"Refutation of the Murder Charges Against The Mormons," The Mormon, 1 Aug. 1857, 2.
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Refutation of the Murder Charges Against The Mormons.
So outrageous have been the charges against The Mormons in Utah, and so oft warmed up and repeated both in this country and abroad, that we have frequently occupied our columns with refutations of the same story. Though at times we have experienced a feeling of regret that the wickedness of some men has, in some measure obliged us to occupy our time and the attention of our readers with an expose of their corruption and baseness, nevertheless, we have witnessed much good to spring from a free handling of the subject and the accuser.
The principal charges of that scapegrace and corrupt horse trader, Judge Drummond, were the murders of Captain Gunnison, Col. [Almon W.]Babbit and others. Through the publication of these charges, a host of witnesses, unknown to each other, and ignorant of each other's testimony, have, from a sense of justice, published abundant evidence to exculpate the accused from any complicity with the murderers, and drawn down upon their villainous calumniator that searching eye which has since been on his track, and revealed him to be one of the most ungodly scamps that roam unshackled. The recent flagrant charges therefore against The Mormons, instead of being injurious, is so much in their favor. It is no small thing for a community to be attacked, as have been the inhabitants of Utah, by men of ability, men of considerable worldly influence, men of position in the government; and then to see that calumniated people come off triumphant, untouched, and, in the eye of righteous persons, without even the very appearance of evil. We think it a proud position for The Mormons, and feel more and more convinced that Truth will ultimately triumph over error, and the wicked be trampled under the feet of the Saints.
Carvalho, in his work hostile to Mormonism, relates the sad story of the murder of Captain Gunnison as he learned it from the lips of the Indians themselves, and shows that the unfortunate engineer fell, like many others, a victim to revenge kindled in the Indian bosom by the outrages and depredations of some pale faces on their way to the fields of gold. Mr. Dickson, of Sevastapol, Cal., and "outsider" also, published, last month, corroborative testimony of that given from the lips of the Indians to the public through the artist, Carvalho. Mr. Dickson knew the captain well; had been with him in Utah, met in California since the gentleman of the company that killed the old Indian chief, whose death was avenged by the hand of his son on Gunnison and company. The three men of the surveying party who escaped never once accused The Mormons of the death of their captain; the United States troops who were first on the field of blood and recovered a portion of the property had no surmisings of any other than the Indians in the deed. Col. Steptoe made a searching investigation, and, with Judge Kinney, secured and punished the criminals; but in spite of this huge pile of evidence and a great array of undisputed facts, Drummond, blinded with hellish spleen and murder rancoring in his bosom, stumbles on through it all, unmindful of the avalanche that was ready to role and crush him into oblivion. He has sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind, and now lies prostrate a monument of God's wrath, a putrid mass that we hope from this moment never to be under obligation to touch again.
His name sickens the soul. If ever another line is written by our pen on his head, it will not be for the lack of evidence to exhibit his true character to the world—that is sufficiently known, and henceforth he will rank with those who have run against Jehovah's buckler, and have found, like Balaam, that Israel cannot be cursed by the impure lips of man, nor by his puny arm hindered in the accomplishment of the purposes of Jehovah. We are sick and tired of him, and expect our readers are so likewise; should we, therefore, notice him again, it will be for other objects than the necessity of exposing him.
We have already published considerable testimony about the Indians murdering Col. A. W. Babbitt; we think we may close what has been said on his death being imputed to The Mormons, by publishing the following letter from the pen of his widow to the New York Herald:
"Interesting Letter from His Widow—Her Melancholy Investigation of the Circumstances of His Death-The Cheyenne Indians His Assassins—All White Men Acquitted of the Charge.
"TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD.
"Having recently arrived from Utah, whence I have come to learn all the particulars I could obtain relative to the death of my husband, Col. A. W. Babbitt, who came to a violent and lamentable death last season, while journeying across the Plains to Utah I ask a place in the columns of your widely circulated paper to rehearse all the facts in regard to his sad and mysterious decease I have been able to ascertain. "In company with my brother, Joel H. Johnson, and my children (four in number), I left Great Salt Lake City on the 21st of April, and after encountering many hardships through deep snows, and numerous obstacles to our progress, arrived at Devil's Gate, near Independence Rock, May 7, where I met a gentleman named Cooper, a clerk having belonged to Mr. Hodget's train that went across the plains late last fall. He stated that whilst travelling up the Valley of the Platte, just below Chimney Rock, he found a large lot of papers partially burnt, which, upon examination, he found belonged to Mr. Babbitt; these he carefully looked over, and sent forward to me all that were valuable. The papers alluded to were received, and proved to be some of the papers my husband had with him when he left the Missouri river. He, Cooper, knew nothing else of his death. He informed me that he also saw, near where the papers were found, the wheels and springs of a carriage, and other traces of destroyed property, which no doubt belonged to my unfortunate husband. At this place the traders cautioned us not to proceed further, as hostile bands of Cheyennes were reported to be on the road ready for more human victims; but being very anxious to learn something of the fate of my murdered husband, our little company pressed forward, trusting to the protection of a kind Providence, and on the 23d of May arrived safely at Fort Laramie, not having met with any difficulty from the Indians on the route.
"Here we called upon the commanding officer (Major Hoffman, I think,) who had learned all he knew of the murder through the Indians and French traders, who told him that a marauding band of Cheyennes had committed the murder, partly to satiate their savage thirst for the blood of white men and partly for plunder. They knew Mr. Babbitt and had followed him from near Kearney, knowing he was a government officer, and expecting to get a great booty. This gentleman assured me he had not a doubt but that the murder was committed by the Indians, as above related, and finally referred me to a French trader across the river. From him I learned that he had seen the mules belonging to Mr. Babbitt's carriage, and also some of his jewelry and coins of gold the Indians said they took from him, most of which they had swapped for blankets, sugar, and other things, with the traders, who refused to purchase the jewelry on account of the high price the Indians held it at, and also fearing it might be claimed and taken from them.
"After possessing myself of all the information I could here obtain relative to the murder, we started forward, finding roads and grass much better, though the weather was still cold, arriving at Fort Kearney on the 5th day of June.
"Here we met a cordial welcome from Major Wharton and his kind lady, who showed us every attention and sympathy in their power, and gave me the following particulars of the death of my husband:-
"Mr. Babbitt arrived there, on his way west, about the 1st of September, and found a portion of his ox train, which had been broken up by the Indians, just below the fort. He hastened to purchase stock and refit the train (which was carrying out Territorial property). This he competed about the 6th, and in company of Mr. Rowland and Mr. Sutherland, started out with four mules attached to his carriage and another under the saddle, upon which he rode, intending to reach Laramie in three days. Major Wharton proposed to give him an escort of troops, which was declined, upon the ground that they could not travel with sufficient speed. This is the last time this little company was ever seen by white men, as I have as yet been able to learn; and the next news heard from it was through the Indians and French traders-that they were all murdered the second day after they left the fort, about 125 miles further up the Platte, whilst making a slight halt in the middle of the day. Major Wharton had succeeded in obtaining some of the most valuable papers, but nothing else, not even his watch or ring, nor the least trifle of other valuables.
"Both Major Wharton and lady expressed their most earnest conviction that my husband came to his death according to the previously related circumstances, and by the hands of a band of savage murderers of the Cheyennes.
"Leaving the generous Major Wharton and his amiable lady, we hastened forward to the residence of my friend in Pottawattamie county, Iowa, and arrived at Ellisdale, the residence off my brother, J. E. Johnson, on the 13th ultimo.
"Although I have no positive or legal evidence concerning the sorrowful and unhappy death of my late husband, I have no hesitation, judging from all the evidence before me, that he came to his death by a party of Cheyenne savages, the same who murdered Mr. Nickols, Mrs. Wilson and child, and others who were going out with the ox train; that he had been watched by them and followed some hundred miles or more, and finally murdered for plunder, on or about the 8th of September, about 125 miles above Fort Kearney; that the Indians took from him, and still have, (unless disposed of to the traders,) his mules, jewelry, money, and other valuables in his possession at the time of his death; that they destroyed many of his papers and such other property as was of no value to them.
"I have not a shadow of suspicion that white men were in any way concerned in his death-the newspaper stories that he was killed by The Mormons to the contrary notwithstanding.
"As an act of public justice, I ask you to lay these facts before the people, that my friends and the many friends of my husband may know the facts relative to his melancholy death.
A pusilanimous little boy, now in New York, with an ill-balanced brain; has recently been entertaining the public with his caricatures of Mormonism, and begging for opportunity to prove that not only the Colonel, but Messrs. Cowdy and Margetts, fell by the hands of The Mormons. We have reserved for some time the following correspondence relating to the latter, which corroborates what we published recently from the pen of Elder Philip Margetts, the brother of one of the victims of another revenge. Its publication at the present time, in conjunction with the letter of Mrs. Babbitt, will be the end, we trust, of the charges of murder against The Mormons; at least, if any one is blind and sees not, it is the blindness that will not see:
"DEAR SIR—Yours of March 6th was received by last mail. Enclosed I transmit you a copy of my letter to Mr. Cowdy, of Bridgehouse, Southampton, England, giving him all the information I possess relative to his brother's death. As you will perceive by my letter, the whole party, with the exception of one man only, were killed by the Cheyenne Indians. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
"To T. B. H. STENHOUSE, Esq., New York."
FORT KEARNEY, April 15, 1857.
"DEAR SIR—Your letter of January 19th reached me only a few days since. All communications with this post having been cut off by the deep snows of the past season, is the cause of its reception being thus long delayed. I regret that it is my painful duty to confirm the sad intelligence of the death of your brother, Mr. James Cowdy, and likewise that of his wife and child. In September last, a soldier who had been discharged at Fort Laramie, by expiration of his term of service, came here and reported to me that he had joined a party from Salt Lake, consisting of two families, by the names of Cowdy and Margetts, who were returning to the States; they encamped about one hundred and fifty miles above this post; one of the men and himself went off into the bluffs in pursuit of buffalo; they killed one, and the man, either Mr. Cowdy or Margetts, I do not know which it was, cut off some of the meat and proceeded with it to camp. The soldier continued there to obtain a further supply, which delayed him a half an hour, or perhaps longer, and then started in the direction of the camp. He saw Indians from the bluffs, but having no suspicion of danger, continued on. On arriving at the camp, the first object that arrested his attention was the lifeless body of the man who had just left him, and close beside it, in like manner, lay the bodies of the other man, one of the females, and of the child. The other female had been carried off by the Indians; which it was I am unable to say. I am, however, reliably informed that she was subsequently murdered by the Cheyennes. The Indians set fire to the wagon in which the party was travelling, destroyed their property, and drove off all their animals. This was one of a series of wanton outrages committed by these savages last season, for which I trust the Government will soon visit them with condign punishment, which, although it cannot afford reparation to the afflicted relatives and friends of the deceased, is the only possible or effectual guarantee against similar outrages in future. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"Capt. C. Infantry.
"MR. IH. COWDY, Southampton, England."
With thanking sincerely Major Wharton for an unprejudiced statement of facts, we close our reply to the charges of murder on the plains.