Sunday, March 12, 2017

Fighting the Blaze

I used to work for the forest service many years ago as a fire fighter. I’ve fought both grass and forest fire. Nothing spreads as fast as a grass fire aided by the wind. This was a main concern for the Saints in Cardston, Alberta in the early years. During one fire, what did four young girls do to battle the flames until help arrived?
a.                  Use their petticoats to beat the flames
b.                  Grabbed the closest hose and sprayed water on the flames
c.                   Hot-wired the town fire engine
d.                  Use cow hides to beat the flames
Yesterday’s answer:
a.                  Johnston’s army
The deployment of troops to Utah Territory in 1857-1858 was formally designated by the federal government as the Utah Expedition. A popular pioneer adage predicted that companies on the plains who reached Independence Rock, in present-day Wyoming, before the 4th of July would find safe passage to Salt Lake City before winter snows began. The Utah Expedition did not leave Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, until late July—a decision they would soon regret.
One of the arm’s first actions was to send Captain Stewart Van Vliet, US Quartermaster, and an advance party to Salt Lake City in an attempt to purchase supplies for the approaching army. Brigham Young graciously hosted Van Vliet and invited him to sit on the stand during 13 September 1857 meetings in the Bowery. With Van Vliet sitting nearby, Brigham announced, “They say that their army is legal, and I say that such a statement is as false as hell, and that they are as rotten as an old pumpkin that has been frozen seven times and then melted in a harvest sun.” He further declared that if the army forced its way into the valley, “they would find nothing but a barren waste. We should burn everything that was wood and every acre of grass that would burn . . . They will not find anything to eat in this Territory when they come.” Elder John Taylor spoke next. Near the end of his sermon he asked, “All you that are willing to set fire to your property and lay it in ashes, rather than submit to their military rule and oppression, manifest it by raising your hands.” The Deseret News reported that “the congregation unanimously raised their hands.” Van Vliet dutifully reported the meeting’s events to his superiors.

Glenn Rawson and Dennis Lyman ed., The Mormon Wars (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communication, 2014), 94-95.

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