Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Camp Floyd, Utah

     Camp Floyd was established in 1859, in Cedar Valley, Utah by Colonel Johnston, as the final headquarters of the Utah Expedition and approximately 20% of the entire U. S. Army, sent to control the "rebellious" Mormons, though not what had been originally planned. Salt Lake City was the objective, but the arrival there proved a disappointment. The city seemed abandoned.
     The Army's march through Salt Lake City did not go unnoticed, however. Mormen men everywhere were prepared to set fire to the buildings if soldiers began looting, unaware of Johnston's orders that his men not enter private property. With the army rode Phillip St. George Cooke, leader only ten years before of the Mormon Battalion, whose sympathies lay with his Mormon brethren. The Army camped first at what is now the general area of 21st. Street South and Redwood Road. Soon, they moved 18 miles west of the city, while searching for a permanent site, since Brigham Young insisted they not camp within forty miles of any town.
     Cedar Valley was 40 miles from SLC, but only a few miles from Lake Utah where nearly 20,000 Mormon refugees had camped. The troop train and the Mormons began on their respective ways at the same time, resulting in a tangle of saints and soldiers.
     The five-mile valley where Camp Floyd was situated had neither enough room for the 3,400 men there, in September, 1858, nor sufficient grazing for the horses, mules and beef cattle they had brought with them. Forage areas had to be commandeered elsewhere which resulted in conflicts between the Army and Mormon citizens. The Spencer family ran a herd of their own on one of the selected sites. An intoxicated Howard Spencer questioned the ability of two soldiers to evict him and charged them with a pitchfork. Sergeant Pike knocked the man over the head with a rifle, fracturing Spencer's skull. Citizens forced Pike's arrest and trial, which was interrupted when Spencer shot Pike. Recognizing the potential powder keg that seeking revenge might ignite, Johnston chose to ignore the incident.
     Camp Floyd soldiers spent their time trying to control the Mormons and patrol the Indian population as well. Only 700 men remained through the final days of the camp. With the Civil War approaching, fractions broke out between the soldiers who took sides. On February 6, 1861, the post was renamed Fort Crittenden. Five months later the Mormons breathed more easily as the Army left Cedar Valley. $4 million worth of improvements were auctioned off for less than $100,000.
     Little remains of the fort now. There is a museum and the cemetery and not much else. This author has visited the site in it's broad, barren valley, "A hot purgatorial spot where winter was long and rigorous, summer hot and uncomfortable, a place where alkaline water curdled soap, and dust storms proved almost unendurable," according to one description. The wind blows continually and sagebrush reins supreme.


Charlene Raddon’s first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. Because of her love of romance novels and the Wild West, her primary genre is historical romance. Kensington Books originally published five of her novels which are now available through Tirgearr Publishing.


No comments: