Brigham's Destroying Angel

Chapter Four

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FROM 1854 TO 1858.

Green River County Organized—Hickman  Appointed Sheriff, Prosecuting Attorney, Assessor,  and Collector—Ryan Re-Arrested, Pardoned, and Becomes  a Friend of Hickman—His Murder—Brigham's Meanness in  Business—Col. Steptoe's Arrival—Grand Prospecting  Tour—Fremont's Peak, or Fremont's Hoax?—Arrest of Carlos Murray—Hickman Elected  to the Legislature—Disgraceful Conduct of Judge  Drummond—the "Mormon Boys" Trap Him Into a Fix—Hickman Returns to Missouri for the Mail and Express Company—Mutterings of War—Hickman Rides Five Hundred Miles in  Six Days—the Mormon War Begun—Mormon Tactics—Burning Government Trains—Hickman  As a Guerrilla Captain.

    We went on to Fort Supply, where the county was organized by Judge Appleby, and the officers appointed. sworn in, and commissioned by him to hold until the August election. He had special instructions from Brigham Young to appoint me sheriff, in order to give me power over the mountaineers, which was agreeable to the Judge, as we were always good friends. The Judge loaded me down with offices. I had the office of sheriff

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and county prosecuting attorney, assessor and collector.* After this was through with, we moved to Green River, opened our offices, and were ready for business. These offices were not desired by me, for I knew I could go back to South Pass, and make more money at my old stand than I could at Green River with all these offices; but I had to obey counsel. My services were needed there, and I then dared not refuse. I got my brother, who had come on the year before, to go to South Pass and attend to my business for me, making him my full partner. He did tolerable well for us both, but nothing like I had done the year before.

    The mountaineers began to gather in, the quiet ones, such as Jack Robinson, the well-known old mountaineer. He said he was glad I was going to stop on Green River; glad the county was organized, and we had an officer to keep peace; hoped things would go off quiet that year. I took a great deal of pains to get his confidence, knowing he was an influential man among them, which I soon got. I found him a fine, clever old man, and the best of feelings have existed between us ever since. I had not been on Green River long before I had a difficulty with a half-breed Delaware Indian, considered a very dangerous man, and conquered, but did not kill him. This gave me much influence. The other Indians thought I was a great war-chief that feared nothing, and a medicine man, too.

    I will here tell you their fanatical notions about what they call a medicine man. They firmly believe Shinab—that

*See Appendix—D.

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is, the sun, makes and keeps men from being hit with ball or arrow. The chiefs keep their men in dread and fear, telling them they can't he killed. I saw a chief once strip himself and walk through an Indian village, inviting anyone that wished to take a shot at him, but no one dared do it, believing that he could not be killed, and if they shot and missed him he might be mad and kill them. Their come off to this is, in case one of their medicine men get killed, they say he was no medicine man, but had lied to them about it. But so long as he lives, it is all well enough.

    The different bands of Indians kept coming in, who had had their minds soured by the mountaineers in consequence of the Mormons taking away the rights of their friends. Those men told them that was their country, and they had a right to say who should stay in it, or who should run the ferries. I got Uncle Jack Robinson* to explain to them how things were, and what laws and organizations had been extended over that country; that it was not to take their country nor deprive them of their rights, but it was done to make the white men do right while, passing through their country, and this authority had come from the Great Father at Washington. He at the same time told them I was the chief to make all white men behave, which gave them entire satisfaction. After making them some presents, such as

    *An old mountaineer with two Indian wives, who has lived on Green River for thirty years.

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a beef, a few sacks of flour, and some sugar. and coffee, they all left satisfied, and have never made any trouble there since.

    Some few weeks after this, Ryan and a party of half-a-dozen came from Wind River, took possession of the ferry, and commenced running it, crossing the emigration, and taking in the pay. The owners came to Judge Appleby's office, scared half to death, having been run off and heavily threatened, supposing he (Ryan) would have enough help to hold the ferry, and that would be an end of their ferrying that year. A writ was soon issued for the arrest of Ryan. I selected two good men to go ahead of me and be with Ryan to keep him from getting the bulge on me. They were strangers to him. I told them I would be there alone an hour after. They went, and I soon followed. My policy was to take the bulge on and fasten him, and by that the balance of his party would weaken. This worked well.

    When I got in sight I rode up at half speed alone, no one thinking I would dare undertake any arrest without a posse. I dismounted, and with a cocked revolver in my hand, ordered Ryan not to move, telling him he was my prisoner, and ordered his hands tied behind. This was the first of my two men being known. They tied him in quick time, while I held my revolver at his breast. His men stood looking on in astonishment. I watched them closely, and told them if they kept still they would be all right, but if they did not I would shoot the last one of them. I mounted Ryan on his horse, one of my men

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leading him and two of us behind. It was all done in three minutes, and we were off at high speed.

    When we had got about half-way to camp, I looked at him and saw he was a different man from what he was represented to be, and I told the boys to loose him. We got into conversation, and he expressed himself freely to me. He had supposed that the ferry company had got all his property, amounting to ten or twelve thousand dollars, and he was left poor. He said if they had to refund the money they had taken in the year before, it should have been on all the owners in the ferry, and not on him alone, and he had sworn to have satisfaction in some way. He seemed honest in his conclusions. I then told him how his property was taken and what was done with it, with the exception of the church part. Those sacred things were kept sacred from him. This was the first time he knew how his property had gone, and made a change in his feelings. He stopped just before we got to the door of the court-room, and said to me, "Get me out of this and I will do just as you say hereafter." I answered: "Good, my boy, there shall not a hair of your head be hurt." He said his men would be uneasy about him, and he must go back that night. He promised to be back in the morning if I would allow him to go. I asked him if he would turn over the ferry to the owners, and he said he would.

    I saw the Judge, made my return on the writ, and told him the prisoner would not be ready for trial until the next day. He answered, "Very well, he is in your custody; he can have until to-morrow at ten o'clock A.M., at

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which time you will have him before the court." I told Ryan to go and give up the ferry, and be back by that time, telling him I thought him a man of his word, and would trust him, but if he did not come it would break me of my office and subject me to a heavy fine; that I was doing this on my own responsibility. After he was gone I was reprimanded by nearly all for letting him go. Bottles of whisky and champagne were bet on his not coming back. I took all the bets, some dozen bottles in all. Before 9 A.M., he was there with four of his friends, seemed pleased to see me, and proposed taking a drink. I told him I had made our whiskey for the day betting on him. "Well," said he, "that's good; take all such bets when I give my word." I saw the prosecuting parties, who were willing, after hearing his story, to withdraw the case, and told him they would pay the costs if he would let them alone. He promised them he would, and to their astonishment pulled out the money he had taken in and handed it over to them. They gave him back two hundred dollars, which he reluctantly took, saying if he was not so poor he would not have it.

    Ryan took a liking to me, and ever after was a special friend of mine. He was of great service to me as Indian interpreter, as he could talk the Indian language as well as they could. He came home with me and staid that winter. I had him with me on three trips to the Indians, as per order of Brigham Young, Superintendent of Indian affairs; while he held that office under appointment of President Filmore. We had one starving trip through our foolishness. We were sent by Brigham Young to

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hunt up and invite in Washakie, a Shoshone chief, and his band of Indians. We went to Green River, and heard those Indians were up on head waters; so we concluded to make an indian march, and not take any provisions with us, not even so much as salt. We had one white man and two Indians, five in all. We traveled eight days and found no Indians; had, during this time, two small ducks not much larger than a man's fist, and four mountain trout, which would probably weigh three-fourths of a pound each. This was all we had, except a few rosebuds, until the eighth day, just at sundown, one of the Indians killed a large antelope. We were within fifteen miles of Fort Bridger, where we expected to get our supper that night; but this antelope was too good a thing. We stripped off our saddles and went to roasting, and did not stop until it was all eaten. We then lay down and slept as sweetly as children in their mother's arms. The game had all left the country we were traveling in, and there was not so much as a prairie chicken to be seen.

    Ryan, poor fellow, went to Fort Bridger early in the spring, before I did, and got killed by a Spaniard, who, without cause, slipped upon him and shot him, and then left the country. When Ryan first came to the city he went to see Brigham Young, and told him his situation and how he had been treated. Brigham promised him an interest in the ferries the next year, and told him he would give him a chance to get his money back. He then asked Brigham to lend him five hundred or a thousand dollars until the next summer. Brigham told him he

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did not have it, but turned to me and told me to go and borrow him what money he wanted. I borrowed seven hundred and fifty dollars and gave to him, which, after his death, I had to pay. I spoke to Brigham Young about it, and he said I must pay it, and be more cautious hereafter whom I borrowed money for. I thought I would, at his suggestion anyhow.

    In the fall of 1854, Col. E. J. Steptoe came to Salt Lake City with three hundred United States troops, and wintered in the city. They got along peaceably until Christmas day, when a portion of them and a good many citizens got drunk. They had a regular street fight, and there were a good many sore heads and bloody noses on both sides. But the officers put a stop to this, and all was quiet the next day. I got in town just in time to see the crowd dispersing. In the spring, Col. Steptoe went to California with his troops, taking with him O. P. Rockwell as guide.

    That winter Judge Shaffer died, and Judge Kinney took his place, being appointed Chief Justice for Utah. The Judge was merchandising, keeping hotel, and holding court in Salt Lake City, all at the same time. In the spring of '55 I bought a fourth interest in the ferries; went to Green River, repaired the boats, and got the ferries in running condition. We heard the emigration for California and Oregon would be small, and would not be along until late in the season; so, in company with others who had come in that country to trade, and some of my hired men; I agreed to take a prospecting tour on Sweet Water, South Pass, and Wind River.

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    Seven of us rigged up with pack animals for a three or four week's trip. Myself and one other, having worked in the California diggings, were the only ones that knew anything of gold hunting. We spent a week prospecting a stream where rich gold quartz is now found, and mills crushing it. We found gold on all those streams, but not in paying quantities. We did not find any place that we thought would pay more than two dollars a day to the man. We knew nothing about quartz mining, consequently did not hunt for lodes.

    After searching on Strawberry Creek, Willow Creek, and many of their tributaries, we went into the high mountains, finding lakes almost on the tops, and immense snow-beds. We got several hundred feet higher than the Fremont Peak, so much talked of several years ago; a statement having been published that Col. Fremont had stopped and bleed himself twice before reaching the summit. This, like many other stories of adventurers in these mountains, is all a hoax. We had no trouble in breathing, being so high above, and the distance together, that what is called Fremont's Peak looked like nothing more than a common mound or butte.

    Now, some may say we were mistaken. for Fremont's Peak is the highest mountain in all North America. This is not so. I have been with mountaineers who showed me that mountain, who were with Fremont, and laughed at the ridiculous story told and published about Fremont Peak. We crossed the high mountain of which I have been writing, and struck the head waters of Wind River on the north side of it. Here I saw more game

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Hickman killing Yates, by order of Brigham Young—Hosea Stout holding the lantern. Page 125.

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than I ever had seen at one place—buffalo, elk, deer, antelope, and bear were all to be seen at once. We killed all we wanted, and had some great sport after them, especially the bear, sometimes shooting a dozen balls into one before producing death.

    We ran over the whole country found but little gold, and were ready for a return, when one evening we saw two Indians coming. We saw them ten miles off, and got ahead of them; found them to be Snake Indians whom I knew. They told me the Blackfeet Indians were coming, and we had better leave quick. We left the next morning, passing around the Wind River mountain on the east; went to Sweet Water; spent two or three days, and left for Green River, believing, from finding gold in so many places, that some time there would be gold found in that country in paying quantities. Reached Green River, and no emigration yet, so I left the ferry in charge of good men and went home; stayed a few days, and made arrangements for the August elections. We then went back, closed up our ferrying, went to Fort Supply, and remained until the first Monday in August.

    I was then elected representative of the county. The Territorial Legislature then met at Filmore, one hundred and fifty miles south of Salt Lake City. I went to Salt Lake City again, and attended to several law-suits in the Probate and District courts. The grand jury of the United States District Court found an indictment against Carlos Murray for murder—the unlawful killing of an Indian—and the writ was put in my hand for his arrest. He lived on the Humboldt River, four hundred

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miles from here in a wild Indian country. The court allowed me a posse of forty men. We went, found, arrested, and brought Murray to Salt Lake City.

    The legislature set, I attended and got my traveling fees for two hundred and eighty miles. I rented a room, had it furnished with the best the country afforded, dressed in the best clothes I could find, and attended forty days. I was on the committee of counties and corporations.

    About this time Judge W. W. Drummond had been holding a term of the District Court, and had with him a woman whom he had picked up in Washington, leaving his wife and family, and had this prostitute sitting on the bench with him when trying a case of murder. She was writing billets and passing to him while on his judicial bench. I heard this in Salt Lake City a few days before leaving for Filmore, and made an assertion on the street that if I had a murder case before him, and he had that woman on the bench, I would kick them both out of the house. He heard this before I got to Filmore, and issued a bench warrant for my arrest for contempt of court. I heard of it when I got in town, and said if he served a writ on me I would horse-whip him. It was not served.

During the sitting of the Legislature, a Jew, by the name of Abrams, had a difficulty with him, in which Drummond threatened to kill him. The other two Judges were holding a term of the Supreme Court, and I thought this a good chance to get even with him, so I got the Jew to swear out a writ, and had him arrested.

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The Jew got me to prosecute the case for him. I got another attorney to assist me, as I learned Drummond had employed two. We went into the case, and, in spite of all opposition, showed him up in his proper light. We went into his character and general course, which we made look bad enough. After working at this four days, we got the Jew to withdraw the prosecution by Drummond paying the costs. I had handled him until I was satisfied. We were never friends afterwards. He published several barefaced falsehoods about me after he went to the States.

    Many of you have no doubt heard of the government officials in Utah having troubles, and some serious ones too, but this is the only one I ever had any difficulty with. I generally got along well with them, and have always tried to keep peace, and befriended some of them when in embarrassed conditions, and actually needing help from unjust proceedings against them, some of whose statements you will find in this book.

    The summer previous, that is in '55, grasshoppers come into Salt Lake and many of the valleys, destroying the crops entirely, and even the grass on the benches looked as though it had been burnt, leaving nothing for stock. I took my stock to Rush Valley, to winter, where the grasshoppers had not been. I built log-houses, put up hay and made good corrals; stayed there until spring, and then moved back to my farm, ten miles south of Salt Lake City. I went to Green River that summer again, to attend the ferries and trade. The emigration was small that year, 1856, and nothing of great interest

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passed. Good crops were raised, and the poor, who had suffered much for want of food the year before, now had plenty.

    We had some exciting lawsuits, every plug lawyer trying to excel and show his mighty talents and oratorical powers. The winter following was a very severe one. We had to take our stock from Salt Lake Valley to another valley to winter.

    This winter, '56-'57, one Mr. Hiram Kimball got a contract to carry the mail from Independence, Missouri, to Salt Lake City, once a month for four years. He not being a man of much means in those days, though he had been wealthy in Nauvoo times, sought assistance from O. P. Rockwell and myself, both of us having stock to carry the mail. We agreed upon terms; Rockwell was to carry from Fort Laramie to Salt Lake, and I from Laramie to Independence. Arrangements being made, I was ready to start, although two parties had tried to get through the mountains and failed, one man having frozen to death before going twenty miles.

    About this time Brigham Young and others got up a great carrying and express company, and made us put our mail interests into that company, and run together. I was sick of it, and tried to get out, but "No," said Brigham Young, "You are the very man; get your bays and roll out; you can go." I obeyed reluctantly. I dreaded the trip, knowing I would have to be gone three months or more, suffer many privations, be at a heavy expense, and the way they had things fixed, not make a dollar.

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    We were ten days going the first hundred and thirteen miles, to Fort Bridger, with the best of animals. We were fifteen days on the bleak desert going from Fort Bridger to South Pass. We would travel all day, tramp the snow and lead our animals, which, with great difficulty, we could get to travel very, slow. At night we would camp on some knoll that the snow was blown off of, and by a poor sage brush fire cook a camp-kettle of coffee and another of corn, having got out of provisions, all but a sack of corn I had taken along to feed the horses. Several of these nights I thought I would freeze to death, but stood it better than any of the others.

    We finally got through the snow into a little valley near Devil's Gate, on Sweet Water, where we found good grass for our stock, which they very much needed, having been without several days. The next morning we finished our corn, having only a scanty meal, and had not a bite of anything to eat in the company. We packed up and started for Devil's Gate, twenty miles distant, where we expected to find provisions plenty, knowing that a train of goods had been left there the fall before, under a guard of fifteen men; the snow having fallen so deep they could not reach Salt Lake City. We had not traveled far before we saw eight or ten buffalo. Two men were sent out, and soon shot a large one. We were in the center of a valley on a nice stream, where there was plenty of wood, and any quantity of the best mountain grass. We stopped, skinned and packed to camp all the meat, and the greatest eating I ever saw then took place. I cautioned the men not to eat too much; but a

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continual eating was kept up all day by our company, consisting of nine men. The next morning we all put all that was left of the buffalo in two flour sacks, and packed it on one mule. This is a big story, but true.

    The next day we reached Devil's Gate, and found the men out of provisions; they had been living on beef hides for several days. I asked them if there was no provisions among the goods they were guarding. They said they thought there was something that would do to eat, but they dared not touch it. I told them they were foolish; to help themselves to anything there was there to eat. I told them I would be responsible and shoulder all the blame for doing this, as I wanted some provisions for my men; I would hand it out, they could take an account of it, and report to the owners that it was done by me and my party. This pleased the poor suffering fellows. We burst open the door of the cabin in which the goods were stored, and found plenty of sugar, tea, coffee, rice and dried fruit; all hands helped themselves, and we had a great general feast.

    We now had bare ground to travel on, but our horses were worn out, and we could only make twenty miles per day. After forty days' travel we reached Fort Laramie. There we found Mr. Ward, post-sutler, waiting for company to go to the States. We rested a few days. I bought a lot of fresh animals, and we started for Independence again. We got along slowly but comfortably. We saw buffalo in innumerable quantities, killed all we wanted, and had some fine sport after them. One of my men, being good at throwing a lariat, caught one while running,

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but soon found he had not lassoed a cow nor an ox, but a buffalo bull. After throwing the lariat on the buffalo he fastened the other end to the loggerhead of his saddle, as is customary, and jerked his mule. But the buffalo made but little halt, jerking the man and mule heels over head, dragging the mule a few rods, when the lariat came loose, and the buffalo went on as though nothing had happened, with the rope around his neck. This put a stop to catching buffalo with ropes, no one being anxious to repeat the experiment.

    We finally got to Independence, men and animals tired out, having been two months and three days making the trip. I delivered the mail, and had to go down the Missouri River to Boonville to telegraph to Washington concerning the return mail, which I had to wait two weeks for. I visited my father-in-law, and then went to the northern part of the State and visited my father and mother, whom I had not seen for ten years; returning to Independence and started the mail for Salt Lake. I here found things boiling against the Mormons. Troops were coming, and great excitement prevailed amongst the people. I had trouble getting the mail or anything else we needed; was threatened strongly, and received the worst kind of abuse from the roughs. Two or three times the trouble came near being serious; but fortunately for somebody, it calmed down without shots or blows. After starting the mail, I went fifty miles up the river to Weston, where I found old acquaintances and friends, had a good sociable time for two weeks, found one of my youngest brothers with a wife and three children,

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and persuaded them to accompany me to Salt Lake City.

    When we got to Laramie, I, with two of my men, started in advance for Salt Lake, changing horses at the different stations, and traveled the entire distance, five hundred miles, in six and a half days, as tired a man as ever you saw. I went to Brigham Young's office and showed my bills of expenditures, and gave a general account of my trip, showing some articles I had published in different papers, rebutting the influences that were going against the people of Utah and the published statement of Judge Drummond, in which I scored him as bad as he had me. I told them that troops would be here; but was laughed at, tantalized, and treated scornfully for making such an assertion. I told them I had been there and ought to know as well as those who sat at home and knew nothing. All hands agreed they were not coming, and Brother Brigham said neither should they come so this ended it.

    I had several animals on this express company, had been gone nearly four months, and asked to be excused to attend to my business, which was granted. I went to Green River again, and set up a trading post and ferry. Did very well during the summer; wound up again and come home.

    About this time the express company broke up, and all returned home, the mail contract having been taken from them. I lost, on the outfit, about one thousand dollars, besides my time and suffering.

    About this time it became well known that a large

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number of troops were coming, with Col. Harney at their head. It was "Now, boys, hurrah! They are coming to kill off all the principal men. Old Harney says there are over thirty that he will hang up on sight." This was told over and over for truth. "But," said Brigham Young, "they shall never cross the South Pass; we will stampede their stock and compel them to return." Gen. Burton, with two or three companies, was to do this, and I was to stampede and bring in the stock with a few men that Col. Lander and his surveying party had on Sweet Water, in order to prevent them from getting help from him. All hands were off. I with my party ahead, but could not find Lander's stock. He had them off in the hills ranching. Gen. Burton made several attempts to stampede the stock belonging to the troops, but always found them on the look-out, and returned without an animal.

    The troops had by this time got through the South Pass, and the next thing was a general rally of all the forces in Utah, with a determination never to let them come to Bridger. This was in the fall of '57. Troops were sent to Fort Bridger. The post was then, and had been for two years owned by the church, and in possession of Mr. Robinson, who had had charge of the same from the time of its purchase, I having been one of the carriers of the heavy load of gold it took to purchase said place with the stock and goods thereon.

    Two or three companies of Mormon troops were sent to this post with instructions to annoy and cripple the enemy by driving off stock, burning trains, etc., so they

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Hickman delivering the murdered man Yates' money to Brigham Young to be turned over to the Church. Page 126.

p. 120 would have to stop; but had orders not to kill unless it could not be avoided in performing the aforesaid orders. The United States troops crossed Green River and came on to Ham's Fork, some twenty miles west. About this time the Mormon troops were seen in every direction making hostile movements. Col. Alexander, then commander of the United States troops, learned what opposition he had to meet, and that the pass down Echo Cañon was well fortified, and several thousand troops at the fortifications which they had made in the cañon. The Colonel then concluded to take a circuituous route. and come into Salt Lake Valley on the north, where he would have an open country. Leaving many supply trains behind he started, but had not gone more than twenty-five miles when Capt. Lot. Smith with his company took a provision train of some sixty wagons, carrying from six to eight thousand pounds to the wagon, and burned it. Smith had been gone six or eight days without being heard from, and the commander, Gen. Wells. became uneasy and sent me with a small company to find him and report. A night's travel took us to Green River, and before it was light we were well secreted in the brush. I sent spies out with field-glasses to see if any one was moving about the country. About ten o'clock Smith was seen coming with one of his men wounded, having his thigh-bone shattered by a ball discharged accidently. My spies met him and brought him to our camp where we lay all day. I saw one of the mountaineers, an old acquaintance, and got him to take the wounded man to his camp ten miles down the river.

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The soldiers who had been in charge of the burned train all started for Alexander's army, and left the oxen running loose.

    Smith did not want to return until he had burned another train. I left after dark, gathering all the oxen I could find—about two hundred and seventy-five—for Bridger, and got there the next day at noon in the midst of shouts and hurrahs. Smith went back about twenty miles, found and burned another train, and then returned to Bridger. Their provision trains after that were guarded, and when all were safe in the United States camp on Ham's Fork, all stock, horses, mules, and cattle were kept under strong guards.

    Our troops were to be seen on the hills in every direction, taking good care to keep out of gun-shot. I was sent to the mountaineers to tell them to keep out of the way, for we intended running off all the stock we could, and theirs might be in the way and get run off with the balance. Most of them obeyed, but some did not.

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