March to Fort Bridger

“When [Colonel Albert S.] Johnson at last joined the army [at Camp Winfield in November], he saw immediately that its present location would not suffice for winter quarters. Its only hope, he realized, was Fort Bridger, thirty-five miles away.

On November 6 [1857] began the desperate race for that sheltered valley before the animals failed completely. Intense cold froze the feet of the Dragoons on patrol and congealed the grease on the caissons axles. . . .The stock . . . died in such great numbers along the road that a soldier who followed the trail of the army in the summer of 1858 found carcasses of mules and oxen at every hundred steps. . . .

As Johnson suffered through this last stage of the 1857 campaign, is methodical nature caused him to investigate the army’s recent losses in order to ascertain its position. Three trains with 300,000 pounds of food, he knew, had been burned by the Mormons a month earlier. He learned also that the daring Porter Rockwell had stolen some 800 head of cattle belonging to Russell,, Majors & Waddell in the third week of October, and that another 300 animals had been run off by the Mormons just before the army left Ham’s Fork . . . [D]uring Alexander’s futile advance up Ham’s Fork and the final march to Fort Bridger, at least 3,000 head of cattle perished of starvation and cold. The military effectiveness of his force was badly impaired, too, for both batteries had only half their requisite number of horses and almost two-thirds of the Dragoons had no mounts at all.”