Thursday, July 20, 2017

“Sending the Cart Before the Horse”

Who did Assistant Church Historian John Jacques accuse of sending the cart before the horse?
a.      Brigham Young for sending the Church to the Salt Lake Valley
b.      Governor Boggs for sending the Missouri Militia after the Saints
c.       Governor Ford for sending the Illinois Militia after the Saints
d.      President James Buchanan for sending the U.S. army to Utah
Yesterday’s answer:
(B)   During the Civil War
In the year 1857, President James Buchanan, through misinformation concerning conditions existing in Utah, ordered an army of soldiers against the Mormons to set in order, as it had been reported that they were in rebellion against the government and had burned the United States court records. The result was the expedition know as Johnston’s Army and frequently called Buchanan’s Blunder.
   Taking up their line of march from St. Joseph, Missouri, early in May, 1857, the army proceeded across the Plains, arriving in Green River, Wyoming, early in November. Supply trains were camped early in November on the Big and little Sandies, the one consisting of thirty wagons on Big Sandy, and the other of twenty wagons on Little Sandy. These trains were both heavily laden with flour, bacon, sugar, beans, dried fruit, and molasses as well as canned fruit and vegetables.
   Under the direction of Lot Smith, one train was surrounded early on the morning of the 5th of November. After dismissing the men with a heavily loaded wagon of provisions for their sustenance and turning them back in the direction of the approaching army, the train was fired; and all wagons and contents were destroyed. The same treatment was accorded the second train in the evening of that day.
   Soon thereafter, Captain Smith turned his attention to the third and largest train of supplies belonging to the approaching army and consisting of thirty-six wagons. He met this train at Ash Hollow and succeeded in capturing and burning it also. He did it all without the firing of a gun, and not a single life was taken. This may well be considered as one of the ablest movements of the army of defense instituted by the Mormon people. Capitan Lot Smith will ever stand out prominently was the one man who did more to check the army and prevent its advance into the Salt Lake Valley during the winter of 1857 than any other man, save it be Brigham Young, under whose orders he was acting.
   The destruction of their supplies must have had a very depressing effect upon the officers of the advancing army; and by the time they had passed through a rigorous mountain winter without the necessary supplies, they were perhaps willing and ready to accept the orders of President Buchanan that peaceful measures should be adopted instead of force in the settlement of the difficulties that had thus arisen between the Mormons and the general government. The whole thing resulted in the issuing of a peace and pardon proclamation by President James Buchanan for the Mormon people. Thereafter, Lot Smith retired to his home in Farmington and engaged in the cultivation of a small farm from 1859 to 1862, when he was placed in command of the Utah volunteers who enlisted in the war to save the Union. Their specific duties were to protect the United States mail route.

Lesson Committee, Chronicles of Courage (Salt Lake City: Utah Printing Company, 1995), 6:396-397.

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