I have posted about the new book on the subject and there are some lingering questions and lessons to be learned.

There are three main leaders who are discussed, and my post will focus mostly on one of them.  Lee was the leader on the ground at the meadow, Haight was in Cedar City, and Dame was in Parawan.  From the new book, it is apparent that Lee and Haight had it in for the emigrant wagon train from the beginning and Dame was unaware of their conspiracy.

Lee and Haight planned to have the indians in the area attack the wagon train, kill the men, and take the cattle.  As the plan unfolded there were many mistakes and blunders and the plan did not go forward as planned.  Eventually the emigrants were successful at defending themselves and were under siege for about four days.  Haight and Lee knew there had to be a quick resolution to the problem in part because there were more wagon trains coming down the trail and it would be evident that Mormons were aiding in the attack on train.

Haight wanted to muster the militia and finish the job.  To do that, he felt he had to have some sort of cover by getting an order from Dame.  It appears that Dame was told some of what was going on in the meadow, but was not informed with regard to the number already killed, and the number of survivors.  I suppose it is easier to order the deaths of a dozen people instead of the deaths of more than a hundred people.   Some sort of direction was given (it is lost to history now) and Haight sent militia menbers out to kill the rest of the emigrants.  After the killing Dame came to the scene and was completely shocked at the number of people recently killed.  It is not known was was said or unsaid about the event prior to the order given and later events.

Dame was in a tough spot.  He was in a leaderhip position, given bad information and made a bad decision.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but we can still learn from the past in order to be better prepared for the future.  Perhaps the nuber one lesson is that if you have a leader you are responsible over come to you after a public meeting to tell you additional facts, then maybe that leader is hiding additional facts relevant to a correct decision to be made.  I have no doubt that if the full facts were known, a different decision would have been made from Dame when in the light of Dame’s’ reaction to seeing the killing field.

Obviously, the emigrants should not have been killed at all.  There was nothing they did that warranted this kind of sanction.  But as a leader in Dame’s position, what do you do when your subordinates are conspiring to do bad things behind your back?  Dame may not have had the benefit of this knowledge when his decision was made and futhermore, who would normally think that people you know and trust have decided to conspire to commit mass murder?  

One course of action that would have been better would be for Dame to visit the place himself to get a more accurate view of what was going on.  It probably would have stopped the problem before it got about a million times worse.

When Dame had a fuller view of the situation, he could/should have had the responsible mormon people brought to justice for their parts in the conspiracy and murder of those who had already been killed.  A public reassertion of a peaceful policy and public trial of the conspirators/murderers would have gone a long way to re-establishing trust between overland travelers and the Mormons and would have salvaged any issues of repercussions.

Part of the problem was the war time footing, concern, misinformation, and fears of the consequences of what had already happened as well as having angry indians who were led to believe it would be an easy thing to do with plenty of booty for their troubles.

The ideal is to do what is right, let the consequence follow.  Were Dame able to ferret out and punish the conspirators (including execution where appropriate) and do his best to placate the indians, a much happier result would have occured.  Instead we have a horrible story to learn from.

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