[A SERGEANT FROM THE 18TH INFANTRY DISCUSSES LIFE AT FORT BRIDGER, THE SNAKE TRIBE, SEEING BRIGHAM YOUNG AND HIS WIVES, AND HIS LESS THAN FAVORABLE IMPRESSION OF “THE STYLE OF THE MORMONS.]; Two flirty, lonely-hearts, pen-pal letters from a young infantry sergeant stationed at Fort Bridger to a woman he has not met. Sgt. Harry Vincent, a pseudonym.
[A SERGEANT FROM THE 18TH INFANTRY DISCUSSES LIFE AT FORT BRIDGER, THE SNAKE TRIBE, SEEING BRIGHAM YOUNG AND HIS WIVES, AND HIS LESS THAN FAVORABLE IMPRESSION OF “THE STYLE OF THE MORMONS.]; Two flirty, lonely-hearts, pen-pal letters from a young infantry sergeant stationed at Fort Bridger to a woman he has not met
[A SERGEANT FROM THE 18TH INFANTRY DISCUSSES LIFE AT FORT BRIDGER, THE SNAKE TRIBE, SEEING BRIGHAM YOUNG AND HIS WIVES, AND HIS LESS THAN FAVORABLE IMPRESSION OF “THE STYLE OF THE MORMONS.]; Two flirty, lonely-hearts, pen-pal letters from a young infantry sergeant stationed at Fort Bridger to a woman he has not met
[A SERGEANT FROM THE 18TH INFANTRY DISCUSSES LIFE AT FORT BRIDGER, THE SNAKE TRIBE, SEEING BRIGHAM YOUNG AND HIS WIVES, AND HIS LESS THAN FAVORABLE IMPRESSION OF “THE STYLE OF THE MORMONS.]; Two flirty, lonely-hearts, pen-pal letters from a young infantry sergeant stationed at Fort Bridger to a woman he has not met

[A SERGEANT FROM THE 18TH INFANTRY DISCUSSES LIFE AT FORT BRIDGER, THE SNAKE TRIBE, SEEING BRIGHAM YOUNG AND HIS WIVES, AND HIS LESS THAN FAVORABLE IMPRESSION OF “THE STYLE OF THE MORMONS.]; Two flirty, lonely-hearts, pen-pal letters from a young infantry sergeant stationed at Fort Bridger to a woman he has not met

Ft. Bridger, Utah Territory: 1869. Envelope or Cover. Two letters, both sent at Brimfield, Massachusetts; one datelined “Fort Bridger, U.T. Jan. 30th 1869”, the other, ”Fort Bridger Mar 9th, 1869”. One is enclosed in an envelope franked with a 3-cent stamp (Scott #65) and bearing a faint circular fort postmark with cork killer. The enveloped is addressed “For Callie” in care of Mrs. Sarah J. Carpenter. In nice shape. Transcripts provided.

In these letters Vincent describes his life at Fort Bridger, heavy snow, delayed trains, Snake Indians, the mail, his impression of Mormons, and Brigham Young and his wives:

“This is a very lonesome place in wintertime but in the summer months it is the most beautiful little valley that I have seen surrounded by as it is by lofty snow caped mountains from the tops of which the snow never leaves. . .. I do get weary sometimes of army life [and] have been very lonesome for the last month on account of getting no mail the Road has been snowed up that the trains couldnt run . . . there is no Ladies here excepting a few of the officers wifes and their servant girls. I have seen B Young and some of his lovely wifes. He has (I believe) sixty five wifes in all. I don’t think that he would know them all if he would see them all together. Ft Bridger is not a town and the nearest R.R. is eight miles. . .. I have been to the city of Salt Lake it is a very nice place situated in a lovely valley. The streets are very wide with shade trees on either side of the streets and some beautiful buildings but I dont approve of the style of the Mormons at all in fact I would think my self very much degraded if found in company with one, but different people have different views of religion. . .. We have had no church here for nearly two months as our Chaplain is on furlough and wont be back for some time. We have a library here and I spend the most of my unocupyed time at the reading room. I have been away on a hunting excurtion and got back yesterday had a very pleasant time. There was fifteen of us (soldiers) and five Indians there is about five hundred Indians camped near the fort but they are very peacable this is the Snake tribe they are lazy and very filthy.”

Interestingly, Vincent has never met Callie, the woman to whom he writes through their mutual friend, and he tells her up-front that he will use a pseudonym until she sends him a photograph. Much of the letter is filled with interesting ‘get acquainted’ banter, including his response questions from Callie about marriage and propriety:

“Your favor of the 17th is received and . . . as for my Photograph . . . I would like to comply with your wishes, but unfortunately we have no artist here and I can’t get any taken at present but I am a going to take a trip to Salt Lake City next week & I shall get some then if you will promise me yours in return I will send you one but I can favor you with a lock of my hair & also a description I am from Pittsburg Pennsylvania am 21 years & one month eleven days old – medium hight – light complection blue eyes – weight one hundred & forty three lbs – have been in the army since I was sixteen years old. As to our getting married – it is not impossible yet hardly probable that is one thing that I never as yet thought much on & don’t expect to until I am out of the army which I am happy to say is but eleven months more. You say you think it is rather improper to write to a stranger now. I cannot see any harm in this way of passing a long evening as for the letters I assure you that no one sees them but myself and perhaps my confidential friend Ed Lee. . .. H.V. is not my true name . . . as you wish E.L.s picture along with mine I will send both on one card and I want you to make a guess which is mine and then I will tell you if you are right. . .. I do not use tobacco or indulge in drink stronger than coffee. I was taught by pious parents to abstain from all such evils as these. . .. The initials of my name is W.C.H. I will give it in full when you send me your picture. . ..”

Strangely, although Vincent promised that he would not share their communications with anyone except possibly his best friend, his letters are written in two different hands, and on one occasion Callie is mistakenly referred to as Carrie. Despite a claim to frequent the post library, perhaps he was illiterate or possibly his penmanship was embarrassingly atrocious that he asked others for assistance. Possibly, he was helped by officers’ wives as the handwriting and, at times, the content seems somewhat feminine. Regardless, these missives must have been important to Callie as she saved them.

Public records available through ancestry.com identify a Sarah J. Carpenter as well as several young women named Callie living in and around Brimfield in Hampden County at the time of these letters. Very good. Item #009616

In 1842, Jim Bridger, a fur-trapping mountain man, established a trading post along a fork of the Green River in what today is southwest Wyoming that became an important supply point for wagon trains on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails. With the arrival of the Latter-Day Saints in 1842, conflicts arose between the Mormons and Bridger over the price of his goods and his alcohol sales to local tribes.

After chasing Bridger away, the Latter-Day Saints ‘bought’ his trading post for $8,000 in a questionable agreement overseen by William Adams Hickman, the notorious Mormon assassin who had been John Smith’s bodyguard. As relations between the government and the Latter-Day Saints deteriorated, the Army was ordered to escort a new governor to the Utah to replace Brigham Young. Despite violent resistance by the Mormons, the Army prevailed and established a military presence at Fort Bridger that would intermittently continue until 1890. (For more information, see “Fort Bridger State Historic Site” at Legends of America, “Fort Bridger” at Wikipedia, and Hickman’s autobiography, Brigham's Destroying Angel: Being the Life, . . . of the Notorious Bill Hickman, the Danite Chief of Utah.)

Following the Civil War, the 18th Infantry Regiment was sent west to protect settlers and pioneers heading to the Pacific Coast.  Its companies deployed to various camps and garrisons throughout Nebraska, Dakota, Utah, and Colorado.  Its most infamous engagement was the annihilation of a patrol led by the overly-confident Captain Fetterman into an ambush by a combined force of more than a thousand Plains warriors.  All 81 members of Fetterman's patrol were killed, stripped naked, and horribly mutilated . . . not necessarily in that sequence.

These letters provide an overview of military-life in the Utah Territory and a 'gentile's' view of the Latter Day Saints, and they also shed insight into the manners of budding relationships during the mid-1800s.

Price: $1,500.00