SW10016: All Hell is Boiling Over: The Utah War’s California History

This presentation examines neglected aspects of the Utah War, when in early 1858, the Buchanan administration sought to reinforce Col. Albert Sidney Johnston’s Utah expedition–then snowbound at Fort Bridger–with a massive infusion of troops into Utah from the Pacific Coast, especially California. The paper tells the story of this plan’s origins, its sometimes bizarre development, and its quiet, mysterious abandonment. The paper provides a context for understanding the Pacific Coast implications, the war’s other unintended consequences, and the underlying premise that the war was not just a Utah phenomenon, but rather was a sprawling conflict with regional (Western) and even international sweep that included a significant and colorful California story.

William P. Mackinnon