06/29/1847 - Crockett
Date: June 29, 1847
On the road to Fort Bridger, Wyoming:
The pioneers said good-bye to Jim Bridger in the morning. Bridger left some parting advice that it would not be wise to bring a large population to the Great Basin without first determining whether or not grain could be grown there. Brigham Young gave him a letter of introduction for Thomas Grover, at the Mormon Ferry.
They traveled to the Big Sandy River and stopped for the noon rest. Half of the company forded the river and rested on the other side. It was about 80 yards wide and almost three feet deep. [This was at present-day Farson, Wyoming.] During the day they saw "scarcely any green thing except the various species of wild sage." As usual, the mosquitoes were very bothersome in the evening.
In the afternoon, the rest of the company crossed the river and they traveled down the Big Sandy on its north bank. William Clayton wrote: "After traveling nine and a hair miles President Young rode up and reported that we would have to go at least six miles farther before we could get feed. It was then a quarter after six, but the teamsters spurred up in order to get through. Most of the road after this for four miles was very hilly and uneven and in places the loose fragments of rocks made it very bad traveling, but many were thrown from the road by the spare men." They traveled on and did not stop until 9 p.m. They had to set up the camp in the dark. The pioneers traveled a record 23 3/4 miles during this day.
John Fowler became violently sick during the day. He complained about pain in his head, back, and bones. The jarring of the wagon caused him great pain. Wilford Woodruff wrote: "He finally was out of his head & became wild." They doctored him with herbs and pills, and he soon was doing better. Jacob Weiler and William Dykes were also sick with the same illness. The brethren tried to figure out the cause of the sickness. William Clayton wrote: "It is supposed by some that this sickness is caused by the use of the mineral saleratus or alkali picked up on the lakes and surface of the land and it is considered poisonous."
The Mormon Ferry, Nebraska:
Lieutenant Elam Luddington, of the battalion, was ferried over for one dollar. Sergeant Thomas Williams paid two dollars to have two wagons brought across. They ferried over Sarah Kelly's wagon for free. [Sarah Kelly was the widow of Milton Kelly, who died at Pueblo. A son, Parley Kelly at been born while at Pueblo.] The ferrymen ferried over seventy-one other wagons during the day.
On the Loup Fork, Nebraska:
The pioneer companies passed by the deserted Pawnee mission and village. Jesse Crosby wrote: "The village of the Pawnee seemed a work of some magnitude, but now in ruins, being burned by the Sioux last year. The roofs of their wigwams are round, formed of poles, covered with grass and earth. We saw and examined the cells in the earth where they conceal their corn. We saw no Indians yet home few seemed lurking around. A calf which had lagged behind came up with an arrow shot through his back.
Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:
The battalion was assembled with their arms at 8:30 a.m. Colonel Stevenson addressed the men. He explained that it was necessary to keep troops in California until they could be replaced by others from the U.S. He tried to persuade the men to re-enlist. He needed at least one company to re-enlist. He said he understood the need for many of the men to return to their families, but he wanted at least the single men to re-enlist. The would be able to elect their own Colonel. He promised them that they would be discharged in February, but would receive a full years' pay. The Army would also pay to send them back to their families. He concluded his remarks and left them to meet with Captains Jefferson Hunt and Jesse Hunter.
Jefferson Hunt stated that it was their duty to re-enlist. Jesse Hunter also said the same thing. He stated that this would be an opportunity to further establish the Mormon influence in California. Captain Daniel Davis spoke and supported the re-enlistment. Lt. Cyrus Canfield said said that the pay received would further help their families journey to the west. Henry Standage recorded: "He also spoke of faith and said that some talked as though they could go into the Mountains and live on faith but for his part he believed different, having spent the most of the past year in the Mountains and really believed that had it not been for the little food furnished by the U.S. we would have starved to death, with all our faith." Lt. George P. Dykes spoke in favor of the re-enlistment. He made reference to the sufferings of the Donner-Reed party in the mountains and believed that that it would be better to stay in California than to risk this type of suffering by going to the mountains.
Finally, one of the priesthood leaders, David Pettigrew spoke. He said it was the duty of the battalion to return to the Saints. They had already met all their obligations to the government. The meeting was soon adjourned because of the hot sun. The men walked away in a state of confusion. At noon, they again met in a tent. A committee was formed to draft an article stating the terms for re-enlistment. The committed was composed of Jesse Hunter, Daniel Davis, and David Pettigrew. When the articles were composed, they were read to the men and more speeches were given. Sergeant William Hyde urged the men to return to their families. He believed they had fufilled their duty, that heaven was satisfied. "As for me, let other do as they may, God being my helper, I shall return to my family and to headquarters [of the Church]." [Brother Hyde later wrote in his journal: "It grieved me to see some of our officers seeking after power and filthy lucre at the bitter expense of their brethren . . . for us to enter service for another year for the purpose of gratifying the selfish feelings of any man or set of men, was entirely repugnant to my feeling."]
Daniel Tyler agreed and David Pettigrew agreed. Sergeant James Ferguson spoke in favor of the re-enlistment. Those favoring re-enlistment spoke about a secret meeting with the Twelve before they left Council Bluffs and tried to use this privileged information to convince the men that the Twelve actually wanted them to re-enlist. Lt. Canfield promised that the men who didn't re-enlist would suffer and starve if they went to the Mountains. The officers became frustrated and accused some men such as Levi Hancock in using their influence to cause the enlisted men to have feelings against the officers. These accusations were denied. The meeting was concluded. Only 15-16 men stepped forward to re-enlist. The terms written by the committee were taken to Colonel Stevenson, but were rejected. Jesse Hunter was shocked that so few men had wanted to re-enlist when such a large number re-enlisted at San Diego.
Jefferson Hunt, Jesse Hunt, Daniel Davis, George Rosecrans, and George P. Dykes wrote a letter to Colonel Stevenson stating that they had followed his request to re-enlist the battalion but had not succeeded. One factor explained was that most of the men had not heard from their families for many months. If they knew their families were fine, they would probably re-enlist. Regardless, these officers would continue efforts to persuade the Mormon Battalion to re-enlist.
Source: 150 Years Ago Today ©These materials have been created by David R. Crockett. Copies of these materials may be reproduced for teacher and classroom use. When distributing these materials, credit must be given to David R. Crockett. These materials may not be published, in whole or part, or in any other format, without the written permission of Mr. Crockett, Tucson Az, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:220-21
- Jesse W. Crosby Journal, typescript, BYU, 34
- Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 38
- Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 436
- Luke S. Johnson Journal, typescript, BYU, 14
- William Clayton's Journal, 278
- Journal of Henry Standage in Frank Alfred Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 230-33
- Yurtinus, A Ram in the Thicket, 595-96