Camp Douglas

Keeping a Watchful Eye on the Saints

Kenneth L. Alford

Kenneth L. Alford, “Camp Douglas: Keeping a Watchful Eye on Salt Lake and the Saints,” in Salt Lake City: The Place Which God Prepared, ed. Scott C. Esplin and Kenneth L. Alford (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 2011), 179–202. 

Kenneth L. Alford is an associate professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University.

Drawing of Camp DouglasA drawing of Camp Douglas in 1862. (Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

Camp Douglas is the only military installation in the United States on a site purposely chosen so that its guns could fire, if necessary, upon American citizens nearby. The establishment of Camp Douglas on the bench above Salt Lake City is an interesting but little known story of the American Civil War. Utah is generally viewed as a quiet bystander to the Civil War, but events in Utah played an important supporting role. While Camp Douglas (later renamed Fort Douglas) experienced a long and colorful history, this paper focuses on the period between the camp’s founding in 1862 and the end of the Civil War.


President Brigham Young and the first Latter-day Saint pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847. At that time, President Young reportedly said, “If the United States will now let this people alone for ten years to come, we will ask no odds of them or any one else but God.” [1] In 1857, exactly ten years later, President James Buchanan declared Utah to be in open rebellion and ordered several thousand soldiers to march on Utah and install a new territorial governor. After harassment of the army, the evacuation of northern Utah, negotiation sessions, and the issuance of a blanket presidential pardon, the conflict was settled peaceably. Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston’s forces marched quietly through Salt Lake City in June 1858. [2]

The soldiers established Camp Floyd (named after John B. Floyd, President Buchanan’s secretary of war) forty miles southwest of Salt Lake City. The camp’s distance from Salt Lake City was probably viewed favorably by most Salt Lake inhabitants. Relations with Camp Floyd were sometimes strained but resulted in economic benefits for many Utah residents. Camp Floyd was renamed Fort Crittenden after Secretary Floyd resigned in December 1860 to join the Confederacy.

In 1861, when the first shots of the Civil War were fired, Utah found itself at a strategic crossroads—mail, telegraph lines, gold from California, and emigrants all needed to pass freely through the Utah Territory, but Union soldiers were needed in the East far more than they were required at Fort Crittenden. In May 1861, the War Department “issued orders for the immediate withdrawal of all the regular troops from New-Mexico and Utah.” [3] Fort Crittenden was evacuated and closed. The soldiers garrisoned there were moved east during July. An auction held in August disposed of materials and buildings at the fort. [4] One Salt Lake resident’s August 1861 letter summed up the feelings of many Utah residents: “The troops are gone. Camp Floyd, which for three years past has resounded with the orgies of the ungodly and become a nest for every unclean thing, has reverted to its wonted quietude and simplicity. Sometimes I regret that I never visited it; yet at other times I feel grateful that I have kept myself entirely aloof from Gentile influences and associations.” [5]

While some residents celebrated the fort’s closing, others questioned the wisdom of the decision. A New York Times writer predicted that “the removal of the small force from Utah will prove a fatal blunder, as it will leave the great overland routes to California and Oregon unprotected, and invite aggression both from lawless Mormons and hostile Indians.” [6] When increased Indian activity and attacks along the Overland Mail Route followed the withdrawal of soldiers from Fort Crittenden, it soon became apparent that military action was required. President Young and territorial federal officials suggested that “a regiment of mounted men be raised” [7] to protect the mail, emigration, and telegraph routes. The government initially rejected their offer “because it is not supposed so large a force is necessary.” [8] However, on April 28, 1862, by “express direction of the President of the United States,” President Young was authorized to “raise, arm, and equip one company of cavalry for ninety days’ service.” [9] The government’s request specified that “the company will be employed to protect the property of the telegraph and overland mail companies in or about Independence Rock, where depredations have been committed, and will be continued in service only till the U. S. troops can reach the point where they are so much needed. . . . It will not be employed for any offensive operations other than may grow out of the duty hereinbefore assigned to it.” [10]

The requested soldiers were quickly mustered. Under the command of Captain Lot Smith, who had won fame during the Utah War, the company left Salt Lake City in early May 1862 for three months of active duty military service. In late August 1862, after the Utah volunteer company had returned to Utah, General James Craig, who was responsible for the overland mail and telegraph lines from the Missouri River to the Utah Territory, telegraphed Edwin M. Stanton, secretary of war, requesting either reinforcements from the States or permission to “re-enlist the Utah troops for a limited time.” [11] Secretary Stanton answered the following day, “You are authorized to raise 100 mounted men in the mountains and re-enlist the Utah troops for three months as requested.” [12] No action was apparently taken on the reenlistment offer. Military leaders determined that dispatching volunteer units from California would be a more permanent military solution to protecting commerce and traffic along the overland trail. The State of California was asked to recruit 16,000 soldiers—some of whom would be sent to Utah. [13]

In May 1862, Brigadier General George Wright, commander of the army’s Department of the Pacific, appointed Colonel Patrick Edward Connor to command several companies of California Volunteers (or CVs as they were often called) to travel from Stockton, California, “to the vicinity of Salt Lake.” [14] His stated mission was “to guard effectively the Overland Mail Route” [15] and “also the telegraph stations.” [16] Connor’s command arrived at Fort Churchill (near Reno, Nevada) in August 1862, where Colonel Connor assumed command of the military District of Utah, which included the Utah and Nevada Territories. [17]

Establishment of Camp Douglas

Utah residents had dismantled Fort Crittenden too well. Many buildings were sold or moved with the remainder being left to the elements. Little did they know that the army would return in strength at the end of the following year, and the poor condition of Fort Crittenden would help influence the selection of the army’s new encampment.

In the fall of 1862, Colonel Connor traveled, in advance of the army, to the Salt Lake valley from Fort Ruby (Nevada Territory) in order to select a route and scout out the best location for a military campsite near the city. Wearing civilian clothing, he “took a stroll about town and looked around with an air of familiarity that indicated that after all Salt Lake City was something of a place, and might not be unpleasant notwithstanding, its desert surrounding.” [18]

When word reached Utah that the army would soon be returning, there was great concern. A New York Times report from Salt Lake stated, “There may be still another jurisdiction conflict in our midst, and perhaps a very pretty quarrel. . . . Let us hope for the best, particularly in the present juncture of affairs, and that peaceable counsels will prevail.” [19]

After visiting Fort Crittenden, Colonel Connor shared several reasons against reopening it. First, the fort was “in ruins” except for a few buildings (for which the owner wanted $15,000). Second, most of the few remaining buildings “would have to be torn down and removed.” Third, “the post is badly located.” His fourth, and most important, reason was that “I found another location, which I like better.” The location was “on a plateau about three miles from Salt Lake City; in the vicinity of good timber and saw-mills, and at a point where hay, grain, and other produce can be purchased cheaper than at Fort Crittenden.” Colonel Connor also revealed an additional unofficial purpose for the new location—keeping an eye on the Mormons: “It is also a point which commands the city, and where 1,000 troops would be more efficient than 3,000 on the other side of the Jordan. If the general decides that I shall locate there, I intend to quietly intrench my position, and then say to the Saints of Utah, enough of your treason; but if it is intended that I shall merely protect the overland mail and permit the Mormons to act and utter treason, then I had as well locate at Crittenden. The Federal officers desire and beg that I will locate near the city.” [20]

On October 1, 1862, a few days before entering the Utah Territory with his soldiers, Colonel Connor reported, “The people of Utah are under the impression that I am to winter at Fort Crittenden.” [21] He also informed his superiors that he had been “credibly informed by letter this morning that the flag-staff at Fort Crittenden was cut down since my visit and hauled away by Brigham’s orders.” [22] Connor quite likely viewed this as an affront to federal authority and a misuse of federal property.

Colonel Connor and his command (five infantry and two cavalry companies) camped at Fort Crittenden on October 17, 1862, and marched down State Street into Salt Lake City on October 22, 1862. The soldiers halted and formed two lines in front of territorial governor Stephen S. Harding’s residence. After being introduced by Colonel Connor, Governor Harding addressed the troops while standing in a carriage:

It is with pleasure that I meet you all here to-day. . . . The individual, if any such there be, who supposed that the Government has sent you here, that mischief might come out of it, knows not the spirit of our Government, and knows not the spirit of the officers who represent it in this Territory. . . .

I confess, that I have been disappointed, somewhat, in your coming to this city.

I do not know now what disposition is to be made of you, but I suppose you will be encamped somewhere, I know not where, but within a short distance of this city. I believe the people you have now come amongst will not disturb you if you do not disturb them. [23]

Following the governor’s speech, the soldiers marched to the base of the mountains east of the city “between Red Bute and Emmigration Kanyons [sic].” [24] On October 26, 1862, Colonel Connor formally announced, “Pursuant to orders from department headquarters a military post is hereby established at this camp, to be called Camp Douglas.” The boundaries of the camp began “at a post due north one mile distant from the garrison flag staff, and running thence west one mile, thence south two miles, thence east two miles, thence north two miles, and thence west one mile, to the place of beginning, containing 2,560 acres more or less.” [25]

Tensions between Salt Lake City and Camp Douglas began almost immediately. Knowingly or unknowingly, Patrick Connor had agitated Salt Lake residents even in the selection of the name for the new installation—Camp Douglas. [26] Senator Stephen A. Douglas had been an early friend to the Latter-day Saints, but in the last years of his life he became quite outspoken against Mormonism. In 1857, he commented that “it will become the duty of Congress to apply the knife and cut out this loathsome, disgusting ulcer.” [27] Shortly after Senator Douglas’s death in June 1861, a New York Times correspondent reported from Salt Lake City: “Last Wednesday the Pony [Express] told us of the death of Senator Douglas. The Mormon portion of the community entertain certain hard recollections of the Senator, on account of his ‘loathsome ulcer’ recommendations. So there are no flags at half mast, no mourning appears, no tears are shed, no tokens of respect for the memory of the illustrious Illinoisan are visible, though an old neighbor in Nauvoo days.” [28]

Patrick Edward Connor

In the months following the establishment of Camp Douglas, the “Overland Mail Company, the Post-Office Department, and Department of the Interior” all urged Connor’s superiors, including General Henry Halleck (President Lincoln’s military general-in-chief), to move Connor’s soldiers from Salt Lake City to Fort Bridger “as a check upon the Indians.” [29] As a compromise, Connor was ordered to detach one or two companies from his command to occupy Fort Bridger. Echoing Colonel Connor’s anti-Mormon sentiments, General Wright informed his superiors in Washington, DC, “Without entering into details I am well convinced that prudential considerations demand the presence of a force in that country [Salt Lake] strong enough to look down any opposition.” [30] Governor Harding also recommended that Colonel Connor’s command should remain at Camp Douglas: “I have not a doubt but that it will be the last time that U.S. soldiers will have the privilege of entering this Territory peaceably if Colonel Connor is now ordered away. I do not say that Mormons would meet our troops openly in such an attempt, although there are strong reasons for believing that they would, yet I have no doubt but the Indians would be encouraged to do so, and all possible succor would be given them by the powers here. . . . The base of operations should be here. . . . In the withdrawal of the troops the General Government virtually abandons her sovereignty over this Territory.” [31]

The army’s late arrival required them to work hard throughout the winter building the new camp. By February 1863, Colonel Connor reported they had built thirteen small officers’ quarters, a guardhouse, a bakehouse, a commissary, quartermaster offices, stores, stables, a blacksmith shop, and a hospital. The enlisted soldiers lived in “temporary shelters of tents placed over excavations four feet deep, with good stone and adobe fireplace.” [32]

Camp Douglas proved to be a source of welcome income for many local residents. While many supply items were received from the States, the military purchased tons of locally produced hay, barley, oats, potatoes, and cattle, among other products. In accordance with Colonel Connor’s strong Unionist views, all contractors supplying items to Camp Douglas were “required to take the oath of allegiance to the United States Government.” [33] Soldiers found Salt Lake City the obvious location to spend their monthly pay. In December 1862, the army “disbursed among them the snug sum of $74,000, so that they can now rejoice in being paid up. . . . The shopkeepers of this city are doing a heavy business. The stores are thronged most of the day, and ‘green-backs’ are more plentiful than blackberries in this Territory.” [34] Businesses, some of a questionable nature, also began to spring up around the borders of the camp: “As is usual elsewhere, thanks to the weakness and wickedness of poor human nature, accommodating persons and institutions cluster around Camp Douglas, . . . and it is really too much to suppose that every officer and private is entirely unimpressible when Bacchus and Venus hang out their colors. So to prevent, as far as possible, any little accidents derogatory to discipline and military efficiency, Col. Connor at a dress parade on Monday, declared, by special order, that the military reserve connected with the post above-named, was extended to embrace an area of four miles square.” [35]

There were apparently few, if any, discussions between Colonel Connor and Salt Lake civic authorities regarding either the original location or expanded dimensions of Camp Douglas. Much of the newly extended camp boundaries were within the corporate limits of Salt Lake City, which did not sit well with city authorities, but there was little they could do. Other problems arose during the next few months as the city and camp struggled to accommodate each other. Camp Douglas was just six months old when a grand jury of the US district court for the Third Judicial District of Utah Territory (with Latter-day Saint Apostles George A. Smith and Franklin D. Richards serving as the foreman and a jury member, respectively) was impanelled in Salt Lake City to consider Camp Douglas’s “notoriously offensive or . . . obnoxious and revolting” water usage policies. The grand jury declared that Camp Douglas was abusing Red Butte Creek—the primary water supply for at least three thousand Salt Lake City residents: “Camp Douglas, where have since been stationed a large body of troops, . . . have placed obstructions in the stream; have built privies on or close to one of said streams of water, and in divers other ways have the said troops and those following them . . . fouled the water thereof, and rendered it extremely filthy and nauseous, to the great inconvenience of the people of the said city, and deleterious to their health.” [36]

Friction between Church and State

Economic tensions were exacerbated by historical and philosophical differences between the Church and the US government. Relations between the two parties had been mixed since the Church’s founding in 1830. Latter-day Saints viewed themselves as loyal Americans with a firm dedication to and belief in the Constitution of the United States. Several federal actions, though, especially military actions against the Saints, were not viewed favorably. A March 1863 article in the Deseret News proclaimed: “Ever since we as a people were driven from our homes in Illinois; traversed an almost trackless desert and settled in these distant valleys; a constant effort has been made by wicked and designing men to disturb our peace and interfere with those religious rights secured to us by the Federal Constitution. We have neither time, space, nor inclination to review the wrongs and insults that our bodies, and we as a people have suffered. They are all matters of history; delineating them will present one of the darkest pages ever recorded of any religious people.” [37]

The early history of Camp Douglas boils down, in large measure, to the interaction between two strong personalities—President Young and Colonel Connor. Connor was seen by himself and many others as a true patriot. An Irish immigrant, he voluntarily left his family and a very comfortable life in California to serve his nation. President Young’s feelings regarding soldiers being sent again to Utah might be summed up in the opening words of the proclamation he issued to the citizens of Utah five years earlier, on September 15, 1857:

For the last twenty-five years we have trusted officials of the government, from constables and justices to judges, governors and presidents, only to be scorned, held in derision, insulted and betrayed. Our houses have been plundered and then burned, our fields laid waste, our principal men butchered while under the pledged faith of the government for their safety, and our families driven from their homes to find that shelter in the barren wilderness and that protection among hostile savages, which were denied them in the boasted abodes of christianity and civilization.

The Constitution of our common country guarantees unto us all that we do now, or have ever claimed. If the constitutional rights which pertain unto us as American citizens were extended to Utah, according to the spirit and meaning thereof, and fairly and impartially administered, it is all that we could ask, all that we have ever asked. [38]

As he had done during the Utah War, President Young sought to demonstrate his loyalty to the Constitution and the Union. When the transcontinental telegraph reached Salt Lake City in October 1861, for example, one of the first messages sent by Brigham Young affirmed that “Utah has not seceded, but is firm for the Constitution and laws of our once happy country.” [39]

General Wright, Colonel Connor’s superior, reported that “Brigham Young was exceedingly anxious that the troops should reoccupy Camp Crittenden or some point remote from the city, but after mature consideration I came to the conclusion that the site of the present camp was the most eligible for the accomplishment of the objects in view. It is a commanding position, looking down on the city, and hence has been dreaded by the Mormon chief.” [40]

Colonel Connor saw it as his responsibility to do something about the Mormons. As early as September 1862, his official reports began to include complaints about Mormons and Mormonism. According to Connor, Mormons were “a community of traitors, murderers, fanatics, and whores” [41] who were “composed chiefly of the very lowest class of foreigners and aliens, . . . hesitating at the commission of no crime.” He said that the Church was an “unholy, blasphemous, and unnatural institution” and that “if the crimes and designs of this people were known and understood by the people of the United States as I understand and know them, it would cause such a burst of indignation as would result in the utter annihilation of this whole people. . . . The sooner we are rid of the evil, and the nation of the stigma [of Mormonism], the better it will be for us. . . . Individually I would prefer to serve in another field. At the same time there is much to do here, and it would give me great pleasure to contribute my humble services to blot out this stigma on our national honor.” [42]

It was not just the tenets of Mormonism that bothered Patrick Connor. He saw Mormons as “disloyal almost to a man, and treason, if not openly preached, [was] covertly encouraged.” [43] In Connor’s eyes, “the so-called President Young” was “engaged in mounting cannon for the purpose of resisting the Government.” [44] He reported that the Mormons were “hard at work making cartridges” and that President Young had placed a “guard of 300 men” at his home with which, from Connor’s perspective, he could resist federal authority. [45]

Camp Douglas was a thorn in President Young’s side, and Colonel Connor knew it. In December 1862, Connor reported, “My present position [at Camp Douglas] was selected for its availability, and commanding as it does not only all the avenues to but even the town itself, it is an important one, and I am not surprised that Brigham Young considers its occupancy dangerous to his interests.” [46] Connor’s view was that “Mormonism as preached and practiced in this Territory is not only subversive of morals, in conflict with the civilization of the present age, and oppressive on the people, but also deeply and boldly in contravention of the laws and best interests of the nation.” Therefore, he “sought by every proper means in [his] power to arrest its progress and prevent its spread.” [47] He initially believed there were but two ways to resolve the problems and influence of Mormonism: “First, by dividing the Territory into four parts and adding the parts to the four adjoining Territories; second, by declaring martial law.” [48] By subdividing the territory, he hoped to weaken both Brigham Young’s and Salt Lake City’s influence on the surrounding regions. A few months later, he came to see a third way—“inviting into the Territory large numbers of Gentiles to live among and dwell with the people.” [49] To accomplish this end, he “considered the discovery of gold, silver, and other valuable minerals in the Territory of the highest importance,” and he “instructed commanders of posts and detachments to permit the men of their commands to prospect the country in the vicinity of their respective posts, whenever such course would not interfere with their military duties, and to furnish every proper facility for the discovery and opening of mines of gold, silver, and other minerals.” Connor, who is recognized today as the “Father of Utah Mining,” [50] believed that by encouraging Gentiles to settle and mine in Utah, “the Mormon question will at an early day be finally settled by peaceable means, without the increased expenditure of a dollar by Government.” [51] His belief in this policy was so strong that by spring 1864, he directed some of his subordinate commanders to “devote the most of [their] attention” to the discovery of new mines. [52]

The military blamed increasing tensions with Salt Lake inhabitants on “the open declarations of hostility to the Government on the part of their public men and their bold, continued, and unceasing teachings of disloyalty,” which Colonel Connor stated “time and again tended to produce excitements leading to collision, which have only been avoided by the most temperate and moderate course of the officers and men of my command.” [53]

March 1863 was a particularly tense period in the relationship between Salt Lake City and Camp Douglas. Several events and beliefs contributed to the heightening of tensions—chief among them was concern that the army was planning to arrest President Young. [54] Colonel Connor became alarmed on March 3 and again on March 4 when “Brigham caused to be removed from the Territorial arsenal to his residence all the ordnance and ordnance stores, and placed a large body of armed men in his yard, which is inclosed with a high stone wall.” [55] Connor was uncertain whether Young’s actions and intent were defensive or offensive. On March 8, President Young spoke in the Tabernacle and discussed the loyalty of the Saints, relations with the federal government, the Civil War, and Camp Douglas:

But if the Government of the United States should now ask for a battalion of men to fight in the present battle-fields of the nation, while there is a camp of soldiers from abroad located within the corporate limits of this city, I would not ask one man to go; I would see them in hell first. What was the result a year ago, when our then Governor . . . called for men to go and guard the mail route? Were they promptly on hand? Yes, and when President Lincoln wrote to me requesting me to fit out one hundred men to guard the mail route, we at once enlisted the one hundred men for ninety days. On Monday evening I received the instruction, and on Wednesday afternoon that hundred men were mustered into service and encamped ready for moving. But all this does not prove any loyalty to political tyrants.

We guarded the mail route. . . . We do not need any soldiers here from any other States or Territories to perform that service, neither does the Government, as they would know if they were wise. . . .

What can we do? We can serve God, and mind our own business; keep our powder dry, and be prepared for every emergency to which we may be exposed, and sustain the civil law to which we are subject. . . .

Now, as we are accused of secession, my counsel to this congregation is to secede, what from? From the Constitution of the United States? No. From the institutions of our country? No. Well then, what from? From sin and the practice thereof. That is my counsel to this congregation and to the whole world. [56]

On March 9, Colonel Connor reported that President Young “raised the national flag over his residence for the first time I am told since his arrival in the Territory, but not, however, from motives of patriotism or for any loyal purpose, but as a signal to his people to assemble armed, which they immediately did, to the number of about 1,500.” [57] The following day, Colonel Connor reported that the Mormons “are determined to have trouble, and are trying to provoke me to bring it on, but they will fail.” [58]

On March 12, the flag at President Young’s residence was raised again—causing 1,500 Mormon militia members to assemble. As before, the unofficial militia was dismissed, but Latter-day Saint guards patrolled the city each night. Connor clearly recognized the friction that existed but apparently felt he was not responsible for it. He notified General Wright:

The only excuse his adherents give for this extraordinary proceeding is that he feared I would arrest him for uttering treasonable language. . . . There has been nothing in my conduct or language which could be construed so as to induce that belief. . . . Since my arrival the people of the Territory have been treated kindly and courteously by both my officers and men, who have never given one of them cause for complaint, which the people freely acknowledge. But notwithstanding this, the courtesy we have given is returned with abuse. They rail at us in their sermons in which we are also classed with cutthroats and gamblers, our Government cursed and vilified in their public speeches and meetings. [59]

After noting that his command was “in no immediate danger,” Colonel Connor explained, “If the present preparations of the Mormons should continue I will be compelled for the preservation of my command to strike at the heads of the church. . . . If I remain in my present position (although a strong one) for them to attack me, I am lost, as they have about 5,000 men capable of bearing arms and cannon of heavier caliber than mine. . . . I will do nothing rashly or hastily, and my intercourse with them will be, as heretofore, courteous and firm.” [60]

After hearing of the increased tensions in Salt Lake City, General Wright admonished Colonel Connor, “Be prudent and cautious. Hold your troops well in hand. A day of retribution will come.” [61] On March 29, 1863, with the approval of Secretary Stanton, [62] Connor was promoted to brigadier general for his “heroic conduct and brilliant victory on Bear River” over the local Indian population. [63] By the end of the month, General Wright notified Washington DC that “the excitement at Great Salt Lake City, brought about by the treasonable acts of Brigham Young and his adherents, has somewhat subsided, yet I am fully satisfied that they only wait for a favorable opportunity to strike a blow against the Union.” [64]

Continuing distrust and tensions between Salt Lake residents and soldiers caused General Wright to inform army headquarters during July 1863 that he was seriously considering “the propriety of removing the troops from the immediate vicinity of Great Salt Lake City to the old position at Camp Floyd. . . . It would obviate the irritations and complaints which are constantly arising between the soldiers and citizens.” The district’s headquarters would remain in Salt Lake City, even if the soldiers were relocated, and no plans were entertained regarding the complete removal of soldiers from the Utah Territory. According to Wright, “The presence of the force now there is indispensable for the protection of the Overland Mail Route and the general safety of the country.” [65]

That same day, July 31, 1863, General Wright notified General Connor that he was contemplating reoccupying Camp Crittenden and ordered Connor “to make immediate preparations to this end, . . . advise the general by telegraph . . . when the command at Camp Douglas can be moved to Camp Crittenden.” [66] Any responses to this order from General Connor have apparently been lost, but something caused General Wright to change his mind. On August 19, General Connor received new orders: “To the extent that if, in your judgment, the withdrawal of the troops from Camp Douglas would produce an impression on the minds of the Mormons that the removal was in consequence of disapprobation of your course while in command, or in any manner injurious to the interests of the Government, you will retain Camp Douglas as your principal station,” [67] which he did.

Tension and misunderstanding between the Mormons and the military continued throughout the Civil War. In August 1863, James D. Doty, Utah’s territorial governor, noted, “Many of those difficulties arise from the mistaken notion that the interests of this people and those of the Government are at variance. I think they are not.” [68] The Latter-day Saint perspective was probably adequately summarized after the war ended in a correspondent’s November 1865 New York Times report:

As to the graver matters of disloyalty and threatened difficulties, we may say that such accusations against the Mormons are not new, and perhaps are not now, any more than formerly, altogether without foundation. There may be two reasons for this—firstly, because more than half of the population of Utah consists of recent emigrants of foreign birth, gathered from all the lands under the sun, and from all the islands fixed in the sea; and secondly, because the long and terrible persecutions of the Mormons in Illinois and Missouri in the early days of the Church, have left behind them bitter memories of the power that failed to afford protection. Then, again, there have always been annoying quarrels in progress with the Mormons, which reached the very verge of war eight years ago, and the embers of which have been smouldering ever since. We do not see, however, from anything that has been published, that there have been any new or menacing developments of late, or that things are in any worse condition than that in which they have been for the last eighteen or twenty years.

Is it necessary for the government to take any action in the premises?

We decidedly think not. [69]

Fort Douglas after the Civil War

In the years following the Civil War, relations between Camp Douglas and Salt Lake City gradually softened from antagonism to grudging acceptance and finally to an embrace. In the space of a few short years, Camp Douglas became an important and noncontroversial part of Salt Lake City. Reflecting a personal example of the widespread change of attitude that occurred, General Connor returned to Salt Lake City in the later years of his life and lived there until his death on December 16, 1891, when, as he had requested, he was buried in the military cemetery at Fort Douglas. [70]

In 1878, the year after Brigham Young’s death, Camp Douglas was officially renamed Fort Douglas and designated as an army regimental post. Soldiers from Fort Douglas played a contributing role in American history from the Civil War through the Korean War. Prisoners of war were housed at Fort Douglas during both World War I and World War II. The fort was officially closed in 1991, although a small section of the original grounds continued to support elements of the Utah National Guard and Army Reserve for several years. During the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic games, part of Fort Douglas was used as the Olympic Village, housing visiting athletes from many continents. Visitors to Fort Douglas today can visit a military museum and several historic buildings that help preserve its historic past.


[1] Orson Hyde, in Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1854–86), 6:12.

[2] There are numerous sources for additional reading on this subject; for example, see William P. MacKinnon, ed., At Sword's Point, Part 1: A Documentary History of the Utah War to 1858 (Norman, OK: Arthur H. Clark, 2008); LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, eds., Mormon Resistance: A Documentary Account of the Utah Expedition, 1857–1858 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1958); and Norman F. Furniss, The Mormon Conflict, 1850–1859 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1960).

[3] “The Secession Rebellion,” New York Times, May 24, 1861, 1.

[4] “Affairs in Utah,” New York Times, August 2, 1861, 5.

[5] Gilbert Clements to W. G. Mills, August 25, 1861. Mills was then serving as a missionary in England, in B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1957), 4:544n17.

[6] “Secession Rebellion,” 1.

[7] The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Vol. 50, Part 1 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1897), 1023 (hereafter WOTR 1.1).

[8] L. Thomas to George Wright, April 8, 1862, in WOTR 1.1, 1023.

[9] The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 3, vol. 2 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1899), 27 (hereafter WOTR 3.2).

[10] L. Thomas to Brigham Young, April 28, 1862, in WOTR 3.2, 27.

[11] James Craig to Edwin M. Stanton, August 23, 1862, in WOTR 3.2, 449.

[12] Edwin M. Stanton to James Craig, August 24, 1862, in WOTR 3.2, 453.

[13] Richard H. Orton, ed. Records of California Men in the War of Rebellion, 1861–1867 (Sacramento: State Office, 1890), 2.

[14] Special Orders No. 115, Headquarters Department of the Pacific, San Francisco, CA, July 5, 1862, Richard C. Drum, in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Vol. 50, Part 2 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1897), 5–6 (hereafter WOTR 1.2).

[15] Special Orders No. 115, in WOTR 1.2, 5–6.

[16] George Wright to L. Thomas, December 15, 1862, in WOTR 1.1, 181.

[17] P. E. Connor to Richard C. Drum, August 5, 1862; R.C. Drum to Colonel Connor, August 5, 1862; and Orders No. 1, Fort Churchill, August 6, 1862, in WOTR 1.2, 53–55.

[18] “Memoranda in relation to Camp Douglas, U. T. furnished by Gen. P. E. Connor,” in Brigham D. Madsen, Glory Hunter: A Biography of Patrick Edward Connor (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990), 65.

[19] “Affairs in Utah,” New York Times, September 7, 1862, 3.

[20] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, September 14, 1862, in WOTR 1.2, 119.

[21] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, October 1, 1862, in WOTR 1.2, 143. Stenhouse states, “There is no truth in this.” See T. B. H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints (London: Ward, Lock, and Tyler, 1874), 602.

[22] The historian B. H. Roberts reported that Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, the last commander at Fort Crittenden, “presented to Brigham Young the flag staff of Camp Floyd–Camp Crittenden. . . . After the remnant of the army was departed, the flag staff was removed from Fort Crittenden, and planted on the hillcrest immediately east of the Beehive House,” but Roberts did not mention the date when the actual removal occurred. See Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 4:543.

In a 1907 address to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Hiram B. Clawson provided additional details regarding President Young’s flagpole. “One evening, while sitting in front of the general’s tent [at the Camp],” he said, “I was attracted by a beautiful flag and staff and I was asked by the commanding officer [Colonel St. George Cooke], if I thought President Young would accept it. I assured him that he would not only accept it, but place it on his Salt Lake home, the ‘White House,’ and that on all national occasions the flag would be unfurled. They presented it; it was accepted and placed as stated.” George D. Pyper, The Romance of an Old Playhouse (Salt Lake City: Seagull Press, 1928), 75. For details regarding why Clawson was at Camp Floyd/Crittenden, please see the chapter in this book entitled “The Salt Lake Theatre: Brigham’s Playhouse.”

[23] “Affairs in Utah,” New York Times, November 15, 1862, 2.

[24] “Arrival of Col. Connor’s Command,” Deseret News, October 22, 1862.

[25] Orders, No. 14, Headquarters District of Utah, October 26, 1862, in WOTR 1.2, 195.

[26] Colonel Connor’s admiration for Senator Stephen A. Douglas was apparently deep-seated. While living in California, he had “established a subscription office in Agricultural Hall seeking donations for a new monument to be erected to the late Senator Stephen A. Douglas” (Madsen, Glory Hunter, 49).

[27] This statement was made in a remarks delivered in the State House in Springfield, Illinois, on June 12, 1857. The speech was published in the Missouri Republican on June 12, 1857, and republished in the Deseret News. See “Comments,” Deseret News, September 2, 1857.

[28] “Affairs in Utah,” New York Times, July 8, 1861, 2.

[29] Henry Halleck to George Wright, December 9, 1862, in WOTR 1.2, 244.

[30] George Wright to L. Thomas, December 9, 1862, in WOTR 1.2, 245.

[31] Stephen S. Harding to George Wright, February 16, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 315.

[32] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, February 26, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 326.

[33] “Affairs in Utah,” New York Times, November 23, 1862, 5.

[34] “Affairs in Utah,” New York Times, December 21, 1862, 2.

[35] “Affairs in Utah,” New York Times, February 8, 1863, 2.

[36] “Third District Federal Court,” Deseret News, April 15, 1863.

[37] “Arrest of Brigham Young for Polygamy,” Deseret News, March 11, 1863.

[38] Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 4:273.

[39] “The Pacific Telegraph Line,” New York Times, October 19, 1861, 5.

[40] George Wright to L. Thomas, March 30, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 369.

[41] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, September 14, 1862, in WOTR 1.2, 119.

[42] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, February 19, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 319–20.

[43] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, February 19, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 319.

[44] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, December 20, 1862, in WOTR 1.2, 257.

[45] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, March 8, 1862, in WOTR 1.2, 342.

[46] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, December 20, 1862, in WOTR 1.2, 257.

[47] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, October 26, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 656.

[48] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, February 19, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 320.

[49] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, October 26, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 656–57.

[50] “Utah: The Treasure House of the Nation,” Utah Mining Association,

[51] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, October 26, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 657.

[52] M. G. Lewis to N. Baldwin, May 11, 1864, in WOTR 1.2, 846.

[53] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, October 26, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 656.

[54] See Stenhouse, Rocky Mountain Saints, 422; James F. Varley, Brigham and the Brigadier (Tucson, AZ: Westernlore Press, 1989), chapter 6, for information about the “March Madness,” as Varley called it. For additional insights into the relationship between Brigham Young and Patrick Connor, see E. B. Long, The Saints and the Union (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981).

[55] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, March 15, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 371.

[56] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 10:107, 109, 111.

[57] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, March 15, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 371. This may have been the first time that Colonel Connor saw the national flag flying at Brigham Young’s residence, but it was clearly not the first time a flag had flown there. See, for example, “Affairs in Utah,” New York Times, April 6, 1862, which reports that “The Stars and Stripes were flung to the breeze from Brigham’s bee-hive mansion.”

[58] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, March 10, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 344.

[59] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, March 15, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 371.

[60] Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, March 15, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 372.

[61] George Wright to Patrick Edward Connor, March 11, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 347.

[62] Edwin M. Stanton to Henry Halleck, March 29, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 185.

[63] Henry Halleck to Richard C. Drum, March 29, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 369. The Battle of Bear River occurred January 29, 1863, about 150 miles north of Camp Douglas. With Colonel Connor personally commanding, his soldiers killed at least 224 Indians and lost only fourteen soldiers. See Report of P. Edward Connor, February 20, 1863, in WOTR 1.1, 184–87. By July 1964, General Connor reported, “The policy pursued toward the Indians has had a most happy effect. That policy, as you are aware, involved certain and speedy punishment for past offenses, compelling them to sue for a suspension of hostilities, and on the resumption of peace, kindness and leniency toward the redskins. They fully understand that honesty and peace constitute their best and safest policy” (Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, July 1, 1864, in WOTR 1.2, 887). Yet by February 1865, General Connor was again reporting that Indians “have again returned in increased force. The troops are insufficient to contend with them” (Patrick Edward Connor to Richard C. Drum, February 10, 1865, in WOTR 1.2, 1131).

[64] George Wright to L. Thomas, March 30, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 369.

[65] George Wright to Adjutant General U.S. Army, July 31, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 546.

[66] Richard C. Drum to Patrick Edward Connor, July 31, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 547–48.

[67] Richard C. Drum to Patrick Edward Connor, August 19, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 581.

[68] James Duane Doty to George Wright, August 9, 1863, in WOTR 1.2, 584.

[69] “The Mormon Question—Its Easy and Peaceful Solution,” New York Times, November 28, 1865, 4.

[70] “Death and Funeral of General P. E. Connor,” Deseret News, December 26, 1891.