"Account of the Inhuman Assault on Hennefer, by an Eye-Witness," The Mountaineer, 9 June 1860, 166.
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- Company Unknown (1860)
THE following account was handed us by Mr. W. P. Appleby, and eye-witness to the above assault, and was written by him, in this city, on the 4th inst., for publication in the MOUNTAINEER:
"EDITORS OF THE MOUNTAINEER: I notice in your paper, of last Saturday's issue, what purports to be a report of the brutal outrage upon two citizens, by U. S. soldiers, encamped upon Yellow Creek, about seventy-three miles east of this city. Being an eye-witness, a party concerned, and a sufferer by the dastardly affair, I take the opportunity of giving you the particulars as they occurred.
"On the afternoon of the 29th of May, Wm. Hennefer, James Hennefer, Wm. Ward and myself, started from Hennefer's Ranche, four miles below the mouth of Echo Kanyon [Canyon], to go to Fort Bridger, taking with us two yoke of cattle, and a waggon loaded with produce and blacksmith's tools.
"We travelled all that afternoon and the next day, until about ten o'clock, when we came up with the rear guard of the second column, ferrying the escort of the ox-trains, the mule trains and the body of the column being some distance in advance. We travelled with the rear a short distance, when an opportunity was afforded us to pass them. We continued on to Yellow Creek. As we descended the summit, Wm. Hennefer, very properly, went on ahead to see the officer of the day, where we should camp, when the waggon came into camp. Wm. Hennefer motioned with his hand to his brother, who was driving the team, where to stop the waggon. The place designated was between the two columns; the first column, under the command of Col Morrison, was encamped on the east side of the creek, below the road, and the second column, under the command of Major Lynde, was encamped on the west side of the creek, above the road.
"Just at twilight, while we were preparing to tie up our cattle, and while Wm. Hennefer was sitting in the front of his waggon, James Hennefer examining one of the oxen's hoofs (which was sore), Wm. Ward sitting under the waggon, and I standing at the end of the waggon-tongue, Dr. Covey, Lieut. Gay, and an attache of the army, rode up to the waggon. Covey dismounted and tied his horse to the wheel, went round the rear of the wagon, where James Hennefer was, as before stated, and spoke to him, the purport of which I did not understand; but supposed it was to inquire if his name was Wm. Hennefer, as Covey immediately proceeded to the front of the waggon, and commanded Wm. Hennefer to get out. Hennefer did not obey at first. Covey then drew his revolver, which was concealed under his coat, aimed it at Hennefer, and accompanied the motion with this language-'Get out of that waggon, you G-d d-n son of a bitch, or I'll blow your G-d d-m brains out; I'm in earnest.'
"Hennefer at this got out of the waggon, and had no sooner touched the earth, than Covey ordered some three of four soldiers to seize him, and tie him to the waggon-wheel, which they did after stripping him, by binding his wrists to the top of the wheel, and his ankles to the bottom. By this time some two or three hundred soldiers had collected around the waggon. Covey then stepped up to Hennefer, and with a leather riding-whip (a stock about eighteen inches long, and the lash of about the same length, formed by braiding four lashes together, and knotting them as they are braided), gave Hennefer seventy lashes, when Hennefer swooned and fell, his breast striking hub of the wheel. Covey still continued to whip him, calling on him, with oaths, to get up. His brother James implored them for mercy, and Covey yelled out like a fiend, 'He is another G-d d-n son of a bitch, kill him, boys; kill him!' Then they pounced on to him like a pack of hounds, knocked him down; and as he got up, they kicked him down again. Three soldiers jumped on to him , and the four went rolling down the bank into the creek. He succeeded in getting away from them, and making his way to the express station in Echo Kanyon [Canyon].
"My attention was again attracted to Hennefer, by his screams and cries for mercy, as he had revived to consciousness. When I went up to the wheel, Covey ceased through exhaustion for a moment, with this expression,--'There, G-d d---n you, go into town and show the stripes to Brigham Young, and tell him that I did it; and if he was here I would serve him the same way!"
"The atrocious action was again renewed, by a couple of mule drivers, as aides to Covey, with their black whips. Lieut. Gay did not dismount, by sat on his horse and cried, 'Two for me; give him two for me;' which they were not slow to do, with fourfold added.
"Covey at this time cried out, 'There are two more of them; kill them, boys.'
"I then started to go around the waggon to look for Ward, when I observed the soldiers unloading our waggon, and throwing its contents in to the creek, thus destroying some seven hundred dollars worth of property. I found Ward, but he was as immoveable as a statue. I said to him, 'Ward, for God's sake, make yourself scarce.' He took no notice of me.
"I then struck out, came over on to the summit, three quarters of a mile this side of the creek, where I could still hear the screams of the victim, and the hoots and yells of the soldiers.
"I pursued my way that night on foot through darkness and muddy streams, &c, some five miles to Hennefer's house on the Weber River, expecting that Hennefer and his brother were both killed.
"The following morning I started out to see if I could learn or hear anything concerning them.
"I soon learned that after they had got tired of whipping Hennefer, they put his shirt on his sore, bleeding and lacerated back, and sent three soldiers to take him to a mail station some four miles distant, from there he was conveyed home by Doc Woodward. James Hennefer escaped from them, and returned as far as the station also. But Ward I had not heard of at the time I left, on Saturday morning last, to come into this city, neither have I heard anything concerning the waggon or cattle.
"Thus I have given you the particulars of this disgraceful affair as they transpired, being an eye-witness to nearly the whole of the transaction. Comment is unnecessary. Mr. Hennefer was a peaceable, inoffensive, upright man, and did not know he had an enemy.