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The most prominent Indian in Cache Valley when the first Mormon settlers came was Bear Hunter, a chief of one of the Northwestern Shoshoni bands. There are two versions to his Shoshoni name, one had it as Wirasuap, and meaning "Bear Spirit;" the other was Weeta Taikwahni which means "bear chief-hunter." However, to the Mormon settlers and Indian agents he was almost always referred to as Bear Hunter, sometimes in writing with a hyphen such as Bear-hunter or Bear-Hunter. He was a contemporary of the noted Chief Washakie of the Eastern Shoshoni who numbered around 2,000 and occupied the area from the Wind River Mountains westward to the Bear Lake and Bear River region. While their area lay astride the Oregon-California Trail, Chief Washakie made the decision to remain at peace with the strangers passing through their area and had enough control to affect this end for a period of time. Another contemporary of Bear Hunter was the younger Chief Pocatello, the leader of one of the three major bands of Northwestern Shoshoni when the Mormons came into the Intermountain West. At this time he led a band of about 400, who ranged from Grouse Creek in present day northwestern Utah eastward along the north shore of the Great Salt Lake to the Bear River and north to its great bend in Idaho. Pocatello and his band frequently hit the emigrant trails, mail routes and isolated settlers, gaining among the whites notoriety as a marauder. The leader of the second Northwestern Shoshoni band was Chief Little Soldier who claimed the Weber Valley area down to the Great Salt Lake. Chief Bear Hunter was the leader of the third Northwestern Shoshoni band of around 450 people, and they usually resided in and claimed Cache Valley although they spent part of each year in other locales looking for food. These three major Northwestern Shoshoni groups lived in northern Utah and southeastern Idaho. They were nomadic gatherers, hunters, and fishermen. Earlier they were called by the Indian term "So-so-goi," meaning they traveled on foot. Slowly they obtained the horse and began adapting to some of the Plains Indian culture for mobility, hunting game and for warfare. Because northern Utah and southeastern Idaho did not have buffalo or large numbers of deer and elk, they had to travel far onto the plains of Wyoming to hunt the buffalo.
A few additional general observations before focusing on Bear Hunter and his band may be helpful. The Shoshoni, due to a lack of modern weapons in the late 1700s and early years of the 1800s, were losers in fighting among the plain tribes and lost much of their property. The competing tribes eventually pushed the Shoshoni from the northern plains and west of the Continental Divide. When the Shoshoni obtained horses they returned to the Great Plains to hunt buffalo but limited their time there to short periods because of their Indian foes. Intertribal warfare continued to some degree after the Northwestern Shoshoni came to claim Cache Valley. In their relatively new territory they adapted and survived. In particular the Shoshoni, who claimed Cache Valley, according to some historians and writers, had achieved a "good living," at least in the summer, in the valleys and nearby mountains by being "ecologically efficient." Their area’s mountains provided small game to hunt, but of much greater magnitude were the abundant wild grass and plants growing in the valleys and hillsides of northern Utah from which the Indian harvested grass seeds and dug up plant roots.
By the 1840s Chief Bear Hunter’s band had enough horses that they would annually go to Wyoming hunting the buffalo. They retained in large part the food-gathering ways of the Great Basin natives, spending part of each year gathering wild grass seeds (their primary food source), picking berries, digging roots, fishing the streams and hunting small game. Using these traits or habits, they moved around a great deal seeking the best place to gather, fish, hunt, find forage for their horses and shelter for the people. No one place provided for all their needs and wants, and it was hard surviving in a delicate balance of living off the land. They knew hunger in their hand-to-mouth existence long before the white man came to live in their area, and the white newcomers did not end the cycle of feast and famine in their way of life, only changed its ways, means and made some record of it. Bear Hunter’s band along with most Shoshoni, Goshutes and Piutes became and remained in small bands or groups that did not form a tribal organization. This prevented or at least kept at the lowest level any cultural development to improve their way of life as the larger Indian tribes were able to do. Probably their greatest deficiency was their failure to learn and implement a system of storing surplus food. Thus, they were and remained a poor, hungry seed-gathering people.
Most of what we know concerning Bear Hunter and his band comes from their dealings with the settlers, the emigrants or mail carriers they came in contact with or attacked, and the United States Indian agents and the army. We only know a tiny portion of their story. Thus, what follows will reveal a series of incidents primarily between 1857 through January of 1863. Its focus will center upon Bear Hunter and his band in occurrences in Cache Valley and a few that had an impact upon it. Whatever the number of these, it will be a tiny fraction of the total for the Intermountain area involving the various Shoshoni bands. Other than a few general statements on the Mormons’ attitude and policies on the Indians, little will be mentioned. For theological reasons the newcomers believed the Indians were a special people, and they put forth attempts to convert them to Mormonism and have them settle down and live on the land much like the white farmers did. Brigham Young established the professed Mormon policy in regard to the Indian that it was better and "manifestly more economical, and less expensive to feed and clothe, than to fight them." He encouraged the Mormons to teach them the "art of husbandry," and be patient, long suffering, just, generous, quiet, mild as well as firm, watchful and "treat them in all respects as you would like to be treated." From hindsight the words were easy but the accomplishment proved extremely difficult and in the end failed in Cache Valley and throughout the area where the Mormons tried it.
The Shoshoni in Cache Valley knew of the Mormons coming westward before they arrived and had a generally favorable impression of these white strangers. Shortly after the Mormons arrived near the Great Salt Lake some Shoshini tribal leaders, including Chief Bear Hunter and his cousin Sagwitch, went south to see the Mormons first hand. On July 31, 1847, they met with Brigham Young and the Indians were interested in trading with the Mormons. The Ute Indians also came in with the same idea. Shortly an intertribal fight broke out over a stolen horse taken from the Shoshoni by a Ute and traded to the Mormons. Four Shoshoni pursued and killed the Ute. The Shoshoni charged that the Utes had come into their area and interfered with their rights, and they were not pleased that the Mormons had traded with the Utes. Then by sign language the Shoshoni indicated that they wanted to sell some of their land for powder and lead. From the beginning the Mormon leadership decided against attempting to buy land from the Indians. From this incident onward Bear Hunter would become a primary figure in the transitional period in relations with the white newcomers in northern Utah.
Prior to 1855 these Indians had limited contact with the Mormons in the lower Bear River area near Brigham City and other settlements along the Wasatch Front. In August of 1855 over two thousand head of Church cattle were brought into Cache Valley to be used as a large herding ground. Before long the number of cattle arose to three thousand. The Mormon ranch hands became acquainted with some of the Indians and learned some of the Indian language while following Church counsel to pacify the natives. One of them, James Clark Dowdle, recalled years later: "There were lots of Indians and squaws here. President Young told us to be very kind to the Indians and feed them, or else they would kill us. This we did until we had very little left for ourselves." Possibly the initial reaction of the Indians was that this was not necessarily a bad thing for a few whites and many cattle to come into the valley using a limited area since apparently whenever the Shoshoni asked for food they received something. However, in mid-December of 1855 the Utah Territorial legislature granted all of this valley to Brigham Young as trustee of the Church "and those whom he may associate with" for a "herd ground and other purposes." Three weeks later the legislature created Cache County, setting the stage for white settlement, and confrontation between those who claimed the valley and those who desired to possess and farm it. The following fall the first white settlement was established in the southwest corner of Cache Valley and called Maughan’s Fort—two rows of houses built facing each other in fort style. The tiny settlement of seven families and two single men experienced little to no trouble from the Indians during the first fall and winter. Because the settlement was started late in the season (in mid-September), they ran out of foodstuffs and had to make a trip to Brigham City for more supplies during the winter.
The first noted incident with Chief Bear Hunter and his band came for a reminiscence mistakenly dated to have occurred in 1855, but most likely took place in either in 1856 or 1857. Perhaps knowing the relationship between Mormon settlements and Indians in the area from Brigham City down to Salt Lake City, Bear Hunter wanted to make and establish his claims forcefully; possibly thinking a bit of intimidation for good measure may be a good thing. Anyhow, the Chief and his band came to Maughan’s Fort and encamped in a "hay field," really a close by field of wild grass being cut by the settlers for feed for their animals. The Indians by action and words expressed their displeasure with the new settlement in an area claimed by this band of Shoshoni. The leader of the new settlement, Peter Maughan, and a few others went to the Indian’s encampment, and through an interpreter told the Indians the new settlers had come into the valley to make their homes and live among the Indians and be their friends. Maughan addressed the immediate problem of the Indian camp in the working field of wild grass. He explained that his people had to have the cut grass to feed their stock in the winter, and they did not want the Indians to camp in such places as there were plenty of other grassy areas all around for the Indian horses to forage. The discussion closed with Maughan telling Chief Bear Hunter that he must move the Indian camp. Whereupon Bear Hunter responded: "We will not go. This valley belongs to the Indians. We own the grass, water, fish and game. The white man must go." At this impasse Maughan declared: "We have spoken—you must go," and gave them two hours to move from the grass field. Within the set time limit the Indians moved their encampment down to the river bottoms. The above story comes from the Mormon side, and this account continued by saying the chief felt humiliated and Bear Hunter vowed to get rid of the white men in his valley and decided to get even with Maughan. A short time after the Indians moved their camp, one morning Maughan felt impressed to examine his gun. He removed it from the peg on the log cabin wall and examined it. While he was holding the gun with the muzzle pointed towards the door, it was thrust open from the outside and in burst Chief Bear Hunter with his own weapon in hand. According to this account, the surprised chief was again chagrined and changed his mind and retreated from the cabin.
With the coming of spring in 1857 the settlers at Maughan’s Fort earnestly began farming, breaking land and planting crops, hoping that with the expended effort to be self-sufficient thereafter. Then occurred another incident with the Indians in Cache Valley as the leader of the new Mormon settlement, Maughan described the encounter in a letter to Brigham Young dated June 4, 1857. He wrote that the day after Young had left on his trip to Fort Lemhi, the Mormon Indian mission in Idaho (Young left Salt Lake City on April 24th), that fifty Indians appeared at the Maughan home in Cache Valley, and they:
. . .all stripped naked and road [rode] around and yelled like as many fiends against you [sic Young] and Arrapean [a chief of the Utes] and made a demand for Shirts, Flour, Powder & two Oxen, then ground their knives and charged their guns.
After doing a war dance around the house, the young chief in charge explained they were mad because the Mormon leader had not given them any presents as some other Indians had received, and they were hungry, besides the settlers were living on their land. Maughan gave them a cow for food and they promised to let the settlers’ cattle alone. The "young chief" was not mentioned by name, but it probably was either Bear Hunter or a sub chief he sent. This small band of Indians left and immediately another group numbering around 250 Shoshoni came and camped one night near Maughan’s Fort and then left the next morning. Up to this point Brigham Young, besides being the leader of the Mormon Church, was the governor of Utah Territory and oversaw the governments distribution of goods to the Indians, and in September of 1857 he wrote the Commissioner of Indian Affairs complaining that the Cache Valley Indians had received "but little" from the government and thus had become burdensome to the settlers there in begging and demanding supplies.
In July of 1857 the Mormons learned that an U.S. Army was moving towards Utah in what came to be called the Utah War. As the army moved westward, the news that Brigham Young was being replaced as governor reached Salt Lake City. The Mormons did not like the idea of the army coming their way, and even the various Shoshoni bands showed their fear of the United States troops by leaving Cache Valley and moving north. The Mormons called in their farthest settlements, and the Maughan’s Fort settlers received counsel in October of 1857 to evacuate Cache County and did so by March of 1858 by going to Brigham City. The settlers took all their livestock with them along with some foodstuffs and personal items. The fall harvest of grain had been bounteous, and they could not carry it all with them. So they secreted their grain in their houses, hoping it would be there when they returned. The settlers returned on April 23, 1859, and discovered the Indians had been in each house and found the grain and appropriated it along with anything else they wanted.
The year 1859 was when Cache County really started being settled. Maughan’s Fort had more settlers and was soon renamed Wellsville, after a prominent Mormon leader. By May another settlement was established at Mendon, followed soon thereafter by others at Providence, Logan, Richmond and Smithfield. By the end of 1859 there were about 150 families in Cache Valley. The Mormons had learned early after their settling in Utah that all the small settlements needed a fort for protection from the Indians, and each of the Cache Valley settlements had theirs. The settlers also had to keep close watch over their stock and movable property to keep it from being stolen by the Indians and created a "Minute Men" militia. From the very beginning all of the settlements experienced the visits of the Indians seeking food in various ways, ranging from begging for food, and sometimes clothing, to demanding it by making threats or other demonstrations. Most of the time, according to pioneer Emma Liljenquist, the Indians went from "door to door," canvassing each house in the settlements. They quickly learned where the Mormon bishop lived and when dissatisfied with what they received, went there to request more and/or put on a threatening exhibition, hoping the intimidation would yield more.
Two of the early settlers left accounts of Indian visits to the new Mormon settlements in 1859. Matthew Fifield recorded the Shoshoni acted very "saucy" and took actions annoying the white women. When the husbands protested these affronts, the red visitors "spatted their bare behinds toward them and asked them what they could do about it." The same summer Walter Walters recorded another visit which put fear in the hearts of settlers as described in his words:During the summer the first hostile Indians came upon us we thought it was the
end They Praded [paraded] around and danced and Sang they were all
painted ready for war There were about fifty of them of us there was not
twenty five or thirty We had not arms worth anything They was well armed
and it would be foly [folly] to fight they could have killed us without trouble. . .
They wanted Beef flower [flour] tea and sugar
Tea and Sugar was out of question and we had but little Flower But every
body divided what they had and Peter Maughan Sent a man after a Beef So
the Indians killed the Beef and took what flower they could get and finely went of[f].
In addition other Indians came to the Mormon settlements in Cache Valley. A small party of nine lodges of Bannocks visited Maughan and explained that they hoped the sad affair on the Salmon River a couple of years earlier could be forgotten—meaning the Shoshoni-Bannock attack on the Mormon’s Fort Lemhi Indian mission. This admission was not conscience born but most likely based on the hope that they wouldn’t be excluded from receiving foodstuff presents that the Shoshoni were getting. Then came a Shoshoni band seeking possibly a reward for informing the settlers that the nasty "Banackee" [Bannock] Indians were planning to attack the Mormons and steal their cattle. As the leader of the Mormon settlements, Peter Maughan was disturbed by what he saw and heard and alerted Brigham Young about the situation and "movement going on among the Indians" plus the actions he had taken. The latter included his advising the settlers in the valley to move their families and stock to the area around Wellsville, and he had directed the men to a division of effort—half of them to stay and protect the families while the remainder labored on the various settlements’ fortifications and farms. What remains to be explained about these other Indians’ visits to the area that Bear Hunter’s band claim was the relationship or reason for these incursions. Were they friends and allies of the Shoshoni claiming the area, interlopers who came without permission, or were they possibly allowed in or invited to reinforce in the settlers’ minds that the whites were the minority in any assessment of strength?
At the new settlement of Mendon, some five to six miles north of Maughan’s Fort, after the ground was broken and prepared for planting, the Shoshoni presence was viewed by the handful of settlers as suspicious and threatening. After planting their grain the settlers moved all their families to Maughan’s Fort (Wellsville) and built temporary houses for them. From there the men traveled back and forth to Mendon to care for their land, particularly to irrigate their grain crop until the perceived threat ended. Then the settlers returned to their settlement. During this period the few Mendon families celebrated Pioneer Day (July 24th) at Wellsville where a "great number of Indians" were present to feast with the settlers. The Indians would visit Mendon often that fall and winter. These exchanges were undoubtedly from Bear Hunter’s band.
The numerous Indian raids and attacks on wagon trains, stage and mail stations outside of the Cache Valley area is beyond the scope of this article. However, one of these attacks on a wagon train during the 1859 traveling season had an effect upon the local area. A band of Indians struck the Ferguson Shepherd wagon train more than once some eighty miles northwest of Salt Lake City in late July of 1859. The last attack finished off the train with a few survivors escaping on their own, leaving their goods and animals to the Indians. The following day another large train with 200 armed men came upon some of the survivors of the ruined train and spread the word concerning the Shepherd train tragedy. Shortly thereafter some Shoshoni came to Brigham City attempting to sell or trade horses, mules and oxen to the Mormons. One of the Indians showed a newspaper correspondent a daguerreotype picture. With this photographic evidence and rumors circulating about the attack on the Shepherd train, the Brigham City residents were suspicious and refused to deal with the Indians over suspected stolen property. Word was sent to the government Indian Agent in Salt Lake City who went to Brigham City to investigate and quickly requested the Utah Territorial Governor to send U.S. troops to locate the guilty Indians and punish them. Lieutenant Ebenezer Gay with forty men were ordered to march to the trails west of Bear River Ferry to investigate the massacre of the Shepherd train and protect passing emigrants. After Gay arrived he was informed that the Indians and stock were in Sardine Canyon between Brigham City and Cache Valley. With the aid of a local Mormon guide the army patrol reached the Indian camp before dawn on August 14th and immediately attacked the Indians, who quickly responded by scattering behind rocks and trees on the nearby steep hillsides and fired back on the troops. The two sides exchanged fire for two hours before Lt. Gay returned to Brigham City with a few captured animals and reported he engaged some 200 Indians and killed over twenty while suffering six wounded soldiers. The troops indicated they wanted no more canyon fighting. This contrasted sharply with the report of the Mormons who claimed the Indians numbered only seventeen and suffered only one death and one woman injured. Within a week the Mormon newspaper was highly critical of the soldiers’ report and failures to do anything concerning the Indians activities.
As soon as the soldiers left, the Indians robbed a nearby Mormon residence of $1,000 worth of property and drove off forty to fifty beeves. Then the Indians proceeded through the canyon to come out in Cache Valley where they were, according to one Mormon account, "bold and ignorant" with the message they wanted sent back that if the soldiers "wanted to fight, to come on" that they were ready and prepared for any soldiers sent against them. Peter Maughan wrote Brigham Young that this band of Shoshoni then shot four horses and stole another twenty from the settlers, "which makes the boys [Mormon settlers] feel pretty hard towards them." Within a short time the Shoshoni ran off around one hundred head of cattle from Ogden and Box Elder canyons. Apparently the Shoshoni cited as an excuse for their actions that they were upset that a Mormon had led the troop to the Indian camp in Sardine Canyon. While this may have had an element of truth, however, the Indians were more upset that the Mormons would not buy the stock, whether stolen or not, from them.
The significant increase in Indian raids and attacks on emigrant parties, mail stations, stage facilities, etc., throughout the Intermountain West in 1859 would seem to indicate a general movement to attack the whites in inviting or tempting situations. The various bands of Shoshoni were no longer following the lead of Chief Washakie, but now younger leaders such as Pocatello, Bear Hunter and others were in charge of the increased hostilities. With the coming of 1860 the situation along the overland trail remained a problem due to Indian raids, and with the awarding of a contract for carrying the mail over the central overland route by the Pony Express and stagecoach, there were many more targets for the Indians to hit for easy plunder. With more attacks with stations burned and employees killed, the army resorted to soldier escorts but the attacks continued. In and around the northern Mormon settlements the situation also worsened. At Mendon, the numerous visits by the Indians had settler James G. Willie writing in his journal for March of 1860:The people of the valley have been greatly annoyed with the Indians during
the winter, and they have had to feed about two hundred of them most of the
time since last fall, which has been a heavy tax, but it had to be borne, as
there was no alternative but to feed them or do worse.
Isaac Sorensen in his records wrote for Mendon in 1860:
The Indians committed depredations by running of [off] Horses and cattle,
much gaurding [sic] had to be done by the setters [sic] and at times it was not
safe to go to the Mountains or hills for Wood or timber without they were several
in company and then it was necessary to carry guns with with [sic] them
The situation was the same in the other settlements according to Mary Ann Maughan, who explained the conditions in the first years in Cache Valley that in the settlements anxiety was always high as the Indians used intimidation and fear to get their wants and thereby they constantly plagued the settlements. Just south of Cache Valley in Weber County Northwestern Shoshoni bands were active with numerous depredations. In mid-April of 1860 the leader of the Mormon minutemen in the Ogden area, Chauncy W. West, wrote to Brigham Young citing a long list of Indian raids including a personal attack on a settler caught alone while hunting for his oxen. General West concluded his letter declaring that the Shoshoni were also "very saucy and overbearing" while visiting the Mormon settlements; and then he asked the Mormon leader a question that was becoming ever more prevalent in northern Utah. West asked Young, if it was wise and necessary for the settlers to continue to suffer the Indians "abuse and acts of violence and depredations and pass them off the best we can, or whether we shall stand up and chastise them as their acts and the magnitude of their crimes shall deserve." The answer was to continue as before.
In late April of 1860 the Shoshoni stole a large herd of horses from the Logan area which Peter Maughan valued at $1500, and on May 1st Maughan reported this to Brigham Young and lamented:
"[It] seems to be hard on us after feeding them all winter." In addition he explained that he had warned the Indians that the thieving must cease or the settlers would not continue to feed them but "we would use them up if it took us all summer to do it." Maughan’s complaints certainly echoed what Willie reported from Mendon and a possible new solution suggested by General West from Ogden. In an attempt to put some teeth in the threat of turning on the Indians, Maughan and others organized a company of one hundred minute men. This unit held monthly drills, spent much time at night guarding stock and towns, and experienced occasional chases after Indians with stolen stock. In a gross exaggeration the Deseret News of May 23, 1860, had their military organization "ready for war in that county" and numbering "one thousand men—about half of them horsemen . . .ready at a moment’s notice." The newspaper speculated: "That is right and as it should be, and no doubt has had a beneficial influence with the Indians, in disposing them to peace. . . ." The church newspaper’s hope would not occur, and the Indians of Cache Valley had early concluded that the Mormon men were like "old women" and afraid to fight or take a stand. They were never impressed by the Mormon militia in the valley.
In showing their contempt for the white settlers the Shoshoni repeatedly threatened Mormon womenfolk with knives, rode their horses into the settlers’ homes and into their gardens which they took delight to trample as well as caused damage in the fields. In addition, they openly boasted that they would take the settlers’ herds of cattle, horses and sheep whenever they wanted. In a variety of ways from wearing war paint to performing war dances or displays they kept the settlers continually frightened and on guard. A band in the Logan area pointedly threatened a raid on the local livestock herd only to be surrounded by the settlers. After a short standoff, a treaty talk was held, after which the Indians were given a beef and were hosted at a feast on the square block reserved for the proposed Logan Tabernacle. The settlers thought they had accomplished peace and tranquility and temporarily they had. However, no matter how much they gave the Indians, it did not assuage the Shoshoni’s growing wants.
In the meantime, federal officials and the army in Utah believed that the Mormons and Indians were in league to thwart government policies and objectives. They felt that the Indian bands which wintered in Cache Valley were largely responsible for the attacks on the emigrant trail and the mail line. They did not view the Mormons feeding the Indians as necessary to the white settlers’ survival, but actively supported the raiding Indians and encouraged their pillaging. Therefore, in 1860, according to early Logan settler Henry Ballard, the U.S. Army declared an ultimatum "declaring vengeance against any person trading with or feeding any Indian in Cache Valley." In June of 1860 Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Utah Jacob Forney sent a messenger to the Northwestern Shoshoni offering presents and seeking a conference with them to see if he could somehow stop or reduce the Indian depredations. According to the Deseret News of June 27, 1860: "The Indians refused to have any thing to do with him or his presents and sent back word by the messenger sent out to invite them to a conference that they had plenty of shirts and blankets and did not need any articles the Superintendent had to offer them." Apparently the raiding along the trail and mail line had been fruitful for Bear Hunter and his band, and they increased their demands for food from the Cache Valley settlers.
Then came "Cache Valley fever" as the Deseret News termed the migration to the northern county in articles in May through June of 1860 as "hundreds of wagons and teams" began moving early in that direction. By mid-April with the end of the "wintry season" it gained momentum and before it ended five new settlements were created at Hyrum, Millville, Paradise, Hyde Park and Franklin. The federal census taken in August of 1860 listed 510 households in Cache Valley holding 2,605 persons. President Brigham Young and his counselors and a large party entered Cache Valley in early June of 1860 to visit the area and see how the new settlements were doing. After a quick tour that included Wellsville, Logan, Smithfield and Richmond, they reported that 5,500 acres of land had been plowed and planted that spring with fourth-fifths the acreage in wheat and the balance in corn, potatoes, oats, barley, etc. They stated that especially in the newest location not much building had been performed, and they stressed the building of "stockades" to ensure safety from surprise attacks by the Indians, who had been "somewhat inclined to be troublesome in that region since the difficulties" on the overland trail the previous summer.
However, peace and tranquility did not descend upon Cache Valley by the various means of feeding the Indians, treaty talk via a beef and a feast or when some of the Indians who committed depredation in Weber, Box Elder and Cache Counties sued for peace in May of 1860 and promised to return stolen stock and to quit future stealing. This would become a repetitive cycle of requesting and demanding food, stealing, a confrontation or threat to stop giving food if the pattern continued and suing for peace or a peace offering with some material benefit to the natives and then back to the beginning of the cycle. In Cache Valley the cycle started over the following month. Two examples being a half dozen horses were run off by the Indians along the Muddy (now Little Bear River in southern Cache County), and a short time later horses disappeared from Providence and were never found or recovered. There were numerous other cases of horse and cattle thievery with the vast majority suspected to be caused by the Indians. Bear Hunter and his band knew how it all worked and they used every phase of it for their benefit repeatedly.
Then came the most serious and momentous Indian trouble in Cache Valley in 1860. On July 23rd Pagunap, a sub-chief of a small band of Shoshoni, was arrested at Smithfield for stealing a horse at Richmond. He was incarcerated in a house under guard where ten of his companions later found him. They urged Pagunap to escape, counseling him that the white guards were "cowards and would not shoot." A short time later the arrested Indian, although repeatedly warned of fatal consequences of trying to escape, attempted to flee and was killed. Thereupon one of his Indian companions shot Samuel Cousins in the lungs. The Indians retreated towards a canyon where they killed John Reed and wounded James Cowan. Farther up the canyon they killed Ira Merrill and wounded his brother Solyman Merrill. A company of whites chased the Indians but only succeeded in shooting one from his horse before darkness ended the chase.
Word of this spread and soon much of the valley was swept by panic, thinking a war was on the verge of starting. During the evening at Logan, an Indian man and woman were taken captive and they denied any connection with the other Indians. Soon around twenty of their Indian friends came and tried to force the two’s release, only to be checked by a larger number of settlers with guns. Negotiations followed with the Mormon leaders proposing that the Indians bring in the four braves who had shot the settlers at Smithfield. The Indians did not like this offer, and posed their counter-offer to go and kill the guilty warriors themselves. The Mormons rejected this and again pressed their first offer so they would know for sure the offenders had truly been dealt with. The Indians left, apparently accepting the Mormon’s offer, but they returned three days later saying they had been unable to find the guilty parties. The settlers kept on the alert, expecting further troubles, and many settlements sent reinforcements to Smithfield.
Chief Bear Hunter and his band came to Smithfield, made up of a few houses with most of the settlers still living in their wagons, threatening to attack. When he found over a hundred armed whites there, he quickly changed his mind. According to Bishop Henry Ballard of Logan, the chief discovered that there were too many whites for this band of Indians, and the chief said "they was not mad they wanted to be friendly." On July 26th Maughan wrote Brigham Young giving a detailed account of the latest troubles; also, telling the Indian delegation when they returned with no one, they would get nothing more from the settlers until the guilty Indians were brought in. A few days later Bear Hunter, called by Maughan "the War Chief," came to Logan to talk with Peter Maughan. The latter continued insisting that the guilty parties be delivered up, and emphasizing its importance by saying "we could not endure it any longer." Bear Hunter, with much reluctance, finally agreed to try and find the perpetrators. He openly stated he did not want to fight the Mormon settlers, and he declared that he and his band were going to leave Cache Valley. As a peace gesture Maughan gave the Indians four beeves while Apostle Ezra Benson gave the chief 1,300 pounds of flour and some other items. Bear Hunter never brought in the four Indians. As leader of the Mormon settlers, Maughan assessed the situation in Cache Valley from the whites’ standpoint in his report to Young saying "we are in a worse condition than if an open war was declared, because if we meet an Indian we have to wait their motion. . . ." In the end the Mormon threat to stop giving food if the Indians didn’t stop stealing or deliver up guilty parties proved to be just words and self-defeating. Possibly if they had remained firm or shown more armed will, they could have made a point; they certainly did not with their practice of giving in or appeasing the Indians.
It is impossible to track Chief Bear Hunter’s movement precisely to see if in his inability or unwillingness to keep his promise to Maughan, he avoided Smithfield and Logan for awhile so as to not encounter the leader of the Cache Valley Mormons. Still, within five weeks of the killings at Smithfield, a band of Indians "from the north" came to Smithfield and remained two days, manifesting a "disposition for peace and not war." Whether from a factual standpoint or to ensure a bounty of food, they claimed those guilty of the killing were a few outcast no longer connected to their band. Whether the Indians noticed it or not, the residents of this town had been spurred to greater efforts to move their initial "primitive houses" into a more compact and secure arrangement they called a "fort" with some fifty of them fitted up more comfortably for the coming winter. Assuredly Bear Hunter and his band made their rounds of the Cache Valley settlements seeking and demanding food, with special attention given to the period of the wheat harvest. Because of its proximity to one of the Shoshonis’ primary encampments, Franklin, the furthest northern settlement, was visited often by the Indians. The bishop of Franklin wrote Brigham Young in late February of 1861 that his supply of grain for bread was a thousand bushels short, leaving his settlement weak and vulnerable as they had nothing more to give the Indians. After learning that the Superintendent of Indians Affair in Utah visited and gave presents to the Indians in the Weber County area and in Ruby Valley (Nevada) in late 1860, the Shoshoni in Cache Valley, according to the Mormon newspaper, were "demanding" a visit from him. But in an January 1861 issue the newspaper, while hoping the superintendent could do something for the Indians "feared that the present distracted state of national affairs, and the consequent crippled condition of the finances" of the county moving fast toward disunion and civil war would prevent this. When the superintendent did not go to the mountain, Bear Hunter led a party from their mountains to the city to see him. Bear Hunter and about twenty of his band traveled to Salt Lake City in late March of 1861, to see the Utah Superintendent of Indian Affairs Benjamin Davies, seeking presents. Davies gave each brave a new blanket, shirt and hat plus supplied them with flour, bacon and cooking utensils. The Superintendent dressed Bear Hunter in a complete suit of "citizen’s clothing" including hat and boots to make him look like an "American," which made the chief appear to feel "firstrate." Bear Hunter stated that after his band returned to Cache Valley he intended to take them to the mountains to hunt with intentions to not return until wheat harvest, to which the newspaper responded that this would "be a great blessing to the whites in that valley."
The winter of 1860-61 was cold with snow as deep as a foot and a half to two feet in the settlements of Cache Valley. Before the snow commenced the settlers sent their stock not needed for use in the winter out of the valley to Box Elder County west of Bear River where they were herded under strong guard to prevent the Indians from stealing the animals. There was a strong concern among the settlers that there would be a scarcity of breadstuffs before the next harvest of grain. In the midst of their fears and discussions a "large number" of Indians came to Logan and encamped in late January of 1861, claiming loudly they were in a starving condition and that the white settlers must supply them with provisions. The band was furnished two beeves and a quantity of flour and after it was eaten "another demand was made." Their ultimatum was for much more food, and it must be forthcoming or they would help themselves. The settlers bowed to the Indians’ command and provided more food. The person reporting this incident to the Deseret News in its issue of February 6, 1861, was an officer in the valley militia. He expressed a concern for this situation and burden, hoping "A remedy for the evil" should be provided, but he quickly concluded that the circumstances of a nation with "a revolution in full blast, threatening the subversion of the government" with a depleted treasury made government prospects of relief very doubtful. These two winter demands for food came from the Shoshoni under Bear Hunter’s leadership.
Later in 1861 a number of Indians made a rapid raid on the cattle in a few of the valley’s southern settlements. Apparently they hit individual holdings instead of combined herds and wound up with "quite a number" of cows including some from families that only had one cow. The stolen cows were driven up to Malad Valley. After the alarm of the thievery the local minute men assembled as quickly as they could and began to trail the thieves on horseback. They caught up to the Indians in a canyon with a cover of cedars on the side of the mountain. The two sides exchanged several shots but the superior position of the Indians protected behind trees prevented their dislodgement or the recovery of the stock. After this brief skirmish the minute men returned to their homes after a long and hard chase. The only known casualty of the affair was a man from Mendon who suffered a shot in the leg. Isaac Sorensen, a pioneer of Mendon who wrote of the above chase, at the same time told of another encounter with angry Indians and the minute men. He explained how each town was supposed to have an organized unit of at least ten men in this militia, and how they drilled to be ready on short notice to assemble and perform some service of defense for the valley’s settlers. Presumably in 1861 a band of Indians came down the Providence bench displaying a "very angry" mood which caused the valley’s minute men to be called to the Logan area, where serious trouble was avoided by the diplomatic efforts of Peter Maughan. The way this episode was portrayed, it was not when the U. S. troops clashed with the Indians at Providence.
In mid-June of 1861, Maughan reported to Young that the Indians were friendly and peaceable. A month later around 1,500 Shoshoni assembled in an encampment on Black’s Fork (most likely Blacksmith Fork near Hyrum) and Maughan noted "They feel a little more stuborn [sic] than we would like to see." Seth Blair, a settler and an officer in the minutemen who kept a journal, made an entry at this time which indicates the Indians were putting forth claims to everything—"our fields Town etc[.] as their Land & want many presents to appease their cupidity"—reflecting Bear Hunter band’s claims. A council was held with the leading chiefs—Bear Hunter, Pe-ass-wicks, Sagwitchs and other leaders—in which the settlers decided to give the Shoshoni sixty bushels of wheat from their tithing office, 2,400 pounds of flour, four beef cattle and a shirt for each of the five chiefs present. On their part the Indians agreed to leave the area after feasting on the donated food; that leaving, Mr. Blair interjected into his journal, was something "which we greatly desire." Apparently Chief Bear Hunter and the other leaders supposed the Cache Valley Mormons should provide food for whatever number of Indians, local and otherwise, that they desired.
True to their earlier commitment to be present at the wheat harvest, the Indians returned to the valley in August to get their expected grain and other food. Then in early September a band of Indians ran off sixty horses from the Cache settlers. The leaders of the whites confronted Bear Hunter with this depredation while they were being given ample provisions by the settlers. The chief, according to Maughan, condemned the thievery and promised to resolve the issue. Shortly he personally returned with twenty-one head of horses and in time brought the number up to fifty-six, leaving only four young colts still missing. Maughan expect these until a close inspection of the returned horses revealed that many of them did not belong to the valley people whose horses had been taken. Maughan suspected Bear Hunter was providing horses from those stolen from outside Cache Valley, and he was left with dual problems—finding the rightful owners of the horses turned in and those taken from his valley. In early September President Young, with his usual large party, made a trip northward through the settlements of Utah and went to Wellsville and Logan before retracing his route back to Salt Lake City. The Church newspaper’s report of September 18th told of the trip and concluded with the following: "The Indian at Box Elder were disaffected, and in the northern settlements of Cache had stolen sixty horses."
In the meantime the United States had her internal trouble resulting in the Civil War with fighting commencing in April of 1861. Shortly the government troops in Utah, guarding the emigrant trail and protecting the mail line to the Pacific Coast, received orders to close their post and to march eastward. The orders came on June 7th and the last escort patrol arrived back at the Utah post on June 19th and before long they left Utah. Even while there were troops in Utah, the situation on the overland trail for emigrants and the mails was bad. Without the troops, it became worse and extended well into 1862. The mail was stopped for a period of time which the government thought crucial to the war effort due to the vast mineral wealth of California and Nevada.
The Shoshoni continued in their raids on the emigrants, mail line, stole Mormon cattle, horses and other unguarded property, called upon the Indian agents for goods and then visited all the settlement in Cache Valley, expecting and receiving provisions. For over three years they had incorporated these sources of gaining subsistence into their ways and means of making a living, putting much less time and energy into the harder and more time-consuming customary ways of hunting and gathering. Brigham D. Madson in his prize winning book The Shoshoni Frontier and the Bear River Massacre wrote: "The settlers and Northwestern Shoshoni in neighboring Cache Valley each suffered from the other’s presence during 1861." Equally revealing was the trend from 1859 when the settlement of Cache County began anew in earnest with each succeeding year worse than the year before. If this trend continued the same pattern, then 1862 could become the crucial year for Bear Hunter and his band of Shoshoni.
On February 5, 1862, Maughan reported to Young that the Shoshoni in the valley were killing the settlers’ cattle held in the large combined herd grazed on the uninhabited western side of the valley and in nearby Box Elder County. The troublesome Indians were led by sub-chief Pine, who Maughan knew had been "well treated by the Cache Valley brethren for the last two years." Maughan sent 150 of the valley’s minute men to guard the herd with instruction to try to council with the friendly Chief Sagwitch to resolve the troubles, but if this failed and the Indians continued killing the cattle, the Mormon force were directed to "chastise in a way that will make them remember for years to come. . . ." Perhaps this was a sign that even without Brigham Young’s permission the Cache settlers were about ready to take stronger measures against the Indians in the area. Apparently this episode ended quietly. The new Superintendent of Indians Affair, James Duane Doty, visited the Northwestern Shoshoni bands in March and found them starving and destitute, in part because his predecessors had not provided them with clothing or provisions. He feared that unless the situation was corrected, they would rob the mail stations and become beggars. Doty exceeded his budget and bought them wheat, flour and clothing, but he quickly noted the Indians were not satisfied with what he had done for them, even though the mail company and local valley settlers had also contributed to the cause. In the end all he could do was recommend these Indians be placed on reservations where they could learn to be herdsmen. By May 20th a Cache resident, Seth Blair, wrote in his journal that the Shoshoni were still "flocking on us very fast . . . they are quite annoying & must be fed . . . ." Even while demanding food from the settlers, the Indians appeared somewhat uneasy and expressed a fear that the Mormons might join the soldiers in concert against them. Maughan assured them their fear was misplaced, but clearly told them they must stop stealing Mormon stock if they wished to retain friendship with the settlers. Apparently they made no commitment of this; however, when they prepared to leave the valley, they promised to see the settlers "again at harvest."
Other complicating factors came when word spread of the Salmon River mines in the early spring of 1862, and the July finding of gold in the Beaverhead area which became Montana Territory in 1864. Utah was the nearest supply point, and supplies, gold-seekers and others began traveling the trail to northern Idaho and Montana, traversing through Cache Valley and through the Shoshoni claimed lands. The raids on the commerce and mail running north and south added to the cauldron of troubles in the Intermountain West, and many problems involved the Indians, with Bear Hunter and his Shoshoni in the thick of it. Under these circumstances the War Department informed the governor of California that the government would accept for three years one regiment of infantry and five companies of cavalry to guard the overland mail route from Carson Valley in Nevada to Salt Lake and on to Fort Laramie. These California volunteers would be commanded by Colonel Patrick E. Connor. The volunteers were recruited beginning in September of 1861 but it took time to get them ready and trained, and it would be July 5, 1862 before the seven companies assigned to Utah would receive their marching orders. They reached Salt Lake City on October 20th and established headquarters at Camp Douglas with some 850 men.
On August 2, 1862, Superintendent of Indian Affairs Doty was warned by Chief Little Soldier of the Shoshoni in the Weber County area that the Indians north of Great Salt Lake had decided to make war upon the white people—settlers, emigrants or other travelers. This definitely included the Shoshoni and Bannock Indians inhabiting northern Utah Territory and the southern portion of eastern Washington Territory (Idaho Territory not created until 1864). The killings, stealing and depredations by these Indians was now occurring and would continue, but the over-all plans called for the massive fatal blow in the late fall—"when the leaves turn yellow and begin to fall the time they are to fall upon and exterminate all the settlers in the Territory." Doty report this information to his superiors in Washington, D.C. and he and others repeatedly requested the government to negotiate a treaty with the Northern Shoshoni and provide money and annuity goods to hopefully calm down the troubles, but nothing was accomplished during 1862.
In the summer of 1862, as a repeat of what occurred the previous summer, "a large band of Oregon Indians invaded the valley and encamped southwest of Logan. Once again the valley’s minute men were placed on full alert and security measures taken such as stock corralled, supplies stored, "a heavy guard was put out, and men slept on their arms at night." From close observation the Indians were estimated to number fifteen hundred warriors. Mormon scouts watched them closely and concluded they did not come into the valley to feed or hunt, but parties of them were often seen creeping about under cover apparently reconnoitering the area and opposing forces. After three weeks the Mormons decided the group was hostile with the "avowed intention was to drive out the whites." These Indians finally moved on. Possibly these Indians were in someway connected to the attempted league of several Indian tribes that Little Soldier warmed about that same summer. Perhaps more germane would be Chief Bear Hunter’s role, attitude and connection with this large force of Indians coming into the area he claimed.
In early August of 1862, Peter Maughan in his periodic report to Brigham Young noted that while their neighbors over the mountains in both Weber and Box Elder were experiencing much stealing by the Indians, it was at that time peaceful in Cache Valley. Within a month the Shoshoni arrived for their annual wheat harvest visits, always in the plural. The Mormon newspaper reported the situation in Cache with the Shoshone again "troublesome" (a frequent Mormon expression) with some depredations and exhibiting a "saucy and belligerent" deportment with repeated threats to do worse. More revealing the newspaper
stated the Indians had become "fond of beef" to the extent that if they "cannot get in one way, they will take in another." Plus they demand of the settlers "heavy contributions of flour." The Shoshoni were still making calls on the individual settlers’ houses plus they were getting a bulk delivery from each town or ward (i.e. for the fall of 1862 at North Point their bulk delivery was 205 bushels of wheat and 2,000 pounds of flour in addition "to what they get at our houses.") By this time the large delivery came from the ward’s tithing office where the Church’s grain and other items collected as tithing were kept. In September Cache Valley experienced repeated lost of stock taken by the Shoshoni and a herdsman shot at, and minutemen were rushed to the northern settlement of Franklin twice to stand guard for a period of time because of the Indians threatening to kill the Franklin settlers. Maughan’s September report to President Young was not as rosy as the previous month as he chronicled at length the troubles with the Indians.
He focused on one depredation where a band of either Shoshoni or Bannock stole between thirty and forty horses from the settlers about two miles from Logan on the night of September 27th or pre-dawn of Sunday the 28th and drove them off to the north. Word of this raid reached the church leaders and minute men while they were at church services. The meeting was immediately dismissed, as there was a scramble to get minute men to pursue the offending Indians with the horses. Those at Logan did not stop to eat or gather provisions or blankets for a chase but hastily took after the thieves with just their weapons and horses some twenty minutes after being notified of the loss. Still they departed Logan about twelve hours after the Indians took the horses. A force of twenty minute men took up the chase expecting more men to join them from Hyde Park and Smithfield as they dashed northward. While they were at Hyde Park they saw Bear Hunter and some of his band, and they later came to the conclusion that Bear Hunter quickly sent a messenger to the Indians with the stolen horses apprising them that a force was coming in pursuit. With reinforcement from Hyde Park and Smithfield, the minute men numbered about thirty. Four scouts went in advance and finally came upon the thieves on Cub River near Franklin where the Indians prepared to camp and dine on one of the stolen animals. The Indians became aware of the four white men and showed fight, causing the four advance scouts to back off to await the main party’s arrival. The main company arrived just before dark but found the Indians had left in haste, leaving a few of the stolen animals which were recovered the next day. Pursuit of the thieves continued a couple of more days with a few more horses recovered but no fight with the Indians. The company recovered nine or ten animals but returned to Logan feeling their campaign had failed completely. On October 8th the Deseret News in reporting the incident concurred and went on to say that it could not recall a single instance in the last ten years where such a pursuit of thieving Indians had been successful. The newspaper ended its account by writing: "There is, as reported, considerable excitement among the people of Cache, in consequence of these depredations, and fears are entertained, not without cause, that there will be more incursions of the kind made into their fruitful valley before the setting in of winter." The Mormons came to believe that Chief Bear Hunter’s warning to the Indian horse thieves enabled them to escape and suspected his band’s presence at Hyde Park was more than a coincidence.
Maughan’s letter and September 1862 report to Young concluded with the Cache Valley leader’s assessment of the situation in his Cache Valley. He reported the Shoshoni had taken a hundred horses in the past three weeks even though the settlers had given them tons of flour and beef. Maughan related how the Indians’ behavior was worse than he had ever seen before, reaching the point that they entered the settlers’ houses and insulted the white women. He went on to say that those Shoshoni who pretended to be friendly to the settlers, harbored the stealing scamps in their "wickiups" while they made their plans to steal Mormon stock. Maughan concluded the Shoshoni on the north were determined to drive the whites to "hostile measures." The Deseret News on October 8th feared there would be more trouble from these Shoshoni in Cache Valley before winter.
The situation was not good in Cache Valley at the start of fall in 1862 as the relationship between the Shoshoni in Cache Valley and the white settlers had been strained and deteriorating perceptively towards a breaking point of some magnitude. It can now only be speculated as to how this would have played out if other factors had not intervened to produce the first engagement between the Shoshoni of Cache Valley and the California Volunteers of the U.S. Army who had only arrived in Utah on October 22nd. They replaced the federal troops that were called east due to the Civil War, and they came because of the significant increase of Indian attacks on the mail and telegraph lines, freight and emigrant trails and the practice of the Indians taking white children as their prisoners. In relation to the latter, two years earlier Indians had attacked a wagon train despoiling it, killing several and taking four white children from one family. There were several attempts to rescue the captive children including at least three armed expeditions without success. Then an uncle of the captives received information in 1862 that a white boy had been seen with an Indian band in Cache Valley. The uncle went to Utah and, according to a Deseret News report, while at Smithfield saw the white captive and talked with the boy, finding he could speak both Shoshoni and the English language. The boy said he remembered the massacre of his father and mother by the Indians who took him with them. The uncle then went to Salt Lake City and asked Colonel Connor for help to rescue the captive boy.
The army leader did two things, first he sent an Indian to Cache Valley with the word that if these Indians did not immediately release the white boy, his armed force "would wipe everyone of them out," and then he dispatched Major Edward McGarry with a force of cavalry to resolve this situation. McGarry and his command of sixty men reached Cache Valley on November 22, 1862, and learned that a Shoshoni band of between thirty and forty were encamped near the settlement of Providence a short distance south of Logan. The major decided to surprise the Indians in their camp early the next morning, Sunday, but before he could affect an attack, the Indians retreated to better defensive positions in the nearby canyon only a mile from the settlement. Somehow McGarry was able to capture one Indian brave while the two opposing forces faced each other before initiating fighting. Bear Hunter, with some of his warriors, rode out on the bench that lay between the mountains and the town making maneuvers which an observer described as a "war-like display, such as shouting, riding in circles, and all sorts of antics known only to their race." Perhaps it was just posturing or ceremony to open the battle, more likely to see if the soldiers really wanted to fight, possibly with taunts that the white soldiers were cowards and afraid to engage their enemy. While the Indians were in strong defensive positions in the narrow canyon, they were also confined to movement with retreat into the mountains possible only on foot, leaving their horses and other possessions. McGarry prepared to fight by splitting his force into three smaller units to probe and strike the defensive positions of the warriors, but the terrain made cavalry maneuvers impossible so the engagement wound up being mostly the two sides firing away at each other from static positions with little movement by either. After either one or two hours (depending upon the source) of the shooting back and forth, Chief Bear Hunter appeared on a nearby hill gesturing, possibly with a white flag, which the major at first mistook for more taunting until a civilian in the camp tried to persuade him it was an act calling for a truce. The civilian, Lee Dees, offered to go talk with Bear Hunter and was allow to consult with him. When Dees returned from his talk with Bear Hunter, he told McGarry that the chief "did not want to fight anymore," plus the chief kept emphasizing over and over his long friendship with the whites, claiming he always desired peace. Then by some sort of agreement Bear Hunter and about twenty of his band came to talk to McGarry, which the U.S. cavalry force took as a surrender.
The ensuing talks centered upon the white captive which the Indians stated that this boy had left their camp a few days earlier. Sometime in their discussion the Indians claimed the white boy (with yellow hair and blue eyes) was a half-breed, the offspring of a French mountaineer and a sister of Chief Washakie and that he could not speak English. This did not square with the boy’s physical appearance or the uncle’s account of talking with the boy. The major then told Bear Hunter that he would hold the chief and four other Indians until the white captive was brought in. This brought swift action as the following day three of the band’s warriors brought in the ten-year-old boy, and McGarry released Bear Hunter and his four braves. Thus ended the military aspects of this minor skirmish at Providence in which Major McGarry in his official report claimed his soldiers had killed three of the Shoshoni, while the Mormon newspaper, The Deseret News, with a very anti-Federal army bias mockingly wrote in its December 3, 1862 issue: "It appears that the troops had a fight with the Indians near Providence, lasting about an hour, ‘Federal loss, none—Redskins the same.’" However, a few weeks later on December 31st the same newspaper reported the same Shoshoni band killing two men carrying mail from the Montana mines at a point just above Bear River in present-day Idaho, just a few days after their fight at Providence in Cache Valley "to avenge the blood of their comrades, who were killed by the soldiers when they went after the captive boy," and specifically cited the Indians had three killed in that fight just as McGarry reported.
After the soldiers left Cache Valley, Chief Bear Hunter and his band returned to Providence highly upset with the Mormon inhabitants. They initiated the recrimination phase by insultingly abusing the settlers for not helping them keep the white boy, and called the white settlers "cowards and dared not fight," and for providing food and shelter for the soldiers. Apparently Bear Hunter never took into consideration what the Shoshoni had done for the Mormons to get this type of assistance, especially under the white-captive circumstance. In his rage Bear Hunter boldly declared he would strike or ambush the next soldiers he encountered and challenged them to travel to the north and do real battle. With the Indians’ hostile demeanor and talk against the Providence settlers, a force of seventy minute men was dispatched from Logan to the settlement to the south. After the arrival of this force there was more talking with the Shoshoni taking a more cautious tone, according to an officer in the militia, when the force of minute men arrived. Finally, the Indians demanded two beef and a large quantity of flour "as a peace offering," to which the Mormon leaders and militia decided was "the best and cheapest policy," hoping to ease the tensions as they had repeatedly done. But the tinder had been struck and a "peace offering" of beeves and some flour would not always put it out or control the gathering firestorm.
In quick succession the incessant Indian attacks that had plagued the mail route and the emigrant road during the summer and fall of 1862 began to impact Cache Valley more directly. A report reached Colonel Connor at Salt Lake City of a large Indian encampment on Bear River north of Brigham City in which there were much stock stolen from the emigrants. Once again the colonel dispatched Major McGarry with a force of one hundred cavalry to check this out. The force left at night under secrecy on December 4th and traveled all night and arrived at Willard over fifty miles to the north the next day before noon. After a period of rest they resumed their journey after dark and arrived at Empey’s Ferry over Bear River at dawn on December 6th wanting to cross and engage the Indians. But fate was not with them as they found the river full of floating ice, the ferryboat not in running order as its planking had been removed from the two scows upon which it was built, and the Indians had cut the rope on the far side of the river. Finally the troops took one of the scows and crossed a number of men over the river without their horses. They could see the Indian camp on a nearby hill. During this time the soldiers had captured four Indians, and McGarry sent a message to the Shoshoni encampment that they must return the stolen stock by the following noon or he would shoot the four Indian prisoners. The Indians responded by moving their entire camp over into Cache Valley. McGarry reacted by executing his prisoners at the ferry location. The Mormon newspaper on December 17th retorted that while these executions may have a "salutary effect upon the natives of the region, but it is feared that it will tend to make them more hostile and vindictive." This time the newspaper was more correct in its assessment. Existing records do not directly tie Bear Hunter and his band to incident, but subsequent events strongly tie it to same band that had braves killed at Providence and short time before.
Notwithstanding the repeated warnings and alerts that the Indians would likely strike in some manner, on December 23rd the Shoshoni stole a number of animals in Cache Valley and escaped without a chase. The following day the same group ran off over twenty head of horses in Box Elder County. This was followed by some "professedly friendly Indians" telling the herdsmen in charge of a large herd of stock belonging to the settlers of Cache and Box Elder Counties, being grazed on the west side of Bear River that they were not safe there as the Shoshoni were planning to attack the herd and herdsmen. The stock was moved to the east side of the river and closer to the settlements plus watched with greater care. The Mormon newspaper on December 31, 1862, from its correspondent in the northern area reported:
. . . that all the bands in that vicinity with the exception of a few individuals,
manifest unmistakable signs of hostility to the whites, and that he has been
informed they have a strong force encamped in the vicinity of Bear River
Lake, where they held frequent councils of late, relative to their future
movements and operations, the result of which is represented to be a
determination, on the part of most of them, not to desist from making
depredations until they shall be avenged on the whites for the blood of those
killed by the volunteers.
That the Indians in the vicinity of the northern settlements are mad,
and determined to do as much injury as possible to the white race. . . .
Perhaps at this point some reflection for perspective should be discussed. Some latter day historians and apologists for the Indians push a central theme that all was well, if not great, with the Shoshoni claiming Cache Valley until the whites came to settle. In this scenario the white occupation of their lands caused the Indians to become unable to support themselves on local resources and hunger drove them to depredations. This excuse, more than factual reason and events version, is almost as simplistic as the opposite idea of the "only good Indian was a dead one." They stole stock because the cattle and horses were there, and they proved inviting targets long before white-induced hunger entered the equation. The Shoshoni in and about Cache Valley abandoned Chief Washakie’s peace concept and turned to raiding the Mormon settlers, the emigrants going westward, the mail stations, etc., before the Mormon’s occupation of Cache Valley could have produced massive hunger by way of scarcity for the Shoshoni. In 1859 the Mormon settlers were just beginning to re-establish themselves in the valley possessing and using the tiniest speck of the land, even by the time of the Battle at Bear River they only occupied a thin strip of bench land arcing from Mendon down around the southern end of the valley to the eastern side and up along the mountains to Franklin. Instead of the lack of local resources bringing about hunger that drove the Shoshoni to depredations, it came about by the Shoshoni choosing to exchange some of their traditional ways and adapting to new habits or temptations. The last factor may have seemed to them easier and more profitable to extort food from the Mormon settlers and plunder white man’s goods at farms, ranches, stations, wagon trains, etc., than their old customs, but it brought a new and heavy dependence upon the white man and his goods. Either they significantly reduced their efforts in their traditional ways of gathering and hunting, or they were entrapped in the easy come, easy go condition of the old "hand to mouth" outlook wherein no matter how much they had, it was consumed in the short term with little thought of tomorrow or the future. They quickly became accustomed to playing the role of an economic liability or dole. In a changing world they became entrapped with one foot in their traditional ways and the other in which they had to depend on the white men’s giving—forced or willingly—them goods. They readily adapted to this degree but balked at any suggestions to change their migratory patterns or to turn to farming or raising cattle. Thereupon because of the white man’s records, we know hunger was a big factor in the Indians lives, and it became their crutch and foremost excuse for many years.
Their new way of "gathering" supplies by force, stealth or begging produced a new pattern of seasonal migration wherein it became more important to be in Cache Valley for the annual wheat harvest than to go to wild grass areas to collect seed, to the acorn gathering places, the fishing locations or the plains of Wyoming to hunt large game. If the Shoshoni had maintained their pre-1857 ways and volume of gathering subsistence, then with the additional influx of goods stolen from the overland travelers, mails stations plus the amount of food obtained from the Mormons by the tripartite ways of begging, stealing and tribute, then from 1857 through January of 1863 they should have had more than plenty. Instead they had little and were often hungry. This caused them to make more often and greater demands on the Mormon settlers and they intensified the raiding of ranches, emigrant trains, mail stations, etc. They must have liked the new ways for their adaptation was made remarkably quick. But hunger was not the primary cause for this, but the Shoshoni by their own choice took the easy path that led to their unwittingly losing their self-sufficiency and independence. They took this course long before the white settlers’ presence in Cache Valley produced a scarcity of nature’s bounties. This held beyond the benchmark of the 1863 Battle of Bear River for at least another half dozen years when the Mormon settlements spread to the western side and began to fill in the central portion of the valley. Then began the time when there was much less room for the Shoshoni to pitch his teepee or gather subsistence from nature. Even then the actual land use and occupation by the whites was well below fifty per cent in Cache Valley until the Mormons began using the Homesteading Act in the 1870s to take in much larger acreage, and by then the Shoshoni were elsewhere.
In mid-January of 1863 an express service from the Montana mines reached Salt Lake City with information that an earlier express that left the mines on November 25 had been attacked by the Indians and the two carriers killed near the head of Marsh Valley, not far from the settlements in Cache Valley. The successful express was told by some Indians they met on the Portneuf River, in present-day southeastern Idaho, that the killing of the carriers was to avenge the loss of the Shoshoni Indians killed by the soldiers in Cache Valley "when they went after the captive boy" earlier in November at Providence. In addition the vengeful Shoshoni band had declared their intention to "kill every white man they should meet on the north side of Bear River" until they were "fully avenged" for the Shoshoni blood shed by the soldiers "in a recent fight," meaning the four Indians executed at the Bear River ferry. Chief Bear Hunter and his band were carrying through on their earlier threats. All of this was ominous when coupled with a significant increase in the travel of whites to and from the mines in present-day Montana to their nearest supplies in Utah.
A party of eight to ten men from the Montana mines bound for Salt Lake City disappeared in early January in southeastern Idaho, and reports circulated that the Indians had killed them around January 5, 1863. Another group that included a David Savage of Millard County left the mines after the party mentioned above, and arrived safely in northern Cache Valley. The eight man company each with a wagon had the intention of taking "the new route through Cache Valley," which would have brought them to Bear River at the ford near Franklin. Somehow they missed the road and continued south on the west side of the river and wound up west of the settlement at Richmond on January 6, 1863. Savage and two companions crossed the river and went into Richmond seeking some provisions and a guide to get them back on the right track. When they returned to the eight wagons they found that the Shoshoni had struck and robbed all the wagons, driven off the stock and left five shaken comrades who had been handled "uncourteously" by the Indians. Possibly the nearness to the Mormon community deterred the Indians from killing them. By means never explained, possibly by the Mormons intervening with the Shoshoni, the Indians returned some of the men’s stock. While six of the party remained with the wagons, working to ferrying themselves across the river using their wagon boxes, Mr. Savage and another man went to the Franklin area where the main Indian camp was located and sought an interpreter to assist them in trying to get back the remainder of their stock. They met with the Shoshoni and quickly found them "so saucy" that this attempt was fruitless, and so the visit to the Indian camp was short. Savage and his companion returned to the Bear River opposite of Richmond and found the other men had managed to get three of their wagons across the river. Soon thereafter when all of the eight men were on the east side of the river, the Indians came up on the west bank and fired at them across the river killing John Smith from Washington Territory. The surviving seven raced to Richmond for safety, while the Indians re-took the stock that had been given back. The Mormon bishop at Richmond sent four men to retrieve the body of Smith who was buried in the local cemetery. Other Mormon settlers using their teams went and assisted in bringing the wagons into Richmond. Some of the Mormon leaders at Richmond went to the Indian camp and talked with "their chiefs and principal warriors," finding them "very hostile;" but with great difficulty, finally persuaded the Shoshoni to return twelve mules and one horse so the raided party could leave the area. The Indians refused to return any of the other property taken from the wagons, and they asserted that it was "a retaliatory act to avenge the killing of their friends by the soldiers." From beginning to end this whole episode involved Chief Bear Hunter and his band.
The seven men finally reached Salt Lake City where one of them, William Bevins, went before Chief Justice John F. Kinney on January 19th and signed an affidavit concerning their encounter with the Indians, including the killing of Smith. Bevins and his party had loss gold dust, animals and other property amounting to about $2,000, and he charged that another company of ten men had been murdered by the Indians three days previous to the attack he suffered. Judge Kinney issued a warrant for the arrest of Chiefs Bear Hunter, Sanpitch and Sagwitich of the Northwestern Shoshoni, and ordered territorial marshal Isaac L. Gibbs to seek the assistance of the Federal Army stationed at Salt Lake City to arrest the accused Indians. Marshal Gibbs requested Colonel Connor’s help, and found that the Colonel had already decided to make an expedition north to punish the Cache Valley Indians after receiving news of the two attacks in early January. Connor informed Gibbs that his plans for the expedition against the Indians were already made, and that he had no intentions to taking prisoners, but the law officer could accompany them. In Connor’s official report made after the expedition, he declared the Shoshoni of Cache Valley were the same band who had been murdering the emigrants on the overland mail route for many years. He asserted they were the principal participants in the horrid massacres of the past summer. Although the present weather was very unfavorable for an army expedition, he was determined to chastise them if possible.
While Bevins was making his accusations, the judge issuing an arrest warrant and Connor making his war plans, Chief Sanpitch was in Salt Lake City knowing the situation in the north was deteriorating out of control. He sought help from Brigham Young to reestablish peace with the Indians in Cache Valley and the northern frontier. A correspondent for the Sacramento Union using the nom de plume "Liberal," came to understand, so he claimed, that President Young told the Indian chief that the Mormon settlers had suffered enough from the Cache Valley Shoshoni and if more blood was spilled, the Mormons might just pitch in and help the soldiers. Whether Young said the above or perhaps said it for emphasis and effect, it signaled that the troubles between the two people could not continue on the same course without some major changes. Whatever, Sanpitch’s attempt came too late for Young to have any influence as Colonel Connor’s mind was made up and he would not listen to the president of the Mormons because he believed the religious group not only fed these Indians but encouraged their raids. Although the settlers of Cache Valley had suffered more than any other group from Chief Bear Hunter and his Shoshoni depredations and actions, the U.S. army came not at the Mormons’ request nor to address their problems with the Indians.
Colonel Connor’s believed that time was of the essence as the Shoshoni encamped on Bear River near Franklin might relocate. A corporal in the California Volunteers kept a diary and in his entry from January 19th noted the soldiers had been alerted to be ready to march at any moment. Two days later an infantry company of sixty-nine soldiers was ordered to leave Salt Lake City the following afternoon, January 22nd, in a heavy snowstorm with fifteen baggage wagons and two howitzers. The acknowledged mission of this force was to protect a wagon train hauling grain from Cache Valley. The Infantry company move northward with no apparent hurry, possibly to allow the Shoshoni to learn of their coming with the belief that they were just another small force sent for escort duty. The infantry company traveled thirteen miles the first day, then twenty-five miles the next, then eighteen miles, fourteen miles and twenty-five miles, arriving at Mendon on January 25th where they "laid over" a day. Their march had been hard in extremely cold weather that froze feet and even their whiskey rations. The snow ranged from one foot at the beginning to four feet when they crossed the divide from Brigham City into Cache Valley, and they had a hard time getting their wagons and howitzers through the snow. Before the cavalry contingent left their quarters, Connor had secured the services of the famed Mormon scout, Porter Rockwell, to be their guide. From Rockwell the Colonel was told of Shoshoni boasts that they would "thrash the soldiers" at the first chance, and they were awaiting any attack with defensive positions such as breastworks and rifle pits. There were even rumors that some 600 warriors were awaiting an attack by the volunteers. Then on Sunday, January 25th after sundown, with as much secrecy as possibly, 220 cavalry under the personal command of Colonel Connor left Salt Lake City accompanied by Marshall Gibbs and a newspaper correspondent from a California paper, and moved fast covering sixty-eight miles the first night, arriving at Brigham City in a frozen state. Cavalry reports noted seventy-five men had frozen feet and some of these had to remain in Brigham City. They spent Monday the 27th resting up and with coming of night they moved over the mountains into Cache Valley and arrived in Mendon to bivouac with the infantry. Early on the 28th the infantry marched towards Franklin with the cavalry to follow later with the two forces coming together again at this settlement.
During the early part of January of 1863 the Shoshoni bands claiming Cache Valley established themselves in their winter camping site, Boa Ogoi, adjacent to Bear River approximately twelve miles northwest of Franklin. The topography made it a good encampment location with a natural hot spring, and terrain which provided some protection from winter storms as well as possible enemies. For a few days other Shoshoni bands joined them in a special Warm Dance and ceremony with their numbers perhaps hitting 1,200 to 1,500 Indians (making the report to Connor of 600 warriors feasible in early January). After most of the temporary visitors left, Bear Hunter’s Shoshoni band made several visits to Franklin primarily to get food as they had become accustomed to doing. The Franklin settlers had established a "food bin, in which all the settlers contributed upon which the Indians could obtain food, but it was quickly emptied as the Indians outnumbered the white settlers and came for food so often.
On Tuesday, January 27th, the day that Col. Connor and his cavalry caught up with their infantry at Mendon, Chief Bear Hunter and some of his warrior visited Franklin and demanded wheat. After a talk with Mormon Bishop Preston Thomas, instructions were given for some of the settlers to sack twenty-four bushels of wheat for the Indians. After obtaining this grain the Indians were still dissatisfied and they made a war-dance demonstration around the bishop’s home. The following day, the 28th, Bear Hunter with three braves returned to Franklin and demanded more wheat. Once again the intimidation worked and the bishop gave a written order for an additional nine bushels of wheat, and the three braves were sent to Robert Hull’s place with three pack horses with the bishop’s order. Two of the Hull boys were directed to sack up the wheat, and while doing so the boys explained that the wheat being sacked was seed grain being saved for spring planting. The Indians thought this was funny and laughed. After the sacking was finished, they began loading the sacked wheat onto the pack horses when they saw in the distance the infantry soldiers approaching from the south. The Indians didn’t seem disturbed and indicated they already knew that the foot solders were coming. One of the settlers supposedly remarked to Chief Bear Hunter at this time, "Here come ‘Toquashos’ [soldiers] maybe Indians will all be killed." The chief’s reply was: "May-be-so, Toquashos get killed too." With extremely cold weather with snow and ice everywhere, the suggestion that the soldiers were there to fight seemed ridiculous to the Indians who were said to reply: "No, too cold for soldiers." Bear Hunter and his braves left Franklin going north to their encampment just as the infantry entered Franklin from the south. They showed no apprehensions or fear of the soldiers, and apparently they did not know that a large cavalry unit was following the foot soldiers. The cavalry again caught up with the infantry at Franklin, arriving at midnight
After a few hours of rest, the infantry with the wagons and howitzers resumed their march at three o’clock in the morning of January 29, 1863, toward the Indian encampment on Bear River twelve miles away. The cavalry started again as 4 a.m. and passed the infantry near the present day community of Preston, Idaho, some four miles from their destination. The cavalry reached the east bank of the Bear River close to the Indian camp as dawn was breaking about 6 a.m. and could see some smoke from early fires lit at the Indian camp. As the soldiers were moving into their battle positions, the aroused Indians came forth waving their scalps, trophies lifted previously, and shouting obscenities at the soldiers. Chief Bear Hunter appeared swinging a buffalo robe around his head and crying out loudly, "Come on you California sons-of-bitches, we’re ready for you." Colonel Connor wrote that initially the Indians "sallied out . . . with fiendish malignity waived the scalps of white women and challenged the troops for battle." The only accompanying newspaper correspondent wrote: "One of the chiefs was galloping up and down the bench in front of his warriors, haranguing them and dangling his spear on which was hung a female scalp in the face of the troops, while many of the warriors sang out: ‘Fours right, fours left, Come on you California sons of b___s.’" Colonel Connor, afraid the Indians might escape, ordered his troops to ford Bear River and surround the Indians’ camp "before attacking." The cavalrymen started to ford a river that looked bad due to being half frozen over and running swift and found their mounts reluctant to enter. The water proved deep enough that the mounted men’s feet got wet. Once over the river the troopers were on open ground about 400 to 500 yards from the ravine where most of the Indians were located. The first troops found it impossible to surround the Indian camp, and were in the process of dismounting and forming a line to move forward when the Shoshoni fired the first volley of the fight, wounding one soldier. The Indians quickly moved back to hidden defensive positions along the banks of Beaver Creek (which after the fight would be known as Battle Creek. For around twenty minutes the Indians held their own and repulsed the soldiers’ charges three times, but the four hour battle soon swung in the soldiers’ favor. After the infantrymen came up and joined in the battle, a combined force flanked the Indian position and attacked down the creek ravine while another force moved to control any escape route for the Indians, effectively bottling up the Indians. One authority on the battle wrote that the first hour was a battle, the next two hours developed into a massacre with the last hour degenerating into a slaughter. By 10 a.m. it was over; the soldiers suffered on the battle field fourteen killed and fifty-three wounded (eight died later) and almost eighty disabled by freezing. On the Indian side Connor reported a count of 224 bodies on the battlefield with about four dozen falling into the river with presumed fatal consequences. Thereafter a numbers game followed dealing with the quantity of Indian casualties with some Indians relying on traditions, claiming many less than 200 Indians had been killed, while most add to the figures given in Connor’s official report. Chief Bear Hunter was killed along with a sub-chief Lehi. Chief Sagwitch escaped when he fell into the river and floated under some covering brush. Of Bear Hunter’s band only about twenty men escaped the slaughter.
Chief Bear Hunter had seriously underestimated the enemy approaching his encampment both in will to fight and numbers. Contrary to Chief Bear Hunter’s boast that his band was ready for the fight, he, perhaps by both over confidence and ignorance, was not prepared for the fight that early January morning. Also, this engagement could not be concluded like Bear Hunter had with the soldiers at Providence two months earlier by proclaiming he didn’t want to fight anymore and surrendering. After the fighting the troops recovered from the Indian camp over 1,000 bushels of wheat along with flour, potatoes, beef and "live chickens stolen from the settlements." Some of this food the soldiers left for the surviving Indian women and children who numbered around 160 according to Connor’s reported number of captives. The soldiers also gathered in approximately 175 horses found in and around the camp and used some of them to mount infantrymen for the trip back to Camp Douglas
Although the Mormon settlers who later personally saw the battlefield with the destruction and Indian dead or heard detailed reports of the battle were appalled at what had happened, they also sensed a relief from the almost constant burdens they had borne from these same Indians. Within two weeks of the battle Peter Maughan, who as leader of the Mormon settlers had dealt with Chief Bear Hunter and the various Indian bands repeatedly, expressed his feelings in a letter to Brigham Young on February 4, 1863:
I feel my skirts clear of their blood. They rejected the way of life and salvation
which have been pointed out to them from time to time (especially for the last
two years) and thus have perished relying on their own strength and wisdom.
We have pretty good reason to believe that if they had gained the Victory
over the Soldiers their intention was to take our Herd. . . .
Maughan and local Mormon settlers in Cache Valley expressed their gratitude for "the movement of Col. Connor as an intervention of the Almighty" with this even expressed in minutes of ward records. Isaac Sorensen, pioneer of Mendon, Utah, in his writing about the early days wrote:
1863 was eventful to the settlers of Cache. . . . The Indians had been troublesome
from the first settling. . . . in the Winter -- for it was in January the P E Conner
. . . with 400 men. . . went to Cache Valley determined to put an end to Indian
depredatations [sic], so many many [sic] having been committed to Emigrant
companis [sic] as Well as the settlers in Cache Valley . . . .
It was therefor a great relief to the settlers in Cache, when Conner with his
men, Ventured on that Arduous trip . . . . The Indians was killed except 100
who made thier escape, the dreaded Chief Bear Hunter was among the
killed. . . .
The settlers experience much relief from this time, and felt their flocks
and herds much more secure than they had previously done.
James H. Martineau, a man experienced in the Indian troubles in southern Utah and Cache Valley wrote a history covering the latter from 1860 when he arrived in the valley, gave his meditative and decidedly Mormon epitaph to the Chief and this battle in his "Military History of Cache County" declaring:
. . .Bear Hunter was killed. . . . For years he had been as a thorn to the settlers,This victory was of immense value to the settlers of Cache County and all the
and his death caused regret in none. . . .
surrounding country. It broke the spirit and power of the Indians and enabled
the settlers to occupy new and choice localities hitherto unsafe. Peter Maughan, the
presiding bishop of the Country, pronounced it as interposition of Providence in
behalf of the settlers; the soldiers have done what otherwise the colonists would
have had to accomplish with great pecuniary loss and sacrifice of lives, ill
spared in the weak state of the settlements. This was the universal sentiment of
the County. It made the flocks and herds and lives of the people comparatively
safe; for though the survivors were enraged against the people of the County,
whom they regarded as in a manner aiding and abetting the troops, they felt
themselves too weak to forcible seek revenge.
After the Battle of Bear River the government efforts to effect treaties with the various tribes/bands resulted in a treaty with Chief Washakie’s Eastern Shoshoni in July of 1863, setting boundaries and providing annuity payments. The new governor of Utah Territory and formerly the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, James Duane Doty met with nine chiefs of the Northwestern Shoshoni at Brigham City on July 30, 1863 and again on November 13, 1863. At the last date a treaty was signed that established peace between these Indians and the government and covered a number of other provisions ranging from annuity payments with some rough boundaries defined with the proviso that Indian land claims could not exceed those they had under Mexican laws. Some 400 to 500 Shoshoni were in attendance and "joyfully participated" in the annuity goods portion with only five lodges from the Goose Creek Mountains refusing to sign the treaty. The movement towards reservations produced the one at Ft. Hall in 1869 with Chief Pocatello and others, including a few from the band that claimed Cache Valley, being established there. Some 200 Shoshoni who converted to Mormonism chose to settle at the farm colony at Washakie in Malad Valley instead of going to Ft. Hall.
The legacy of Chief Bear Hunter can be viewed from different angles; to some he was a "powerful leader" "equal in power to Washakie" whose "career was cut short" by his death in the Battle of Bear River. However, his shadow and legacy would never rival the Eastern Shoshoni chief’s. We are not able to say much about his life prior to the Mormons coming into Cache Valley in 1856. Thereafter, he was in a different and difficult position under circumstances wherein his band of Shoshoni were almost constantly interacting with the ever-present settlers in Cache County which brought to his band easily acquired food by claiming hunger and begging for food, using threats and intimidation to get larger grants and having the fall-back alternative of stealing when they wanted more or temptations proved too great. He found the Mormons easy victims (marks, targets) and pushed them relentlessly with little or no regard to establishing some sort of mutual workable and enduring relationship with the settlers. Possibly he misjudged the Cache Valley Mormons by thinking they were like old women, cowardly and afraid to fight the Indians, not realizing the checking force on Mormon actions was a wide-ranging belief and policy instituted by their faith and maintained by Brigham Young even when the local settlers had had enough of the Indians’ behavior. Perhaps his biggest shortcoming was in leading and/or allowing his band to lose their true independence and ability to provide for themselves. This coupled with his fatal mistake of grossly underestimating the United States soldiers coming against him caused him and his band to pay a terrible price.
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Updated: 11 Feb 2007
Copyright 2007 by Larry D. Christiansen
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