by John M. Marshall
(Swans - March 10, 2008)
Called "the darkest deed of the nineteenth century," the brutal 1857 murder of 120 men, women, and children at a place in southern Utah called Mountain Meadows remains one of the most controversial events in the history of the American West. Although only one man, John D. Lee, ever faced prosecution (for what ranks as one of the largest mass killings of civilians in United States history), many other Mormons ordered, planned, or participated in the massacre of Arkansas emigrants [Fancher-Baker wagon train] as they headed through southwestern Utah on their way to California....
—Douglas Linder © 2006
If any miserable scoundrels come here, cut their throats.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre stands without a parallel amongst the crimes that stain the pages of American history.
—William Bishop, Attorney to John D. Lee.
...they acted from a sense of duty to the Mormon Church.
—Life and Confessions of John D. Lee, p. 213.
The whole United States rang with its horrors.
Utah, September 11, 1857
Hatred reborn on strangers' faces, a call for blood
From the impostor of charity trickling down from the misty mountains,
Cruel trickery from a false prophet demanding death.
Above the mountain meadow the wind eerily sighs,
Carrying the mournful voices of the innocents who were slain
By men disguised as Paiutes to hide their Mormon crime.
Men, women, children did not escape their wrath;
Their blood upon the flowers bespeaks the acts of terror
Carried out against them in the name of some dark god.
Knives, hatchets, muskets became the slaves of evil
Who stalked the grass and sedges beneath the somber clouds
To set upon the earth the demons of their faith.
Into the faces of babies, weapons aimed and fired;
Into the hearts of mothers, blades of steel thrust:
The signature of Satan written in the mist.
What holy church, what pious prophet sends out their congregation
Under a flag of white to kill, to butcher without restraint
Simple, sinless pilgrims on their quest to find civility?
May the rocks ring with Danger!, Murder! mask the fields.
Let no one rest, no one dream in tranquil sleep,
Until the wanton legions hear the voice of justice.
Let no laughter, no songs, nor gilded tongues of joy
Be heard among the hills, the plains, and wandering rills
While the guilty forces march boldly without constraint.
Inspired by the movie September Dawn and by the poem "Aftermath: West Nickel Mines" by Scott Urban, about recent murders at a Quaker School in Pennsylvania.
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