Independence Rock, Aug. 28, 1847.

Pres. Parley P. Pratt,

I last night had an interview with Gen. Rich and have within a few days seen most of the captains of the several divisions.  I find that since my last interview and ever since I wrote by Bro. Benson, a very material alteration has taken place, for the worse, with most of the camps that are behind.  Great numbers of the cattle have died, I believe for want of food, and others have been poisoned.  These reverses place several of the camps in a position wherein they are scarcely able to proceed.  I suppose that in three or four camps in four days past they are minus 40 head of cattle.  The fifty that I am in have last ten and one of Grant’s ten.  I suppose the others in the same ratio.  Gen. Rich’s company last four since they since came here.  We have yoked up every cow that we have in the company; some of the others have done the same.  You may judge of the situation of many when I tell you that I myself have lost seven oxen since I left Winter Quarters, and yet I am moving with my own teams because my teams are yet as strong as the rest of the company; but there is scarcely a day that two or three teams are not left behind in a company, thus detaining the whole.

Now, Elder Pratt, as the whole camp are looking to us, I think it would be best for you to halt in the first good place and request Elder Spencer to do the same and all the camp as they come up (for they are all now close here) and let us have a general council of all the officers, and if there are any loose cows, or other cattle in any of the companies, let them be all used, or if one company is stronger than another, let the strong help the weak; and I think it would be expedient to send messengers immediately to the Salt Lake Valley for them to send us all the assistance in their power forthwith.  If some active measures of this kind are not made use of, I am afraid that numbers in the camp, if not some of the camps, will be placed in a perilous situation.  I submit the above most respectfully to your consideration, assuring you that if duty did not demand it, I should be the last to do anything to retard your progress or to talk about our precarious circumstances.  I do it not on account of myself, but in behalf of the companies.  I still believe that with a united effort every wagon can pass the mountains in safety.

Your brother in Christ,

John Taylor.

When this letter reached Elder Pratt, he, and Elder Spencer added the following post scriptum and then forwarded the letter by messenger directed to President Brigham Young and the Council and to the people of the Great Salt Lake Valley:

South Pass, Sept. 1, 1847

Dear brethren of the Twelve and the brethren in the Valley.  The above is the latest news from the camps in the rear.

The first Fifty, first Hundred (Capt. Sessions) have lost an equal number, or more than those in the rear and can afford them no help.  Capt. Spencer’s Fifty in advance, where we are now writing, are able to proceed, but no help to spare.

I have advised all the companies to proceed slowly up the Sweetwater, recruiting as they advance, till help can be detailed.

We send this to you, requesting in behalf of Elder Taylor’s Hundred (Capt. Hunter commanding), in behalf of General Rich’s Fifty, Capt. Smoot’s Hundred and Capt. Grant’s Hundred, such assistance as can be offered to be sent on in haste.

Yours in haste,

P.P. Pratt.
Daniel Spencer.

[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Aug. 28, 1847, 2-4]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, July 2006]

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