Letters from General Patrick Conner
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To The Troops
Letter from General Patrick Conner to all troops at Fort Douglas:
HEADQUARTERS, DISTRICT OF UTAH,
GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, U. T. November, 14, 1863,
The General commanding the district has the strongest evidence that the mountains and canyons in the Territory of Utah abound in rich veins of gold, silver, copper and other minerals, and for the purpose of opening up the country to a new, hardy, and industrious population, deems it important that prospecting for minerals should not only be untrammelled and unrestricted, but fostered by every proper means. In order that such discoveries may be early and reliably made, the General announces that miners and prospecting parties will receive the fullest protection from the military forces in this district, in the pursuit of their avocations; provided, always, that private rights are not infringed upon. The mountains and their now hidden mineral wealth, are the sole property of the nation, whose beneficent policy has ever been to extend the broadest privileges to her citizens, and, with open hand, invite all to seek, prospect and possess the wonderful riches of her wide-spread domain.
To the end that this policy may be fully carried out in Utah, the General commanding assures the industrious and enterprising who may come hither, of efficient protection, accorded as it is by the laws and policy of the nation, and enforced, when necessary, by the military arm of the Government.
The General in thus setting forth the spirit of our free institutions for the information of commanders of posts within the district, also directs that every proper facility be extended to miners and others in developing the country; and that soldiers of the several posts be allowed to prospect for mines, when such course shall not interfere with the due and proper performance of their military duties.
Commanders of posts, companies and detachments within the district are enjoined to execute to the fullest extent the spirit and letter of this circular communication, and report, from time to time, to these head-quarters the progress made in the development of the Territory, in the vicinity of their respective posts or stations.
By command of Brig.-Gen. Connor:
CHAS. H. HEMPSTEAD,
Capt. C. S. and A. A. A. Gen'l.
To Washington, D. C.
Letter from General Patrick Conner to the War Department in Washington, D.C.:
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF UTAH,
CAMP DOUGLAS, UTAH TERRITORY,
Near Great Salt Lake City, July 21st, 1864.
Having had occasion recently to communicate with you by telegraph on the subject of the difficulties which have considerably excited the Mormon community for the past ten days, it is perhaps proper that I should report more fully by letter relative to the real causes which have rendered collision possible.
As set forth in former communications, my policy in this Territory has been to invite hither a large Gentile and loyal population, sufficient by peaceful means and through the ballot-box to overwhelm the Mormons by mere force of numbers, and thus wrest from the Church--disloyal and traitorous to the core--the absolute and tyrannical control of temporal and civil affairs, or at least a population numerous enough to put a check on the Mormon authorities, and give countenance to those who are striving to loosen the bonds with which they have been so long oppressed. With this view, I have bent every energy and means of which I was possessed, both personal and official, towards the discovery and development of the mining resources of the Territory, using without stint the soldiers of my command, whenever and wherever it could be done without detriment to the public service. These exertions have, in a remarkably short period, been productive of the happiest results and more than commensurate with my anticipations. Mines of undoubted richness have been discovered, their fame is spreading east and west, voyageurs for other mining countries have been induced by the discoveries already made to tarry here, and the number of miners of the Territory are steadily and rapidly increasing. With them, and to supply their wants, merchants and traders are flocking into Great Salt Lake City, which by its activity, increased number of Gentile stores and workshops, and the appearance of its thronged and busy streets, presents a most remarkable contrast to the Salt Lake of one year ago. Despite the counsel, threats, and obstacles of the Church, the movement is going on with giant strides.
This policy on my part, if not at first understood, is now fully appreciated in its startling effect, by Brigham Young and his coterie. His every effort, covert and open, having proved unequal to the task of checking the transformation so rapidly going on in what he regards as his own exclusive domain, he and his Apostles have grown desperate. No stone is left unturned by them to rouse the people to resistance against the policy, even if it should provoke hostility against a government he hates and daily reviles. It is unquestionably his desire to provoke me into some act savoring of persecution, or by the dexterous use of which he can induce his deluded followers into an outbreak, which would deter miners and others from coming to the Territory. Hence he and his chief men make their tabernacles and places of worship resound each Sabbath with the most outrageous abuse of all that pertains to the Government and the Union--hence do their prayers ascend loudly from the housetops for a continuance of the war till the hated Union shall be sunk--hence the persistent attempt to depreciate the national currency and institute a "gold basis" in preference to "Lincoln skins," as treasury notes are denominated in Sabbath day harangues. (Whitney adds here that General Connor was evidently laboring under the impression that he was still in California. The people of the Golden State repudiated at first the Government "greenbacks," but Utah and her citizens never did.)
Hence it was that the establishment of a provost guard in the city was made the pretext for rousing the Mormon people to excitement and armed assembling, by the most ridiculous stories of persecution and outrage on their rights, while the fanatical spirit of the people, and the inborn hatred of our institutions and Government were effectually appealed to, to promote discord and provoke trouble. I am fully satisfied that nothing but the firmness and determination with which their demonstrations were met, at every point, prevented a collision, and the least appearance of vacillation on my part would surely have precipitated a conflict. I feel that it is not presumptuous in me to say that in view of what has already been accomplished in Utah, that the work marked out can and will be effectually and thoroughly consummated if the policy indicated be pursued and I am sustained in my measures at department headquarters. I am fully impressed with the opinion that peace is essential to the solving of the problem, but at the same time conscious that peace can only be maintained by the presence of force and a fixed determination to crush out at once any interference with the rights of the Government by persons of high or low degree. While the exercise of prudence in inaugurating measures is essential to success, it should not be forgotten that the display of power and the exhibition of reliance on oneself have the most salutary restraining effect on men of weak minds and criminal intent. Deeply as Brigham Young hates our Government, malignant and traitorous as are his designs against it, inimical as he is against the policy here progressing of opening the mines to a Gentile populace, and desperate as he is in his fast-waning fortunes, he will pause ere he inaugurates a strife, so long as the military forces in the Territory are sufficiently numerous to hold him and his deluded followers in check. The situation of affairs in Utah is clear to my own mind, and, without presumption, I have no fear for the result, if sustained by the department commander as indicated in this and former communications. Desirous as I am of conforming strictly to the wishes and judgment of the Major-General commanding the department, and having thus fully set forth my views and the facts bearing on the case, I beg leave respectfully to ask from the department commander an expression of opinion as to the policy of the course pursued, and such suggestions or instructions as he may deem proper, as a guide in the future.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. EDW. CONNOR,
Brig.-Genl U. S. Vol. Commanding District.