Mormon Defensive Maneuvers

“On October 3 [1857], Wells and his advisors reached a number of important decisions under the threat of Alexander’s rapid advance. First they resolved to destroy Fort Bridger and Fort Supply, lest these two settlements prove of service to the expedition. . . . As more aggressive moves Wells divided his calvary into several units, under Smith, Burton, Rockwell, and McAllister, and sent them to harass the army. . . .

With forty-three men Smith left Fort Bridger on October 3 as one of the sent out to follow the expedition. After he had met and turned back a supply train of the army, he divided his small forces into two units, retaining twenty-two men under his command and sending the others to steal Alexander’s mules. In the early morning of October 5 Smith and his weakened company came upon the camp of two more trains, each with twenty-six wagons, halted along the Green River. Although the teamsters, had they known it, cold have held the Mormons off until help arrived from Alexander’s forces nearby, in the darkness they were uncertain of their enemies’ strength . . . The teamsters, furthermore, were civilians, not soldiers, and they had no stomach to die in defense of government property. Thus without a shot the raiders were able to fire the two trains. Later the same day the Major met a third train on the Big Sandy and destroyed it with equal ease.”