Brigham Young portrait

Also known as the Utah Expedition and Buchanan’s Blunder, the Utah War was an armed confrontation between Brigham Young’s Mormon settlers in the Utah Territory and the armed forces of the United States government. [Wikimedia Commons]

Utah War Facts

1857 - 1858

Key facts about the Utah War.

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Also known as:

  • Utah Expedition, Buchanan’s Blunder.

Date:

  • 1857-1858

Location:

  • Utah Territory

Significance:

  • The Utah War was an armed confrontation between Mormon settlers in the Utah Territory and the armed forces of the United States government.
  • The main adversaries in the Utah War were the Mormon Militia, called the Nauvoo Legion, and the United States Army.
  • The leader of Mormon forces during the Utah War was ex-territorial governor of Utah, Brigham Young.
  • The leader of U.S. Army forces in Utah during the Utah War was General Albert Sidney Johnston.
  • S. Army troops that participated in the Utah Expedition were 10th Infantry, the 5th Infantry, Phelps’; Battery of the 4th Artillery, and the 2nd Dragoons.
  • The Utah War took place in the Utah Territory.
  • In 1857, U.S. President James Buchanan was sensitive to speculation that Brigham Young might attempt to establish a separate Mormon nation in the West, thereby emboldening pro-slavery agitators who were promoting Southern secession.
  • In July 1857, U.S. President James Buchanan replaced Utah Territorial Governor Brigham Young, who was also the leader of the Church of Latter-day Saints, with Alfred Cumming, who was a non-Mormon.
  • In July 1857, U.S. President James Buchanan ordered Secretary of War John B. Floyd and Army Chief of Staff Winfield Scott to assemble a military force to escort Alfred Cumming to Utah to ensure a peaceful transfer of power after the dismissal of Brigham Young.
  • The Utah War consisted mostly of guerrilla warfare on the part of the Mormon militia.
  • During the Utah War, Brigham Young declared martial law in Utah.
  • During the Utah War, Brigham Young and the Mormon Church elders published a resistance policy that advised Mormons to burn their homes and destroy their crops, if necessary, to resist the federal invasion.
  • During the Utah War, the Nauvoo Legion resorted to guerrilla tactics that included stampeding livestock, raiding supplies, starting prairie fires, blocking roads, destroying river crossings, and staging nightly forays to deprive the soldiers of sleep.
  • The bloodiest encounter of the Utah War was the Mountain Meadows Massacre in September 1857.
  • The Utah War ended peacefully when Thomas L. Kane, a Pennsylvanian friendly to Mormonism, used his influence with Buchanan to negotiate a diplomatic solution.
  • On June 12, 1858, Brigham Young agreed to surrender the gubernatorial title to Alfred Cumming in return for a pardon for all Mormons.
  • The Utah War ended peacefully with few casualties, but it was a black eye for the Buchanan administration, so much so that the press referred to the affair as “Buchanan’s Blunder.”
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Utah War Facts
  • Coverage 1857 - 1858
  • Author
  • Keywords utah war
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 17, 2021