Mormon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Utah War, William Stowell, Cynthia Jane Stowell, Sophronia Stowell, Brigham Young, Camp Scott, prisoner of war, Utah Expedition, 1857 1858, Alfred Cumming, Randolph B. Marcy, Lot Smith, Echo Canyon War, Delana R. Eckels, Utah Territory, Move South, Orson Hyde, Thomas L. Kane, Utah militia, Nauvoo Legion


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.

Original Publication Citation

Devan R. Jensen and Kenneth L. Alford, "'I was not ready to die yet': William Stowell’s Utah War Ordeal," BYU Studies Quarterly 56, no. 4 (Fall 2017): 29–52.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

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BYU Studies Quarterly




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor