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02.20.02 Bagley, Will, Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, published in 2002, and The Mountain Meadows Massacre, by Juanita Brooks, published in 1950.

Our Brief Review (An Expansion of this Review is Needed)

The Mountain Meadows massacre was an attack and siege on the Baker–Fancher emigrant wagon train at Mountain Meadows in southern Utah. The attacks culminated on September 11, 1857, with the mass slaughter of almost all of the men, women and children in the emigrant party, numbering about 120, by members of the Mormon Church-controlled “Utah Territorial Militia” together with some Paiute Native American recruits.

The wagon train—composed almost entirely of families from Arkansas—was bound for California on a route that passed through the Utah Territory during a turbulent time period when the Mormon Church was attempting to set up a separatist religious state, governed from Salt Lake City — an effort in opposition to the territorial policies of the United States Government.   While the emigrants were camped at Mountain Meadows along their route west, they were attacked by the Mormon militia.

The militia, officially called the Nauvoo Legion, was composed of Utah’s Mormon settlers (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Intending to give the appearance of an Indian attack, they had armed some Southern Paiute Native Americans and persuaded them to join their larger party of Morman militiamen, who had disguised themselves to look like Native Americans. During the first assault on the wagon train, the emigrants fought back and a five-day siege ensued.  

The Arkansans eventually surrendered, but, following surrender, all were killed by the Morman militia, save the small children who were too young to identify their assailants.

The two histories of this massacre we recommend are the best available.  The 1950 work was for a long time the definitive account.  The 2002 work builds on it.

A movie version of the massacre is also recommended.  Released in 2007, it is titled September Dawn