Brigham Young must have approached the general conference with heavy heart. He had been informed the day before that close to 2000 immigrants were on the plains, two handcart companies, two wagon companies, several freight companies. It was already early October.
Brighan Young had met with church leaders the evening before to discuss what was needed. The handcart plan was established with the idea that the Saints would be met on the plains with resupply wagons. This was lacking, and the handcart companies would be facing starvation rations.
And so Brigham Young introduced the theme of the conference:
"I will now give this people the subject and the text for the Elders who may speak today and during the conference. It is this. On the 5th day of October, 1856, many of our brethren and sisters are on the plains with handcarts, and probably many are now seven hundred miles from this place, and the must be brought here, we must send assistance to them. The text will be, 'to get them here.' I want the brethren who may speak to understand that their text is the people on the plains. And the subject matter for this community is to send for them and bring them in before winter sets in.
That is my religion; that is the dictation of the Holy Ghost that I possess. It is to save the people. This is the salvation I am now seeking for. To save our brethren that would be apt to perish, or suffer extremely, if we do not send them assistance...
I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one sould of you in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains."
An so was put into motion one of the greatest rescue operations of the Mormon migration. The rescuers would be successful in bringing many Saints to the valley, while over 200 of them would die along the trail. By the time the meeting had concluded men were making preparations to be part of the rescue. Women removed underlinens to donate to the cause.