CHARACTERS AND COMMENTS - UTAH WAR
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THESE ENTRIES POSTED OCTOBER 15, 2007.
MARK HALL, NAUVOO LEGIONAIRE. Hall was an early pioneer to Utah and was one of a regiment from Ogden called upon to oppose "Johnston's Army" on the high plains of what is now southwestern Wyoming. He came within inches of being the only Nauvoo Legion casualty from army fire, as detailed below. [Other Nauvoo Legionares were fired upon, but no bullets fired by the army came quite this close.] He survived the "war" but the whereabouts of the "holey" hat is unknown. His descendants say it is in the hands of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, but extensive searching has not located it. It would be a great historical artifact. See the Andrew Jackson Allen entry below for an interesting situation involving both Hall and Allen.
LOT SMITH, Major in the Nauvoo Legion. He was responsible for much of the Legion's success in delaying the army in its march to Utah. He had been the youngest member of the Mormon Battlaion, being just 16 when recruited, and had become one of the more outstanding frontersmen in Utah Territory. He went on to servie with the Mormon Civil War group recruited at the request of President Lincoln to guard the mail routes to the east until U.S. troops could be made available for that service. Later, he moved to New Mexico (now Arizona) and was Stake President in the Tuba City area. He was killed by Navajo Indians during a dispute over grazing areas for their cattle. He was buried there but his body was later moved to the graveyard in Farmington, Utah.
CAPTAIN RANDOLPH BARNES MARCY, 5th Infantry. Marcy graduated from USMA in 1832. He was the solitary hero of the Utah Expediton, taking a detachment of troops, led by mountain men guides, to New Mexico in mid-winter 1857-58 to procure supplies and mules. Nearly perishing in the snows of the lower Rockies, he was led to Fort Garland by a Mexican guide and brought back a great herd of sheep and mules to replenish the army's meat supply and draft animal herd. If medals of honor had existed in 1857, Marcy and his men would have been deserving of the award. He had more personal knowledge of the western country than any other regular army officer of his day. His encounter with Lot Smith, which resulted in the hole in Mark Hall's hat, was one of three times the army gave "battle", although one-sided as far as shooting goes, in the "Utah War".
COLONEL EDMUND BROOKE ALEXANDER, USMA 1823, commander of the 10th Infantry and the advance brigade of the Utah Expedition. He was thrust into a position of command without adequate instructions or conflicting ones. His underlings, particularly Gove, were of little support when it became necessary to decide what action to take in view of the hit-and-run attacks of the Nauvoo Legion and the fortifications and reports of large bodies of opposing forces in Echo Canyon and elsewhere along the trail to the Salt Lake Valley. The back and forth communications with Brigham Young did not bolster his courage.
BRIGHAM YOUNG, Great Salt Lake City, meetings in the Tabernacle [the old, smaller, frame tabernacle, not the one we know now], 18 Oct 1857: “Col. Alexander complains of our mode of warfare. They have two or more field batteries of artillery with them, and they want us to from a line of battle in an open plain and give them a fair chance to shoot us. I did not tell the Colonel what I thought, but if he had a spark of sense he must be a fool to think that we will ever do any such thing. I am going to observe the old maxim –
“He that fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.”
[Those who have studied the Civil War know that the officers of
Alexander’s generation learned only this European mode of frontal attack in their training at West Point. The result was the great slaughter of that war of brother-against-brother.]
CAPT. JESSE A. GOVE, letters to his wife, 16 Oct. 1857, on Ham’s Fork: “Capt. Marcy’s command returned. My company and Capt. Gardner’s were ordered to go down the creek to have a brush with Lot Smith and some 60 Mormons who were approaching our trains. We went about five miles, saw then well mounted, but not near enough to do any execution. Capt. Marcy saw the same party and had a parley with their commander. Capt. Marcy dismounted his command, brought them to a ready, and then met their commander. Had a long talk which resulted in their giving no particular account of themselves. Col. Alexander gave Capt. M. positive orders not to fire unless they commenced it, hence his hands were tied. Shameful, but what else could you expect of the “old woman” [Alexander]? He is insane if there ever was one.” [Gove and his fellow officers were grossly insubordinate of Alexander. This may explain why he writes nothing of the shots fired by Marcy although he surely knew all about it.]
"Coald and windy snow ten inches deep, we here the soaldiers scouting tryed to surround some of our boys and fiard after them them when thay faled to accomplish there ame no one hurt, one of our boys had a ball pas thro his hat." [Lot Smith, with about forty of his scouts, had unexpectedly encountered Captain R. B. Marcy with a company of soldiers on mules a short distance from Ham’s Fork. The two commanders rode out parleyed for a short time, but Smith, seeing the soldiers preparing their rifles for action, rode back to his bunch, getting there just as the shooting began – all from the soldiers. The poor marksmanship of the troops paid off as one horse and one hat were the only impacts. The hat was that of Mark Hall of Ogden. By a great coincidence, Mark Hall's great-great-granddaughter met the great-great-grandson of Andrew Jackson Allen at BYU. They married and their children are descendants of those two legionaires that served together in that wintry effort to stop "Johnston's Army" from entering the Salt Lake Valley in 1857.]