Published on March 1, 2013 by Carol
When the American Civil War began in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln was concerned that California, which had just recently become a state, would be cut off from the rest of the Union. He ordered several regiments to be raised from the population of California to help protect mail routes and the communications lines of the West. Neither Lincoln nor the U.S. War Department quite trusted the Mormons of the Utah Territory to remain loyal to the Union, in spite of their leader Young’s telegrams and assurances. The Utah War and Mountain Meadows massacre were still fresh in the minds of military planners. They worried that the Mormons’ substantial militia might answer only to Young and not the federal government
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Col. Patrick Edward Connor was put in command of the 3rd California Volunteer Infantry Regiment and ordered to move his men to Utah, to protect the Overland Mail Route and keep peace in the region. Upon arriving in Utah, he established Fort Douglas (adjacent to the current location of the University of Utah) as the primary base of operations for his unit. It was within sight of the Mormon Temple construction site and downtown Salt Lake City.