The day after approximately 100 immigrants from Arkansas were killed, Mormon leaders in Iron County got together to discuss how to explain the deaths. Barbara Jones Brown tells how leaders dealt with Brigham Young’s message to leave the immigrants alone, and how they decided to blame the Indians for the atrocity.
Barbara: On the day after the massacre Haight and Dame arrive at the Mountain Meadows to see what’s happened, what’s been done. Lee and Klingensmith are already there because they were major participants in the killings, in the atrocity. They come and then Lee talks about watching Haight and Dame argue over who’s to blame for this as they see the horrible, butchering, just the horrible, butchered bodies lying all across the meadows, including all of the women and children. Dame says, “We have to report this.”
And Haight says, “How? As an Indian massacre?”
And Dame says, ” I’m not sure I would report it just as that, because Dame knows he’s ordered out the Iron County militiamen to do this.
Isaac [Haight] says, “You have to report it as an Indian massacre or you’ll implicate yourself.”
Dame says, “Isaac, I didn’t think there were so many of them. You told me that most of them were already dead, that there were just a few more witnesses that had to be killed.”
Haight yells at him and says, “If you blame this whole thing on me, I will follow you to hell to make sure you pay for it,” basically. So there’s just this horrible argument going on the day after. So, Lee gets back to Fort Harmony and starts bragging to his congregation about what he’s done. He’s proud of it.
A letter from Brigham Young arrives on September 13th, two days later. It arrives in Cedar City telling Isaac Haight, “The Indians will do as they please, but you must not meddle with the immigrants. If those who are there will go, let them go in peace.”
Isaac Haight receives that letter and says, “Too late, too late.” So he forwards that message to Harmony and also to Washington. The same thing happened in Washington. The militiamen returned to Washington and they’re bragging about what they’ve done. They’re proud of it, until that message arrives, that Brigham Young had said, “No. Let them go in peace.”
So Haight calls Lee to him in Cedar City and says, “We’re in a muddle.” He says, “You need to go report this to Brigham Young and take as much of the blame for it as you can.”
So Lee says, “Why don’t you just tell him you’re the [leader.]”
He [Haight] says, “Well, you could tell him better than I.”
So he sends Lee north to report the massacre to Brigham Young.
And so the blame game begins. Check out our conversation….