Article of the Week | BYU Studies

Article of the Week

January 29, 2018
Article of the Week
"I Was Not Ready to Die Yet": William Stowell's Utah War Ordeal
Author R. Devan Jensen Author Kenneth L. Alford

This daily feature is the introduction to a full article by R. Devan Jensen and Kenneth L. Alford that was published in our newest issue, 56:4. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.

In the fall of 1857, young wives Cynthia Jane Stowell and Sophronia Stowell bade fare­well to their husband, William R. R. Stowell, a lieutenant in the Utah militia working to hinder the US Army from entering Utah Territory. That winter they received word that William had been captured and was being held prisoner at Camp Scott, in present-day Wyoming. The Utah War arose from a complex web of causes and motivations: federal and Utah territorial authorities often clashed regarding Mormon authority and influence in the territorial court sys­tem, the mail service, policies regarding American-Indian relations, polygamy, and the moral character of territorial appointees. In October 1857, Lieutenant William Stowell was serving as an adju­tant in Major Joseph Taylor's Nauvoo Legion infantry battalion. He and Joseph Taylor were captured by Captain Marcy. Taylor escaped, but Stowell was held through a freezing winter and released in June 1858. There was a joyful reunion with his wives and many children, who had struggled through the Move South and dealt with poverty and sickness.