Massacre at Mountain Meadows

By Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley Jr., and Glen M. Leonard

On September 11, 1857, a band of Mormon militia, under a flag of truce, lured unarmed members of an emigrant company from their fortified encampment and, with some Paiute Indians, killed them. More than 120 men, women, and children perished in the slaughter.

Massacre at Mountain Meadows offers the most thoroughly researched account of the massacre ever written. Drawn from documents previously not available to scholars and a careful re-reading of traditional sources, this gripping narrative offers fascinating new insight into why Mormon settlers in isolated southern Utah deceived the emigrant party with a promise of safety and then killed the adults and all but seventeen of the youngest children. The book sheds light on factors contributing to the tragic event, including the war hysteria that overcame the Mormons after President James Buchanan dispatched federal troops to Utah Territory to put down a supposed rebellion, the suspicion and conflicts that polarized the perpetrators and victims, and the reminders of attacks on Mormons in earlier settlements in Missouri and Illinois. It also analyzes the influence of Brigham Young’s rhetoric and military strategy during the Utah War and the role of local Mormon militia leaders in enticing Paiutes to join in the attack. Throughout the book, the authors paint finely drawn portraits of the key players in the drama, their backgrounds, personalities, and roles in the unfolding story of misunderstanding, misinformation, indecision, and personal vendettas.

The Mountain Meadows Massacre stands as one of the darkest events in Mormon history. Neither a whitewash nor an expose, Massacre at Mountain Meadows provides the clearest and most accurate account of a key event in American religious history.

The authors of Massacre at Mountain Meadows have written the best researched, most complete, and most evenhanded account of the Mountain Meadows incident we are likely to have for a long time. Above all they tell a gripping tale. Though I knew the end from the beginning, I began to sweat as the narrative approached its fatal climax. The authors won’t let us turn our gaze away from the horrors of that moment.”
Richard Bushman

Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies, Claremont Graduate University

Three Mormon scholars have thoroughly researched one of the most shameful events in Mormon history. They have produced a very detailed, insightful and balanced account of the events leading to the Mountain Meadow Massacre of 9/11, 1857.”
Robert V. Remini

Professor Emeritus of History and the Humanities, University of Illinois, Chicago

“An institutional effort at truth telling in service to reparation, this book provides in unflinching detail and with scholarly transparency the story of one of the West’s most disturbingly violent moments. The authors tell the story well and get the history right, in no small part because of LDS Church sponsorship that underwrote a level of professional staffing and research that is impossible, even unimaginable, to the most diligent of lone writers. This uniquely well-documented account of a highly contested event may make obsolete previous studies and without doubt will constitute the necessary starting point for all future ones.”

Kathleen Flake
author of The Politics of American Religious Identity


“A vivid, gripping narrative of one of the most notorious mass murders in all American history, and a model for how historians should do their work. This account of a long-controversial horror is scrupulously researched, enriched with contemporary illustrations, and informed by the lessons of more recent atrocities.”

Daniel Walker Howe , Pulitzer Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848

Massacre at Mountain Meadows is available in hardback, electronic, and audio formats.