THE MORMON REBELLION.
THE DISPATCHES OF COLS. ALEXANDER AND JOHNSTON.
COL. ALEXANDER TO THE ADJUTANT-GENERAL.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY FOR UTAH,
CAMP WINFIELD, U. T., Oct. 9, 1837.
Col. S. COOPER, Adjutant-General United States Army:
SIR: I have the honor to report that I have assumed command of the troops of the United States, consisting of part of the army for Utah, which are now encamped at this point. These troops are the 5th Regiment of Infantry, eight companies of the 10th Infantry, and the batteries of Artillery (six and twelve-pounders) commanded by Capt. Phelps, 4th Artillery, and Capt. 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 fif-teen miles above the junction of the two forks. Fort Bridger is distant, in a south-east direction, about thirty miles. The 10th Infantry reached here on the 28th of September, and Phelps's Battery on the fol-lowing day. The 5th Infantry arrived on the 4th of October, and Reno's Battery on the same day. On the 5th inst. 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 safe and more certain opportunity of sending dispatches 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 Gov. Young and Lieut. Gen. Wells. The propo-sitions they contain, however absurd they are, showed conclusively that a determined opposition to the power of the Government was intended. I had met Capt. Van Vliet on the 21st of September, returning from Salt Lake City, and was informed by him that although the Mormons, or rather Gov. Young, were determined to oppose an entrance into the city, yet be was assured that no armed resistance would be attempted if we 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 100 contractors' wagons had been parked for nearly three weeks on Ham's Fork without defense, 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 defense 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 inclose, and have not had any fur-ther correspondence with him. On the morning of the 5th of October the Mormons burnt two trains of Gov-ernment stores on Green River and 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 hos-tility might be expected on the part of the Mormons, and it became necessary, from the extreme lateness of the season, to adopt some immediate course for win-tering the troops and preserving the supply trains with us. After much deliberation, and assisted by the coun-sel of the senior officers, I nave determined to move the troops by the following route:
Up Ham's Fork, about eighteen miles, to a road called Sublette's Cut-off; along that road to Bear River and Soda Spring; on arriving at Soda Spring two routes will be open—one down Bear River Valley, to-ward the Salt Lake, and one to the northeast, toward 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 follow-ing 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, will be willing to treat 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 the 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 to this army, have adopted this course because the safety of the troops absolutely depends upon an immediate effort, and hav-ing information which makes it certain that the com-mander will not reach here before the 20th inst, and if we wait until that time we cannot leave the valley. The information I allude to, is to the effect that Col. Johnston had relieved Gen. 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 the rear come up in time, I think we shall 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 Stand-bury'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 at-tention called from the main road (that by Fort Brid-ger), 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 impossible. The want of cav-alry 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 inst., I detached Capt Marcy, 5th Infantry, with four companies to Green River, to col-lect what he could find serviceable 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 trea-sonable rebellion of the Governor and people of Utah, and I must most urgently impress upon the War De-partment the fact that the small body of troops here will need reenforcements 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. Your obedient servant.
E. B. ALEXANDER, Colonel 10th Infantry, commanding.
COLONEL JOHNSTON TO THE ASSISTANT ADJUTANT GENERAL.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF UTAH,
CAMP ON THE THREE CROSSINGS OF
SWEETWATER, Oct. 13, 1857.
MAJOR: To-night two men who live at Fort Lara-maie, and who bad been sent on express to Colonel Alexander, arrived at our camp on their way back. From them I learn that the Mormons, having inter-posed a force in rear of our troops then encamped at Ham's Fork, of Green River, succeeded in burning three supply trains with their contents. A message from Colonel Alexander was sent by them to Colonel C. F. Smith, instructing him to protect the trains in the rear, which contain the clothing, Sibley tents, sub-sistence, &c. The orders with regard to the march of the cavalry and companies of the 6th having been countermanded, leaves Colonel Smith with only twenty-two men. Forty-seven men of his command were left at Laramie as the Governor's escort. Lieut. Smith, of the Dragoons, is four days' march behind us, with two companies of dragoons, the forty-seven men of Colonel Smith's command and twenty-five dragoons of my escort who were left at Laramie to come on with Lieut. Smith; his command will number about 200 men. I have orderered him to hasten forward and join Colonel Smith's command.
We will march in the morning, and expect to encamp with Col. Smith to-morrow night. The Express man says Col. Alexander would attempt to reach the val-ley of Salt Lake by the Bear River; it is much further than by the usual route, and why he selects it I could not learn, unless from the probability of the grass be-ing burned by the Mormons on the direct route. These men say that it is certain that they will burn the grass on the route they are about to pursue. Under these circumstances, if I could communicate with Col. Al-exander I would direct him to take up a good position for the Winter at Ham's Fork. The road is beset be-tween this and Ham's Fork with companies of Mor-mons, so that it is doubtful whether I shall be able to communicate with Col. Alexander. With great re-spect, your obedient servant, A. S. JOHNSTON,
Col. 2d Cavalry, commanding Army of Utah.
Major IRVIN MCDOWELL, Assistant Adjutant-General, Head-quarters of the Army, New-York City.
From The St. Louis Republican, Nov. 16,
Mr. Lander, who is connected as Chief Engineer with Magraw's Wagon Road Survey, passed through this city on his way to Washington, on Saturday last. This gentleman, who is a well-known civil engineer and explorer, distinguished himself by a very daring trip across the Continent during the Summer of the Sioux war, with a party of four men, only one of whom arrived with him at the Missouri River. He is also mentioned as the author of several able reports to Congress on the subject of a Pacific Railroad.
This gentleman has performed since the 15th day of June last, the _____ feat of riding ___ miles, much of the distance in unexplored mountain passes, and all in rough field service, without a tent, or ordinary baggage, in the short space of 4½ months, including 18 camp days. He commenced with a party of 13 men, four of whom returned with him to the starting point, at Independence, Mo. Many of the original party were disabled by illness, and some re-main in the mountains, or are on their way to the set-tlements. Wm. H. Wagner, John H. Ingle, Calvin J. Crocker and Alexander Mitchell are the names of those who arrived with Mr. Lander.
This severe labor was performed for the purpose of selecting the shortest practicable route for the new wagon road, prior to the arrival of the working train in charge of Superintendent Magraw. From scarcity of grass, and other obstacles not foreseen by inexpe-rienced parties, the main working train only arrived at the South Pass in season to go into Winter quarters, where it now is.
The Mormons having burned all the grass on the southern wintering grounds, the wagon road expedi-tion has selected a camp on Wind River. It is sur-rounded by herds of buffalo and elk, with which, in event of failure of other means of subsistence, the train may be supplied.
B. F. Ficklin, one of the assistant engineers of the advance party, who had distinguished himself in de-tached service, had been detailed by Mr. Lander at the request of Superintendent Magraw, to purchase flour and other provisions for the train. In perform-ing this duty, he was surrounded, near Green River, by sixty well-armed mounted Mormons. He gave them evasive answers as to the nature of his business, and was at length allowed to depart. He rode at once to the command of Col. Alexander, many miles distant, and informed that gentleman of the advance of the mounted armed men, and of the rumors that five hundred had crossed Green River, going in the direction of unprotected Government trains; but before any escort was sent, three trains, embracing seventy-six wagons, were reached and completely destroyed by the party of sixty men first seen. From the destruction of these trains of provisions, the eastern mountaineers were disposed to hold articles of subsistence at a high price. Flour was thirty dollars a hundred at Platte Bridge, one hundred and twenty-five miles beyond Fort Lara-mie, and rising; and a general belief prevailed in the country that hostilities were commenced. The mili-tary forces were in high spirits, and though traveling, with every prospect of enduring great hardships, en-thusiastic to a man, and prepared for the worst.
The explorations of the advance party of the Wagon Road Expedition had proved of great service to the command. The entire region between the Salt Lake and Snake River, the South Pass and Thousand Spring Valley, connecting the work of Stanbury and Fre-mont, and hitherto unexplored, had been surveyed and mapped; sixteen mountain passes examined, all the tributaries of the Upper Green River defined to their sources, the Great Wahsatch chain found to con-sist of four distinct ranges. Numerous supplies of grass, wood and water have been discovered, and va-rious wagon routes, two of which avoid the Grand Desert of the Sandy, and one seven days' shorter travel in a distance of five hundred miles than any previously known. These may be mentioned as some of the results of the explorations. The military force had, therefore, abandoned the old line of approach, and were advancing upon the valley of the Lake by the open plains of the western descent of the Bear and Malade Rivers.
Our informant, who was a former member of Mr. Lander's party, assures us that much important intel-ligence, to which he can have no access until it reaches the Interior Department, will shortly be laid before the country.
We forgot to state that Gov. Cummings and lady, with the Secretary of the Territory, were met about two days' march east of Fort Laramie with Col. Cooke and the Utah mail train.
When Mr. L. informed Gov. Cummings of the com-mencement of Mormon disturbances by the destruction of Government trains, being the first to bring this in-telligence, Gov. C. quietly remarked: "Tell all my "friends, Sir, that I started to obey instructions and to "go into Salt Lake City, and I am going."
Brigham Young had already disclaimed any partici-pation or knowledge of the overt act of burning the supply trains, and the best judges of the Mormon character believe that the leaders of this singular society will continue to endeavor to blind the eyes of the General Government and put off the day of a stand-up fight to the last moment. On the other hand, Old mountaineers are predicting the most disastrous consequences if the troops are not able to fight their way into the city. The grass burned, the forage well-nigh eaten up Winter setting in with several deep snows, much of the command far in the rear, and a great range of mountains shutting it out from the northern wi___rounds, all seem to give weight to the supposit____ the expedition will not be a suc-cessful one____ Valley, which is an open, well-grassed plai____ah are several Mormon farms, and over which______eat herds of cattle and horses, the property of____urch, will soon, however, be within striking distance of the command.
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