Army of Utah Winter Camp

“On November 3, Colonel Johnson arrived [to join Colonel Alexander at a point three miles below the junction of Ham’s Fork and Black’s Fork] with the rear of the army and a column of Major’s & Russell’s trains. Three days later he broke camp and marched for Fort Bridger to go into winter quarters. . . .At about noon a snowstorm so heavy the bullwhackers could scarcely see their lead teams swept down upon them. The oxen were turned loose to graze, but they could find nothing to eat. What little grass the Mormons had not burned was buried under seven inches of snow. . . .

On the morning of November 8 the thermometer stood at 3º below zero.The night before more than half of Majors & Russell’s remaining oxen some of the army’s mules had died. . . .

Conditions on the march of the 9th were worse than those of the day before. Again Majors & Russell’s oxen died on the road. The Army of Utah was now battling a foe far more dangerous and implacable than Brigham Young’s Mormons. The long, frigid Rocky Mountain winter had set in, animals were dying by the hundreds, the soldiers were exposed in the open to subzero weather, and the danger of losing all the supplies was acute.

The troops remained in camp on November 10 and 11 while Majors & Russell’s trains were being moved forward. Nobody thought of advancing upon Salt Lake City now. Fort Bridger, only a few miles away, was their sole hope of refuge.”