At Sword's Point, Part 2
A Documentary History of the Utah War, 1858–1859
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: The Arthur H. Clark Company
704 Pages | 6 x 9 | 25 b&w illus., 5 maps
The Utah War—an unprecedented armed confrontation between Mormon-controlled Utah Territory and the U.S. government—was the most extensive American military action between the U.S.-Mexican and Civil Wars. Drawing on author-editor William P. MacKinnon’s half-century of research and a wealth of carefully selected new material, At Sword’s Point presents the first full history of the conflict through the voices of participants—leaders, soldiers, and civilians from both sides. MacKinnon’s lively narrative, continued in this second volume, links and explains these firsthand accounts to produce the most detailed, in-depth, and balanced view of the war to date.
At Sword’s Point, Part 2 carries the story of the Utah War from the end of 1857 to the conclusion of hostilities in June 1858, when Brigham Young was replaced as territorial governor and almost one-third of the U.S. Army occupied Utah. Through the testimony of Mormon and federal leaders, combatants, emissaries, and onlookers, this second volume describes the war’s final months and uneasy resolution. President James Buchanan and his secretary of war, John B. Floyd, worked to break a political-military stalemate in Utah, while Mormon leaders prepared defensive and aggressive countermeasures ranging from an attack on Forts Bridger and Laramie to the “Sebastopol Strategy” of evacuating and torching Salt Lake City and sending 30,000 Mormon refugees on a mass exodus and fighting retreat toward Mexican Sonora. Thomas L. Kane, self-appointed intermediary and Philadelphia humanitarian, sought a peaceful conclusion to the conflict, which ended with the arrival in Utah of President Buchanan’s two official peace commissioners, the president’s blanket pardon for Utah’s population, and the army’s peaceful march into the Salt Lake Valley.
MacKinnon’s narrative weaves a panoramic yet intimate view of a turning point in western, Mormon, and American history far bloodier than previously understood. With its sophisticated documentary analysis and insight, this work will stand as the definitive history of the complex, consequential, and still-debated Utah War.
“This monumental work reflects a half-century of far-reaching research by the acknowledged expert on the Utah War. William P. MacKinnon’s wealth of knowledge is exhibited in the relevant choice of documents and lively commentary provided in Parts 1 and 2. Highly recommended.”—Richard E. Turley Jr., coauthor of Massacre at Mountain Meadows
"Far more than a mere military history of conflict and response, the author traces the actors and their immediate antecedents as well. He explores their motivations and goals, and he ties together dozens of threads coherently. . . . Those interested in the story of American expansion or in intricacies of overland travel before the railroad will find the book tremendously interesting. The Utah War allowed the U.S. Army to solidify its knowledge of the continent’s geophysical heart, making possible and necessary both the formal exploration of the West and establishing a federal presence in military forts. Because of the book’s amazing scope—including every level of the action from local nobodies to international geopolitics—At Sword’s Point has changed the field on which study of the time is made. The historical study of Utah, the overland West, and of the United States’ riven political scene during the 1850s will never be the same."—Richard Saunders, in Overland Journal