Sunday, July 17, 2011

Colonel Patrick E. Connor: Stockton Volunteer

The Stockton volunteers were not just recruited in Stockton, but also in Benecia.  They were recruited during the Civil war, to  be stationed in Utah, to guard the overland stage, but also to keep on eye on the Mormons.  The volunteers would have preferred moving on to the Eastern United States to participate in the Civil War.  They presented this offer to Washington, offering to pay their expenses to get there, but there offer was denied.

Colonel Stockton did not have a positive interaction with the Mormons.  This started with his having his base at Fort Douglas rather than Camp Floyd.  This put him much closer to the Mormon hierarchy. It is said he aimed his cannons at the home of Brigham Young, even though they were out of range.

While in Utah, the most famous or infamous (depending on our point of view) accomplishment of the Volunteers was the defeat of the Northern Shoshone at the Bear River Massacre.  The Union troops were responding to the murder of some minors and other minor incidents.  The Union side was not interested in suing for peace, and when a peace party from the Indian encampment, close to the Bear River, approached them they were fired upon.  The Indians held their own for the initial battle, but when their ammunition became low, and they were flanked by the infantry, the battle turned into a massacre.

At the end of the Civil War, the Volunteers were discharged from duty.  Colonel Connor became a brevet general based on his actions at the Bear River.  He went on to also lead another Indian Massacre farther east called the Tongue River Massacre.  He also became a leader in the mining industry in Utah.

As for the Mormon population in Idaho and Northern Utah.  They benefited from the reduced aggression from the Native Americans.  They had increased freedom to build their towns and cities.  They had adopted the policy of feeding the Indians to keep the peace.  They were still merciful to the Indians, and took some in after the battle.  The Shoshone population continues to thrive.  Mostly at the Fort Hall reservation, but also throughout this area.

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