"The Mormon Camp Near Iowa City," The Mormon, 2 Aug. 1856, 2.
- Related Companies
- Company Unknown (1856)
A CORRESPONDENT of the New York Evening Post gives the following sketch of a recent visit to the Mormon camp:
The camp, as viewed from the brow of a neighboring hill, which commands a wide sweep of country, presents a fine spectacle. Over one hundred tents, and perhaps as many covered wagons, with their spires and arches of dazzling white—contrast well with the green sward of the prairie and the sparkling ripples of the river running close beside.
The camp is reached by a side road, diverging from the great highway which leads to Fort Desmoines and Council bluffs. In all about three thousand have rendezvoused in this spot, of whom some eighteen hundred still remain in expectation, however, of soon striking their tents for their long march. Three separate divisions have already gone forward. The remainder will start, it is supposed, in about a fortnight, and the leaders are now laying in supplies for the journey.
The tents are arranged in rows, with wide streets between them—the wagons generally in rings, with an entrance at one side, and sleeping tents on the outside. The party is divided into two companies; one under the control of the "Perpetual Emigration Fund Company," the other an most numerous company is composed of the poor of the flock.* The former have secured their passage from Europe through to "the valley," by a prepayment of 75 [pounds] ($375.) This amount also insures to them a team from this city to the end of their journey—no mean advantage by the way.
The latter mentioned party are a sort of "second cabin" set; travelling along on small capital, and all being fed from the public crib; and having invested all their funds before starting, they indulge in few luxuries outside of the bill of fare furnished by their leaders. On the journey these "Lord's poor" are provided with hand carts (five men to each) on which they are expected to carry their luggage, through fourteen hundred miles of weary wayfaring.
The present stock of cattle in camp is numerous and valuable. There are in all four hundred-and-forty-five oxen, twenty mules and a few horses. Really when in motion, such a train must make a display of no ordinary character. There is seen, as you enter the camp, a smithery, a workshop and a store, all full of business and industry. There seems to be no disposition to shirk duty, however laborious. Women and children appear alike interested in getting all things ready for a start.
Speaking of the fair sex reminds me that I saw one really handsome female, and many good-looking ones, during many visits to the camp. I learned that a few of them were of highly cultivated minds, and one (the prettiest too, by curious anomaly) was pointed out to me as an accomplished poetess. All their beauty and talent, however, are consecrated to the interests of "the church," and the whilom lady will pull the hand-cart cheerfully with a woman of no education or refinement. No distinctions seem to be made among them, except so far as money can make them. Children absolutely swarm in and around the encampment and I have often come near trampling on the small fry as I rode through camp on my Indian pony.
I would have been glad to write more fully respecting the organization and government of these religionists. I have made the acquaintance of their leaders, and have found them courteous, cultivated, and in business transactions, uncommonly "sharp." They converse freely with those in whom they have confidence, respecting their plans and prospects; and strangers sometimes can learn news of Mormon movement while the people in the camp itself are in blissful ignorance of their fate.
* The "correspondent" has made a slight error here. The "Lord's poor" go by the P. E. F. Company;" the "$375" passengers compose the Independent Company.—[ED. MORMON.