
"This seems very significant. The 'Journal History of the Church' under this
same date tells of the visit of Jacob Hamblin and twelve Indian chiefs from the
south. President Young talked with them all, but it seems that Kanosh was
given private audience. He was the chief who had killed Captain John W.
Gunnison and several of his men as they were camped on the Sevier River on
October 28, 1853. Whether or not Kanosh and his band were at the Mountain
Meadows we do not know, but we can now be certain that the Mormon war strategy
was to use the natives as 'the battle-ax of the Lord,' as some of the early
missionaries had stated." ("Mountain Meadows Massacre," Juanita Brooks, p.
"Hamblin and some twelve Indian chiefs on September first met with Brigham
Young and his most trusted interpreter, 49-year-old Dimick Huntington, at Great
Salt Lake. Taking part in this pow-wow were Kanosh, the Mormon chief of the
Pahvants; Ammon, half-brother of Walker; Tutsegabit, head chief of the Piedes;
Youngwuds, another Piede chieftain, and other leaders of desert bands along the
Santa Clara and Virgin Rivers.
"Little was known of what they talked about until recently when it came to
light that Huntington (apparently speaking for Young) told the chiefs that he
'gave them all the cattle that had gone to Cal[ifornia by] the south rout[e].'
The gift 'made them open their eyes,' he said. But 'you have told us not to
steal,' the Indians replied. 'So I have,' Huntington said, but now they have
come to fight us & you for when they kill us they will kill you.' The chiefs
knew what cattle he was giving them. They belonged to the Baker-Fancher
train." ("Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West," David
Bigler, pp. 167-168.)
(The document that Bigler remarked had "recently come to light" was
Huntington's journal in LDS archives. As Juanita Brooks didn't mention it in
her book, I assume that Huntington's journal was exposed to the light of day
during the "golden age" of LDS historians in the 1980's under Leonard
Utah historian Hubert Bancroft sheds further light on Dimick Huntington's
"Major Carleton, of the first dragoons. In a despatch to the assistant
adjutant-general at San Francisco, dated Mountain Meadows, May 25, 1859, he
says: 'A Pah Ute chief of the Santa Clara band, named Jackson, who was one of
the attacking party, and had a brother slain by the emigrants from their corral
by the spring, says that orders came down in a letter from Brigham Young that
the emigrants were to be killed; and a chief of the Pah Utes, named Touche, new
living on the Virgin River, told me that a letter from Brigham Young to the
same effect was brought down to the Virgin River band by a man named
Huntingdon.' A copy of the major's despatch will be found in the Hand-book of
Mormonism, 67-9. Cradlebaugh says that after the attack had been made, one of
the Indians declared that a white man came to their camp with written orders
from Brigham to 'go and help to whip the emigrants.' "
("History of Utah," p. 561.)
Juanita Brooks quoted from Young's letter to Jacob Hamblin of August 4, 1857:
"Continue the conciliatory policy towards the Indians.....for they must learn
that they have got to help us or the United States will kill us both......We
have an abundance of 'news.' The government have appointed an entire set of
officials for the Territory. These Gentry are to have a bodyguard of 2500 of
Uncle's [Sam's] regulars."
Of this excerpt, Brooks comments:
"In the version of this letter.....printed in 'Jacob Hamblin, Personal
Narrative,' by James A Little, the phrase 'for they must learn that they have
either got to help us or the United States will kill us both' is not included.
Neither is the entire paragraph which gives the 'abundance of news.' The
reason for this deletion seems clear." (Brooks, p. 35.)
The reason for the deletion of this passage in a pro-Mormon edition of
Hamblin's narrative is INDEED clear: The passage clearly shows that Young
instructed Hamblin to prepare the southern Indians to help the Mormons act
against the U. S. government forces. The excerpt also makes clear that,
contrary to some Mormon apologists' assertions that Young had no foreknowledge
of why the Army was marching on SLC, and that therefore justified Young in
prosecuting his guerrilla war against Johnston's Army, Young in fact knew very
well that the army was sent to depose him as governor and escort the
newly-appointed governor and "an entire set of officials" to replace those who
had fled Utah fearing for their lives. Young's foreknowledge of the army's
mission means that his orders to prevent the army from entering the Salt Lake
Valley constituted an act of treason against the United States, as did his
illegal declaration of martial law; that is why Mormon apologists "play
dumb" on this point.
Juanita Brooks further offers:
"Jacob Hamblin.....decided to take a group of the chiefs to Great Salt Lake
City for an interview with the great Mormon chief, Brigham Young. His
handwritten diary, as yet unpublished, says: 'I started for Great Salt Lake
City in company with Thales Haskell and Tutsegabit...He had felt anxious for a
long time to visit Brigham Young. We fell in company with George A. Smith.
Conosh [the Pauvant chief] joined us. Other Indian chiefs also joined our
company. When we arrived in the city there were ten of them went up to see
Brigham Young, the great Mormon chief. We encamped on Corn Creek on our way
up; near a company of Emigrants from Arkansas, on the-----'
"Here the account stops abruptly, for the next leaf is torn out.....What
Brigham Young told the chiefs in that hour was not recorded, but we might
hazard an opinion that it was not out of harmony with his written instructions
that 'they must learn that they have got to help us or the United States will
kill us both.'.....At that time Brigham Young had to be sure of his allies, for
he was conducting a war against tremendous odds. The previous Mormon policy
had been to keep the natives from stealing and plundering and to teach them the
peaceful pursuits of farming and cattle raising, but now Brigham Young seemed
determined that he would no longer "hold them by the wrist," as he told Captain
Van Vliet a few days later. The Indians must have started back home immediately, for in seven days they
were harassing the emigrants at Mountain Meadows, and in ten days they
participated in the massacre of the company." (Brooks, pp. 40-42.)
In light of this information, it doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce what
Young told the Indians in that meeting ten days before the MMM. It also
doesn't take a great brain to understand why someone tore the next page out of
Hamblin's diary: it probably gave more details of Young's "counsel" to
Hamblin, Huntingdon, and the Indians as to what to do with the Baker-Fancher
>>The plan was for ONLY the Indians to attack the party, with the "brethren"
of sight, supervising. That way, Young could "plausibly deny" that any Mormons
had taken part in the killing. That plan went awry when the Indians failed in
their initial attack, the Fancher party held out for days, and the Mormons
finally had to lure them out with a promise of protection, whereupon they
>>Mormons often quote Young's letter to Haight in an effort to show that Young
was against the attack. However, Young's statement following his counsel to "let the emigrants pass" reveals that he knew exactly what was in the works:
"The Indians, I expect, will do as they please." Considering Young's many
documented threats to use the Indians as the "battle-ax of the Lord" against
any "Mericats" he so deemed to be the Mormons' enemies, it's obvious that his
meeting with the southern Indian chiefs mere days before the massacre was to
plan the event and have the Indians do the deed. When Young got the news of
the massacre, he wasn't concerned that it happened, but he was upset that
Mormons had had to take part. That is why he began a campaign to cover up the massacre and protect Mormons from prosecution for 20 years. Young told Lee to
write a report to the government charging the massacre to the Indians, and
Young claimed to have gotten the "word from the Lord" that the massacre was an "approved" event.
To the contrary, it's exactly what the documented evidence indicates.
>I will keep reading, but I do not think the conclusions you arrive at are
in the book.
Apparently, you're operating under the mistaken impression that Lee's
"Confessions" is the only contemporary source from which to draw conclusions.
As I've stated many times, to arrive at correct conclusions regarding Young's
culpability in the MMM, one must research ALL of the available evidence, and
consider Young's own statements, church teachings and policies, and the
conditions existent in Utah during the period of the MMM. Young's single
statement to "let the emigrants pass in peace" (if even authentic), in light of
a mountain of evidence to the contrary, becomes nothing more than as Lee
opined, "a sharp play on the part of the authorities to protect themselves if trouble ever grew out of the matter."
Addendum: Many Ex-Mormons and other interested parties often ask if there's a "smoking gun" (such as a paper trail) which implicates Brigham Young. Dimick Huntington's journal is the most damning document. It's on-line athttp://www.mtn-meadows-assoc.com/DepoJournals/Dimick/Dimick-2.htm
Note that Huntington wrote freely of dealing with Indian tribes in such areas as Box Elder, Toella, and Ogden. The Mormons brought food to the Indians, and instructed them on how to cache stock they had stolen from passing emigrants in the mountains, and prepare for possible war against their common enemy, the Americans. Note Huntington's entry of August 18, where Toella Utes "exprest great sorrow on account of the lack of ammunition." This reveals that the Mormons had supplied the Indians with guns.
On August 30, Huntington noted giving Ogden-area natives "all the beef cattle and horses that was on the road to Calafornia, the North rout..." The north route was the one through northern Utah and into Northern California, along the Humboldt River---basically the route which the Donner Party had taken.
Then on September 1st, Huntington noted that the Indian chiefs who met with Brigham Young were given "all the cattle that had gone to Cal. the south rout..." The south route was the one through southwestern Utah, the Las Vegas area, and into southern California---the exact route that the Fancher and Duke party had taken.
Huntington's entries make it perfectly clear that Brigham Young knew of, and approved of, the plan for southern Utah Indians to attack and rob the cattle of emigrants who were passing through the area.