In 1858, President James Buchanan sent United States Army General Albert Johnston and 2,500 troops to the Utah Territory to protect newly-appointed territorial leaders and put an end to a suspected rebellion. In response, the Brigham Young, territorial governor and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called Mormons) declared martial law and mobilized for war. What became known as the “Utah War'” or “Utah Expedition” began. Johnston’s army survived a harsh winter and a few raids from Latter-day Saints before they ultimately concluded that the Mormons were not in rebellion against the United States. The troops subsequently passed through the Salt Lake Valley and established a camp at Fairfield, a sparsely populated village that was far from major Latter-day Saint settlements. Johnston’s army called it “Camp Floyd'' after the then secretary of war, John B. Floyd.
Camp Floyd became a lively town with a population of more than 7,000 people at its peak. Then, in 1861, the United States redeployed the soldiers to the eastern theater of the escalating Civil War, leaving Camp Floyd completely abandoned. Almost nothing of the soldiers’ homes or the dugouts where they lived remains today. At the site, the old commissary building now serves as a state park museum, along with the Stagecoach Inn which was used in the overland trade that continued after the soldiers abandoned Camp Floyd. The only other evidence that remains of this once bustling military settlement is the cemetery where the soldiers and officers who perished there were buried.
Scholars believed that 84 people were buried in or close to the Camp Floyd Cemetery. Research has revealed that some of the people who buried there were not Camp Floyd soldiers. The actual location of all these 84 people’s remains is unknown. In 1913, those buried here were commemorated by one large headstone that was made from the stones of army barracks at Camp Floyd. After the land was turned over to the Utah State Park and Recreation Commission in 1959, the American Legion placed 84 headstones, evenly spaced throughout the cemetery. In 2009, researchers used ground penetrating radar technology, revealing the location of 33 bodies. In light of that discovery, in 2011, Camp Floyd State Park replaced the headstones to specifically mark the identified locations of the unidentified bodies. The park also added a sign at the entrance describing the people buried.