Utah Diamond Creek Battle 1866

by Author Phillip B Gottfredson

 

Diamond Battle monument

(Linda and Ward Dimmick)

Updated January 2020

 

The Spanish Fork Diamond Creek battle took place at the peak of the Black Hawk War at Spanish Fork canyon in 1866. Timpanogos Chief Sanpitch just six days before had been murdered near Nephi, Sanpitch was the father of Antonga Black Hawk; and five days before that the Circleville Massacre took place. The Black Hawk War had been going on since the massacres at Battle Creek, above Pleasant Grove 1849, and Fort Utah 1850. Then the Bear River Massacre took place in 1863, add that pandemic of smallpox was spreading among the Timpanogos. Prior to this event some 17 bloody confrontations had already taken place between the Timpanogos Nation and Mormon invaders, and the war would continue for another six years.

In 1865 Timpanogos Principal Chief Arapeen died from the smallpox that had spread among the Nation. The Nation's leadership was then passed to his brother Tabby (Tabiona) who remained in leadership as Principal Chief until his death circa 1898. Chief Tabby now the Principal leader of the Timpanogos, in 1865 called upon Black Hawk to lead his warriors into battle against Mormon colonists. Black Hawk asks for solidarity and support from surrounding Tribes such as the Colorado Utes, Arizona Navajo, New Mexico Apache, and Colorado Comanche to name some, all then agreed it was in their best interest to assist in pushing back on the Mormons under the leadership of Black Hawk. This is the only time members of the Colorado Utes were involved in the Black Hawk War as volunteer warriors subordinate to the War Chief Black Hawk. Among those was a warrior known as Mountain. Because Black Hawk refers to Mountain as his "brother" historians assume he was a blood relative. In the Indian way, someone who is especially close may be called 'brother', or 'cousin' which are terms of affection. Vital records show Mountain was from the Uinta Band of the Colorado Utes, whereas Black Hawk was a Snake-Shoshoni Timpanogos. Two different Tribes. Timpanogos are Shoshone and are not related to the Utes of Colorado. For more detailed information on the Timpanogos and Ute tribes please read The Timpanogos Ute Oxymoron.

The Timpanogos since Mormon Colonists arrived in 1847, had made every effort to avoid bloodshed. When Black Hawk led his warriors he told them not to kill anyone except in self defense. Black Hawk's plan was to undermine the Mormon's economy by taking their cattle, which they did by the thousands, and drove them to market. He flooded the cattle markets which caused them to collapse. Black Hawk nearly succeeded in pushing the Mormons out of Utah causing the evacuation of some seventy Mormon villages. Black Hawk was shot in the stomach at Gravely Ford near Richfield in June of 1866, a fatal wound that he would later die from in 1870.

The Spanish Fork Diamond Battle was just one of over 150 bloody confrontations that took place between the years 1849 and 1873 in Utah.

The Diamond Battle

Late at night on June 26, 1866 a band of Timpanogos Indians led by a Colorado Ute warrior named 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 thirty eight 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.

Black Hawk Battle Marker

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 an 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 stole cattle and horses which 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 depending who's account you are reading.  One account (Indian Depredations in Utah by great-grandfather Peter Gottfredson) notes there were 38 cattle and 15 horses. This would be the more accurate account by reason since there were 16 saddles found after the battle. For the sake of argument it is more important to visualize there being  approximately 53 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.

Maple Canyon above Mapleton, Utah. 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 53 animals and some 12 Native braves to travel 16 miles up this trail.

The story continues that about 4:am on June 26, 1866 Indians led by a Colorado Ute warrior named Mountain, a friend of Timpanogos Chief Antonga Black Hawk, had taken cattle and horses from a ranch located on the foothills of Maple Mountain, above Mapleton City, Utah, 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 may have out smarted the ranchers and had a good lead on them.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, around 8am, 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, 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.

Little Diamond location Spanish Fork, Utah.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.

 

Historian Phillip B Gottfredson researching Little Diamond Fork battle site.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 53 tired and thursty animals and 12 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 under cover 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.

Historian Phillip B Gottfredson doing field research of the Little Diamond battle site in Spanish Fork Utah.In this photo I am on top of a 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), this is the knoll from which the three men saw Creer and alerted the posse that they had spotted the Indians just around the opposite side of the knoll to the left from where I am sitting. From here I could see the battle site on my left side and an 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 suddenly attacked by Timpanogos warriors from behind. Two of the attackers were killed, while 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 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."

 

Site of the Diamond Battle June 26, 1866

Little Diamond Fork Canyon, Spanish Fork, Utah

 

Historian Phillip B Gottfredson points out where Colorado warrior Chief Mountain was shot during the Little Diamond Battle. This is the actual site where the battle took place. All of the elements in the stories are here. From the knoll, upon which I am standing, I am pointing to the large flat meadow area where warrior 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. Looking at the knoll in the distance, just at the end the row of trees is where Mountain was allegedly wounded by Creer. A distance of 250 yards, not the "800 yards" as told in 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.

 

Little Diamond Battle siteIn this photo we are in the cover of the trees in the thicket below looking back up at the knoll where Creer and his men were firing at the Timpanogos. 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 warrior Mountain was allegedly wounded, the Indians where seen escaping to the south side of the knoll and then headed north up the canyon toward Timpanogos Mountain and on through Strawberry to 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 survivors having made their escape, Creer and his men rounded up what remained of their cattle and horses. The Timpanogos 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 to Mapleton. 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 Antonga 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 Mountain, a friend of Chief Black Hawk. Black Hawk wasn't even there, he was most likely mourning the death of his father Sanpitch that occured just days before.

If we return to the site again and survey the distances, we 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 surveying 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, some say more, hitting a man on a horse at 800 yards would be a lucky shot.

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 and coincide with written accounts. The two knolls, the wide open flat area, the stream to water 53 animals, the escape route to the south, the thicket where Edmundson and four Timpanogos died, and the tree where Dimmick lay mortally wounded. 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 might have been there at the time. The tree where Dimmick lay dying is an old Juniper tree, and again there was little doubt it was the tree depicted in the stories.

Source material: Indian Depredations in Utah by Peter Gottfredson; Timpanogos Nation; Utah's Black Hawk War by John Alton Peterson. Family photos courtesy of Franklin Nielsen.

Decedents of Albert Dimmick Diamond Battle

Decedents of Albert Dimmick

Open Letter:

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.

With kindness,

Phil Gottfredson

Note: As of 6/3/2015 recent research shows that "Chief Mountain" was a Colorado Ute and was part of the volunteer warriors who had agreed to stand in unity with Antonga Black Hawk. Further it is also established that the band of Indians in this event at Little Diamond were members of the Timpanogos Nation and not Ute. Black Hawk was a nephew of Chief Wakara who was the principal leader of the Timpanogos until his death in 1855.

GPS Coordinates to Battle site: 40*04'11.18" N  111*26'10.74" W