Loose in the Stacks : A Half-Century with the Utah War and Its Legacy
Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought
MacKinnon has spent almost fifty years researching the Utah War. This interest began as an undergraduate student at Yale. He shares his research journey and lessons he has learned from his study. The first lesson is that the war is relatively unknown by most people. Part of the reason for this is that it has been overshadowed by the Civil War. MacKinnon also reports on his findings and ideas about the origins and accountabilities of the war. He feels that it began brewing over a decade before Johnston's Army set out for Utah, and that Buchanan and Young must both take blame for its inception. MacKinnon feels that it could have been avoided if the two leaders had been willing to communicate. In addition, many people have called this a bloodless conflict. He declares this to by a myth, tracing deaths caused by the expedition, and including the Mountain Meadows Massacre victims in the death toll. MacKinnon relates that many sources ended up in libraries in the United States and that he has also sifted through the research efforts of historians who either chose not to, or did not have the opportunity, to publish their findings on the Utah War. He states that "serendipity" has played a role in his research and that he learned to be aware of forged documents. Finally, he has formed many lasting friendships while pursuing this passion, and has made some discoveries that have surprised him.