That is what B.H. Roberts called it when he reached the point in his monumental Comprehensive History of the Church where he had to confront the Mountain Meadows massacre, which occurred 150 years ago today.
“Here, in these chapters dealing with the calamitous events of the period of 1851-7, may as well be considered that event which is the most lamentable episode in Utah history, and in the history of the church. I refer to the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The writer recognizes it as the most difficult of all the many subjects with which he has to deal in this History. Difficult because it is well-nigh impossible to sift out the absolute truth of the matter from the mass of conflicting statements made by witnesses and near witnesses of the affair; and equally difficult to reconcile the differences of contending partisans.” (B.H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], 4:139)
Despite his sincere attempts to “sift out the absolute truth,” Roberts’s account is deeply flawed in its details, as we now know through the long and careful efforts of other historians, beginning with Juanita Brooks and continuing through Richard E. Turley, whose account appears in the current Ensign.
Debatable facts aside — “the differences of contending partisans” aside — the indisputable fact remains that today is the 150th anniversary of a “most lamentable episode,” when an estimated 120 persons died at the hands of Mormon settlers of southern Utah.
In commemoration of those who died that day, and those who suffered the guilt of their involvement, and the descendants of both groups who struggle to understand why it happened, and who suffer the sting of unjust accusations as to their motives for participation in the public discussion — Please share your thoughts, in a commemorative and reflective vein, perhaps taking your cue from Elder Eyring’s statement on behalf of the Church, made during today’s commemorative exercises at Mountain Meadows, found here.
(This thread is not intended for trolls, or to assign blame, or to debate unsettled factual details, or to discuss the merits/demerits of September Dawn. Please keep this commemorative thread courteous and kindly.)