Massacre at Mountain Meadows

A depiction of the massacre

I recently finished reading a book on a very disturbing episode in U.S. History. Massacre at Mountain Meadows was written by Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley, Jr. and Glen M. Leonard and published in 2008. The book centers on the circumstances leading up to and including a Mormon and Indian attack on a wagon train in Utah Territory. The authors were given access to LDS archives and also combed through primary sources to assemble this well researched and engrossing work. After giving a through look at the history of the Mormons up to that point in history the events chronicled mainly involve Mormon settlers living in the Utah Territory, some Paiute Indians, and emigrants passing through on their way to California. A wagon train of around 120 men, women and children, mostly from Arkansas, is traveling through the Territory in 1857. They stop to rest and refresh at Mountain Meadows, a well known area on the trail. For a variety of reasons including the Mormon history of persecution by others, suspicion of outsiders, and a fear at the time of an invasion and war with the U.S. Army, the wagon train is attacked on September 7 by a Mormon militia and some Paiute Indians. The emigrants circle the wagons, dig in and fight back for five days. On the 11th the militia approach the wagon train under a flag of truce and deceive the emigrants into surrendering. Given the title of the book one knows what the ultimate fate of the emigrants will be, but the description is still heartbreaking to read. Only one man was tried and convicted, 20 years later, of mass murder. He was hauled back to the site of the massacre and executed by firing squad.