Capt. Van Vleit's Official Account of his Visit to Utah.
HAM'S FORK, Sept. 16, 1857.
CAPTAIN : I have the honor to report, for the information of the Commanding-General, the result of my trip to the Territory of Utah.
In obedience to special instructions, dated Head-quarters Army for Utah, Fort Leavenworth, July 28, 1857, I left Fort Leavenworth July 30, and reached Fort Kearney in nine days' traveling, Fort Laramie in ten, and Great Salt Lake City in thirty three and a half. At Fort Kearney I was detained one day by the changes I had to make and by sickness, and at Fort Laramie three days, as all the animals were forty miles from the post, and when brought in all had to be shod before they could take the road. I traveled as rapidly as it was possible, to do with six mule wagons. Sev-of my teams broke down, and at least half of my animals are unserviceable, and will remain so until they recruit. During my progress towards Utah I met many people from that Territory, and also several mountain men at Green River, and all informed me that I would not be allowed to enter Utah, and if I did, I would run great risk of losing my life. I treated all this, however, as idle talk; but it induced me to leave my wagons and escort at Ham's Fork, 143 miles this side of the city, and proceed alone.
I reached Great Salt Lake City without moles-tation, and immediately upon my arrival I informed GOVERNOR BRIGHAM YOUNG that I desired an in-terview, which he appointed for the next day. On the evening of the day of my arrival, Governor YOUNG, with many of the leading men of the city, called upon me at my quarters. The Governor re-ceived me most cordially, and treated me during my stay, which continued some six days, with the greatest hospitality and kindness. In this in-terview the Governor made known to me his views with regard to the approach of the United States troops in plain and unmistakeable lan-guage.
He stated that the Mormons had been persecut-ed, murdered and robbed in Missouri and Illinois, both by the mob and State authorities, and that now the United States were about to pursue the same course and that, therefore, he and the people of Utah had determined to resist all persecution at the commencement, and that the troops now on the march for Utah should not enter the Great Lake Valley. As he uttered these words, all those present concurred most heartily in what he said. The next day, as agreed upon, I called upon the Governor, and delivered in person the letters with which I had been entrusted.
In that interview, and in several subsequent ones, the same determination to resist to the death the entrance of the troops into the Valley was expressed by Governor YOUNG and those about him. The Governor informed me that there was abundance of everything I required for the troops, such as lumber, forage, &c., but that none would be sold to us.
In the course of my conversation with the Gov-ernor and the influential men in the Territory, I told them plainly and frankly what I conceived would be the result of their present course. I told them that they might prevent the small military force now approaching Utah from getting through the narrow defiles and rugged passes of the moun-tains this year, but that next season the United States Government would send troops sufficient to overcome all opposition. The answer to this was invariably the same—"We are aware that such will be the case, but when those troops ar-rive they will find Utah a desert; every house will be burned to the ground, every tree cut down, and every field laid waste. We have three years' provisions on hand, which we will 'cache,' and then take to the mountains and bid' defiance to the powers of the Government." I attended their service on Sunday, and in course of a sermon de-livered by Elder TAYLOR, he referred to the ap-proach of the troops, and declared that they should not enter the Territory. He then referred to the probability of an overpowering force being sent against them, and desired all persons who would apply the torch to their own buildings, cut down their trees, and lay waste their fields, to hold up their hands ; every hand in an audience of 4,000 persons was raised at the same moment. During my stay in the city I visited several families, and all with whom I was thrown looked upon the present movement of the troops towards their Territory as the commencement of another re-ligious persecution, and expressed a fixed deter-mination to sustain Governor YOUNG in any mea-sure he might adopt.
From all these facts I am forced to the conclu-sion that Governor YOUNG and the people of Utah will prevent, if possible, the army of Utah from entering their Territory this season. This, in my opinion, will not be a very difficult task, owing to the lateness of the season, the smallness of our force, and the defences that nature has thrown around the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. There is but one road running into the valley on the side which our troops are approaching, and for over fifty miles it passes through narrow canons over rugged mountains, which a small force could hold against great odds. I am inclined, however, to be-lieve that the Mormons will not resort to actual hostilities until the last moment. Their plan of operations will be to burn the grass, cut up the roads, and stampede the animals, so as to delay the troops until snow commences to fall, which will render the roads impassable. Snow falls early in this region ; in fact, last night it commenced fall-ing at Fort Bridger, and this morning the surround-ing mountains are clothed in white. Were it one month earlier in the season, I believe the troops could force their way in, and they may be able to do so even now ; but the attempt will be fraught with considerable danger, arising from the filling up of the canons and passes with snow. I do not wish it to be considered that I am advocating either the one course or the other. I simply wash to lay the facts before the General, leaving it to his better judgment to decide upon the proper move-ments. Notwithstanding my inability to make the purchase I was ordered to, and all that Governor YOUNG said in regard to opposing the entrance of the troops into the valley, examined the country in the vicinity of the city, with a view of selecting a proper military site. I visited the military reserve—Rush Valley—but found it, in my opinion, entirely unsuitable for a military station. It contains but little grass, and is very much exposed to the cold winds of Winter, its only advantage being the close proximity of fine wood ; it is too far from the city, being be-tween forty and fifty miles, and will require teams four days to go there and return. I examined another point on the road to Rush Valley, and only about thirty miles from the city, which I consider a much more eligible position. It is in Tuelle Valley, three miles to the north of Tuelle City, and possesses wood, water, and grass, but is occu-pied by Mormons, who have some sixty acres un-der cultivation, with houses and barns on their land. These persons would have to be dispos-sessed, or bought out. In fact, there is no place within forty, fifty, or sixty miles of the city, suit-able 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 apparent determination of the people to resist the authority of the United States, I left the city and returned to my camp on Hams 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 Fort, 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 advances. I have thus stated fully the result of my visit to Utah, and trusting that my conduct will meet the approval of the Command-ing General, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, STEWART VAN VLIET,
Capt. A. Q. M., U. S. Army.
Capt. A. PLEASONTON, A. Asst. Adjt.-Gen. Army for Utah Fort Leavenworth.
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