Interlude : Fallout from the Mountain Meadows

Please read the email for details

Thoughts on what really Happened

First off, the players should feel very proud. In the real world, there were about a dozen children reunited by 1859 – but no one was arrested until 1874, and only one person was ever convicted. Your efforts accelerated the process, and the (first) convictions and executions happened within two years of the incident.

IRL the first published report is made by Major Carleton in spring 1859. The territorial government conducts follow-up interviews of several dozen militiamen (mostly anonymously). A federal judge publishes summaries of the interviews in late 1859 and names seven people as the “most guilty”. But the territory government and Buchanan’s administration are unsteady and weak, and nothing is done about it.

The incident lies dormant for over 10 years. Media attention and newspaper interest in the case picks back up in 1872. The incident is included in several popular books of western history, including ones by Mark Twain and T.B.H. Steinhouse.

The Utah state government reopens the case in 1874. Indictments are put out for nine people – five are arrested. $500 rewards are put out for the other four, but they are never arrested.

Four of the arrested militiamen are quickly released. Klingsmen turns state’s evidence. The prosecution elects not to proceed against Colonel Dame, Eliott Wilden & George Adair due to insufficient evidence.

Only John Lee goes to trial. His first trial in 1875 leads to a hung jury, and a second trial starts a year later in September 1876. He goes against the advice of counsel and makes only minimal attempts to defend himself – including allowing prior statements into testimony, minimal cross-examination of the witnesses, and presenting no defense of his own. He is convicted and sentenced to death.

While waiting for his execution, he publishes a book “The Confessions of John Lee”. He acknowledges his role in the assault on the camp, but complains that he is being scapegoated and the real masterminds are escaping justice. Most provocatively, he claims that George Smith (one of the “twelve apostles”, the governing body of the church) was sent from Salt Lake to Iron County specifically to engineer and direct the massacre.
Lee is the only person punished for his part in the massacre. The others (including the fourteen so-called “Self-Confessed” who made public confessions of their crimes) live quiet lives, many into the 1880s and a few into the early 1900s.

Interlude : The Election of 1858


Garrett Matthews (Kevin)
• +1 Wealth Level & one Eagle
• Hastings – Attitude downgrade

Gilbert Warfield (John)
• +1 Wealth Level & one Eagle
• Hastings – Attitude downgrade

Jess Connor (Dave)
• +1 Wealth Level
• Edward Beale – Owed one Favor (Take 10)
• John Weller – Owed one Favor (Take 10)
• Allegiance – Person (Edward Beale)
• Hastings – Attitude upgrade
• J. Neely Johnson – Attitude downgrade

Jane Wilson (Judi)
• Allegiance – Group (Republican Party)

John Jost Althaus (Greg)
• None

Samuel Davis (Daniel)
• +1 Wealth Level & one Eagle
• Hastings – Attitude downgrade


Beale is supporting the candidacy of his friends in the Society of California Pioneers – a fraternal organization open to those living in California prior to statehood (October 18, 1850). Historically they are mostly Democrats, though that affiliation is fraying as the old political parties rip apart.

These are the Californio landowners who kept their land, the former Army who settled farms, and the first generation of pioneers. The closest thing California has to “old money”. They ran the state in the 40s and early half of the 50s – and still control the institutions of government especially the federal departments.

Beale pays each county representative a salary in advance and a written note to his Sacramento attorney (Lansford Hastings) authorizing the withdrawal of additional funds to pay for your electioneering activity in the agreed county.

He expects you make good use of those funds – but leaves you to decide how to go about it.


Statewide results:
- Charles Scott easily wins reelection to the U.S. House. He remains one of the few figures popular across the state – with strong showing in the gold country, the central valley, southern farmlands and the major cities of San Francisco, Sacramento and Stockton.
- Joseph McKibbin unexpectedly wins reelection. Burch’s supporters believe that poor turnout in Nevada and San Francisco counties made the difference.
- Baker’s supporters believe that his loss was entirely due to late-minute funding of smear campaigns across the state.
- The American Party has lost its statewide power base, and the re-election of Gov J. Neely Johnson and his fellow travelers next year seems impossible.

Local county politics:
- Nevada becomes the stronghold of Republicanism. The last Dems are voted out of office, with only a few straggling American Party incumbents in local office.
- San Francisco fails to consolidate its Democratic or Republican leadership. Local government is owned by the People’s Party with state representatives favoring the American Party agenda.
- Sacramento and Stockton return narrow Democratic victories. Jess Connor is credited with the win – with a strategy that successfully triangulates the Republican, American and People’s Party platforms.
- Democrats and Anti-Lecomptons consolidate control of Southern California. No one from any other party was elected to legislative office, and very few to any local position.

Interlude : The Long Road Home to San Francisco

– added responses from John, Dave, Kevin, & Daniel


From James Carleton

Upgraded Opinion

  • Garrett Matthews (Kevin) : FRIENDLY
  • Gilbert Warfield (John) : INDIFFERENT
  • Jess Connor (Dave) : INDIFFERENT
  • Jane Wilson (Judi) : INDIFFERENT
  • Samuel Davis (Daniel) : FRIENDLY
    NOTE: Samuel & Garrett – You may “trade” your opinion upgrade for a written letter of recommendation from Carleton with official U.S. government seal. If you wish to do so, you must make this decision before the start of next session.

New Opinion

  • Gilbert Warfield (John) : INDIFFERENT

Saving your gear from the SS California

  • Sam Davis pays a Eagle to get the stevedores to unload your gear.

From Ned Beale

New Opinion

  • Gilbert Warfield (John) : INDIFFERENT

Attending the Democratic Fundraiser

  • NOTE: you must explicitly tell me that you attend the party before the next writeup is released, or you are not eligible for any rewards
  • Pick one of the ten “Rally Attendees” listed below. (default is Ned Beale). If you have no opinion with them, then you may now be INDIFFERENT or UNFRIENDLY (your choice). If you already have an opinion, then you can raise (or lower) that opinion one level.
  • Garrett Matthews (Kevin) : unknown
  • Gilbert Warfield (John) : unknown
  • Jess Connor (Dave) : unknown
  • Jane Wilson (Judi) : unknown
  • Samuel Davis (Daniel) : Raise J.J. Warner to FRIENDLY

“Better California, Better America” super-PAC county chairman

  • Let Ed know ASAP if you want to take up the offer to round-up votes for the 1858 Democratic ticket. Choice of county is first-come, first-served – it will be good money (at least one WL) if you take the work seriously.

- Nevada County : Gilbert Warfield
- Sacramento County : Jess Connor
- Placer County : Garrett Matthews
- San Francisco County : Samuel Davis

Chapter 10 - Chickens and Curses
They both come home to roost

roostingchickens.jpgAfter a difficult encounter with the Paiute war chiefs, the party is deep in unfriendly territory in the Red Cliffs. Now the path forward lies through fighting through enemies on all sides, resurrecting Mormon ghosts, and a final frightful confrontation.

The US Army is coming to Utah – but will the cavalry arrive in time to save our “concerned citizens”?

And even if they do – will they emerge any wiser about who is pulling their strings and why?

Chapter 9 - The Poisoned Well

The party survives two weeks in the deep desert, avoiding bandits and marauders.

Utah is definitely different from California. The Paiutes of Vegas and Moapa valleys are nervous, armed and adopting European ways – and the multiple tribes looking to be building a tenuous alliance, for unknown purposes. In St George, the Mormons are still reeling from the “invasion”.

And worst of all is Mountain Meadows. A massacre, with men, women and children all around – burned wagons and gear – and many broken arrows and the occasional bullet.

But only the vaguest clues can be found – including a few diaries and a strangely out of place young teenager.

Chapter 8 - The Devil Wind

September 1858

The mission started out as a civilian observer to the official investigation of Mountain Meadows. Now the Army has been draw off to respond to the Mojave attacks at the Colorado River – and the PCs are left outside of San Bernardino with limited supplies and facing a month long journey across the Mojave Desert and into the Utah Territory.

The third Indian uprising in as many years has settlers across three territories skiddish.

The PCs are stepping into a grisly murder.

What will happen next ??

Chapter 7 - The Blood of Arkansas

September 1858

Because of the troubles from “Buchanan’s Folly” (a/k/a the Mormon Rebellion) the federal government have not had access to southern Utah for almost a year – this has meant that Mormon Trail (Salt Lake City to Los Angeles) has become dangerous and deadly.

The most significant event happened in September 1857 when over 100 settlers from Arkansas were brutally murdered with no survivors by a war band of Paiute Indians. Now that there is a political resolution in place between Governor Young and the McCullough/Powell commission, the responsible tribes can be identified, disarmed and relocated. Thus making the trail safe for settlers again and continuing on our journey of California Progress.

Both old friends and new want the PCs involved – each with their own motivations and agendas.

The safety of Southern California is at risk …. 100 souls cry for justice … what will the PCs do?


Chapter 6 - Hot Time in Old San Francisco

June & July 1858

The group travels to San Francisco, the city by the bay, for rest and relaxation. The city is preparing for what might be its largest ever Independence Day celebration – though there is much debate on whether such celebration is appropriate for the Sabbath. Do our adventurers ever really get to rest?

Progress and California

Funding for the CCRR has been obtained – with multiple PCs as founding investors.

Site prep is going on at Mississippi Bar for the new railroad bridge over the American River – when finished it will be the largest and strongest bridge in California. But in the 1850s high-quality iron and steel has to be imported from the eastern foundries. Wilson has gone to New York to negotiate the supply of the cable wire for the bridge supports, the support beams, and the first sets of railroad ties – and the first load of supplies is on its way around the horn.

Garrett Mathews is travelling to San Francisco to oversee the first load of supplies for the CCRR and its transport on paddlewheel steamer to the docks at Sacramento.

Adventure Begins

We will pick up the story en route to San Fran. Not all is as it seems though, and many contacts and frenemies are expected to appear. Should be lighthearted though — focused more on negotiation, gambling/drinking, bar fights and maybe a little bit of industrial espionage.

Interlude : Someone to watch over you

Several letters of interest that the party receives in mid/late June 1858.

Letter #1 : To Jane Wilson

To : Mrs John Wilson, St George’s Hotel, Sacramento
From : Mrs. Aaron Sargent, Nevada City

I pray this letter finds you in good health and humor. Although we have had rare occasion to socialize, I always find our visits enlightening and entertaining – and so I hope you will forgive the forwardness of my desire to begin a correspondence.

May chance we shall have the opportunity to meet soon – which would bring me good joy. My husband has finished his sulking and promised to once again don his armor and enter the halls of power. I have informed him that he shall not leave three ladies at home saddened by his absence while he speaks, drinks and smokes his way across the west. So I am soon to tour our fair state, while playing not just wife but also nursemaid and tutor to dear little Ellen and Elizabeth.
More somberly, I have thought much on poor Lily V and the sorry events that orphaned her at such a tender age. She is fortunate to have family to care for her and honorable prospects – but all too many children could now be living a story even Mr. C. Dickens is loathe to write.

California needs more than man’s strength and sinew – she will need compassion, courage and empathy. Thus have I started to communicate with ladies of good character to discuss what this state should become and how we may effect it. I hope you will place thought on this as well, and share your intelligence in good time.

One final paragraph and admonition if I may be so bold. Through our mutual acquaintance Mr. L and my own inquiries, I have become aware of certain troubling events of the spring. I applaud your zeal and energy – but we must take care not to put our own soul in jeopardy, even in the execution of such a worthy cause.

Yours in Christ,
Ellen Clark Sargent

Letter #2 : To Samuel Davis

From “E.G. Waite, Nevada Journal, Nevada City” and addressed to “S. Davis, St Georges Hotel, Sacramento”

Inside is a packet of a

  • dozen newspaper clippings
  • small handwritten note : You should share your train story with H.H Bancroft. He pays well for that sort of tale – E.W.
  • reference letter

To Whom It May Concern

Be advised that Mr. Samuel Davis, originally of Baltimore and late of Nevada City and Sacramento did serve as writer for The Nevada Journal during the periods of 1857 and 1858.

During his tenure, he has worked on routine reporting and transcription of legislative and political matters, and also in the interview of social and cultural affairs as instructed. He also did occasion to perform his own investigations.

In all matters, his writing proved competent to the task and compelling to the reader. He was also punctual in his reporting on most all occasions – an important quality for contributors to a daily periodical.

Edwin Waite
Publisher, The Nevada Journal

Letter #3 : To Jost Althaus

Written in German. The return address is a street on Russian Hill in San Francisco.

Good Sir
I have heard that you possess three qualities of which I find myself in strong need – an honest and fearless German character, experience upon the southern trail – commonly called the Gila – and a strong sense of adventure.
It is my earnest desire to offer you a partnership in a most impressive expedition. The undoubted success of which promises to increase both our fortunes.
Please join me for sunset dinner on June 26th to discuss the adventure and its particulars. I would also invite you to bring a small number of companions that you might see fit to include as well.
Yours in earnest
J.Abraham, Esq

Letter #4 : To Gilbert Warfield

To: Gilbert R. Warfield, St George’s Hotel, Sacramento California
From: Isaac J. Wistar, Attorney at Law, Baker & Associate, San Francisco, California
Dear Mr. Warfield,
On May 31, 1858, our law firm was retained by Bejamin Warfield, Attorney at Law of Lexington, Kentucky. We were retained to be the custodians for the Elisha Warfield purchase in the CENTRAL CALIFORNIA RAILROAD and have been entrusted to see this matter to conclusion. The investiture of $10,000 in the CENTRAL CALIFORNIA RAILROAD is a matter for which you will duly understand is of the upmost of importance.
As a direct result of this, the Benjamin Warfield, Attorney at Law, has entrusted you, one Gilbert R. Warfield originally of Lexington, Kentucky, to be the guaranteed signature for the Elisha Warfield in all matters in regards to his investment in the CENTRAL CALIFORNIA RAILROAD for matters which can only be finalized the state of California.
The contract will be finalized here in our office in San Francisco, California no later than Monday, June 7, 1858. Shortly after that time, we will require your presence in our office to place your signature on the documents which will ensure your fathers investment in the CENTRAL CALIFORNIA RAILROAD. As you, yourself are also an investor of the CENTRAL CALIFORNIA RAILROAD you will recognize that this investment is time sensitive and we will need for you to present yourself on or before Monday, June 21, 1858.
Once the contract is signed, Mr. Elisha Warfield investments will be finalized and the funds will be forwarded to the Chemical Bank of New York.
I look forward to making your acquaintance.
Isaac J. Wistar
Attorney at Law

Letter #5 : To Garrett & Jess

The session will start with a conversation (and job opportunity) from Judah to support the CCRR.

Chapter 5 - Damsel in Distress

After surviving the first (attempted, not successful) train robbery west of the Mississippi, the Concerned Citizens arrive in Sacramento.

Violette Washington is deep in hiding in Napa County – but can she safe with two scoundrels hot on her trail?
Gilbert’s injuries have left him near death – will waiting for him to heal cost poor Violette her freedom?
Can our heroes escape a city enflamed by the Lee/Stovall case?

Tune in next time for the next exciting story in our thrilling tail of yester-year.