Late at night on June 26, 1866 a band of Timpanogos Indians led by Chief Mountain, came down Maple Canyon in Utah County and made a foray into the valley as far as Roundy's pasture (approx. three miles south of Maple Canyon near the foothills) and drove off some 15 horses and thirtyeight head of cattle that resulted in the deaths of six Natives and two whites.
This became known as the Diamond Battle which took place in the mountains of Little Diamond Fork in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah. There was no massacre here, contrary to popular belief, it was a gun fight at best.
There are two monuments that reference this event, the one pictured top of this page is at the mouth of Little Diamond erected by the Sons of the Utah Pioneers, and the one above here is near the top of Little Diamond Fork. Both commemorate the battle, neither of which mark the actual site where the battle took place. Studying several historical accounts we found discrepancies and decided to research the battle further and visit the site to determine where the actual location was. I give special recognition to Officer Shane Fredrickson of the Orem Police Swat Team for lending his expertise as an expert marksman, Earl David Ludvigson for his camera work, and my brother David Gottfredson for his expertise in surveying.
The conclusions from our research have helped to correct history in meaningful ways and brought to life a more accurate account of the Diamond Battle of 1866. We hope you will find our results interesting and insightful.
One story goes that a band of Timpanogos Indians, that stole the cattle, were estimated to be between 20 and 50 in number. We were able to narrow that down to a more accurate figure. The number of cattle reported taken varies also, depending who's account you are reading. One account (Indian Depredations in Utah) notes there were 38 cattle and 15 horses. This would be the more acccurate account by logic since there were 16 saddles found after the battle. Another reports there being 50 horses and 20 cattle. For the sake of argument it is more important to visualize there being approximately 50 animals both cattle and horses in all, perhaps more. Estimating the number of animals is important in helping us to understand how amazing the feat was to move animals and men over a rugged mountain pass at night, named Maple Canyon, that can be described as steep, narrow, and very rocky. I was unable to climb to the summit, too old, but local horsemen I spoke with said it was too steep for them to cross over the summit on horseback, being rocky and very difficult at the top.
This photo is Maple Canyon Trail leading to the pass (east bound from Mapleton) which drops over the mountain into Little Diamond Fork. This is the easy part of the trail. The rest becomes very rugged and narrow. It took only 2 hours, in the darkness of night, for 70 animals and 30 men to travel 16 miles up this trail.
The story continues that about 4:am on June 26, 1866 Indians led by warrior Chief Mountain, a brother of Timpanogos Chief Black Hawk, had taken cattle and horses from a ranch located on the foothills of Maple Mountain, or where Mapleton City, Utah is now located, and drove them through the rugged, narrow canyon east over the summit into Little Diamond Creek. There they rested for awhile in a "broad open area" thinking they had out smarted the ranchers and had a good leed on them.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, around 8:am, Colonel Creer of the Nauvoo Militia (Mormon army) brought together some men to go after the Indians. There was Alma Spafford, H.O. Crandall, T.L. Mendenhall, J.A. Grosbeck, John Edmundson, Loren Dibble, D.C. Johnson, and an old soldier named Gillispe, Wily Thomas, and Al Dimmick.
About 9:am a second squad of men from Springville followed behind Creer's men, and among them were three anxious boys determined to ride ahead of the others in pursuit of the Indians.
Where the snow ends on the right in this photo is the top of Little Diamond Creek as you descend from Maple Canyon. This location, where this photo was taken from, and is where the marker in the above photo (The rock) is located as being the location of the battle. The creek runs through a narrow canyon of the mountain shown. The marker, not visible here, sits in the area of the lower left hand corner of the photo, but is about one mile above where the actual battle site is located.
Standing directly in front of the marker (the rock) claiming to be the site where the battle took place, this area could not have been the "broad flat meadow area" described in the accounts, nor would it accommodate 50 animals and 16 or so men. And there are no "knolls" essential to the story either, as I will explain.
We have established that Creer and his men in hot pursuit of the Indians, rode as fast as was possible up the steep Maple canyon, over the summit, and dropped down into Little Diamond creek on the east side of Maple Mountain. The three boys trailing behind, described as "young mad-caps", who were anxious to find the Indians road on ahead, came to a knoll where they spotted some of Creer's men hunkered down in a clump of trees firing at the Timpanogos who were to the south of the area. There they waited for the rest to catch up, and when they came down the canyon, the three men to arrive earlier shouted to Creer's posse of men to get their attention, and pointed to the Indians who were just around the bend and below the knoll.
Exactly one mile down the canyon east of the rock monument, (Location of the monument is over the far ridge above my right hand), is the knoll from the three men saw Creer and alerted the posse that they had spotted the Indians just around the opposite side of the knoll from where I am sitting and to the left of me. From here I could see the battle site on my left side and the advancing posse from my right.
The story continues that Creer and some of his men advanced to the top of the knoll, where the three boys were, and hunkered down when they were attacked by Timpanogos warriors from behind. Two of the attackers were killed, and Creer and his men began firing on the Indians camped below. It is said, "the battle went on for a couple of hours when warrior Mountain road up on top of the opposite knoll in the far distance being 800 yards away. Mountain, who knew Dimmick, began harassing Dimmick calling him a 'coward and a squaw', when Dimmick stood up and fired at Chief Mountain, only to be gunned down as a result." Dimmick was mortally wounded and taken to the "shade of a tree" on the north side of the knoll. That tree still stands. It is said that, "Creer selected five long rifles and fired at Mountain five times at a distance of "800 yards," and the fifth shot appeared to hit Mountain causing him to slump over his horse. Mountain disappeared over the back side of the knoll."
This is the actual site where the battle took place. All of the stories elements are here. From the knoll, upon which I am standing, I am pointing to the large flat meadow area where Chief Mountain, the cattle, and his men were. I am pointing directly at the thicket where Mountain and his men made their escape, and one white man was killed. Creer and his men where here on the knoll where I am standing, and where Dimick was shot. The knoll in the distance, just at the end the row of trees is where Chief Mountain was allegedly wounded by Creer. A distance of 250 yards, not the "800 yards" as told by one account. We are looking east in this photo, and the second far distant knoll is where the Diamond Fork River and Little Diamond Creek converge.
In this photo we are in the cover of the trees in the thicket looking back up at the knoll where Creer and his men were firing at the Indians. Distance: 250 yards. Then just to the left of the round tree on the very top of the knoll is where I was standing in the previous picture. To the right of the round tree and down the side of the knoll is where Dimmick lay dying under a Juniper tree.
When Chief Mountain was allegedly wounded, the Indians where seen escaping to the south side of the knoll and headed north up the canyon toward the reservation. The three "young mad-caps" road after them into the thicket and more gun fire was heard, two retreated, and then silence. When Creer and the others arrived at the gruesome scene a total of four Timpanogos lay dead in the thicket. Edmonson, however, was no where to be found. It wasn't until the following day when a search party from Springville discovered his body about three quarters of a mile north of where the battle took place. He had been stripped of his shirt, shot twice through the heart at point blank, scalped, and his missing right hand severed from his wrist.
The Timpanogos having made their escape, Creer and his men rounded up what remained of their cattle and horses. The Indians had left behind a number of camping items. There was a new lariat rope, knives, blankets, 16 saddles, and axes. Much of the items were gathered up and they began to discuss which route they should take to get back home. Fearful of being attacked at night, it was argued that taking the easier route down Spanish Fork Canyon would be too dangerous not knowing if Mountain and his warriors were still in the area. After much discussion they decided to take the same trail back through Maple canyon. While Dimmick lay dying beneath the tree, he begged the men to shoot him he was in so much pain. Around midnight, they built a liter to carry him on and began their trip over the summit and back to Mapleton, but near the top of the mountain Dimmick died.
The posse arrived back in Springville about 3:am the next day, and the town came out to greet them. They were heralded as heroes. It was recorded in Springville history that it was Black Hawk that was shot during the battle. It was bragged that Creer had shot him with a rifle at a distance of 800 yards. Of coarse none of this was true. It was Chief Mountain, the brother of Chief Black Hawk, who was allegedly wounded. Just a week or or so prior to this battle, Black Hawk had received a gun shot wound to the stomach while in battle at Gravely Ford, he was not present here at Diamond Fork. (see Gravely Ford story here)
If we return to the site again and survey the distances, we soon discover that 800 yards is a very long distance to hit a target even for an expert marksman. David, our surveyor, measured 800 yards with his instrument, and a man at 800 yards away would appear to be about a half inch tall in a rifle's sight with the naked eye. Today's high powered rifles with high powered scopes can hit a target at that distance, but with with difficulty, according to our expert marksman. We are talking over a hundred and thirty years ago, and while long rifles were accurate for around 300 yards, hitting a man on a horse at 800 yards would be all but impossible.
We're confident that we have found the exact site where the battle occurred. All of the elements essential to the story of the Diamond Battle work out perfectly in this location. The two knolls, the wide open flat area, the stream to water 70 animals, the escape route to the south, the thicket where Edmundson and four Timpanogos died, and the tree where Dimmick lay dying. All of the elements as described by firsthand accounts come together at this location. The second monument marking the location of the battle is located one mile east of the site, or where the road begins westerly to Little Diamond. It also should be noted that the cottonwood trees in the thicket area are well over a hundred years old and we had no problem agreeing that they could have been there at the time. The tree where Dimmick lay dying is an old Juniper tree, and again there is little doubt it was the tree depicted in the stories.
Source material: Indian Depredations in Utah by Peter Gottfredson; Utah's Black Hawk War by John Alton Peterson. Family photos courtesy of Franklin Nielsen.
June 25, 2008
Today I had the honor of meeting the descendents of Albert Dimmick at the site of the above event. I had been invited by LaMar Adams who is the President of the Maple Mountain chapter of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers. Linda Dimmick asked if I would speak and tell the story of the event. And following the rededication of the monument depicted in the photo at the top of this page, I gave the family a tour of the battle site.
Indeed it was a great experience meeting Albert Dimmick's family and sharing their story. Always when meeting descendents of those who's ancestors were involved in the Black Hawk War is both emotional, and brings to mind that these stories are not just folklore, that the legacy of these events continue to inform our lives to this day in ways we can't fully comprehend and appreciate. Albert Dimmick died with honor, courageously defending the lives of his friends that day.
My gratitude goes out to the Dimmick family for spending the day with me. And may we always keep the memories of our ancestors alive for generations to come.
Thank you for your kindness and for giving me a copy of your families record of the event.
Note: As of 6/3/2015 recent research shows that "Chief Mountain" was Timpanogos Indian and not Ute. Further it is also established that the band of Indians were also Timpanogos and not Ute. (See: Utah's Timpanogos Are Snake-Shoshone - No Relation to Utes )
GPS Coordinates to Battle site: 40*04'11.18" N 111*26'10.74" W