“Took an active part in the Echo Canyon trouble.”
A Word To Saints Who are Gathering
by Eliza R. Snow
Think not, when you gather to Zion,
Your troubles and trials are through--
That nothing but comfort and pleasure
Are waiting in Zion for you.
No, no; 'tis design'd as a furnace;
All substance, all textures to try --
To consume all the "wood, hay and stubble,"
And the gold from the dross purify.
Think not, when you gather to Zion
That all will be holy and pure --
That deception, and falsehood are banish'd;
And confidence wholly secure.
No, no; for the Lord our Redeemer
Has said that the tares with the wheat
Must grow; until the great day of burning
Shall render the harvest complete.
Think not, when you gather to Zion,
The Saints here have nothing to do
But attend to your personal welfare,
And always be comforting you.
No, the Saints who are faithful are doing
What their hands find to do, with their might;
To accomplish the gath'ring of Israel
They are toiling by day and by night.
Think not, when you gather to Zion,
The prize and the victory won --
Think not that the warfare is ended,
Or the work of salvation is done.
No, no; for the great Prince of Darkness
A tenfold exertion will make
When he sees you approaching the fountain
Where the truth you may freely partake. (LDS Women)
When immigrants arrived in Salt Lake, they were warmly welcomed. “Whether they arrived by wagon, handcart, or railroad, the immigrants were greeted warmly in Utah. Many were eagerly awaited by relatives who had come to Zion and sent back money for their families. Those who arrived without prior arrangements could still look forward to excellent treatment from their ‘brothers and sisters in the gospel.’” (Arrington and Bitton p 35) In Isaac’s case, as previously mentioned, he was taken into a home and provided for. “Brethren and Women came to welcome us and took us into their homes, fed and warmed us and gave us warm clean beds to rest our weary bodies.” (Wardle, Isaac CH)
The territory of Utah was one of industriousness. Idleness was not tolerated:
The kingdom must rise on its own economic foundations. Labor was its chief virtue, and the development of home industry its only salvation. The building of Zion must be sustained by unceasing industry and Brigham Young meant to see that it was so. A group of idlers about the court house in the capital city may have forgotten this. If so they were soon reminded, after Brigham passed that way. He was quick to diagnose the symptoms and apply the remedy. A clerk appeared among them to take their names and soon each one of them received a call to take a “mission” for the Kingdom; some were to raise cotton in Southern Utah, some to make new settlements elsewhere in the Territory, and some to convert the heather in the South Sea Islands. The drone had no place in Deseret. (Larson p 94)
When Isaac arrived in Salt Lake, the city held about 15,000 residents. (see Piercy p 185) Piercy quoted a couple descriptions of the people in the valley:
General Wilson, Navy Agent at San Francisco, who passed through the city to California, in writing to Hon. Trueman Smith, expressed himself concerning the citizens as follows—“A more orderly, honest, industrious, and civil people I have never been among than these. I have not met in a citizen, a single idler, or any person who looks like a loafer. There is a spirit and an energy in everything you see that cannot be equaled in any city of any size that I have ever seen.” This was quoted in a speech by Mr. Smith in the United States Senate in 1850. Mr. Fuller, Editor of the New York Mirror, who has also visited the city, writes in his paper thus—“A more industrious, honest, law-abiding community can hardly be found. The municipal regulations of Salt Lake City are admirable, and more moral (barring their open polygamy) and orderly citizens, we have never seen in any part of the world. They number very many men of intelligence and education, and a residence of several weeks among them failed to note a single vagabond I their midst. They are exceedingly hospitable to California emigrants, and furnish them supplies at reasonable rates.” (Piercy p 112)
Isaac became associated with the Beckstead family. “Grandfather went to West Jordan to work for and make his home with the family of Alex Beckstead Sr.” (Rupp) “Mr. Wardle went to West Jordan to work for Alexander Beckstead’s family. (Bateman p 6)
If this is the family where Isaac first went to stay after crossing the plains, I don’t know, but there was a Beckstead among the rescuers of the Handcart Companies. (See Broomhead, Church History) By early spring, as soon as he recuperated, he went to work for Alex Beckstead in the West Jordan area. (Wardle, Orrin) He was use to hard labor, and not one to shirk from the same. A fellow handcart pioneer, while recuperating from the journey, in a letter to his parents in England made this comment, “I believe this to be about the worst place for idle or lazy people to come to.” (Bleak, Ch 1)
“In 1857, West Jordan volunteers took an active part in the Echo Canyon campaign against the invasion of Johnson's Army.” (West Jordan)
Echo Canyon Affair
The Utah War had been brewing for some time, more than ten years, since the saints had left for Utah. “For many Americans, the Mormon kingdom, with its polygamy and perceived hostility to outsiders, was an abomination. … Inflamed by exaggerated charges from disgruntled official and dissidents newly returned from Utah, the nation demanded action.” (Parshall) Brigham Young had asked for ten years without outside influence, and he was given ten years to the day. (Roberts 2)
Utah citizens were also upset. “Had not Washington inflicted corrupt officers upon Utah? … Utah’s settlers did lack government services provided to others: reliable mail, land ownership and protection from Indians. (Parshall) The citizens of Utah demanded statehood or independence.
President Buchanan reacted to this demand in a strong way. “In 1857, President James Buchanan, for political reasons, decided to replace Brigham Young as acting governor of the Utah Territory. Anticipating the Mormon reaction, Buchanan ordered an Army force of 2500 soldiers, under the command of Brevet General Albert Sidney Johnson, to Utah to ensure that his orders were carried out. Young responded by calling out the Utah Territorial Militia (also known as the Nauvoo Legion) and placed the territory on a war footing.” (U.S. Department of the Interior)
A Mormon summary of the reason for the conflict was written in this manner:
In 1857 Utah territory was invaded by a hostile force of American soldiery. The events and influences that led to this confrontation are difficult to establish. The conflict was triggered in 1855 when David H. Burr, a non-Mormon appointed to be surveyor general of the territory, found his work impeded by Saints understandably anxious about any official survey of lands that they possessed only by right of occupation, not by any explicit declaration or approval of Congress. Burr and his assistants left the territory and reinforced the reports of Mormon skullduggery already prevalent in Washington. Garland Hurt, and energetic Indian agent, added his disturbing opinion that the Mormons were teaching the Indians to distinguish between the “Mormonee” and other Americans. Not willing to accept the explanation that Mormons had to adopt some means of letting the Indians know that they shouldn’t be held responsible for the brutality practiced by other Americans, Hurt alleged that the Mormons were planning to employ native Americans in a war of vengeance against all non-Mormon settlers and travelers.
Troubles with surveyors and Indian agents were overshadowed by continuing strife between Mormons and federally appointed judges. After 1855 the Utah judiciary was headed by three non-Mormons: W.W. Drummond, George P. Stiles, and John F. Kinney. While on the surface Kinney was friendly to the Mormons, he represented them to Washington as being seditious and unruly. Stiles and Drummond did not bother to temper their distaste; the latter, especially, came to personify for the Mormons all the injustices of the territorial system.
… Drummond’s flagrant association with a prostitute offended the moral sense of the Saints. Perhaps most threatening was his attack on the probate courts, with Mormon bishops as probate judges, which had ruled on both civil and criminal cases. At the time he accused Mormons of destroying court records, an accusation later proved false. Offensive as his personal character might have been, Drummond played an important role in sparking the national reaction to Utah.
…The Mormons had picked an awkward time to establish their semi-independent kingdom in the West. The issues of slavery and states’ rights were already dividing the nation. Northerners wanted to make an example of Mormon rebelliousness, while some Southerners hoped an anti-Mormon campaign might relieve the pressure on them. One Southern leader wrote to Buchanan urging a vigorous Utah policy that would “supersede the Negro-mania with the almost universal excitement of an Anti-Mormon Crusade.” The thousands of European Saints flocking to Utah made it difficult to ignore the “Mormon problem,” and in fact aroused some early anti-immigrant nativism.
But such considerations lay in the background as predisposing conditions. On the fromt of the stage Drummnd, Hurt, and others somehow persuaded Buchanan that the Mormons were in a state of rebellion. They contended that through threats, boycotts, and murder the Mormon leaders hoped to drive all non-Mormons from the territory. A stream of newspaper articles, pamphlets, novels, and public speeches enumerated supposed Mormon treacheries and called for reprisals as exteme as a holy war of extermination.
Buchanan and his cabinet officers found themselves in a climate of public opinion that seemed to support any move to protect the rights of non-Mormons, suppress Mormon home rule, and eradicate polygamy. The President became convinced that a vigorous anti-Mormon action could only be to his credit. By May 1857 he had decided upon a show of military force as the best and quickest solution. But he seriously underestimated the degree to which it would be opposed by the Mormons. In the ensuing two years he found that his solution was anything but quick, and even the political popularity of a Utah campaign was to prove disappointing. (Arrington and Bitton)
A big complain of the Mormon community against President Buchanan is that he did not investigate, by talking to any of the Mormons. “Utahns complained that Buchanan had not investigated charges of violence or judicial irregularities before sending the army; Buchanan had indeed consulted many who had been to Utah, but without recognizing that the testimony of failed officials might be colored by personal resentment. “ (Parshall)
The US infantry was delayed in starting:
Indecision, incompetence, and competition for lucrative contracts surrounded the preparations of the Utah Expedition. The first body of soldiers did not leave Fort Leavenworth until mid-July. Others did not straggle out until September. Within weeks they were plagued by foul weather and the indecision of their officers. William S. Harney, originally chosen to command the army, was replaced by Colonel Albert Sidney Johnson. During the winter Johnston engaged in a running dispute with the newly appointed governor of Utah, Alfred Cumming of Georgia and Missouri, who accompanied the troops West. The Colonel seemed to be intent on a military victory over the Mormons, whereas Cumming was primarily concerned with acceptance of himself as governor. (Arrington and Bitton)
The Mormon leaders learned of the approach of federal troops at their annual Pioneer day celebration. “Tradition has it that the Mormons' first hint of trouble came during a Pioneer Day picnic in Little Cottonwood Canyon, when four horsemen thundered like Paul Revere into the midst of the party with word that the army was coming.” (Parshall) There was suspicion, but this is the first actual news of the advance:
Although Mormon leaders had suspected something was afoot, they first heard of the impending invasion on July 24, 1857, the tenth anniversary of their entrance into the valley. Four dust-covered horsemen galloped into a festive assembly and announced that a large force of American soldiers was on its way to install a non-Mormon governor and prevent any further “rebellion.”… The President had even neglected to send an official communication to Brigham Young, who, in his own mind still the official governor, chose to regard the approaching troops as a hostile army invading Utah Territory.
Determined to greet the invaders with force if necessary, The Mormons hoped to avoid bloodshed with “scorched earth” and harassment policies that would leave the invaders with a precarious line of supply. Young called out the territorial militia and asked each community to donate men, firearms and provisions to the defense. By the fall of 1857 eleven hundred men were fortifying the mountain passes east of Great Salt Lake. Other parties were dispatched to burn Fort Bridger and Fort Supply, Mormon-owned outposts at the eastern entrance to the territory. (Arrington and Bitton)
Isaac was one of those eleven hundred men called to Echo Canyon to defend against “invasion.” “While living there he was called to go with others to meet Johnston’s Army in Echo Canyon.” (Rupp) “Took an active part in the Echo Canyon trouble.” (Esshom p 1320) “In the later summer of 1857, he was among the men who were called to meet the invading Johnston’s Army in Echo Canyon.” (Wardle, Orrin) Mr. Wardle...served in the militia at Echo Canyon during the Utah War. (Bateman p 6)
The men in Echo Canyon drilled, and prepared defensive fortifications. “The Nauvoo Legion - Utah's militia - took stock of its armaments, drilled its units and began fortifying Echo Canyon, the army's presumed route into the city.” (Parshall) In the cliffs there are fortifications built of rock, and other defensive works:
The Narrows: Near here the Mormons built a huge breastwork and a 500-foot-long rifle pit (across the freeway, near the base of the telephone pole line). They also put land mines in this area, made from oak barrels, one-pound cans of powder, and flintlocks. And they built a big dam here with plans to flood the Narrows and make it difficult or impossible for the army to get through. Pretty tricky.
In all, the Mormons built 14 fortifications in this canyon.
Death Rock: … Here the Mormons dug a trench 10’ deep and 7’ wide to stop the troops’ progress. On the cliff just east of the speed limit sign, you can spot four foot-tall rock wall fortifications. (Utah)
Isaac would have been assigned in help in these projects. Very likely he was at the end of a shovel. His experience in the coal mines would have been useful. The Echo Canyon Boys would have had their share of danger. There was at least one death. “The cliff west of the fortifications is called Death Rock. Here a member of the Mormon militia on the ground aimed his rifle at a friend on the cliff, thinking the ball could never go that high. The ball hit his friend in the head, killing him. (Utah)
While these preparations were taking place, a small band of militia, went forward to harass and delay the approaching army:
Rather than engaging the enemy directly, Mormon strategy was one of hindering and weakening them. Daniel H. Wells, lieutenant-general of the Nauvoo legion, instructed Major Joseph Taylor:
On ascertaining the locality or route of the troops, proceed at once to annoy them in every possible way. Use every exertion to stampede their animals and set fire to their trains. Burn the whole country before them and on their flanks. Keep them from sleeping, by night surprises; blockade the road by felling trees or destroying the river fords where you can. Watch for opportunities to set fire to the grass on their windward, so as, if possible, to envelop their trains. Leave no grass before them that can be burned. Keep your men concealed as much as possible, and guard against surprise. (Wikipedia)
The women and those in Utah were not without privations as a result of the men being away. “With their men in the mountains, Mormon women went into the fields to bring in the heaviest harvest Utah had ever known. And on Sept. 15, 1857, Young placed Utah under martial law, requiring passes for all travelers into and out of the territory and forbidding armed forces from "invading" Utah.” (Parshall)
Similar to the handcart companies of the year before, of which Isaac had been a part, the troops headed to Utah were facing serious obstacles:
Those forces, assembled at Leavenworth, Kan., set out for Utah with three major handicaps: First, the army was essentially without a leader. Its original commander, Gen. William S. Harney, had been reassigned to quell disturbances in Kansas. The army was under the temporary command of Col. Edmund Alexander, an ineffectual man called "the old woman" by his troops.
Second, the army was far below its 2,500-man allotment. Desertions by those not anxious for a long wilderness march exceeded even the army's "normal" high desertion rate.
And third, the army left the frontier far too late to safely cross the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. Their departure date of July 18 was even later than that of the ill-fated Willie handcart company, whose Mormon pioneers suffered so cruelly on the plains of Wyoming the year before. Disaster was almost inevitable. (Parshall)
The Mormon riders on the plains, did not make things easier for the approaching troops.
Mormon guerrillas on the Plains burned grass for miles to weaken its horses, beef cattle and draft animals. They burned the Mormon outposts of Fort Supply and Fort Bridger to deny the army convenient shelter. They stampeded cattle and drove off horses and mules. In one case, the army recalled their mules with a bugle signal, and the returning animals brought Mormon mounts with them. In the iconic moment of the Utah War, a band led by Lot Smith burned three federal trains - 78 wagons laden with food and clothing for the army - after first allowing teamsters to remove personal belongings. (Parshall)
At Simpson’s Hollow, the militia captured and burned 22 army supply wagons under the leadership of Capt. Lewis Simpson On October 5. The destruction of this and two other wagon trains carrying a total of 368,000 pounds of military supplies and the onset of winter snows which closed the passes to Utah, forced the Army to spend the winter at the recently burned Fort Bridger. By the spring of 1858, the federal government and the Mormons had settled most of their differences and Alfred Cumming was installed as territorial governor. (U.S. Department of the Interior)
The troops suffered in these conditions. Horses died. It wasn’t until new leadership arrived that conditions began to improve:
On Nov. 4, the army's new commander, Col. Albert Sidney Johnston, finally reached his troops. He recognized instantly that his weakened men could not force their way through Utah's mountains to take Salt Lake City that season. Instead, he led them to winter quarters, preparing for a spring campaign and waiting for reinforcements.
The crippled army then endured two weeks of forced marches toward the blackened walls of Fort Bridger. More animals died of hunger. A few men, on reduced rations, died of exposure before the army crossed into Utah (which for several more years still included the southwest corner of today's Wyoming), and built Camp Scott near old Fort Bridger. (Parshall)
Although they built Camp Scott, the situation was still not good for the troops:
By November 1857 a troop of eighteen hundred federal soldiers and camp followers were huddling around the charred ruins of Fort Bridger, desperately trying to avoid starvation until spring, when they could resume their campaign. Mormon raiders managed to burn three wagon trains sent to supply the expedition, destroying three months’ provisions and bringing federal troops to the brink of starvation. Young added insult to injury by offering to provide the embattled U.S. troops with salt, flour, and cattle. (Arrington and Bitton)
Although they were no longer on the trail, life was far from easy for the troops. The food was terrible and there wasn't much of it. Lacking work animals, the men had to muscle sleds and wagons to bring in firewood. Continued Mormon harassment required soldiers to stand constant guard at lonely pickets far from their tents and fires.
Military drills continued throughout the winter. … In their free time, the men gambled, drank and wrote letters grumbling about conditions, or boasting about imaginary battles with Mormons, or keeping a stiff upper lip for the sake of their families. (Parshall)
As for the Mormons, the situation was not quite so anxious, at least for the rest of the winter:
On the Mormon side, a few men were assigned to watch the federal encampment and report any unexpected movement. The rest of the Nauvoo Legion returned home to care for their families and thresh the heavy grain harvest. Salt Lake City was remarkably calm that winter, with the usual round of parties, theatricals and church services. Except for regular militia drills and the oft-expressed resolve not to submit again to the wrongs of Missouri and Illinois, Utah showed no sign of a people at war with an army encamped little more than 100 miles away." (Parshall)
A group of about 150 young men wintered in Echo Canyon, and the rest returned home. None of the histories of Isaac give an idea of which group he was with. He was single, so would have been a good candidate to stay.
With the army being forced to encamp, everyone was able to take a second look at the reasons for war:
Public opinion in the East, which had at first supported the Utah expedition, now turned sour. The press asked why military leaders had not arranged to reinforce and resupply the beleaguered soldiers before real suffering occurred. They demanded to know the total cost of the expedition. Some who had urged the sending of an army in the spring were now asking why Buchanan had not first sent an investigative commission to Utah.” (Parshall)
When Governor Cummings arrived on the scene, his idea was his appointment as governor was the important thing, not that the Mormons be punished, or defeated militarily. Thomas Kane, a friend of the Mormons offered his services. “Kane offered to go to Utah and negotiate a peaceful solution. While Buchanan gave Kane no official commission and no public endorsement, he did offer lukewarm encouragement and did nothing to prevent Kane's quixotic mission. … Kane embarked on his voyage just as 1858 began, traveling by ship to Panama and by wagon across the isthmus, then by ship to California and by horseback to Utah, arriving in Salt Lake City on Feb. 24.” (Parshall)
Buchanan’s position started to mellow:
…The official position emanating from Washington had already begun to change. Through Colonel Thomas L. Kane, Young had initiated peace feelers. While Kane was sailing to California to mediate between Governor Cumming, Young, and Colonel Johnston, Buchanan dispatched a presidential peace commission overland, an action motivated mainly by congressional unrest over the vast amount of money and manpower being used to provision and reinforce the Utah Expedition. Both Young and Buchanan, therefore, now sought a peaceful settlement. (See Arrington and Bitton)
While negotiations were still in process, Young decided on a dramatic gesture. This was a decision to “move South,” to abandon the entire northern sweep of the territory to the army, leaving men behind with instructions to set fire to any settlement the soldiers made moves to occupy. Hosea Stout recorded the decision in his diary:
Thursday 18 March 1858: Attended a general Council at the Historians office of the first Presidency, Twelve, and officers of the Legion. The object which was to take into consideration the enemies, whether to attack them before they came near us or wait until they come near, or whether it is yet best to fight only n unavoidable defense or in case a large force is sent against us this spring whether to fight or burn our houses and destroy every thing in and around us and flee to the mountains and deserts.
It appears that the course pursued hitherto by Gov Young in baffelling the oppressive purposes of Prest Buckhannan has redounded to the honor of Gov Young and the Saints and equally to the disgrace of the President & his cabinetMormonism is on the ascendancy and now what is the best policy to maintain that ascendency.If we whip out and use up the few troops at Bridger will not the excitement and sympathy which is now raising in our favor in the states, be turned against us.Whereas if we only anoy and impede their progress while we "Burn up" and flee, the folly, and meanness of the President will be the more apparrant and he and his measures more unpopular &cThis was about a fair statement of the subject matter in councilThere was no definite measures adoptedmany spoke on the subject and the council adjourned till 8th April at 2 p.m. at the Tabernacle.
Sunday 21 March 1858. Attended meeting at the Tabernacle which meeting was resolved into a special Conference for the transaction of business.
The subject matter was "fleeing to the" deserts and mountains.It was decided to send 500 families from this city immediately to be selected from among those who had never been driven from their homes and from that class to take the poorest and most helplessThis 500 was to be selected by the Bishops from the several wards
The plan of Emmigration being thus established in this city was to be an ensample other citis wards and settlements throughout the TerritoryNorth more particularlyThe precise destination was not made known as yet. (Stout)
Brigham Young was attempted to play on the sympathies of the American public. Adopting the “Sebastopol plan,” which had served a similar purpose during the Crimean War, Young was attempting to muster some national sympathy while demonstrating that the Mormons were not willing to submit to a blatant military occupation of their homes. Throughout the spring the Mormons streamed south to temporary encampments near Provo and farther south.” (Arrington and Bitton) Hosea Stout recording the move. “Wednesday 31 March 1858. 500 troops that is 400 foot and 100 Horse are being sent to Echo again to meet the emergency which may arise.” (Stout)
Meanwhile, Governor Cumming made a trip to the Salt lake Valley, assured himself there was no rebellion, and returned to Camp Scott, the bivouac at Fort Bridger. (Arrington and Bitton) When he visited the vally, he saw the first of the move south:
Cumming arrived just in time to witness the most dramatic episode of the Utah War: Faced with the knowledge that the army would inevitably enter the settlements in the spring, the Mormons withdrew from Salt Lake City and all northern towns, taking refuge in Provo and other points south.
Cumming was greeted by the sight of families, with their household goods piled on wagons and their livestock trailing behind, fleeing southward. All the stored wheat, all the church records, the benches from the tabernacle, the Deseret News press, and the doors and windows from all of the houses, along with every other salvageable article, had been cached or sent south. (Parshall)
In April, agreement was reached that the expedition would be allowed to march through Salt Lake City and establish a position some forty miles distant from which it could ensure the rights of the presidential appointees without seeming to “occupy Mormon territory.” In June, after announcing that Buchanan had granted the Mormons “free and full pardon,” the new territorial officers and an escort of more than fifty-five hundred soldiers, teamsters, and suppliers marched through the abandoned streets of Salt Lake City. To the south, some thirty thousand Mormon faithful waited, fearful that their homes might be either occupied or destroyed. Nothing of the kind occurred. The Utah Expedition marched beyond the city and across the Jordan River to Cedar Valley, some forty miles south of Salt Lake City. There they established Camp Floyd, named in honor of the Secretary of War who had supported the mission.
The peaceable march of the army through Salt Lake City, the unopposed installation of Cumming as governor, and the subsequent return of the Mormons to their abandoned farms and homes ended a confrontation that had been heralded as apocalyptic but had always had something of the incongruity of comic opera. The President of the United States had dispatched the largest peacetime army in the nation’s history to oversee the installation of half a dozen officials in a minor territory. He had done so without thorough investigation of charges made by a few disgruntled or economically interested individuals. He had neglected to notify the Mormons or to inquire after their viewpoint, until nearly a year after the expedition was sent. The Mormons, in turn, had once more been uprooted from their homes, interrupted in their development of the territory, and labeled a rebellious people. (Stout from Arrington and Bitton)
It was miraculous that the Utah Expedition did not end in a bloodbath. Unleashing military force is always easier than restraining it, and for the Mormons to attempt harassment of the invaders and destruction of supply trains while avoiding the taking of life and open battles was, on the face of it, a delicate combination that would not seem to have much chance of success. Yet there were practically no casualties except from frostbite and exposure. (Arrington and Bitton)
“Although there were only minor skirmishes between scouting parties, the war was not the bloodless farce of popular perception. Men froze to death, died of disease, were shot and hanged and bludgeoned in little-known atrocities. The hardships of war also affected Mormon women, children and the elderly.” (Parshall)