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When Brigham Young heard of their plight, he criticized these poorer immigrants for lack of judgment and preparation but nevertheless dispatched search parties to rescue them. However, by the time they were found, many were already dead and others starving. The survivors were resuscitated enough to enable their trek through the snow drifts the rest of the distance to Salt Lake City.
A noteworthy aspect of the handcart pioneers' diaries is that none expressed regret for this alleged foolhardiness. They wrote about their hardships matter-of-factly, expressing admiration for their intrepid rescuers and thanks to God.
That they risked so much to make this pilgrimage is a testament to their faith. Later generations have come to recognize this heroism and identify the handcart as a symbol of the Mormon pioneering miracle. This book tells the factual story behind the true legend.