the thinker

Mountain Meadows Massacre

Back to Mormon Quotes Index

“After prayer Brother Higbee said: ‘Here are the orders,' and handed me a paper from [President] Haight... Brother Higbee was then to give the order: ‘Do Your Duty to God!' At this the Danites were to shoot down the men; the Indians were to kill the women and larger children, and the drivers of the wagons and I was to kill the wounded and sick men that were in the wagons... The Mormons were then at war with the United States, and we believed all Gentiles should be killed as a war measure, to the end that the Mormons, as God's chosen people, hold and inhabit the earth and rule and govern the globe.”

- John D. Lee Diaries

“The Mormons ‘courageously' performed their part of the blood bath, after which they took binding oaths to stand by eachother, and to always swear that the massacre was committed by Indians alone.' This was the advice of Brigham.”

- John D. Lee, as quoted in Inside Story of Mormonism, p. 64

“For the deed at Mountain Meadows there is no excuse. The perpetrators were never held guiltless by the Church and the Church must not be condemned because of the vile deeds of a few of its members.”

- The Restored Church, pp. 484-488

“On Thursday evening, Higbee, chief of the Iron Danites, and Klingensmith, Bishop of Ceder City, came to our camp with two or three wagons and number of Danites all well armed. I can remember the following as a portion of those who came to take part in the work of death which was so soon to follow, viz: [19 names listed]... I know that our total force was fifty-four Danites and three hundred Indians. As soon as these gathered around the camp I demanded of Brother Higbee what orders he had brought. Brother Higbee reported as follows:
‘It is the orders that the emigrants be put out of the way. President Haight has counseled with Bishop Dame, and has orders from him to put the emigrants to death; none who is old enough to talk is to be spared....'
“The Danites then in Council now knelt down in a prayer circle and prayed, invoking the Spirit of God to direct them how to act in the matter. After prayer Brother Higbee said:
‘Here are the orders,' and handed me a paper from Haight.... Brother Higbee was then to give the order: ‘Do your duty to God!'

- John D. Lee Diaries

“While in Cedar City Brigham preached one night. In his sermon, when speaking of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, he said, ‘I am told there are some of the brethren who are willing to swear against those who were engaged in that affair. I hope there is no truth in this report. I hope there is no such person here, under the sound of my voice. But if there is, I will tell him my opinion of him, and the fact so far as his fate is concerned. Unless he repent at once of that unholy intention, and keep the secret, he will die a dog's death, and go to hell. I must not hear of any treachery among my people.'
“These words of Brigham gave great comfort. They insured our safety and took away our fears....
“Afterwards I was arrested (on about the 9th of November, 1874) and taken to Fort Cameron, in Beaver County, Utah Territory, and placed in prison there.”

- “Being the Confession of John Doyle Lee, Danite,” The Mormon Menace, 1905

“One little child, about six months old, was carried in its father's arms, and it was killed by the same bullet that entered its father's breast; it was shot through the head…. McCurdy went up to Knight's wagon, where the sick and wounded were, and raising his rifle to his shoulder, said: O Lord, my God, receive their spirits, it is for thy Kingdom that I do this.' He then shot a man who was lying with his head on another man's breast; the ball killed both men…. Knight then shot a man with his rifle; he shot the man in the head. Knight also brained a boy that was about fourteen years old. The boy came running up to our wagons, and Knight struck him on the head with the butt of his gun, and crushed his skull. By this time many Indians reached our wagons, and all of the sick and wounded were killed almost instantly. I saw an Indian from Cedar City, called Jose, run up to the wagon and catch a man by the hair, and raise his head up and look into his face; the man shut his eyes, and Joe shot him in the head. The Indians then examined all of the wounded in the wagons, and all of the bodies, to see if any were alive, and all that showed signs of life were at once shot through the head…. Just after the wounded were all killed I saw a girl, some ten or eleven years old, running towards us, from the direction where the troops had attacked the main body of emigrants; she was covered with blood. An Indian shot her before she got within sixty yards of us. That was the last person that I saw killed on that occasion.”

- John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled, pp. 241-242

“The scene of the massacre, even at this late day [1859], was horrible to look upon. Women's hair, in detached locks and masses, hung to the sage bushes and was strewn over the ground in many places. Parts of little children's dresses and of female costume dangled from the shrubbery or lay scattered about; and among these, here and there, on every hand, for at least a mile in the direction of the road, by two miles east and west, there gleamed, bleached white by the weather, the skulls and other bones of those who had suffered.”

- J.H. Carleton, “Special Report on the Mountain Meadows Massacre: Part II, The Dilemma of Blame,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 14, 2000

“That which we have done here [building a monument to victims of the M.M.M.] must never be construed as an acknowledgement of the part of the church of any complicity in the occurrences of that fateful day.”

- Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, quoted in Smith, “Mountain Meadows Massacre: Part III, The Dilemma of Blame,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 14, 2000

“Our task for today is not to look backward, nor rationalize, nor engage in any kind of retroactive analysis nor apology.”

- Rex E. Lee, BYU President, September 15, 1990, online at , see Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, p. 254

“… those who committed the Mountain Meadows atrocity were not heartless, cold-blooded killers. They were ordinarily good men who committed a tragic crime in the name of safeguarding their homes…. Perhaps the most important point to remember is that no matter whom we might think guilty of the crime in this tragic affair, their descendants had nothing to do with it…. Not a single descendant of any man who participated in the massacre bears a shred of guilt, nor does any other living Latter-day Saint. And neither Brigham Young nor any other general authority of the Church was guilty of perpetrating the deed.”

- Russell R. Rich, Ensign to the Nations: A History of the LDS Church from 1846 to 1972, 1972, pp.241-242