All Because of a Mormon Cow
Historical Accounts of the Grattan Massacre, 1854–1855
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
240 Pages | 6 x 9 | 13 b&w illus., 1 map
On August 19, 1854, U.S. Army lieutenant John L. Grattan led a detachment of twenty-nine soldiers and one civilian interpreter to a large Lakota encampment near Fort Laramie to arrest an Indian man accused of killing a Mormon emigrant’s cow. The terrible series of events that followed, which became known as the Grattan Massacre, unleashed the opening volley in the First Sioux War—and marked the beginning of a generation of Indian warfare on the Great Plains. All Because of a Mormon Cow tells, for the first time, the full story of this seminal event in the history of the American West.
Where previous accounts of the Grattan Massacre have made do with limited primary sources, this volume includes eighty contemporary, annotated accounts of the fight and its aftermath, many newly discovered or recovered from obscurity. Recorded when the events were fresh in their narrators’ memories, these documents bring a sense of immediacy to a story more than a century and a half old. Alongside the voices heard here—of the Indian leaders Little Thunder and Big Partisan, of Mormons from passing emigrant trains, and of government officials charged with investigating the massacre, among many others—the editors include a substantial and thorough introduction that underscores the significance of the Grattan Massacre in all its depth and detail.
All Because of a Mormon Cow offers a better understanding even as it evokes the drama of a highly controversial episode in the history of relations between Indians and non-Indians in the American West.
“Of the three U.S. military disasters in the wars with the Lakota/Sioux (Grattan, Fetterman, Custer), the first is the least studied or understood, even though it set in motion the events that led to the following two. This marvelous sourcebook rectifies that historical fault with its exhaustive presentation of accounts and reports from all sides surrounding the August 1854 slaughter of Lt. John Grattan’s detachment near Fort Laramie. The editors provide informative annotations and context to create a treasure trove that will be mined by generations of readers and researchers.”—Paul Andrew Hutton, author of Phil Sheridan and His Army and The Apache Wars
“McDermott, Paul, and Lowry’s documentary history is a model of what can be done using primary sources to make compelling history that delivers a story with all the drama of fiction.”—Will Bagley, author of With Golden Visions Bright Before Them: Trails to the Mining West, 1849–1852
“This thoughtful, spritely rendition of the Grattan affair is far and away the best yet, and destined to become the standard. The editors’ introduction is without question the most comprehensive and lucid telling of the episode in the literature.”—Paul L. Hedren, author of Powder River: Disastrous Opening of the Great Sioux War
“This engaging collection of historical accounts will enhance a range of courses examining the West or American Indians. Its uncluttered editorial style permits students to develop their own conclusions regarding frontier politics, economics, race, and religion. In short, this volume offers more than the Gratton fight, more than an evolution of facts and rumors, and more than a Mormon’s cow. It is a valuable and welcomed addition for those teaching, researching, and writing about the American West.”---Western Historical Quarterly