The Utah War – The Mormon Response
The U.S. Army was well along its way to Utah when Brigham Young learned it was coming. Church leaders held a council and decided to call out the Utah Militia. The first objective was to detain the U.S. Army in the Fort Bridger area over the winter. The second objective was to fortify Echo Canyon, and in the spring, stop the U.S. Army’s progress into Utah.
Major Lot Smith and others of the Utah Militia were dispatched to the area east of Fort Bridger to escort incoming Mormon immigrants and to disrupt the advance of the U.S. Army. While there, the Militia burned 74 U.S. Army supply wagons and their cargoes. They also burned Fort Bridger and Fort Supply, which were owned by the Mormon Church. Because of this opposition, the U.S. Army was forced to spend the winter at Camp Scott, which the army constructed near Fort Bridger.
The last 35 miles of the Army’s march from present- day Granger, Wyoming, to present-day Fort Bridger, Wyoming, were in a blinding snowstorm, with temperatures as low as minus 23° Fahrenheit. The Army lost 3,000 head of cattle, and 70 of 120 horses died. With such a shortage of horses, soldiers pulled the wagons 4 miles to gather wood needed for their fires.