Mountain Meadows Massacre Historical Accounts

The boy told me that the inhabitants from Cedar City had come down and buried the murdered people in three large heaps, which he pointed out to me; the boy showed me two girls who had run some ways off before they were killed. The wolves had dug open the heaps, dragged out the bodies, and were then tearing the flesh from them. I counted 19 wolves at one of these places. I have since learned from the people who assisted in burying the bodies that there were 107 men, women, and children found dead upon the ground. I am satisfied that all were not found. Most of the bodies were stripped of all their clothing, were then in a state of putrefaction, and presented a horrible sight. There was no property left upon the ground except one white ox, which is still at my ranch.

The following summer, when the bones had lost their flesh, I reburied them, assisted by a Mr. Fuller.

The Indians have told me that they made an attack on the emigrants between daylight and sunrise as the men were standing around the campfires, killing and wounding 15 at the first charge, which was delivered from the ravine near the spring close to the wagons and from a hill to the west. That the emigrants immediately corralled their wagons and threw up an entrenchment to shelter themselves from the balls. When I first saw the ditch, it was about 4 feet deep and the bank about 2 feet high. The Indians say they then ran off the stock but kept parties at the spring to prevent the emigrants from getting to the water, the emigrants firing upon them every time they showed themselves, and they returned the fire. This was kept up for six or seven days. The Indians say that they lost but one man, killed and three or four wounded.

At the end of six or seven days, they say, a man among them who could talk English called to the emigrants and told them if they would go back to the settlements and leave all their property, especially their arms, they would spare their lives, but if they did not do so they would kill the whole of them. The emigrants agreed to this and started back on the road toward my ranch. About a mile from the spring there are some scrub-oak bushes and tall sage growing on either side of the road and close to it. Here a large body of Indians lay in ambush, who, when the emigrants approached, fell upon them in their defenseless condition and with bows and arrows and stones and guns and knives murdered all, without regard to sex or age, except a few infant children, seventeen of which have since been recovered.

This is what the Indians told me nine days after the massacre took place. From the position of the bodies, this latter part of their story seems to be corroborated, and I should judge that the women and children were in advance of the men when the last attack upon them was made. When I buried the bones last summer, I observed that about one-third of the skulls were shot through with bullets and about one third seem to be broken with stones.

The train I sent Leavitt to protect had gotten as far as the canyon, 5 miles below the Muddy, when the Indians made a descent upon its loose stock, driving off, as the immigrants have since said, 200 head of cattle. Leavitt and the other interpreters recovered between 75 and 100 head, which were brought to my ranch. Of these, the Indians afterward demanded and stole some 40 head, and last January I turned over to Mr. Lane from California, the balance.

These are all the facts within my knowledge connected with the destruction of the one and the passing along of the other of these two trains.”

Mrs. Hamblin is a simple-minded person of about 45 and evidently looks with the eyes of her husband at everything. She may really have been taught by the Mormons to believe it is no great sin to kill gentiles and enjoy their property. Of the shooting of the emigrants, which she had herself heard, and knew at the time what was going on, she seemed to speak without a shudder or any very great feeling; but when she told of the 17 orphan children who were brought by such a crowd to her house of one small room there in the darkness of night, two of the children cruelly mangled and the most of them with their parents’ blood still wet upon their clothes, and all of them shrieking with terror and grief and anguish, her own mother heart was touched. She at least deserves kind consideration for her care and nourishment of the three sisters, and for all she did for the little girl, “about one year old who had been shot through one of her arms, below the elbow, by a large ball, breaking both bones and cutting the arm half off.”

A Snake Indian boy, called Albert Hamblin, but whose Indian name was a word which meant “hungry,” who is now about 17 or 18 years of age, says that Mr. Jacob Hamblin brought him beyond where Camp Floyd is situated and that he has lived with Mr. Hamblin about six years here and about three years up north. He was sent by Mr. Hamblin to my camp at Mountain Meadow on the 20th day of May 1859, and in speaking of the massacre at this place related what follows in very good English:

“In the first part of September a year and a half ago, I was at Mr. Hamblin’s ranch 4 miles from here. My business was to herd the sheep. I saw the train come along the road and pass down this way. It was near sundown. I drove the sheep home and went after wood, when I saw the train encamp at this spring from a high point of land where I was cutting wood.

When the train passed me, I saw a good many women and children. It was night when I got home. Another Indian boy, named John, who lives in the Vegas and talked some English, was with me. He lived with a man named Sam Knight, at Santa Clara. After the train had been camped at the spring three nights, the fourth day in the morning, just before light when we were all abed at the house, I was waked up by hearing a good many guns fired. I could hear guns fired every little while all day until it was dark. Then I did not know what had been done. During the day, as we, John and I, sat on a hill herding sheep, we saw the Indians driving off all the stock and shoot some of the cattle; at the same time we could see shooting going on down around the train; emigrants shooting at the Indians from the corral of wagons, and Indians shooting at them from the tops of the hills around. In this way, they fought on for about a week.”

I asked an Indian what he was killing those people for. He was mad and told me unless I kept ‘my mouth shut’ he would kill me. Three men came down from Cedar City to our house while the fighting was going on. They said they came after cattle. Other men passed to and from Santa Clara to our house during the nights. The three men from Cedar City stayed about the house a while “pitching horseshoe quoits” while the fighting was on when they afterward went back to Cedar City. Dudley Leavitt came up from Santa Clara in the night while the emigrants were camped here, but he did not see them. He went on to Cedar City to buy flour. When he got to the house we told him the emigrants were fighting here. One afternoon, near night, after they had fought nearly a week, John and I saw the women and children and some leave the wagons and go up the road toward our house. There were no Indians with them.

John and I could see where the Indians were hidden in the oak bushes and sage right by the side of the road a mile or more on their route; and I said to John, I would like to know what the emigrants left their wagons for, as they were going into “a worse fix than ever they saw.” The women were on ahead with the children. The men were behind, altogether ’twas a big crowd. Soon as they got to the place where the Indians were hidden in the bushes on each side of the road, the Indians pitched right into them and commenced shooting them with guns and bows and arrows, and cut some of the men’s throats with knives. The men run in every direction, the Indians after them yelling and whooping. Soon as the women and children saw the Indians spring out of the bushes, they all cried out so loud that John and I heard them.