Mountain Meadows–the dark valley where in late 1857 the murder of 135 men, women and children took place. They were rendered defenseless and surrendered after several days of siege on their defensive circle of wagons losing 10 men in the battle. The unsuspecting victims, expecting to be led to a local town were marched up a hill and the slaughter began in earnest.
In 1864 Sarah Rousseau came through the site on her way to California with the Earp family noting the following comments in her diary;
“They arrived here in September, ’57, where they were murdered in cold blood by the Mormons. There was a monument raised to their memory once before, but the Mormons tore it down. This spring sometime in May, some soldiers came through California and erected this monument and dared any of the Mormons to touch it.
There were survivors. She continued;
“There were 150 cruelly butchered men women and children, only six small children, too young to tell the tale, were suffered to live. They are at Salt Lake City. I cannot for a moment suppose that such barbarism will be buried in oblivion. “Oh, it cannot be.” It will be brought to light and the aggressors punished.
Brevet Major Henry Carleton led his troops into the area discovering the hastily buried bodies at the massacre site.
In his special report of 1859 the Major did not hold back his distaste for Mormons and these events;
“In pursuing the bloody thread which runs throughout this picture of sad realities, the question how this crime, that for hellish atrocity has no parallel in our history, can be adequately punished often comes up and seeks in vain for an answer. Judge Cradlebaugh says that with Mormon juries the attempt to administer justice in their Territory is simply a ridiculous farce. He believes the Territory ought at once to be put under martial law. This may be the only practical way in which even a partial punishment can be meted out to these Latter-Day devils.
“But how inadequate would be the punishment of a few, even by death, for this crime for which nearly the whole Mormon population, from Brigham Young down, were more or less instrumental in perpetrating.
In his book, Roughing It, Mark Twain described the reaction of the pubic upon hearing of the mass murder: “The whole United States rang with its horrors.”
Hindered by the Civil War and other events indictments were issued but the only one convicted was a Mr. John D. Lee who was executed by firing squad in 1877, 20 years after the fact.