Smith’s men, members of Utah’s Nauvoo Legion militia, never engaged any Indians in combat, though they helped facilitate the resumption of the mail in June. Still, the mission was an important one — it marked Utah’s only significant military contribution to the Civil War, and a brief respite in the Mormons’ often-tense relationship with Washington.
On May 1, 1862, Capt. Lot Smith led a cavalry company of a little more than 100 volunteers from Salt Lake City east into the mountains. Their mission was simple: to help the Union Army guard the overland mail route and telegraph line in northern Utah and what is now southwestern Wyoming against Indian attacks.
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