This article originally appeared in Vol.65, No.3 (2018) of Pioneer Magazine.
by Pioneer Magazine
A soldier newly stationed at camp floyd wrote the following description of the isolated post as he viewed it on his arrival on September 25, 1858, roughly two months after it was established. This is an excerpt from a longer letter that was published in the Philadelphia Daily Evening Bulletin on November 11, 1858. The writer used the name “Utah” in the datelines of the several letters he wrote to the newspaper while stationed at Camp Floyd. His real name is not known for certain, but it is understood that he was a native of Germany.
“Camp Floyd is one of the most miserable, disagreeable and uninteresting places that ever disgraced the earth. It is built upon a dry plain, entirely destitute of grass, or, indeed, any vegetation except the sage, that flourishes where nothing else will grow. The dry clay, pulverized by the numerous wagons passing in and about the camp, forms a fine dust, that drifts with blinding fury for miles around. When the wind blows, the dust drives through the camp so fierce and thick, that you can scarce see three yards ahead, and sore eyes, red and inflamed, are everywhere met with.
“The troops here are as yet in tents, but quarters built of ‘dobied’ sun-dried brick are in rapid progress. In about two weeks I presume Uncle Sam will have a mud village reared in Cedar Valley. There is no water near here except a little dirty stream that runs near the west end of the camp, scarcely large enough to drown a mouse. To obtain wood we have to send nearly twelve miles, and there they have nothing but light cedar. And yet this place is the headquarters of the department of Utah, and of four regiments of the army—2d Dragoons, and the 5th, 7th, and 10th Infantries. Besides these regiments there are four companies of Artillery here, so that we have a pretty strong corps: and not at all liable to attack from either Mormon or Indian.
“General Johnston is here, but as he has command of the Department, the post is under the command of Col. Morrison of the 7th Infantry. Col. Cooke, the commander of our regiment, is absent, and Lieutenant Colonel Howe has command pro-tem. He is an energetic, enterprising officer, and under his direction the ‘doby’ houses are getting along with marvelous rapidity. We have four fine regimental bands here that at different times during the day discourse most excellent music for the benefit of the soldiers.
Were it not for the dust and the barrenness of the soil Camp Floyd would be quite a pleasant place, but as it is now, it is almost intolerable, and though Gen. Johnston may be a man of energy, tact, and bravery, he is by no means a man of taste, at least Camp Floyd is evidence that such is the case.”
Source: Harold D. Langley, To Utah With the Dragoons (1974), 86-7,90.