Category Archives: Primary Source

P. Edward Connor, Official Report on the Bear River Massacre, February 6, 1863.

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Primary Source: Patrick Connor’s Official Report on the Bear River Massacre, February 6, 1863

Headquarters District of Utah
Camp Douglas, Utah Terr., February 6, 1863

Colonel: I have the honor to report that from information received from various sources of the encampment of a large body of Indians on Bear River, in Utah Territory, 140 miles north of this point, who have murdered several miners during the winder, passing to and from the settlements in this valley to the Beaver Head mines, east of the Rocky Mountains, and being satisfied that they were a part of the same band who had been murdering emigrants on the Overland Mail Route for the last fifteen years, and the principal actors and leaders in the horrid massacres of the past summer, I determined, although the season was unfavorable to and expedition in consequence of the cold weather and deep snow, to chastise them if possible. Feeling assured that secrecy was the surest way to success, I determined to deceive the Indians by sending a small force in advance, judging, and rightly, they would not fear a small number. On the 22nd ultimo I ordered Company K, Third California Volunteers, Captain Hoyt, two howitzers, under the command of Lieutenant Honeyman, and twelve men of the Second Cavalry California Volunteers, with a train of fifteen wagons, carrying twenty days’ supplies, to proceed in that direction.

On the 24th ultimo I proceeded with detachments from Companies A, H, K, and M, Second Cavalry California Volunteers, numbering 220 men, accompanies by Major McGarry, Second California Volunteers; Surgeon Reid, Third Infantry California Volunteers; Captains McLean and Price and Lieutenants Chase, Clark, Quinn, and Conrad, Second Cavalry California Volunteers; Major Gallagher, Third Infantry California Volunteers, and Captain Berry, Second Cavalry California Volunteers, who were present at this post attending general court-martial, as volunteers.

I marched the first night to Brigham City, sixty-eight miles distant. The second night’s march from Camp Douglas I overtook the infantry and artillery at the town of Mendon and ordered them to march again that night. I resumed my march with the cavalry and overtook the infantry at Franklin, Utah Ter., about twelve miles from the Indian encampment. I ordered Captain Hoyt, with the infantry, howitzers, and train, to move at 1 o’clock the next morning, intending to start with the cavalry about two hours thereafter, in order to reach the Indian encampment at the same time and surrout it before daylight, but in consequence of the difficulty in procuring a guide to the ford of the river, Captain Hoyt did not move until after 3 a.m.

I moved the cavalry in about one hour afterward, passing the infantry, artillery, and wagons about four miles from the Indian encampment. As daylight was approaching, I was apprehensive that the Indians would discover the strength of my force and make their escape. I therefore made a rapid march with the cavalry and reached the bank of the river shortly after daylight in full view of the Indian encampment, and about one mile distant.

I immediately ordered Major McGarry to advance with the cavalry and surround before attacking them, while I remained a few minutes in the rear to give orders to the infantry and artillery. On my arrival on the field I found that Major McGarry had dismounted the cavalry and was engaged with the Indians who had sallied out of their hiding places on foot and horseback, and with fiendish malignity waved the scalps of white women and challenged the troops to battle, at the same time attacking them. Finding it impossible to surround them, in consequence of the nature of the ground, he accepted their challenge.

The position of the Indians was one of the strong natural defenses, and almost inaccessible to the troops, being in a deep, dry ravine from six to twelve feet deep and from thirty to forty feet across level table-land, along which they had constructed steps from which they could deliver their fire without being themselves exposed. Under the embankments they had constructed artificial covers of willows thickly woven together, from behind which they could fire without being observed.

After being engaged about twenty minutes I found it was impossible to dislodge them without great sacrifice of life. I accordingly ordered Major McGarry with twenty men to turn their left flank, which was in the ravine where it entered the mountains. Shortly afterward Captain Hoyt reached the ford three-quarters of a mile distant, but found it impossible to cross footmen. Some of them tried it, however, rushing into the river, but finding it deep and rapid, retired. I immediately ordered a detachment of cavalry with led horses to cross the infantry, which was done accordingly, and upon their arrival upon the field I ordered them to the support of Major McGarry’s flanking party, who shortly afterward succeeded in turning the enemy’s flank. Up to this time, in consequence of being exposed on a level and open plain while the Indians were under cover, they had every advantage of us, fighting with the ferocity of demons. My men fell fast and thick around me, but after flanking them we had the advantage and made good use of it.

I ordered the flanking party to advance down the ravine on either side, which gave us the advantage of an enfilading fire and caused some of the Indians to give way and run toward the north of the ravine. At this point I had a company stationed, who shot them as they ran out. But few tried to escape, however, but continued fighting with unyielding obstinancy, frequently engaging hand to hand with the troops until killed in their hiding places.

The most of those who did escape from the ravine were afterward shot in attempting to swim the river, or killed while desperately fighting under cover of the dense willow thicket which lined the river banks.

To give you an idea of the desperate character of the fight, you are respectfully referred to the list of killed and wounded transmitted herewith. The fight commenced about 6 o’clock in the morning and continued until about 10. At the commencement of the battle the hands of some of the men were so benumbed with cold that it was with difficulty they could load their pieces. Their suffering during the march was awful beyond description, but they steadily continued on without regard to hunger, cold, or thirst, not a murmur escaping them to indicate their sensibilities to pain or fatigue. Their uncomplaining endurance during their four nights’ march from Camp Douglas to the battle-field is worthy of the highest praise. The weather was intensely cold, and not less than seventy-five had their feet frozen, and some of them I fear will be crippled for life.

I should mention here that in my march from this post, no assistance was rendered by the Mormons, who seemed indisposed to divulge any information regarding the Indians and charged enormous prices for every article furnished my command. I also have to report to the general commanding that previous to my departure Chief Justice Kinney, of Great Salt Lake City, made a requisition for troops for the purpose of arresting the Indian chiefs Bear Hunter, San Pitch, and Sagwich. I informed the marshal that my arrangements for our expedition against the Indians were made, and that it was not my intention to take any prisoners, but that he could accompany me. Marshal Gibbs accordingly accompanied me and rendered efficient aid in caring for the wounded.

I take great pleasure in awarding to Major McGarry, Second Cavalry Cavalry California Volunteers; Major Gallagher and Surg. R.K. Reid, Third Infantry California Volunteers, the highest praise for their skill, gallantry, and bravery throughout the engagement, and to the company officers the highest praise is due without invidious distinction for their bravery, courage, and determination evidenced throughout the engagement. Their obedience to orders, attention, kindness, and care for the wounded is no less worthy of notice. Of the good conduct and bravery of both officers and men California has reason to be proud.
We found 224 bodies on the field, among which were those of the chiefs Bear Hunter, Sagwich, and Leight. How many more were killed than stated I am unable to say, as the condition of the wounded rendered their immediate removal a necessity. I was unable to examine the field.

I captured 175 horses, some arms, destroyed over seventy lodges, a large quantity of wheat and other provisions, which had been furnished them by the Mormons; left a small quantity of wheat for the sustenance of 160 captive squaws and children, whom I left on the field. The chiefs Pocatello and San Pitch, with their bands of murderers, are still at large. I hope to be able to kill or capture them before spring. If I succeed, the Overland Route west of the Rocky Mountains will be rid of the bedouins who have harassed and murdered emigrants on that route for a series of years. In consequence the number of men left on the route with frozen feet and those with the train and howitzers and guarding the cavalry horses, I did not have to exceed 200 men engaged. The enemy had about 300 warriors, mostly well armed with rifles and having plenty of ammunition, which rumor says they received from the inhabitants of this Territory in exchange for the property of massacred emigrants.

The position of the Indians was one of great natural strength, and had I not succeeded in flanking them the mortality in my command would have been terrible. In consequence of the deep snow, the howitzers did not reach the field in time to be used in the action.

I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

P. Edw. Connor,
Colonel Third Infantry California Volunteers, Comdg. District.
Lieut. Col. R.C. Drum, U.S. Army, Assisant Adjust-General, Department of the Pacific.

See: Connor Statue at Historic Park


Brigham Young to Jedediah M. Grant, 26 November 1851

Published / by Benjamin Bartholomew / Leave a Comment

Brigham Young to Jedediah M. Grant, 26 November 1851

G.S.L. City Nov 26 1851

Dear Brother

Believing that you are posted up, in relation to our affairs, as far as the departure of the October Mail from this place, I will offer nothing previous to that time, neither have we anything of much importance since, of a general nature.  On the 21 day of October myself in company with Bros Kimball Orson Pratt, Carrington Judge Snow Major Rose and several others started for Pauvan Valley to find a site and locate the seat of Government for Utah   We found an excellent situation near the ford of Chalk Creek and selected the site for the State House on the south side of that creek on the heights about 3/4 of a Mile up it.  Exceedingly beautiful are the numerous cedars in that vicinity which are included in the city plot.  The citizens passed a law that no living tree shall be cut down within two miles of the city.  We returned by way of Sanpete after an absence of 18 days   Most beautiful weather    We shall make arrangements with the brethren of Sanpete to furnish the lumber for the State House one wing of which we shall erect the ensuing season.

The location of the seat of Government at that point will unquestionably prove highly satisfactory to the People of the Territory having a more central position that Great Salt Lake County and the most susceptable of maintaining a large and dense population of any other valley intervening. . . .




Brigham Young to Jedediah M. Grant, 26 November 1851, Brigham Young Collection, DR1234/1, box 16, folder 22 (reel 25), Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.



Primary Source: Bullock, Thomas, Journals 1843-1849, vol. 4.

Published / by Grace Fahey / Leave a Comment

Bullock, Thomas, Journals 1843-1849, vol. 4.

1847 [July]

Thursday 22 Many rushes by the sides of the Creeks. Elder Pratt came up to our Camp & consulted with W. Richards & G. A. Smith, when it was decided that O. Pratt, G. A. Smith with several others should go ahead & look out a place to plant; while W. Richards was to take the lead of the Pioneers in preparing the way thro’ the Kanyon. Gather up & start at 9[.] soon pass the other Camping ground. went through a heavy Willow bed, overtook the last teams; graded the hill each side the Creek. when teams halted while extra hands go to repair the roads—then crossed over & entered the Kanyon; which required much hard work to make a road thro’—. succeeded in getting thro’ the narrow spot of the Kanyon about 4 oclock, when we turned round the hill to the right. & came in full view of the Salt Lake in the distance, with its bold hills on its Islands towering up in bold relief behind the Silvery Lake—a very extensive valley burst upon our view, dotted in 3 or 4 places with Timber. I should expect the valley to be about 30 miles long & 20 miles wide. I could not help shouting “hurra, hurra, hurra, heres my home at last”—the Sky is very clear, the air delightful & altogether looks glorious; the only drawback appearing to be the absence of timber—but there is an Ocean of Stone in the mountains, to build Stone houses, & Walls for fencing. if we can only find a bed of Coal we can do well; & be hidden up in the Mountains unto the Lord. we descended a gentle sloping table land to a lower level where the Soil & grass improve in appearance. as we progressed down the valley, small Clumps of dwarf Oak, & Willows appear, the Wheat Grass grows 6 or 7 feet high, many different kinds of grass appear, some being 10 or 12 feet high. after wading thro’ thick grass for some distance, we found a place bare enough for a Camping ground, the grass being only knee deep but very thick. we camped on the banks of a beautiful little Stream; which was surrounded by very tall grass. in digging a place down to the stream. cut thro’ a thin bed of Clay. after about a foot depth of rich soil; then rich soil again. many mosquitoes about in the evening—a rattle snake killed near the Camp—a scorpion seen by young bro: Crow. many of the brethren met in the evening round the Camp fire—to hear the report of O. Pratt, G. A. Smith & several others who had been out on an Exploring Expedition on horseback. they report having been about 20 miles north—about 4 miles from this Camp ground are two beautiful Streams of Water with Stoney bottom. beyond that is a Saline Country, & about 50 mineral Springs. one will do for a barber’s Shop & the largest Spring rushes out of a large rock. having a large Stone in the middle would make a first rate Thomsonian Steam House. they explored about 20 miles North. they have picked out a place for a permanent Camp ground. Dr. dictates a long letter to Prest. Young.

Pratts Pass is 35 miles from where it enters the mountains on Weber River, to the outlet of the Kanyon, opening into the Valley of the Salt Lake.

saw a magpie, several Sand Hill Cranes—a Hawk—the wandering Milk Weed & other herbs.

Friday 23 Clear Sky, warm morning—I copied the long letter to Prest. Young—which was read to, & signed by Prests. O. Pratt, G. A. Smith & W. Richards. I also made out the table of distances. & route from Weber River to this place. gave both to Major Pack, who went back to the Prest. Camp gather up & starts about 7. took the back track about a mile, then a strait road to a small Grove of Cotton Wood Trees —on the banks of a beautiful Stream of Water covered on both sides with Willows & Shrubs. here is very rich land, deep grass & the intended location for a farm. W. Clayton allows that we are about 2 miles further from Winter Quarters than last nights Camp

From Winter Quartrs to Junction of Forks 333 miles (guessed)
Junction to Fort John 227 miles (measured)
Fort John to Fort Bridger 347 miles (measured)
Fort Bridger to the Farm 116 miles (measured)
From Winter Quarters to Location 1073 miles

about ½ past 9 the brethren were called together & after a few introductory remarks by El: O. Pratt, O. Pratt made prayer to Almighty God, returning thanks for the preservation of the Camp, their prosperity in the journey, safe arrival in this place; consecrated and dedicated the land to the Lord; & entreated his blessings on the seeds about to be planted; & on our labors in this valley. after a few remarks by El. Pratt & Richards—a Committee of Five; Shadrack Roundy, Seth Taft, Stephen Markham, Robert Crow, & Albert Carrington—were appointed to look out a place for planting Potatoes, Corn, Beans &c who left meeting for that purpose. it was then voted that Charles A. Harper, Charles Shumway & Elijah Newman be a committee to Stock Plows & Drags & to call those men to their assistance that they wanted—it was also voted that Henson Walker, William Wadsworth & John Brown be a committee to superintend the mowing & rigging up of Scythes—Stephen Markham was appointed to attend to the Teams, & see that fresh sets were hitched up every four hours—it was motioned that every man plant his own potatoes & seeds as he pleases. and also motioned that Almon Williams oversee the making of a Coal Pit—Dr. Richards advised that no man leave the Camp, but attend to his seeds & put them in. G. A. Smith recommended the brethren to gather out the dead timber & leave the live timber standing. & to use as little wood as possible in their cooking. Abut ½ past 11 Committee reported, they had staked off; a piece of fine ground 40 rods by 20 for Potatoes—also a suitable place for beans, Corn & buckwheat. the soil is fertile, friable loam, with fine gravel—at 12 o’clock the first furrow was turned by Capt. Taft’s Company—there were 3 Plows & 1 Harrow at work most of the afternoon[.] Tafts Plow got broke. at 2 o’clock the brethren commenced building a dam, & cutting trenches to convey the water , to irrigate the Land—at 4 oclock other brethren commenced mowing the grass, to prepare a turnip patch. about 6 heavy clouds & a thunder shower passed over the camp. a South West wind. at dark Major Pack reported, that Prest. Young was this side the Mountain, camped on the Creek, a few miles back & were all better. regulations were entered into about the Teams & Plow men to work from 4 A.M. to 8 P.M. coursing by teams of 4 hours each

Saturday 24 A warm morning—Clouds flying. the brethren very busy, Plowing, Stocking Plows & Cutting ditches to irrigate the Land. about noon the 5 acre potatoe patch was plowed, when the brethren commenced planting their seed ptatoes—Amasa Lyman’s plow got broke. the brethren then planted some Early Corn—the Plowers continued at work, on the South of the Potato Patch

when the ditch was completed, the Water was turned on to irrigate the Potatoe Patch, which answered very well. about 2 o’clock Prest. Young[,

Thomas Bullock Journals, Vol. 4, 1843-1849, LDS Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, digital copy.

see: Big Mountain 


Journal of Orson Pratt

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Pratt, Orson, “Interesting Items Concerning the Journeying of the Latter-day Saints from the City of Nauvoo, Until Their Location in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake (Extracted from the Private Journal of Orson Pratt),”

 July 21st. No frost this morning, but a heavy dew. We resumed our journey, travelled 2 1/2 miles, and ascended a mountain for 1 1/2 miles; descended upon the west side one mile; came upon a swift running creek, where we halted for noon: we called this Last Creek. Brother Erastus Snow (having overtaken our camp from the other camp, which he said was but a few miles in the rear,) and myself proceeded in advance of the camp down Last Creek 4 1/2 miles, to where it passes through a kanyon and issues into the broad open valley below. To avoid the kanyon the wagons last season had passed over an exceedingly steep and dangerous hill. Mr. Snow and myself ascended this hill, from the top of which a broad open valley, about 20 miles wide and 30 long, lay stretched out before us, at the north end of which the broad waters of the Great Salt Lake glistened in the sunbeams, containing high mountainous islands from 25 to 30 miles in extent. After issuing from the mountains among which we had been shut up for many days, and beholding in a moment such an extensive scenery open before us, we could not refrain from a shout of joy which almost involuntarily escaped from our lips the moment this grand and lovely scenery was within our view. We immediately descended very gradually into the lower parts of the valley, and although we had but one horse between us, yet we traversed a circuit of about 12 miles before we left the valley to return to our camp, which we found encamped 1 1/2 miles up the ravine from the valley, and 3 miles in advance of their noon halt. It was about 9 o’clock in the evening when we got into camp. The main body of the pioneers who were in the rear were encamped only 1 1/2 mile up the creek from us, with the exception of some wagons containing some who were sick, who were still behind.

July 22nd. This morning George A. Smith and myself, accompanied by seven others, rode into the valley to explore, leaving the camp to follow on and work the road, which here required considerable labour, for we found that the kanyon at the entrance of the valley, by cutting out the thick timber and underbrush, connected with some spading and digging, could be made far more preferable than the route over the steep hill mentioned above. We accordingly left a written note to that effect, and passed on. After going down into the valley about 5 miles, we turned our course to the north, down towards the Salt Lake. For 3 or 4 miles north we found the soil of a most excellent quality. Streams from the mountains and springs were very abundant, the water excellent, and generally with gravel bottoms. A great variety of green grass, and very luxuriant, covered the bottoms for miles where the soil was sufficiently damp, but in other places, although the soil was good, yet the grass had nearly dried up for want of moisture. We found the drier places swarming with very large crickets, about the size of a man’s thumb. This valley is surrounded with mountains, except on the north: the tops of some of the highest being covered with snow. Every 1 or 2 miles streams were emptying into it from the mountains on the east, many of which were sufficiently large to carry mills and other machinery. As we proceeded towards the Salt Lake the soil began to assume a more sterile appearance, being probably at some season of the year overflowed with water. We found as we proceeded on, great numbers of hot springs issuing from near the base of the mountains. These springs were highly impregnated with salt and sulphur: the temperature of some was nearly raised to the boiling point. We travelled for about 15 miles down after coming into the valley, the latter parts of the distance the soil being unfit for agricultural purposes. We returned and found our wagons encamped in the valley, about 5 1/4 miles from where they left the kanyon.

Source: Orson Pratt, “Interesting Items Concerning the Journeying of the Latter-day Saints from the City of Nauvoo, Until Their Location in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake (Extracted from the Private Journal of Orson Pratt),” digital copy, LDS Church History Library.

see: Big Mountain 

Primary Source: Brigham Young to Erastus Snow, 1 October 1862

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                                Brigham Young to Erastus Snow, 1 October 1862[1]

G.S.L. City, Oct. 1, 1862.

Elder Erastus Snow,

St. George, Washington Co., U.T.,

Dear Brother:

Myself and company reached home in good health and spirits on the 25 ult., having enjoyed a pleasant and I trust mutually beneficial trip.

As I have already informed you, I wish you and the brethren to build, as speedily as possible, a good, substantial, commodious, well finished meeting house, one large enough to comfortably seat at least 2000 persons, and that will be not only useful but also an ornament to your City and a credit to your energy and enterprise.  To assist you in a work so laudable and necessary, I hereby place at your disposal, expressly to aid in building the aforesaid meetinghouse, the labor, molasses, vegetable, and grain tithing of Cedar City and of all places and persons south of that City.

I hope you will begin the building at the [page break] earliest possible date, and be able, with the aid herein given, to speedily prosecute the work to completion.

The immigrating companies arrived in excellent spirits and condition, with oxen looking well.  All are expected to arrive before rough weather, the freight train being in the rear and will probably be in about the 20th of this month.

Our Fair will open tomorrow in the State House (formerly Council House), to which many are now conveying articles.

The weather continues fine, and wood, coal, and harvest are busily being secured.

Your Brother in the Gospel,


[1]Brigham Young Office Files, Box 19, Folder 26 (Reel 28), Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

See: St. George Tabernacle