Page images
PDF
EPUB

to Rush valley, and only about thirty miles from the city, which I consider a much more eligible position; it is in Tuella valley, three miles to the north of Tuella city, and possesses wood, water, and grass, but it is occupied by Mormons, who have some sixty acres under cultivation, with houses and barns on their land. These persons would have to be dispossessed or bought out. In fact, there is no place within forty, fifty, or sixty miles of the city, suitable for a military position, that is not occupied by the inhabitants and under cultivation. Finding that I could neither make the purchases ordered to, nor shake the determination of the people to resist the authority of the United States, I left the city and returned to my camp on Ham's fork. On my return I examined the vicinity of Fort Bridger, and found it a very suitable position for wintering the troops and grazing the animals, should it be necessary to stop at that point. The Mormons occupy the fort at present, and also have a settlement about ten miles further up Black's fork, called Fort Supply. These two places contain buildings sufficient to cover nearly half the troops now en route for Utah, but I was informed that they would all be laid in ashes as the army advanced.

I have thus stated fully the result of my visit to Utah, and, trusting that my conduct will meet the approval of the commanding general, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

STEWART VAN VLIET,

Captain, Assistant Quartermaster, Captain PLEASONTON, Acting Assistant Adjutant General, Army for Utah,

Fort Leavenworth. P.S. I shall start on my return to-morrow with an escort of ten men.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF UTAH,
Ash Hollow, en route to Salt Lake City,

September 29, 1857. Copy: Original forwarded by express from north bank of south fork of Platte.

Official.

STEWART VAN VLIET, Captain, Assistant Quartermaster.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY FOR UTAH,

Fort Leavenworth, July 28, 1857. CAPTAIN : By special orders No. 13, from these headquarters, of this date, you are directed to proceed with the utmost despatch to Salt Lake City, Territory of Utah, for the purpose of making the necessary arrangements and purchases for providing the troops of the army for Utah with sufficient forage, fuel, &c., on their arrival at or near that place.

The general commanding has deemed it proper and courteous to inform President Young, of the Society of Mormons, of the object of your visit, and has also requested of him the required facilities to enable you to execute your instructions certainly and effectively. You will, therefore, call upon President Young in person, in the first instance, and deliver to him the enclosed communication; at the same time you will explain freely and fully the object of your mission and the steps you propose to take for its accomplishment.

You will ascertain as soon as possible to what points on the road forage can be furnished the troops, and in what quantities; also, the amounts to be obtained near the Salt Lake City, together with such other information as you can gather which will be useful to the general commanding, all of which you will forward by special express to these headquarters, sending a copy of that portion relating to the supplies of forage on the road, and whatever else may be essential, to the senior officer with the troops en route, for his information and guidance.

You will obtain a suitable location for the troops in the vicinity of Salt Lake City, sufficiently near to be effective in supporting the civil authority in the maintenance of the territorial laws, but allowing ample room to prevent an improper association of the troops with the citizens-an object in this selection of primary importance.

A position called Scull valley, some sixty miles from the city, has been mentioned as favorable for this purpose ; the distance, however, is too great. Any place some twenty or thirty miles from the city, possessing the necessary requisites of wood, water, and grazing, would be most advantageous. In this selection great care, judgment, and discretion will be observed.

You have authority to contract for such lumber and other articles which, in your opinion, will be necessary for hutting the troops, stabling the animals, &c., during the winter.

The quartermaster general will be requested to place at your disposal the funds required to meet your expenses.

You will impress upon the officer in charge of your escort the imperious necessity for a very careful circumspection of conduct in his command. The men should not only be carefully selected for this service, but they should be repeatedly admonished never to comment upon or ridicule anything they may either see or hear, and to treat the inhabitants of Utah with kindness and consideration.

After completing the duties thus assigned to you, you are instructed to report in person to the quartermaster general, in the event of the general commanding being absent from this post.

In conclusion, the general tenders you his best wishes for success in a mission requiring the high bearing, intelligence, and devotion which have confirmed your selection in this instance. I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. PLEASONTON, Captain 2d Dragoons, A. Asst. Adjt. General. Captain STEWART VAN VLIET,

Assistant Quartermaster, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Territory.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY FOR UTAH,

Camp Winfield, U. T., October 9, 1857. SIR: I have the honor to report that I have assumed command of the troops of the United States, constituting a part of the army for Utah, which are now encarnped at this point. These troops are: the 5th regiment of infantry, eight companies of the 10th infantry, and the batteries of artillery (6 and 12-pounders) commanded by Captains Phelps, 4th artillery, and Reno, ordnance department, respectively. This camp is situated on Ham's fork, a tributary of Black's fork, which is, in turn, a tributary of Green river, about fifteen miles above the junction of the two forks. Fort Bridger is distant, in a southeast direction, about thirty miles. The 10th infantry reached here on the 28th of September; Phelps' battery on the following day. The 5th infantry arrived on the 4th of October, and Reno's battery on the same day. On the 5th instant I assumed command, for reasons which I conceive to be of the greatest importance to the troops and their supplies, and of which I shall have the honor to make a full report when a safer and more certain opportunity of sending despatches presents itself. At present I can give only a statement of what has occurred since my arrival, and report the disposition I have determined to make of the troops. On the day after reaching Ham's fork, and at the first camp I made on it, I received the enclosed letters from Governor Young and Lieutenant General Wells. The propositions they contain, however absurd they are, showed conclusively that a determined opposition to the power of the government was intended. I had met Captain Van Vliet on the 21st of September returning from Salt Lake City, and was informed by him that although the Mormons, or rather Governor Young, were determined to oppose an entrance into the city, yet he was assured that no armed resistance would be attempted if he went no further than Fort Bridger and Fort Supply. I was still further convinced of this by the circumstance that a train of more than one hundred contractor's wagons had been parked for nearly three weeks on Ham's fork without defence, and had been unmolested, although they contained provisions and supplies which would have been of great use to the Mormons.

Upon receiving these letters, I prepared for defence, and to guard the supplies near us until the nearest troops came up. I replied to Governor Young's letter, a copy of which I enclose, and have not had any further correspondence with him. On the morning of the 5th of October the Mormons burned two trains of government stores on Green river, and one on the Big Sandy, and a few wagons belonging to Mr. Perry, sutler of the 10th infantry, which were a few miles behind the latter train. Colonel Waite, of the 5th, though not anticipating any act of the kind, was preparing to send back a detachment to these trains from his camp on Black's fork, when he received, from some teamsters who came in, the intelligence of their being burned. No doubt now existed that the most determined hostility might be expected on the part of the Mormons; and it become necessary, from the extreme lateness of the season, to adopt some immediate course for wintering the troops and preserving the supply trains

with us. After much deliberation, and assisted by the counsel of the senior officers, I determined to move the troops by the following route: Up Harn's fork, about eighteen miles, to a road called Sublette's Cutoff; along that road to Bear river and Soda Spring. On arriving at Soda Spring two routes will be open-one down Bear River valley, towards the Salt Lake, and one to the northeast, towards the Wind River mountains—where good valleys for wintering the troops and stock can be found.

The adoption of one of these will be decided by the following circumstances : If the force under my command is sufficient to overcome the resistance which I expect to meet at Soda Spring, I shall endeavor to force my way into the valley of Bear river and occupy some of the Mormon villages, because I am under the impression that the Mormons, after a defeat, would be willing, and bring provisions for sale. The supplies on hand will last six months; and if I can get possession of a town in Bear River valley, I can easily fortify and hold it all winter.

There are also several supply trains in rear, to which I have communicated, and if they receive my letter in time, they will be saved, and can join us. If the Mormons are too strong for us, which I do not anticipate, the other road will be adopted, and I will make the best of my way to the mountains and tent for the winter.

I desire to impress upon you the fact that I, though not the commander appointed for this army, have adopted this course because the safety of the troops absolutely depends upon an immediate effort, and having information which makes it certain that the commander will not reach here before the 20th instant, and if we wait until that time we cannot leave this valley. The information I allude to is to the effect that Colonel Johnston had relieved General Harney, and had not left Fort Leavenworth on the 10th of September, and thirty days is the least possible time in which he can arrive here.

I cannot, for fear of this being intercepted, tell you the strength of my command, or send returns of it. It is strong enough to defend itself and its supplies. Whether it is able to assume and sustain an offensive position remains to be seen ; but should the commands which I have heard are in rear come up in time, I think we will have sufficient force to carry out an active invasion. If we are obliged to winter in the mountains, you can perceive by a reference to Stansbury's maps that we will have an open road to Salt Lake City in the spring, and one which, I am told, is open early. By this one attack can be made, and attention called from the main road, (that by Fort Bridger,) which may then be traversed by troops. The Bear river route is, however, said to be the best one into the valley. The other passes through cañons that can be defended by a handful against thousands; and it is, moreover, so easily obstructed, that in a week it could be made utterly impassable. The want of cavalry is severely felt; and we are powerless, on account of this deficiency, to effect any chastisement of the marauding bands that are constantly hovering about us

On the 7th instant I detached Captain Marcy, 5th infantry, with four companies, to Green river, to collect what he co ld find service

able from the burned trains, and to disperse any bodies of Mormons he found.

In conclusion, permit me to express the hope that my acts will meet the approval of the government, and on the first opportunity I will make a fuller and more detailed report. It is unquestionably the duty of the government to quell, by overwhelming force, this treasonable rebellion of the governor and people of Utah, and I must most urgently impress upon the War Department the fact that the small body of troops here will need reinforcements and supplies as soon as they can possibly be got here next spring. I would further respectfully suggest that troops should be sent from California and Oregon. It is said that the road from California to Salt Lake is passable all winter, and it is certainly so much earlier in the spring than that from the States. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. B. ALEXANDER,

Col. 10ih Infantry, Commanding. Colonel S. COOPER,

Adjutant General’U. S. Army.

[Endorsement on the foregoing.)

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF UTAH,

28 miles from South Pass, October, 15, 1857. I have read this communication, and respectfully refer it to the consideration of the General-in-chief. I will remain near the Pacific Springs, with Colonel Smith, until the arrival of Lieutenant Smith, and will move ou to the army, protecting the supply trains. With great respect, your obedient servant,

A. S. JOHNSTON,
Col. 2d Cavalry, Commanding army, Utah.

Fort BRIDGER, September 30, 1857. Sir: I have the honor to forward you the accompanying letter from his excellency Governor Young, together with two copies of his proclamation and a copy of the Laws of Utah, 185, chap. 7, containing the organic act of the Territory.

It may be proper to add, that I am here to aid in carrying out the instructions of Governor Young General Robison will deliver these papers to you and receive such communication as you may wish to make.

Trusting that your answer and actions will be dictated by a proper respect for the rights and liberties of American citizens, I remain, very respectfully,

DANIEL H. WELLS, Lieut. General, Commanding Nauvoo Legion.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »