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Cutting off Utah Territory from Mail Service


USU78

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Here is an interesting quotation by RT in another thread, from Bagley's hatchet job on BY re MMM:

As hundreds of wagons wound up the canyon road on the evening of July 23, [1857,] a light buckboard thundered into Great Salt Lake City. It carried Bishop A.O. Smoot, Judson Stoddard, O.P. Rockwell, and Eleanor McLean Pratt. The men brought confirmation of momentous news: the government had canceled the territory's mail contract and a new governor, judges and twenty-five hundred soldiers would soon start for Utah." (Bagley, p. 80[)]

Let's assume all of this news actually came at the same time and that Bagley is not fudging. There was to be no mail going into or out of Utah Territory during the time when 2,500 soldiers, replete with several field pieces, was going to be "putting down rebellion" by Mormons.

I have a couple of questions I'd like addressed:

1. Was Utah Territory to be considered under marshal law at that time? If so, where is the order establishing it? (I don't mean BY's declaration, I mean Buck Buchanan's.)

2. If Johnston's Army's intentions were so very peaceful, why is it that no pesky reports by mail of its doings should reach the States?

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There can be only one explanation for the communications disruption. . .Invasion. -- Star Wars I, The Phantom Menace

Thank you, Obi-Confidential, you were my only hope!

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USU wrote:

1. Was Utah Territory to be considered under marshal law at that time? If so, where is the order establishing it? (I don't mean BY's declaration, I mean Buck Buchanan's.)

2. If Johnston's Army's intentions were so very peaceful, why is it that no pesky reports by mail of its doings should reach the States?

Utah was not under martial law. Martial law is the formal suspension of individual rights under a state (none here) or federal constitution, and governance by the military.

But I can't believe that anybody would ever think the military had peaceful intentions. One merely needs to reach Buchanan's address to Congress.

rcrocket

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1. Was Utah Territory to be considered under marshal law at that time? If so, where is the order establishing it? (I don't mean BY's declaration, I mean Buck Buchanan's.)

2. If Johnston's Army's intentions were so very peaceful, why is it that no pesky reports by mail of its doings should reach the States?

The mail problem may have started for no more reason than a snowy winter. In volume IV of B.H. Roberts's A Comprehensive History of the Church (pages 217-19), there is a reprint of the following letter dated June 10, 1857, from 2nd Assistant Postmaster General William Dundas in Washington to Hiram Kimball, the postmaster in SLC:

"SIR: The Indentures of Contract for the conveyance of the mails on route No. 8911 -- Independence, Mo. to Salt Lake City, Utah, sent for execution to the care of P[ost]M[aster] Salt Lake City on the 16th October, last, do not appear to have been executed by you until the 24th March following. The delay in executing and the unsettled state of things at Salt Lake rendering the mails unsafe, under present circumstances, the postmaster-general declines extending the time for execution beyond the period mentioned in the advertisement; and, therefore, declines to accept the contract executed by you. Hence your service on the route will cease."

Apparently the contract sent on Oct. 16, 1856 did not arrive in SLC until March 1857 because of a very stormy winter. This termination of the mail contract and service may explain why BY did not receive official notification of Cumming's appointment in July and the intentions of the approaching army (but I don't know if they even tried to mail notification); it may also explain why "pesky reports" in the mail never made it through (instead, BY got word of the approaching army and new governor from individuals who personally brought the news to him).

I don't recall martial law ever being declared in Utah (other than by BY). This would have contradicted the Expedition's express written orders as to why they were heading to Utah.

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RT opined:

Apparently the contract sent on Oct. 16, 1856 did not arrive in SLC until March 1857 because of a very stormy winter. This termination of the mail contract and service may explain why BY did not receive official notification of Cumming's appointment in July and the intentions of the approaching army (but I don't know if they even tried to mail notification); it may also explain why "pesky reports" in the mail never made it through (instead, BY got word of the approaching army and new governor from individuals who personally brought the news to him).

[Emphasis added]

What evidence is there that anybody other than Johnston's Army was to give BY notification of his having been replaced?

Was this to have happened before or after the artillery fusillade against Fortress Salt Lake?

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You missed some USU:

Apparently the contract sent on Oct. 16, 1856 did not arrive in SLC until March 1857 because of a very stormy winter. This termination of the mail contract and service may explain why BY did not receive official notification of Cumming's appointment in July and the intentions of the approaching army (but I don't know if they even tried to mail notification); it may also explain why "pesky reports" in the mail never made it through (instead, BY got word of the approaching army and new governor from individuals who personally brought the news to him).
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But I can't believe that anybody would ever think the military had peaceful intentions. One merely needs to reach Buchanan's address to Congress.

The written orders to the Expedition make very clear, indeed, that their mission was to be as peaceful as possible. Based on those orders, B.H. Roberts concludes: "Evidently the 'Utah Expedition' was to be no army of invasion and conquest." (B.H. Robert, A Comprehensive History, p. 253).

With regards to "Buchanan's address to Congress," are you referring to Buchanan's 1858 Proclamation of Pardon? If not, kindly refer me to the speech. Thank you.

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You missed some USU:
Apparently the contract sent on Oct. 16, 1856 did not arrive in SLC until March 1857 because of a very stormy winter. This termination of the mail contract and service may explain why BY did not receive official notification of Cumming's appointment in July and the intentions of the approaching army (but I don't know if they even tried to mail notification); it may also explain why "pesky reports" in the mail never made it through (instead, BY got word of the approaching army and new governor from individuals who personally brought the news to him).

I got it. I just ignored it, as RT has asserted the following on many threads on many occasions:

BY knew about his replacement coming.

He doesn't provide any primary source material which establishes when, he merely assumes that he discovered this at the same time as he discovered that the army was on its way. Now, this may well be correct, I just haven't seen evidence thereof. Certainly reports from BY's spies are not the same thing as official notification. Buchanan certainly was within his perogative in replacing BY: territorial governors served "at the pleasure of the president" . . . and could be terminated at will, being political appointees.

My assertion, given the lack of evidence to the contrary, is that Buchanan fully intended that Albert Sydney Johnston alone provide BY notice of his termination and replacement at the same time as he accepted BY's surrender.

In the face of further threatened fusillades.

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Now, this may well be correct, I just haven't seen evidence thereof. Certainly reports from BY's spies are not the same thing as official notification. Buchanan certainly was within his perogative in replacing BY: territorial governors served "at the pleasure of the president" . . . and could be terminated at will, being political appointees.

My assertion, given the lack of evidence to the contrary, is that Buchanan fully intended that Albert Sydney Johnston alone provide BY notice of his termination and replacement at the same time as he accepted BY's surrender.

I have never said BY received "official notification" of the coming governor and army -- in fact, I've made clear that as far as I can tell the goverment made no such notification, and I have faulted the government for this lack of communication (I think if the Expedition's orders had made it to BY earlier, perhaps the war hysteria in Utah could have been less, but perhaps not). But I believe BY did find out from Abraham Smoot and Porter Rockwell on July 23, 1857, that an army was coming to Utah with a new governor.

Whether Buchanan intended that BY not be notified until Johnston showed up and told him so, I don't know (but such was not in the written orders to the Expedition). But BY didn't have to wait that long -- he found out on July 23.

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RT:

Whether Buchanan intended that BY not be notified until Johnston showed up and told him so, I don't know (but such was not in the written orders to the Expedition). But BY didn't have to wait that long -- he found out on July 23.

More correctly, he found out about Johnston's Army on 23-24 July 1857. He may or may not have found out about Cumming coming at the same time.

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Now, this may well be correct, I just haven't seen evidence thereof.  Certainly reports from BY's spies are not the same thing as official notification.  Buchanan certainly was within his perogative in replacing BY:  territorial governors served "at the pleasure of the president" . . . and could be terminated at will, being political appointees.

My assertion, given the lack of evidence to the contrary, is that Buchanan fully intended that Albert Sydney Johnston alone provide BY notice of his termination and replacement at the same time as he accepted BY's surrender.

I have never said BY received "official notification" of the coming governor and army -- in fact, I've made clear that as far as I can tell the goverment made no such notification, and I have faulted the government for this lack of communication (I think if the Expedition's orders had made it to BY earlier, perhaps the war hysteria in Utah could have been less, but perhaps not). But I believe BY did find out from Abraham Smoot and Porter Rockwell on July 23, 1857, that an army was coming to Utah with a new governor.

Whether Buchanan intended that BY not be notified until Johnston showed up and told him so, I don't know (but such was not in the written orders to the Expedition). But BY didn't have to wait that long -- he found out on July 23.

Van Vliet's entrance into Salt Lake City in September was the first official contact between the army or the government with Church leaders. And even then, as recounted by B.H. Roberts in A Comprehensive History of the Church Van Vliet was unable to give any definite or satisfactory explanation of the purpose of the army's coming (see volume 4, p. 257).

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... John Taylor relative to the boasts of the soliders regarding the atrocities they intended to commit. On page 259 is this from Elder Taylor's discussion with Vice President Schuyler Colfax in 1869:
We had men in all the camps, and knew what was intended. There was a continued boast among the men and officers, even before they left the Missouri river, of what they intended to do with the "Mormons."

I'm sure some of the enlisted men were boorish and braggarts, but their officers were not and knew their orders (Van Vliet's orders when he met with BY was consistent with the original orders received by Gen. Scott). And John Taylor's claim that "we had men in all the camps" sounds like a real stretch. But this is the kind of paranoia being bantered about by Church leaders that got the members into such a frenzy that could lead to massacre.

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Van Vliet's entrance into Salt Lake City in September was the first official contact between the army or the government with Church leaders. And even then, as recounted by B.H. Roberts in A Comprehensive History of the Church Van Vliet was unable to give any definite or satisfactory explanation of the purpose of the army's coming (see volume 4, p. 257).

You are quoting from the record of Brigham Young -- Van Vliet wrote a much longer report of his time in SLC (see Bagley, p. 135). Moreover, even though Roberts claims that Van Vliet did not give a "very definite, or sastisfactory explanation" for the purpose of the army, Roberts concedes that Van Vliet "disclaimed its purpose being what was then commonly reported in Utah -- namely, conquest and destruction of the 'Mormon' people; and sought to allay the apprehension and prejudices of the church leaders." (p. 255). This would be consistent with Van Vliet's own personal orders quoted on p. 252 by Roberts.

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Van Vliet's entrance into Salt Lake City in September was the first official contact between the army or the government with Church leaders. And even then, as recounted by B.H. Roberts in A Comprehensive History of the Church Van Vliet was unable to give any definite or satisfactory explanation of the purpose of the army's coming (see volume 4, p. 257).

You are quoting from the record of Brigham Young -- Van Vliet wrote a much longer report of his time in SLC (see Bagley, p. 135). Moreover, even though Roberts claims that Van Vliet did not give a "very definite, or sastisfactory explanation" for the purpose of the army, Roberts concedes that Van Vliet "disclaimed its purpose being what was then commonly reported in Utah -- namely, conquest and destruction of the 'Mormon' people; and sought to allay the apprehension and prejudices of the church leaders." (p. 255). This would be consistent with Van Vliet's own personal orders quoted on p. 252 by Roberts.

Why does Van Vliet's 'disclamation" of what the army was supposed to be remind me of the story of the little boy and snake? You recall the one? The boy find the snake freezing and almost dead. The snake begs the boy to pick him up and hold him close so that he can get warm. The boy is reluctant because the snake is venomous, but the snake is insistent and quite convincing so that shortly the boy consents.

He picks up the snake, warms the snake, and is promptly bitten. When the boy protests to the snake, the snake's reply is simply, "You knew what I was when you picked me up."

An army is an army. They kill people. They break things.

C.I.

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... John Taylor relative to the boasts of the soliders regarding the atrocities they intended to commit. On page 259 is this from Elder Taylor's discussion with Vice President Schuyler Colfax in 1869:
We had men in all the camps, and knew what was intended. There was a continued boast among the men and officers, even before they left the Missouri river, of what they intended to do with the "Mormons."

I'm sure some of the enlisted men were boorish and braggarts, but their officers were not and knew their orders (Van Vliet's orders when he met with BY was consistent with the original orders received by Gen. Scott).

Look again at what John Taylor told Vice President Colfax:

There was a continued boast among the men and officers, even before they left the Missouri river, of what they intended to do with the "Mormons." [bolded emphasis mine]

The commanding officers, some of them, may have been honorable men, but they were in command of an anti-Mormon mob. And Gov. Ford in Illinois showed how little control a commander-in-chief sometimes has over an army of mobbers.

And John Taylor's claim that "we had men in all the camps" sounds like a real stretch.

John Taylor was not the only one to have said so. Speeches by Church leaders at the time indicated as much. What do you have, beyond your own jaundiced opinion, that this is "a real stretch"?

But this is the kind of paranoia being bantered about by Church leaders that got the members into such a frenzy that could lead to massacre.

You have just fulfilled my prediction that if I offered evidence from the speeches of Church leaders regarding ill intent by soliders in the army, you would dismiss the Church leaders as paranoid, hysterical and, essentially, liars.

You are nothing if not predictable.

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I've always thought the Van Vliet/BY interview to have been a delightful bit of theatre, and BY was at his expansive best browbeating a junior officer sent in defense of the indefensible.

Fact is, a bodyguard of 50 would have been sufficient to ensure the safety of the new governor and his entourage against any reasonably forseeable threat. To claim the 2,500 with field artillery was a bodyguard is a distortion.

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An army is an army.  They kill people.  They break things.

Their presence also maintains law and order -- New Orleans comes to mind.

And the field pieces were there for the performance of the 1812 Overture, right?

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The commanding officers, some of them, may have been honorable men, but they were in command of an anti-Mormon mob. And Gov. Ford in Illinois showed how little control a commander-in-chief sometimes has over an army of mobbers.

...

You have just fulfilled my prediction that if I offered evidence from the speeches of Church leaders regarding ill intent by soliders in the army, you would dismiss the Church leaders as paranoid, hysterical and, essentially, liars.

They were army regulars, not to be confused with a local militia of "Cathage Greys."

This is how B.H. Roberts described the officers of the Utah Expedition:

"An 'Expedition' so officered justifies what has been so frequently said of it, viz., that it comprised the very 'flower of the American army;' and an 'Expedition'made up of such a division of the army, and so officered, cannot be thought of as having for its purpose any other than honorable service; and forbids the thought of its being engaged in a wanton war of invasion and conquest, or the liklihood of its becoming an irresponsible mob revelling in bachanalian orgies in the despoiled settlements and towns of an American community." (Roberts, Comprehensive History, vol. IV, p. 256).

B.H. Roberts got past the hysteria ... why can't you?

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