THE MURDER OF SERGEANT PIKE
The stories of Mormon outrages which have been for two or three years past so frequent, are not always worthy of credit. Coming from "Gen "tiles," who, however honest, can hardly be expected to be free from the influence of the bitter personal and partisan feeling which divides the Saints and the world's people, and especially the military part of it in Utah, the benefit of any doubt not infrequently, perhaps, may safely be given to the Mormons. In the case of Sergeant Pike, how-ever, it is impossible to lean to mercy's side, as the man seems to have been assassinated by a Mormon, with Mormon approval, for no other provocation than the defense of his own life in an affray when carrying out the orders of his superior officer. The particulars, as related by our own correspondent at Camp Floyd, in a letter published in Wednesday's TRIBUNE, are in the main correct, but we have since seen some private letters, and especially a letter from Sergeant Pike himself, to a brother in this city, written in April last, giving an account of the original difficulty, when he, poor fellow, little thought what would be its catastrophe, which make it very certain, as far as we can now see, that he died the murdered victim of private revenge for faithfulness to his public duty.
On the 11th of April, Pike writes to his brother that he had been on detached service for a month, and had had a very good time, "with the exception of a row I had with a Mormon." He goes on to say that the detachment was encamped near a house occupied by a Mormon on the Government Reserve, who herded cattle belonging to Spencer of Salt Lake City. This man sold whisky, which is contrary to the regulations on the Reserve, and some of the soldiers got drunk at his house. Pike enforced the liquor law, and spilled the whisky, at which Spencer, who seems to have owned the spirit as well as the cattle, "was a little mad" when the act was reported to him. Col. Smith soon after sent orders to Lieut. Marshall to break up this settlement altogether, as the house was a sort of rendezvous for the horse-thieves of the district, to disperse or arrest whom this deachment was detailed. Pike was directed to carry out this order, and he gave notice to the Mormon to quit the next morning. He begged hard, however, to be permitted to remain through the day, to which the Sergeant consented, by permission of his commander. At night, more peremptory orders came from Col. Smith, for the immediate removal of the family and the stock. The enforcement of this second order was also entrusted to Pike, with a file of soldiers. In the mean time four Mormons had arrived at the house, and some disposition was shown to resist the ejectment, but the Sergeant was imperative, and the party was compelled to pack up, preparatory to removal. But before night a violent snowstorm set in, and yielding to the entreaties of the wife and daughter of the Mormon, Pike again appealed to his commanding officer for another night's delay, which was granted, on condition that the men who had arrived during the day should go, and no others be received. Toward night, nevertheless, three other men were seen to go to the house and put up their horses. Word was sent to them that it was no longer a public house, and they must leave it. One of these men was Spencer himself, who, saying that he owned the house, refused to go, and threatened and abused the messenger who brought the order. Pike was again sent with orders to clear the house. On reaching it, he found the men in the yard feeding the cattle. He told them to let down the bars at once and drive off the herd. Spencer again refusing, Pike ordered his men to assist him and take him to the guard-house. Spencer defied them and seized a pitchfork from the hands of one of his companions and moved toward Pike, declaring he would clear the yard of them. "As he got the pitchfork," continues Pike, "I thought it best to try for the first blow, so I aimed a blow at his head with my rifle. He threw up the fork so as to catch the blow. I struck the fork about midway of the handle, breaking it in three pieces, hitting him on the right temple, knocking him senseless." As soon as the Sergeant found that here the attack ended, for none of Spencer's fellows came to his aid, he disarmed the wounded man of his knife and revolver, lest he should come to himself and show further fight, and had him taken to the encampment. The blow was a severe one, and the man's skull was fractured. "I then," says the Sergeant, who seems to have been as tender-hearted as he was brave, "got a Mormon pony, and started for Camp Floyd for a doctor. The boys tried to let me have some of them go in my place, for fear the Mormons should intercept me on the road, it being quite dark. But I preferred to go myself, and go I did, in two hours and a half, twenty-six good miles." Spencer's skull was trepanned, and he was removed to Salt Lake. When Pike wrote, it was reported that he was dead.
He was not dead, however, and on the 8th of August Sergeant Pike was summoned to Salt Lake City to answer to a charge of assault before the United States District Court. He appeared with his witnesses. The next day, when coming out of the courthouse to go to dinner, Spencer appeared from a neighboring saloon. The courthouse—says a letter before us, from a friend who sends to the brother here the intelligence of the murder—was surrounded by a large body of Mormons, all armed with revolvers. Calling to Pike, Spencer said: “You are the man who struck me in Bush Valley," at the same time firing his revolver. Pike sprang, but not quick enough to escape. The ruffian seems to have shot him from behind, as the ball struck him within three inches of the spine. The murderer's escape was connived at by the Mormons, the writer of this letter asserts, who so interfered with and pushed the pursuers that it was impossible to fire at him. Pike died in a day or two.
A murder so deliberate as this, perpetrated upon an officer of the law, because in accordance with the law he had endeavored to enforce its requirements, will do more to deepen the feeling against the Mormons and deaden any sympathy that may have been felt for them as an oppressed and persecuted people, than all the slanders of all the Gentiles, of which they so much complain, could do in a twelvemonth. That Spencer ought to be visited with the utmost penalty of the law there can be no doubt, unless some very strong testimony can fee brought forward to invalidate the straight-forward and simple letter from which we have quoted.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.