Native Racks of the Missouri — the Pottawattamies and the Omahas — the Mormons Welcomed As Brethren — War With Mexico — Californila Territory — Mexican Boundaries — Application to the United States Government for Aid — An Offer to Serve As Soldiers Accepted — Organization of the Mormon Battalion — Departure of the Battalion — Bounty Money — March Across the Continent — the Battalion in California — Matters on the Missouri.
Among the savages on either side of the Missouri, the Pottawattamies on the east side and the Omahas on the west side, the outcasts from Nauvoo were warmly welcomed. "My Mormon brethren," said the chief Pied Riche,1 "the Pottawattamie came sad and tired into this unhealthy Missouri bottom, not many years back, when he was taken from his beautiful country beyond the Mississippi, which had abundant game and timber and clear water everywhere. Now you are driven away in the same manner from your lodges and lands there, and the graves of your people. So we have both suffered. We must help one another, and the great spirit will help us both."
Extreme care was taken not to infringe in any way upon the rights of the Indians or the government. Brigham counselled the brethren to regard as sacred the burial customs of the natives; frequently their dead were deposited in the branches of trees, wrapped in buffalo robes and blankets, with pipes and trinkets
1Surnamed Le Clerc, on account of his scholarship.
|p. 237||beside them. At
Cutler Park there were friendly negotiations made with Big Elk, chief of
the Omahas, who said: "I am willing you should stop in my country,
but I am afraid of my great father at Washington."2
As the United States pretended to hold the title to the land, it was thought that the Pottawattamies had no right to convey their timber to others; so Brigham enjoined that there should be no waste of timber within these limits, but that as much as was necessary might be used. A permit for passing through their territory, and for remaining while necessary, was obtained from Colonel Allen, who was acting for the United States.3
Although it was late in the season when the first bands of emigrants crossed the Missouri, some of them still moved westward as far as the Pawnee villages on Grand Island, intending to select a new home before winter. But the evil tidings from Nauvoo, and the destitute condition in which other parties of the
2'The Omahas caused them some trouble, as they would steal with one hand while we fed them with the other.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 46, Oct. 18th.
3Hist. B. Young, MS., 1846, 98-9. Maj. Harvey brought the Mormons at Winter Quarters letters from Washington, expecting them to leave the Pottawattamie lands in the spring. See cor., Hist. B. Young, MS., 441-52.
|p. 238||saints reached the
Mormon encampments, forbade further progress, and all prepared to spend
the winter on the prairie. To the Mormon encampment on the site of the
present town of Council Bluffs was afterward given the name of Kanesville.4
While the saints were undergoing their infelicities at Nauvoo, war had broken out between the United States and Mexico. At that time New Mexico and California were a part of Mexico, and Utah and Nevada were a part of California.5 Journeying west from Nauvoo, California or Oregon would be reached. The latter territory was already secured to the United States; people were there from the United States, composing religious sects and political parties as jealous of their holdings as any in Missouri or Illinois. Vancouver Island6 was practically unoccupied, but the Hudson's Bay Company would scarcely regard with favor its occupation by a large body of American citizens whose government was at that moment crowding them out of the Oregon territory and across the Columbia River.
But had the Mormons known their destination, had they known what point among the mountains or
4So called after Thomas L. Kane. Here was first issued on Feb. 7, 1849, the Frontier Guardian, and its publication was continued till March 22, 1852. Richards' Narr., MS,, 65; Richards' Bibliog. of Utah, MS., 13. The paper was edited by Orson Hyde, and makes a very creditable appearance. The subscription was $2 per year. In the second number we read: 'Flour nicely put up in sacks of from 50 to 100 lbs each will be received in exchange for the Guardian at the rate of $2 per hundred pounds, if good.' The last number of the Times and Seasons bears date Feb. 15, 1846.
5I frequently find California and Utah confounded by writers of this early period. The limits of California on the east were not then defined, and it was not uncommon, nor indeed incorrect, to apply that term to territory east of the sierra. I find this written in Snow's Voice of the Prophet, 15: 'The pioneers discovered a beautiful valley beyond the pass of the great Rocky Mts, being a portion of the great basin of Upper California.' As we shall see later, the Mormons knew even less about Utah than they did about California.
6Brigham Young at first suggested Vancouver Island. 'There are said to be many good locations for settlements on the Pacific, especially at Vancouver Island.' Circular to the brethren, in Times and Seasons, vi. 1019. In 1845 the report was current that the Mormons of Illinois had chosen V. I. as their future home, the metropolis to be situated at Nootka. Niles' Register, lxix. 134. The Quincy Whig thinks the Mormons intend to settle at Nootka Sound. Polynesian, ii. 1846.
|p. 239||beside the sea was
to be their final resting-place, they would not have told it. When they
turned their back on Nauvoo, the whole western coast was before them, with
its multitudinous mountains and valleys, its rivers and lakes, and long
line of seaboard. Of the several parts of this immense territory,
ownership and right of occupation were not in every instance determined.
The question of the boundary line between England's possessions and those
of the United States had stirred up no small discussion and feeling, and
out of the present war with Mexico would doubtless arise some changes.7
It was a foregone conclusion in the minds of many, before ever the
migratory saints had reached the Missouri River, that when the present
troubles with Mexico were ended the United States would have California.
But however this might be, the saints had a firm reliance on an overruling
providence, and once adrift upon the vast untenanted west, their God and
their sagacity would point out to them their future home. Thus it was that
while the Mormons in the western states took the route overland, another
portion living at the east took passage round Cape Horn, the intention
being that the two bodies of brethren should come together somewhere upon
the Pacific slope, which indeed they did.8
The national title to what is now the Pacific United States being at this time thus unsettled, and the Mormons having been driven from what was then
7In a letter to Pres. Polk, dated near Council Bluffs, Aug. 9, 1846, the determination was expressed, 'that as soon as we are settled in the great basin, we design to petition the U.S. for a territorial govt, bounded on the north by the British and south by the Mexican dominions, east and west by the summits of the Rocky and Cascade Mts.' And again elsewhere: 'We told Col Kane we intended settling in the great basin on Bear River Valley; that those who went round by water would settle in S. F. That was in council with the twelve and Col Kane.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 133, 140.
8In his address to the saints in Great Britain, dated Liverpool, 1849, Elder John Taylor says: 'When we arrive in California, according to the provisions of the Mexican government, each family will be entitled to a large tract of land, amounting to several hundred acres; but as the Mexican and American nations are now at war, should Cal. fall into the hands of the American nation, there has been a bill before congress in relation to Or., which will undoubtedly pass, appropriating 640 acres of land to every male settler.' Millennial Star, viii. 115.
|p. 240||the United States,
it was considered but natural, as indeed it seemed to be a necessity, that
they would take possession of such unoccupied lands in the region toward
the Pacific as best suited them. But it was not necessary that they should
hold possession of such lands in opposition to the government of the
United States, as they have been charged with doing.
They now applied to the government at Washington for work, offering to open roads, transport military stores, or perform any other service which the government might require in this farthest west, even to assist in fighting its battles. Such occupation would be of the greatest advantage to them in this new country, where land was fertile and plenty and free, and possessing as they did large herds of cattle and horses and sheep, with no market and but little money. And on the other hand, being on the ground, accustomed to work, and having every facility at hand without long and expensive transportation, they could give more and better work for the pay than the government could obtain by any other means.
They even asked for aid direct about the time the exodus began, being represented at Washington by Elder Jesse C. Little,9 who, aided by Colonel Kane, Amos Kendall, and others, brought the matter before President Polk. While negotiations were yet in progress, news arrived that General Taylor had already won two victories over the Mexicans; whereupon the elder addressed a petition to the president, stating that from twelve to fifteen thousand Mormons had set forth from Nauvoo for California, while some had departed by sea, and in Great Britain alone were forty thousand converts, all resolved to join the saints in their promised land. Many of them were without means; they were compelled to go; they wanted assistance
9In the letter appointing and giving instructions to Elder Little is the following: 'If our government should offer facilities for emigrating to the western coast, embrace these facilities if possible. As a wise and faithful man, take every advantage of the times you can.' Tullidge's Life of Brigham Young, 48.
|p. 241||either in the way
of work or otherwise. The Mormons were true-hearted Americans, the
memorial went on to say, and if the government would assist them in their
present emergency, the petitioner stood ready to pledge himself as their
representative to answer any call the government might make upon them for
service on the field of battle.
Elder Little was taken at his word. At a cabinet meeting, held a day or two after his petition was presented, the president advised that the elder be sent at once to the Mormon camps, and there raise a thousand men to take possession of California in the name of the United States, while a thousand more be sent by way of Cape Horn for the same purpose, on board a United States transport. It was finally arranged that the elder, in company with Kane, should proceed westward, the latter bearing despatches to Kearny, then at Fort Leavenworth, with a view to raising a corps of about five hundred men.
On the 19th of June, Kearny issued an order to Captain James Allen of the 1st dragoons to proceed to the Mormon camp, and there raise four or five companies of volunteers, to be mustered into the service of the United States and receive the pay and rations of other infantry volunteers. They were then to be marched to Fort Leavenworth, where they would be armed; after which they would proceed to California by way of Santa Fé. They were to enlist for twelve months, after which time they were to be discharged, retaining as their own property the arms furnished them.
In pursuance of his orders, Captain Allen proceeded to Mount Pisgah, where on the 26th he made known his mission. After a conference with the church council at that point, Allen went to Council Bluffs, where on the 1st of July it was determined by President Young that the battalion should be raised. In two weeks the corps was enrolled, and mustered in on the 16th of July, the president of the church
|p. 242||promising to look
after the wants of the families of those enlisting.
Though in reality a great benefit to the brethren, there were some hardships connected with the measure.10 As Brigham and others were on their way from Council Bluffs to Pisgah to aid in obtaining these recruits, they passed 800 west-bound wagons. At their encampments on each side the river there was much serious illness, and as many of the teamsters had been withdrawn for this campaign, much heavy work fell upon the women and children, and the aged and infirm.11
After a ball on the afternoon of the 19th, the volunteers next day bade farewell to their families and friends, and accompanied by eighty women and children,12 set forth on their march,13 on the 1st of August arriving at Fort Leavenworth. Here the men received
10So ingrafted in their minds was the idea of persecution, and so accustomed were they now to complaining, that when the government acceded to their request, there were many who believed, and so expressed themselves, that this was but an act of tyranny on the part of the United States, whose people, after driving them from their borders, had now come upon them to make a draft on their healthiest and hardiest men, forcing them to separate from their wives and children now in the time of their extremest need, under penalty of extermination in case of refusal. And this idea, which was wholly at variance with the facts, is present in the minds of some even to this day. In order to facilitate enlisting, or for some other cause best known to himself, Brigham deemed it best to preserve this idea rather than wholly disabuse their minds of it; for in his address to the brethren on the 15th of July he said: 'If we want the privilege. of going where we can worship God according to the dictates of our consciences, we must raise the battalion.' In his address at the gathering of the pioneers on the 24th of July, 1880, Wilford Woodruff said: 'Our government called upon us to raise a battalion of 500 men to go to Mexico to fight the battles of our country. This draft was ten times greater, according to the population of the Mormon camp, than was made upon any other portion of our nation…Whether our government expected we would comply with the request or not, is not for me to say. But I think I am safe in saying that plan was laid by certain parties for our destruction if we did not comply.' Utah Pioneers, 33d Ann., 20.
11'Most of our people were sick; in fact, the call for 500 able-bodied men from Council Bluffs for Mexico, by the government, deprived us of about all our strength.' Richards' Rem., MS., 25.
12Compare official report in U. S. House Ex. Doc., no. 24, 31st Cong., 1st Sess., and Tyler's Hist. Mormon Battalion, and note discrepancies in regard to numbers enlisted and discharged. The names of those who reached California will be found in my pioneer register, Hist. Cal., this series.
13'The members started upon their pilgrimage cheerfully,' says Woodruff, 'understanding that they occupied the place of a ram caught in a thicket, and were making a sacrifice for the salvation of Israel.' Utah Pioneers, 20.
|p. 243||their arms and
accoutrements, and to each was given a bounty of forty dollars, most of
the money being sent back to the brethren by the hands of elders Hyde,
Taylor, and others, who accompanied the battalion to that point, and there
bade them God speed.14
About the middle of August the corps resumed its march toward Santa Fé, a distance of seven hundred miles, arriving at that place in two parties on the 9th and 12th of October. There eighty-eight men were invalided and sent back to Pueblo for the winter, and later a second detachment of fifty-five, being found unfit for service, was also ordered to Pueblo.15 Many of them found their way during the following year to the valley of Great Salt Lake.
From Santa Fé the remainder of the troops set forth for San Diego, a journey of more than eleven hundred miles, the entire distance between that, town and the Mormon camps on the Missouri exceeding two thousand miles. Much of the route lay through a pathless desert; at few points could food be obtained in sufficient quantity for man or beast, and sometimes even water failed. Wells were sunk in the wilderness; but on one occasion, at least, the men travelled for a hundred miles without water.16 Before leaving Santa
14'Here they received 100 tents, one for every 6 privates.' 'The paymaster remarked that every one of the Mormon battalion could write his own name, but only about one third of the volunteers he had previously paid could do so.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1846, 18. 'Five thousand eight hundred and sixty dollars was brought in by Parley Pratt from Ft Leavenworth, being a portion of the allowance for clothing paid the battalion. It was counselled that this money be expended in St Louis for the families; three prices have to be paid here;…we wish they should all act voluntarily, so that they may have no reflections to cast upon themselves or counsellors.' Id., MS., 1846, 150. 'When the goods were bought, prices had advanced and ferriage was very high, all of which brought the goods higher than was anticipated, and produced some grumbling in camp.' Id., MS., 1847, 12.
15Families accompanying the battalion were ordered to Pueblo for winter quarters. Hist. B. Young, MS., 1S46, 260. A detachment was sent to Pueblo consisting of 89 men and 18 laundresses. Later in this vol., I refer to affairs at Pueblo as furnished me in a very valuable manuscript by Judge Stone of Colorado.
16In a general order issued at San Diego on Jan. 30, 1847, by command of Lieut-col St George Cooke, then in charge of the battalion, vice Col Allen, deceased, the men are thus complimented on their safe arrival at the shores of the Pacific: 'History may be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry; nine tenths of it through a wilderness, where nothing but savages and (cont.)
|p. 244||Fé rations were
reduced,17 and soon afterward
further reduced to one half and finally to one quarter allowance, the meat
issued to the troops being the flesh of such animals as were unable to
proceed further, though their hides and entrails were eagerly devoured,
being gulped down with draughts of water, when water could be had.18
While suffering these hardships the men were compelled to carry their own
knapsacks, muskets, and extra ammunition, and sometimes to push the wagons
through heavy sand, or help to drag them over mountain ranges.
Passing through a New Mexican pueblo on the 24th of October, some of the men were almost as naked as on the day of their birth, except for a breech-clout, or as their colonel termed it, a 'centre-clothing,' tied around the loins. In this plight, near the middle of December, the battalion reached the San Pedro River, some three hundred and forty strong, and here occurred the only battle which the saints militant fought during their campaign—an encounter with a
(16cont.) wild beasts are found; or deserts where, for the want of water, there is no living creature. There, with almost hopeless labor, we have dug deep wells, which the future traveller will enjoy. Without a guide who had traversed them, we have ventured into trackless prairies, where water was not found for several marches. With crowbar and pickaxe in hand, we have worked our way over mountains which seemed to defy aught save the wild goat, and hewed a passage through a chasm of living rock, more narrow than our wagons.' Smith's Rise, Progress, and Travels, 10.
17'Until further orders, three fourths pound of flour, also three fourths rations sugar and coffee will be issued. Beef, one and a half pounds will be issued for a day's ration.' Order No. 11, Headquarters Mormon Battalion, Santa Fé. A copy of it will be found in Tyler's Hist. Mor. Battalion, 175-6.
18During the march from Santa Fé to San Diego a song was composed by Levi W. Hancock, a musician belonging to company E. It was entitled the 'Desert Route,' and commences:
While here beneath a sultry sky,
Chorus: How hard to starve and wear us out
We sometimes now for lack of bread,
Now half-starved oxen, over-drilled,
|p. 245||herd of wild bulls.
Thence, without further adventure worthy of note, they continued their
march, and reaching the Pacific coast on the 29th of January, 1847, found
the stars and stripes floating peacefully over the town of San Diego.19
A more detailed account of the career of the Mormon battalion will be found in my History of California. It remains only to add here that about one hundred of the men reached Salt Lake City in the winter of 1847, while some remained on the Pacific coast.20
The alacrity displayed by the Mormon president in raising this battalion has been ascribed to various causes; to the fear of further persecution should the levy be refused, and to a desire of showing that, notwithstanding their maltreatment, the saints were still
19In A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War, 1846-1847, by Sergeant Daniel Tlyer, (Salt Lake City,) 1881, 8vo, 376 pp., we have a most valuable hook, and one that forms the leading authority on this subject. Though written, of course, from a Mormon standpoint, and marked by the credulity of his sect, the execution of the work is all that its title-page promises. In the introduction, occupying 109 pages, we have President John Taylor's account of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, Colonel Kane's discourse on the Mormons, and a poem by Eliza R. Snow, entitled The Mormon Battalion, and First Wagon Load over the Great American Desert. The remainder of the volume consists of original matter. Tyler was a member of company C in the battalion, and no doubt speaks the truth when he says in his preface that 'neither labor, pains, nor expense has been spared in the effort to make this a just and authentic history.' Among other authorities may be mentioned Horne's Migr. and Settlem't, L, D. Saints, MS., 32-3; Nebeker's Early Justice, MS., 3; Woodruff's Rem., MS., 76; Henry W. Bigler's Diary of a Mormon in California, MS., in which last we have a faithful and interesting record of the Mormon battalion and Mr Bigler's account of the discovery of gold in California. The Conquest of New Mexico and California: an Historical and Personal Narrative, by P. St. George Cooke, Brigadier and Brevet Major-general U.S.A., N.Y., 1878, 12mo, gives some additional matter, as do the journal and report of that officer in U.S. Sen. Doc. No. 2, 30th Cong., Special Sess., and in House Ex. Doc., 30th Cong., 1st Sess., no. 41, pp. 549-63. Cooke, it will be remembered, was in command of the battalion. Items have also been gathered from U.S. House Ex. Doc., 31st Cent., 1st Sess., no. 24, p. 22; Apostle Wilford Woodruff's Speech, in Utah Pioneers, 33d ann., 19-22; Smith's Rise, Progress, and Travels, 8-11; Tullidge's Life of Brigham Young, 41-76; Olshausen, Gesch. de Mor., 142-4; and Kane's The Mormons, 27-9. Biographical notices of some of the members, and the names of the women who accompanied the battalion, are given in Tullidge's Women, 427, 432, 443-4.
20In the Frontier Guardian, March 7, 1849, is a notice copied from the St Joseph Gazette, stating that the members of the battalion can at once receive their extra pay at Fort Leavenworth. The notice is signed by Paymaster Thos S. Bryant.
|p. 246||unswerving in their
loyalty to the United States. While all this carried weight, the bounty of
twenty thousand dollars was no insignificant consideration, nor the hope
that this battalion might serve as vanguard to Brigham's host, provided he
carried out his partially formed purpose to settle in California.
At the close of 1846, about twelve thousand souls had assembled in the Mormon camps, a portion of them being yet stationed as far eastward as Garden Grove. Of the rest a few had made their way to some Atlantic port and taken ship for California; many had dispersed throughout the country, some of whom were now gathering at the rendezvous. Though the first bands that crossed the Mississippi encountered no very severe hardships, as I have said, the sufferings of those who set forth later have few parallels, even among the pioneers, who, a year or two afterward, followed their track westward in search of gold.21
Mount Pisgah, the next encampment west of Garden Grove, was on the middle fork of Grand River. Through this winter of 1846-7, which was one of severest struggle, there was great lack of food and clothing. They could not go on because they had no teams, most of them being employed in bringing forward the emigration from the Mississippi. Many
21Instance the experiences of Mrs Richards, Reminiscences, MS., passim. While on their journey toward the Missouri, having parted from her husband who was about starting on a mission to England, her little daughter was taken dangerously ill, and the mother was prematurely confined in a wagon with a son, who died soon after. 'Our situation was pitiable; I had no suitable food for myself or my child; the severe rain prevented our having any fire; on the third day we resumed our journey. In ten days we reached Mt Pisgah: my little girl was very ill, and I was also. We continued our journey till we reached my mother at Cutler Park, and here, after weeks of almost incredible suffering, my little daughter died. A few days previously she had asked for some potato soup, the first thing she had shown any desire for for weeks, and as we were then travelling, we came in sight of a potato-field. One of the sisters eagerly asked for a single potato. A rough woman impatiently heard her story through, and putting her hands on her shoulders, marched her out of the house, saying, "I won't give or sell a thing to one of you damned Mormons." I turned on my bed and wept, as I heard them trying to comfort my little one in her disappointment. When she was taken from me I only lived because I could not die.'
|p. 247||families were
entirely out of provisions, and their destitute neighbors were sorely
taxed.22 A fatal sickness swept
through the camp, and soon there were not sufficient persons to nurse the
sick; frequently burials were hastened with little ceremony. In the spring
of 1847, Lorenzo Snow was made president of the camp. The men were put to
work wherever they could get it. Seed was planted, and the result was
enough not only for themselves, but they were enabled to send supplies to
the camp at Council Bluffs.23 Snow
instituted religious ceremonies and amusements to brighten and encourage
them. He describes a dance in his log cabin, where clean straw was spread
over the ground floor, and the walls draped with sheets. Turnips were
scooped out and in them were placed lighted candles, which, suspended from
the ceiling of earth and cane, or fastened on the walls, imparted a
picturesque effect. Dancing, speeches, songs, and recitations varied the
exercises, which opened and closed with prayer.
On each side of the hills where now stands Council Bluffs could be seen the white canvas tents of a Mormon encampment, from which arose at sunrise the smoke of hundreds of fires. After the morning meal, the men employed themselves in tending herds, in planting grain and vegetables, or in building houses for winter. Many of them were excellent craftsmen, and could fell a tree, and split its trunk into boards, scantling, rails, posts, or whatever were needed, as
22It cannot be said that any considerable number died of starvation. 'Only those died of it outright,' says Kane in The Mormons, 'who fell in out-of-the-way places that the hand of brotherhood could not reach…If but part of a group were supplied with provisions, the whole went on half or quarter ration.' 'Articles of diet, such as tea, coffee, sugar, with every species of clothing, were eagerly stored up, as possibly the last we should ever see.' Brown's Testimonies, MS., 24. 'When starting from Nauvoo, a gentile neighbor gave me a pound of tea, which through sickness and great suffering was about all the sustenance I had for some time.' Mrs Richards' Rem., MS., 20.
23'Parties were sent to the gentile settlements to look for work, food, and clothing, and elders Dana and Campbell collected about $600 from the rich gentiles in Ohio and elsewhere.' Snow's Biography, 91.
|p. 248||readily as the most
expert backwoodsmen of their day.24
During the summer and autumn months of 1846, the Papillon camp, near the Little Butterfly River, in common with the others, was stricken with fever, and with a scorbutic disease which the Mormons termed the black canker. In the autumn drought, the streams that discharge into the Missouri at this point are often little better than open sewers, pestilential as open cesspools, and the river, having lost more than half its volume, flows sluggishly through its channel of slime and sedge. Of the baked mud on either bank is formed the rich soil on which lay the encampments, the site being called, in their own phrase, Misery Bottom. In the year previous the Indians in this neighborhood had lost one ninth of their number; and now that the earth was for the first time upturned by the plough, the exhalations from this rank and steaming soil were redolent of disease and death.
In the camp nearest to Papillon more than one third of the company lay sick at the beginning of August; elsewhere matters were even worse; and as the season advanced there were in some of the encampments not one who escaped the fever, the few who were able to stagger from tent to tent carrying food and water to their comrades. For several weeks it was impossible to dig graves quickly enough for the burial of the dead,25 and one might see in the open tents the wasted forms of women brushing away the flies from the putrefying corpses of their children.
Through all these months building was continually going on at Winter Quarters.26 The axe and saw were
24'There were among them many skilled mechanics, who could work at forge, loom, or turning-lathe. A Mormon gunsmith is the inventor of the excellent repeating rifle that loads by slides instead of cylinders; and one of the neatest finished fire-arms I have ever seen was of this kind, wrought from scraps of old iron, and inlaid with the silver of a couple of half-dollars.' Kane's The Mormons, 36.
25At the camp situated on the site of the town of Florence, there were over 600 burials. Kane's The Mormons, 51.
26'Here we suffered terribly from scurvy, for want of vegetables. I was a victim, and even my little children as young as three years of age. The (cont.)
|p. 249||incessantly at work
night and day. It was a city of mud and logs; the houses had puncheon
floors and roofs of straw and dirt, or of turf and willows; they were warm
and nat unwholesome, but would not endure the thaw, rain, and sunshine.27
There was a camp at Cutler Park which was moved to Winter Quarters. Great difficulty was experienced in getting flour and meal; a little grain was ground at the government mill, and the rest was obtained in Missouri, a hundred and fifty miles distant.28 Brigham kept everybody busy, and everything was well organized and systematically executed.29 Schools were soon established, officers of the church appointed, and men sent on missions. The whole machinery was apparently in as active operation as it had been at Nauvoo. The gathering continued through the summer,
(26cont.) first relief experienced was when a bag of potatoes was brought in from Missouri…It was observed that those who had milk escaped the trouble.' Horne's Migrations, MS., 20.
27'The buildings were generally of logs from 12 to 18 feet long, a few were split, and made from lynn and cotton-wood timber; many roofs were made by splitting oak timber into boards, called shakes, about 3 ft long and 6 in. wide, and kept in place by weights and poles; others were made of willows, straw, and earth, about a foot thick; some of puncheon. Many cabins had no floors; there were a few dugouts on the sidehills—the fireplace was cut out at the upper end. The ridge-pole roof was supported by two uprights in the centre and roofed with straw and earth, with chimneys of prairie sod. The doors were made of shakes, with wooden hinges and string latch; the inside of the log houses was daubed with clay; a few had stoves.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1846, 534. 'The roofs were made of logs laid across with flags spread over them, and earth spread over these. This was partial protection from the rain, but when once it was soaked through in a heavy storm, we were at the mercy of the rain.' Richards' Rem., MS., 27. In Dec. 1846, at Winter Quarters there were '538 log houses and 83 sod houses, inhabited by 3,483 souls, of whom 334 were sick.' Church Chronology, 65.
28'$8,000 was sent by Whitney to St Louis to purchase stones and machinery for flouring mills; and through A. H. Perkins a carding machine was ordered from Savannah.' Hist. B. Young, MS., Aug. 30, 1846. 'Sugar and coffee were 16 2/3 cts per lb.; domestics and calicoes from 18 to 25 cts; $3 a cwt. for flour,' etc.; all of which could be purchased in St Louis for a third of these rates. These prices seemed exorbitant to the Mormons, though in reality they were not unreasonable. In transporting the goods from St Louis later, ferriage became so high and prices were so advanced that the brethren burst forth: 'Woe unto you, Missourians! but we are independent of them and can live without them, for we have thousands of cattle left.'
29'At a meeting of the council July 14th, it was voted that colonies be established on the east side of the river to put in buckwheat, and winter; that a fort be built on Grand Island and a settlement made there; and that Bishop Miller and a company go over the mountains.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1846, 50.
|p. 250||but it was deemed
inexpedient to move forward that year. Some twelve hundred cattle were
herded on the rush bottoms, about a hundred miles up the river.
The building of a water flouring mill was in process of construction, and Brigham superintended the work. As the camp journalist writes: "He sleeps with one eye open and one foot out of bed, and when anything is wanted he is on hand." The tithing collected was distributed among the destitute at Mount Pisgah. To the gentiles who visited their camps such hospitality was extended as their means permitted, which though often scant was never stinted.
Within the camp the women attended not only to their ordinary household duties, but were busily occupied spinning, knitting, making leggings from deer and elk skins, and in weaving willow baskets for market.30 With cheerfulness and courage they adapted themselves to their many vicissitudes, their faith in their religion never swerving, and supported by it to a patient endurance beyond human strength. Most of them had exchanged their household treasures and personal effects, even to their table and bed furniture, for stores of maize or flour, which with milk were their only articles of diet. As evening approached, the tinkling of cattle bells announced the return of the men, when the women went forth to meet them, and welcome them back to their log hut and frugal meal. Then a little later all sounds were hushed, save that on the still night arose the strains of the evening hymn and the murmur of the evening prayer, the day closing, as it had commenced, with a supplication for the blessing of the Almighty, and with heartfelt thanksgiving that he had been pleased to deliver his people from the hands of their persecutors.
During the latter part of the winter and toward the early spring matters assumed a brighter look.
30Several loads of willow baskets were manufactured. Hist. B. Young, MS., 534.
New-year's day was ushered in at Winter Quarters by the firing of cannon.31 There were frequent assemblies for dancing, and in February several picnics were held. In inaugurating these festivities, Brigham told the people he would show them how to go forth in the dance in an acceptable manner before the Lord,32 and to the sound of music led the dance. A picnic lasting for three days was also given, at which three hundred of the poor were feasted.33
31The thermometer was during that week from 2° to 8° below zero, later falling several degrees lower.
32'I then knelt down and prayed to God in behalf of the meeting,…and dedicated the meeting and house to the Lord,…and led forth in the dance.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1847, 27. In an address Brigham said: 'For some weeks past I could not wake up at any time of the night but I heard the axe at work,…and now my feelings are, dance all night if you desire to do so.' p. 48. 'The "Silver Greys" and spectacled dames,…some nearly a hundred years old, dancing like ancient Israel.' p. 49.
33'There were 117 poor adults,…divided into three wards…Shortly after noon I met with 66 of my family, including my adopted children.' Id., p. 53.
Go to Online Books
Home | FAQs | What's New | Topical Index | Testimony | Newsletters | Online Resources | Online Books | Booklist | Order/Contact | Email | Other Websites