1857 Mormon War
Two or three companies of Mormon troops were sent to this post with instructions to annoy and cripple the enemy by driving off stock, burning trains, etc., so they would have to stop; but had orders not to kill unless it could not be avoided in performing the afore said orders. The United States troops crossed Green River and came on to Ham’s Fork, some twenty miles west. About this time the Mormon troops were seen in every direction making hostile movements. Col. Alexander, then commander of the United States troops, learned what opposition he had to meet, and that the pass down Echo Canyon was well fortified, and several thousand troops at the fortifications which they had made in the canyon. The Colonel then concluded to take a circuitous route, and come into Salt Lake Valley on the north, where he would have an open country. Leaving many supply trains behind he started, but had not gone more than twenty-five miles when Capt. Lot. Smith with his company took a provision train of some sixty wagons, carrying front six to eight thousand pounds to the wagon, and burned it. Smith had been gone six or eight days without being heard from, and the commander, Gen. Wells. became uneasy and sent me with a small company to find him and report. A night’s travel look us to Green River, and before it was light we were well secreted in the brush. I sent spies out with field-glasses to see if any one was moving about the country. About ten o’clock Smith was seen coming with one of his men wounded, having his thigh-bone shattered by a ball discharged accidently. My spies met him and brought him to our camp where we lay all day. I saw one of the mountaineers, an old acquaintance, and got him to take the wounded man to his camp ten miles down the river. The soldiers who had been in charge of the burned train all started for Alexander’s army, and left the oxen running loose.
Smith did not want to return until he had burned another train. I left after dark, gathering all the oxen I could find—about two hundred and seventy-five—for Bridger, and got there the next day at noon in the midst of shouts and hurrahs. Smith went back about twenty miles, found and burned another train, and then returned to Bridger. Their provision trains after that were guarded, and when all were safe in the United States camp on Ham’s Fork, all stock, horses, mules, and cattle were kept under strong guards.
Our troops were to be seen on the hills in every direction, taking good care to keep out of gun-shot. I was sent to the mountaineers to tell them to keep out of the way, for we intended running off all the stock we could, and theirs might be in the way and get run off with the balance. Most of them obeyed, but some did not.