“After the first elements of the [Utah] expedition had left Fort Leavenworth in July the Adjutant General’s office ordered [General William] Harney to send ‘a discreet staff officer’ to the Territory on a special mission. By July 28, [Stewart] Van Vliet, an assistant quartermaster in the army, had received his instructions. With a small detail he was to hurry past the column already on the road to Utah and to go ‘with utmost dispatch’ to Salt Lake City, where he was to make arrangements with the Mormons for the arrival and provisioning of the army. . . .
[Van Vliet] left Utah a sober man, greatly concerned for the safety of the army. . . .The Mormons, he wrote [to Harney], would resist the entry of the army into Utah to the death, although they would probably confine their campaign as long as possible to the burning of grass and other bloodless harassments. If confronted with superior forces, they would destroy everything, and using three years’ supplies of food already cached would hide in the mountains, where they could annihilate any force sent against them. In light of this ominous situation, ad because of the lateness of the season and the nature of the terrain, Van Vliet urged Harney to consider the possibility of ordering the troops to winter near Fort Bridger.”