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Camp Floyd Station

Image: By Samuel C. Mills - National Archives, Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48991818

"The accustomed coach life began again, now, and by midnight it almost seemed as if we never had been out of our snuggery among the mail sacks at all. We had made one alteration, however. We had provided enough bread, boiled ham and hard boiled eggs to last double the six hundred miles of staging we had still to do.
And it was comfort in those succeeding days to sit up and contemplate the majestic panorama of mountains and valleys spread out below us and eat ham and hard boiled eggs while our spiritual natures revelled alternately in rainbows, thunderstorms, and peerless sunsets. Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. Ham and eggs, and after these a pipe—an old, rank, delicious pipe—ham and eggs and scenery, a “down grade,” a flying coach, a fragrant pipe and a contented heart—these make happiness. It is what all the ages have struggled for."
"At eight in the morning we reached the remnant and ruin of what had been the important military station of “Camp Floyd,” some forty-five or fifty miles from Salt Lake City. At four P.M. we had doubled our distance and were ninety or a hundred miles from Salt Lake. And now we entered upon one of that species of deserts whose concentrated hideousness shames the diffused and diluted horrors of Sahara—an “alkali” desert. "
(Roughing It)

Identified as Camp Floyd in the 1861 mail contract, this station had various other names including Fairfield, Fort Crittendon or Crittenden, Carson's Inn, and Cedar City. The settlement of Fairfield began in Cedar Valley in 1858, when John Carson, John Williams, William Beardshall, John Clegg, and others built homes and a protective enclosure called Cedar City Fort. John Carson built an adobe inn that same year, which served as a station for both Pony Express riders and stage lines. In 1858, General A. S. Johnston and his troops established a fort near Fairfield, which they named in honor of John B. Floyd, Secretary of War. Troops stayed at the Camp Floyd until early in the Civil War, when they headed east to join the fighting. After Secretary of War Floyd joined the Confederacy, Union officials renamed the Utah garrison Fort Crittenden.

After fording the Jordan we were overtaken by Mr Kennedy, who had been delayed by more last words, and at the dug out we drank beer with Shropshire Joe the Mormon, who had been vainly attempting to dig water by a divining rod of peach tree. When moonlight began to appear Joe the Gentile was ordered by the "boss" to camp out with the horses, where fodder could be found gratis, a commandment which he obeyed with no end of grumbling. It was deep in the night before we entered Frogtown, where a creaking little Osteria supplied us with supper, and I found a bed at the quarters of my friend Captain Heth, who obligingly insisted upon my becoming his guest.
The five days between the 20th and the 26th of September sped merrily at my new home, Camp Floyd; not pressed for time, I embraced with pleasure the opportunity of seeing the most of my American brothers in arms. My host was a son of that Old Dominion of Queen Elizabeth, where still linger traces of the glorious Cavalier and the noble feudal spirit, which (alas!) have almost disappeared from the mother country, where the genealogical tree still hangs against the wall, where the principal families, the Nelsons, Harrisons, Pages, Seldens, and Aliens, intermarry and bravely attempt to entail, and where the houses, built of brick brought out from England, still retain traces of the seventeenth century. A winter indeed might be passed most pleasantly on the banks of James River and in the west of Virginia, - a refreshing winter to those who love as I do, the traditions of our ancestors.
From Captain Heth I gathered that in former times, in Western America, as in British India, a fair aborigine was not unfrequently the copartner of an officer's hut or tent. The improved communication, however, and the frequency of marriage, have abolished the custom by rendering it unfashionable. The Indian squaw, like the Beebee, seldom looked upon her "mari" in any other light but her banker. An inveterate beggar, she would beg for all her relations, for all her friends, and all her tribe, rather than not beg at all, and the lavatory process required always to be prefaced with the bribe. Officers who were long thrown among the Prairie Indians, joined as did the Anglo-Indian, in their nautches and other amusements, where, if whisky was present, a cut or stab might momentarily be expected. The skin was painted white, black, and red, the hair was dressed and decorated, and the shirt was tied round the waist, while broadcloth and blanket, leggins and moccasins completed the costume. The "crack thing to do" when drinking with Indians, and listening to their monotonous songs and tales, was to imitate Indian customs, to become, under the influence of the jolly god, a Hatim Tai, exceedingly generous; to throw shirt to one man, blanket to another, leggins to a third, in fact to return home in breech cloth. Such sprees would have been severely treated by a highly respectable government; they have now, however, like many a pleasant hour in British India, had their day, and are sunk, many a fathom deep, in the genuine Anglo-Scandinavian gloom .
I heard more of army grievances during my second stay at Camp Floyd. The term of a soldier's enlistment, five years, is too short, especially for the cavalry branch, and the facilities for desertion are enormous. Between the two, one third of the army disappears every year. The company which should number 84 has often only 50 men. The soldier has no time to learn his work; he must drive wagons, clear bush, make roads, and build huts and stables. When thoroughly drilled, he can take his discharge, and having filled a purse out of his very liberal pay ($11 per mensem), he generally buys ground and becomes a landed proprietor. The officers are equally well salaried, but marching, countermarching, and contingent expenses are heavy enough to make the profession little better than it is in France. The Secretary of War being a civilian, with naturally the highest theoretical idea of discipline and command combined with economy, is always a martinet; no one can exceed the minutest order, and leave is always obtained under difficulties. As the larger proportion of the officers are Southern men, especially Virginians, and as the soldiers are almost entirely Germans and Irish - the Egyptians of modern times - the federal army will take little part in the ensuing contest. It is more than probable that the force will disband, break in two like the nationalities from which it is drawn. As far as I could judge of American officers, they are about as republican in mind and tone of thought as those of the British army. They are aware of the fact that the bundle of sticks requires a tie, but they prefer, as we all do King Stork to King Log, and King Log to King Mob.
I took sundry opportunities of attending company inspections, and found the men well dressed and tolerably set up, while the bands, being German, were of course excellent. Mr Chandless and others talk of the United States army discipline as something Draconian; severity is doubtless necessary in a force so constituted, but - a proof of their clemency - desertion is the only crime punishable by flogging. The uniform is a study. The States have attempted in the dress of their army, as in the forms of their government, a moral impossibility. It is expected to be at once cheap and soldier-like, useful and ornamental, light and heavy, pleasantly hot in the arctic regions, and agreeably cool under the tropics. The "military tailors" of the English army similarly forget the number of changes required in civilian raiment, and looking to the lightness of the soldier's kit, wholly neglect its efficiency, its capability of preserving the soldier's life. The federal uniform consists of brigand-like and bizarre sombrero, with Mephistophelian cock plume, and of a blue broadcloth tunic, imitated from the old Kentuckian hunter's surtout or wrapper, with terminations sometimes made to match, at other times too dark and dingy to please the eye. Its principal merit is a severe republican plainness, very consistent with the prepossessions of the people, highly inconsistent with the customs of military nations. Soldiers love to dress up Mars, not to clothe him like a butcher's boy.
The position of Camp Floyd is a mere brick yard, a basin surrounded by low hills, which an Indian pony would have little difficulty in traversing; sometimes, however, after the fashion of the land, though apparently easy from afar, the summits assume a mural shape, which would stop any thing but a mountain sheep. The rim shows anticlinal strata, evidencing upheavals, disruption, and lastly, drainage through the kanyons which break the wall. The principal vegetation is the dwarf cedar above, the sage greenwood and rabbit bush below. The only animals seen upon the plain are jackass-rabbits, which in places afford excellent sport. There are but few Mormons in the valley; they supply the camp with hay and vegetables, and are said to act as spies. The officers can not but remark the coarse features and the animal expression of their countenances. On the outskirts of camp are a few women that have taken sanctuary among the Gentiles, who here muster too strong for the Saints. The principal amusement seemed to be that of walking into and out of the sutlers' stores, the hospitable Messrs. Gilbert's and Livingston's, - a passe temps which I have seen at "Sukkur Bukkur Rohri" - and in an evening ride, dull, monotonous, and melancholy, as if we were in the vicinity of Hyderabad, Sindh.
I had often heard of a local lion, the Timpanogos Kanyon, and my friends Captains Heth and Gove had obligingly offered to show me its curiosities. After breakfast on the 23d of September - a bright warm day - we set out in a good ambulance, well provided with the materials of a two days' picnic, behind a fine team of four mules, on the road leading to the Utah Lake. After passing Simple Joe's dug out we sighted the water once more; it was of a whitish blue, like the milky waves of Jordan, embosomed in the embrace of tall and bald headed hills and mountains, whose monarch was Nebo of the jagged cone. Where the wind current sets there are patches of white sand strewn with broken shells and dried water weed. Near Pelican Point, a long projecting rocky spit, there is a fine feeding ground for geese and ducks, and swimmers and divers may always be seen dotting the surface. On the south rises a conspicuous buttress of black rock, and thirty miles off we could see enormous dust columns careering over the plain. The western part of the valley, cut with suncracks and nullahs, and dotted with boulders, shelves gradually upward from the selvage of the lake to small divides and dwarf hill ranges, black with cedar bush, and traversed only by wood roads. On the east is the best wheat country in this part of the Territory; it is said to produce 106 bushels per acre.
After seventeen miles we crossed Jordan Bridge, another rickety affair, for which, being Mormon property, we paid 50 cents; had we been Saints the expense would have been one half. Two more miles led us to Lehi, a rough miniature of Great Salt Lake City, in which the only decent house was the bishop's: in British India it would have been the collector and magistrate's. My companions pointed out to me a hut in which an apostate Mormon s throat had been cut by blackened faces. It is gratifying to observe that throughout the United States, as in the Old Country, all historical interest pales before a barbarous murder. As we advanced a wall of rock lay before us; the strata were in confusion as if a convulsion had lately shuddered through their frame, and tumbled fragments cumbered the base, running up by precipitous ascents to the middle heights. The colors were as grotesque; the foreground was a mass of emerald cane, high and bushy; beyond it, the near distance was pink with the beautiful bloom, most unpoetically termed "hogweed," and azure with a growth like the celebrated blue grass of Kentucky; while the wall itself was a bloodstone, dark green with cedar, - which, 100 feet tall, was dwarfed to an inch, - and red stained with autumnal maple; and below and around the brightest yellow of the faded willow formed the bezel, a golden rim.
Two miles and a half from Lehi led us to American Fork, a soft sweet spring of snow wate,r with dark shells adhering to white stones, and a quantity of trout swimming the limpid wave. The bridge was rickety and loose planked; in fact, the worst I ever saw in the United States, where as a rule the country bridges can never be crossed without fear and trembling; the moderate toll was $1 both ways. Three miles and a half more placed us at Battle Creek, where in 1853 the Yuta Indians fled precipitately from a Mormon charge. Six miles over a dusty beach conducted us to the mouth of the kanyon, a brown tract crossed by a dusty road and many a spring, and showing the base of the opposite wall encumbered with degraded masses, superimposed upon which were miniature castles. The mouth of the ravine was a romantic spot; the staples were sister giants of brown rock - here sheer, their sloping - where pines and firs found a precarious root hold, and ranged in long perspective lines, while between them, through its channel, verdant with willow, and over a clear, pebbly bed, under the screes and scaurs, coursed a mountain torrent more splendid than Ruknabad.
We forded the torrent and pursued the road, now hugging the right then the left side of the chasm. The latter was exceedingly beautiful, misty with the blue of heaven, and rising till its solidity was blent with the tenuity of ether. The rest of the scenery was that of the great Cotton wood Kanyon; painting might express the difference, language can not. After six miles of a narrow winding road, we reached the place of Cataracts, the principal lion of the place, and found that the season had reduced them to two thin milky lines coursing down bitumen colored slopes of bare rock, bordered by shaggy forests of firs and cedars. The shrinking of the waters volume lay bare the formation of the cascades, two steps and a slope, which at a happier time would have been veiled by a continuous sheet of foam.
After finding a suitable spot we outspanned, and, while recruiting exhausted nature, allowed our mules to roll and rest. After dining and collecting a few shells, we remounted and drove back through a magnificent sunset to American Fork, where the bishop, Mr Lysander Dayton, of Ohio, had offered us bed and board. The good episkopos was of course a Mormon, as we could see by his two pretty wives; he supplied us with an excellent supper as a host, not as an innkeeper. The little settlement was Great Salt Lake City on a small scale; full of the fair sex; every one, by the by, appeared to be or about to be a mother. Fair, but alas! not fair to us, - it was verily
Water water every where,
And not a drop to drink !"

Before setting out homeward on the next day we met O. Porter Rockwell, and took him to the house with us. This old Mormon, in days gone by, suffered or did not suffer imprisonment for shooting or not shooting Governor Boggs, of Missouri; he now herds cattle for Messrs. Russell and Co. His tastes are apparently rural; his enemies declare that his life would not be safe in the City of the Saints. An attempt had lately been made to assassinate him in one of the kanyons, and the first report that reached my ears when en route to California was the murder of the old Danite by a certain Mr Marony. He is one of the triumvirate, the First Presidency of "executives," the two others being Ephe Hanks and Bill Hickman - whose names were loud in the land; they are now, however, going down; middle age has rendered them comparatively inactive, and the rising generation, Lot Huntington, Ike Clawson, and other desperadoes, whose teeth and claws are full grown, are able and willing to stand in their stead. Peter Rockwell was a man about fifty, tall and strong, with ample leather leggins overhanging his huge spurs, and the saw handles of two revolvers peeping from his blouse. His forehead was already a little bald, and he wore his long grizzly locks after the ancient fashion of the United States, plaited and gathered up at the nape of the neck; his brow puckered with frowning wrinkles contrasted curiously with his cool determined gray eye, jolly red face, well touched up with "paint," and his laughing good humored mouth. He had the manner of a jovial, reckless, devil-may-care English ruffian. The officers called him Porter, and preferred him to the "slimy villains" who will drink with a man and then murder him. After a little preliminary business about a stolen horse, all conducted on the amiable, he pulled out a dollar, and sent to the neighboring distillery for a bottle of Valley Tan. The aguardiente was smuggled in under a cloth, as though we had been respectables in a Moslem country, and we were asked to join him in a "squar' drink," which means spirits without water. The mode of drinking was peculiar. Porter, after the preliminary sputation raised the glass with cocked little finger to his lips, with a twinkle of the eye ejaculated "Wheat!" that is to say "good," and drained the tumbler to the bottom: we acknowledged his civility with a "here's how," and drank Kentucky fashion, which in English is midshipman's grog. Of these "squar' drinks" we had at least four, which, however, did not shake Mr Rockwell's nerve, and then he sent out for more. Meanwhile he told us his last adventure, how when ascending the kanyon he suddenly found himself covered by two long rifles; how he had thrown himself from his horse, drawn his revolver and crept behind a bush, and how he had dared the enemy to come out and fight like men. He spoke of one Obry, a Frenchman, lately killed in a street quarrel, who rode on business from Santa Fe to Independence, about 600 miles in 110 hours. Porter offered, for the fun of the thing, to excel him by getting over 900 in 144. When he heard that I was preparing for California he gave me abundant good advice -
to carry a double barreled gun loaded with buck shot; to "keep my eyes skinned," especially in kanyons and ravines; to make at times a dark camp - that is to say, unhitching for supper and then hitching up and turning a few miles off the road - ever to be ready for attack when the animals were being inspanned and outspanned, and never to trust to appearances in an Indian country, where the red varmint will follow a man for weeks, perhaps peering through a wisp of grass on a hill top, till the time arrives for striking the blow. I observed that, when thus speaking, Porter's eyes assumed the expression of an old mountaineer's, ever rolling as if set in quicksilver. For the purpose of avoiding "White Indians," the worst of their kind, he advised me to shun the direct route, which he represented to be about as fit for traveling as is h--ll for a powder magazine, and to journey via Fillmore and the wonder bearing White Mountains; finally, he comforted me with an assurance that either the Indians would not attempt to attack us and our stock - ever a sore temptation to them - or that they would assault us in force and "wipe us out."
When the drinking was finished we exchanged a cordial poignee de main with Porter and our hospitable host, who appeared to be the creme de la creme of Utah County, and soon found ourselves again without the limits of Camp Floyd.
On the evening of the 25th of September, the judge, accompanied by his son and the Marshal of the Territory, entered the cantonment, and our departure was fixed for the next day. The morning of the start was spent in exchanging adieux and little gifts with men who had now become friends, and in stirrup cups which succeeded one another at no longer intervals than quarter hours. Judge Crosby, who had arrived by the last mail, kindly provided me with fishing tackle which could relieve a diet of eggs and bacon, and made me regret that I had not added to my outfit a Maynard. This, the best of breech loading guns, can also be loaded at the muzzle; a mere carbine in size , it kills at 1,300 yards, and in the United States costs only $40 = 8l. The judge, a remarkable contrast to the usual Elijah Pogram style that still affects bird's eye or speckled white tie, black satin waistcoat, and swallow tailed coat of rusty broadcloth, with terminations to match, had been employed for some time in Oregon and at St Juan; he knew one of my expatriated friends - poor J de C whose exile we all lament - and he gave me introductions which I found most useful in Carson Valley. Like the best Americans he spoke of the English as brothers, and freely owned the deficiencies of his government, especially in dealing with the frontier Indians.
We started from Lieutenant Dudley's hospitable quarters, where a crowd had collected to bid us farewell. The ambulance, with four mules driven by Mr Kennedy in person, stood at the door, and the parting stirrup cup was exhibited with a will. I bade farewell with a true regret to my kind and gallant hosts, whose brotherly attentions had made even wretched Camp Floyd a pleasant sejour to me. At the moment I write it is probably desolate: the "Secession" disturbances having necessitated the withdrawal of the unhappies from Utah Territory.
About 4 PM, as we mounted, a furious dust storm broke over the plain; perhaps it may account for our night's reprise, which a censorious reader might attribute to our copious libations of whisky. The road to the first mail station, "Meadow Creek," lay over a sage barren; we lost no time in missing it by forging to the west. After hopelessly driving about the country till 10 PM in the fine cool night, we knocked at a hut and induced the owner to appear. He was a Dane who spoke but little English, and his son," skeert" by our fierceness, began at once to boo hoo. At last, however, we were guided by our "foreloper" to "Johnston's settlement," in Rock Valley, and we entered by the unceremonious process of pulling down the zigzag fences. After some trouble we persuaded a Mormon to quit the bed in which his wife and children lay, to shake down for us sleeping places among the cats and hens on the floor , and to provide our animals with oats and hay. Mr Grice, the marshal, one of the handiest of men, who during his volunteer service in Mexico had learned most things from carrying a musket to cooking a steak, was kind enough to prepare our supper, after which, still sorely laden with whisky dying within us, we turned in.

(The City of the Saints, pp 444-451)

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