This week’s “150 Years Ago…” column introduces a new element in 1860 Arkansas studies. In September, 1857, a group of 120 Arkansans were murdered by Mormons in Utah in what has become known as The Mountain Meadow Massacre. In an 1860 newspaper account found in The Arkansas True Democrat 150 years ago this week, Major Carlton made a special trip to the location of the “massacre” for the purpose of burying what human remains he could find.
Carlton would become the commander of the 15th Arkansas Infantry, which will include the Pine Bluff unit, The Jefferson Guards, which will muster into Confederate service in 1861 where current-day West Memphis is located. Regarding the picture: “The cover of the August 13, 1859 issue of Harper’s Weekly illustrating the killing field as described by Brevet Major Carleton “one too horrible and sickening for language to describe. Human skeletons, disjointed bones, ghastly skulls and the hair of women were scattered in frightful profusion over a distance of two miles.” “the remains were not buried at all until after they had been dismembered by the wolves and the flesh stripped from the bones, and then only such bones were buried as lay scattered along nearest the road”.
Below is the 1860 account from the Arkansas True Democrat in Little Rock, Arkansas, April 14, 1860:
[LITTLE ROCK] ARKANSAS TRUE DEMOCRAT, April 14, 1860, p. 2, c. 1
The Mountain Meadow Massacre.
A friend has sent us a copy of the Valley Tan, published at Salt Lake city, on the 29th ult. It contains a statement by W. H. Rogers concerning the massacre, which, though long, we will transfer to our columns as soon as we can. It fixes the guilt of the Mormons beyond a doubt.—The narrative is plain, unpretending and clear. We defy any man to read it without feeling his blood thrill in his veins.
One hundred and twenty American citizens, men, women and children, were murdered in cold blood. The bones of these murdered emigrants, after having the flesh gnawed from them by wolves, were left to bleach for nearly two years on the ground, when they were collected by Major Carlton and buried in one grave. A stone monument, conical in form, fifty feet high, has been erected over the grave. A cross of red cedar, twelve feet in height surmounts this. On the transum [sic] of the cross are these words:
“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.”
On a granite slap, at the base is the following inscription:
120 men, women and children were massacred in
cold blood, early in September, 1857.
They were from Arkansas.”
The children survivors are now in this State. Will not some of our contemporaries in the north-west get their full names and account of their present situation?—Congress will be urged to take action in their behalf. Our legislature will probably do something. The State can well afford to give them land enough to provide for their future well doing. They should be educated and the suggestion made by one of the Arkansas papers to that effect, only needs presentation to our people to secure them a handsome sum.