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To celebrate the study of the Doctrine & Covenants and Church History this year, Meridian is serializing The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother.
To see the previous installment, click here.
Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother—
By Lucy Mack Smith
Hyrum Smith gives sworn statement of the trials, tribulations, abuses, and privations of the Saints in Missouri. Mob action at Far West, Diahman, DeWitt, and Haun’s Mill. Missouri militia marches on Far West to lay siege to the city. Joseph, Hyrum, and others are taken prisoner and marched to Independence, Richmond, and Liberty. Sufferings and privations of these leaders and the Saints in general are enumerated. Joseph and others spend six months under guard and in prison. Sufferings of the brethren in Liberty Jail. More than twelve thousand Saints are driven from Missouri. Brethren are aided in escaping.
March 1838 to April 1839
Here I shall introduce a brief history of our troubles in Missouri, given by my son Hyrum when Joseph was before the municipal court at Nauvoo, June 30, 1843, on a writ of habeas corpus:
Hyrum Smith, sworn, said that the defendant now in court is his brother, and that his name is not Joseph Smith Jr., but his name is Joseph Smith Sr.[i]and has been for more than two years past.
“I have been acquainted with him ever since he was born, which was thirty-seven years in December last, and I have not been absent from him at any one time, not even the space of six months, since his birth, to my recollection, and have been intimately acquainted with all his sayings, doings, business transactions, and movements, as much as any one man could be acquainted with any other man’s business, up to the present time, and do know that he has not committed treason against any state in the Union, by any overt act, or by levying war, or by aiding and abetting, or assisting an enemy, in any state of the Union. And that the said Joseph Smith has not committed treason in the state of Missouri, nor violated any law or rule of said state, I being personally acquainted with the transactions and doings of said Smith, whilst he resided in said state, which was for about six months in the year 1838; I being also a resident in said state, during the same period of time. And I do know that said Joseph Smith never was subject to military duty in any state, neither was he in the state of Missouri, he being exempt by the amputation or extraction of a bone from his leg, and by his having a license to preach the gospel, or being in other words, a minister of the gospel. And I do know that said Smith never bore arms as a military man, in any capacity whatever, whilst in the state of Missouri, or previous to that time; neither has he given any orders, or assumed any command in any capacity whatever.
“But I do know that whilst he was in the state of Missouri, that the people commonly called ‘Mormons,’ were threatened with violence and extermination; and on or about the first Monday in August, 1838,[ii] at the election at Gallatin, the county seat in Daviess County, the citizens who were commonly called ‘Mormons’ were forbidden to exercise the rights of franchise, and from that unhallowed circumstance an affray commenced, and a fight ensued among the citizens of that place, and from that time a mob commenced gathering in that county, threatening the extermination of the ‘Mormons.’ The said Smith, and myself, upon hearing that mobs were collecting together, and that they had also murdered two of the citizens of the same place, and would not suffer them to be buried, the said Smith and myself went over to Daviess County to learn the particulars of the affray; but upon our arrival at Diahman,[iii] we learned that none were killed, but several were wounded.
“We tarried all night at Colonel Lyman Wight’s. The next morning, the weather being very warm, and having been very dry for some time previous, the springs and wells in that region were dried up. On mounting our horses to return, we rode up to Mr. Black’s, who was then an acting justice of the peace, to obtain some water for ourselves and horses. Some few of the citizens accompanied us there, and after obtaining the refreshment of water, Mr. Black was asked by said Joseph Smith if he would use his influence to see that the laws were faithfully executed and to put down mob violence, and he gave us a paper written by his own hand, stating that he would do so. He [Joseph Smith] also requested him to call together the most influential men of the county the next day, that we might have an interview with them. To this he acquiesced, and accordingly, the next day they assembled at the house of Colonel Wight and entered into a mutual covenant of peace to put down mob violence and to protect each other in the enjoyment of their rights. After this, we all parted with the best of feelings, and each man returned to his own home.
“This mutual agreement of peace, however, did not last long; for, a few days afterwards, the mob began to collect again, until several hundreds rendezvoused at Millport, a few miles distant from Diahman. They immediately commenced making aggressions upon the citizens called ‘Mormons,’ taking away their hogs and cattle, and threatening them with extermination, or utter extinction, saying that they had a cannon, and there should be no compromise only at its mouth. They frequently took men, women, and children prisoners, whipping them and lacerating their bodies with hickory withes, and tying them to trees, and depriving them of food until they were compelled to gnaw the bark from the trees to which they were bound in order to sustain life, treating them in the most cruel manner they could invent or think of, and doing everything they could to excite the indignation of the ‘Mormon’ people to rescue them, in order that they might make that a pretext for an accusation for the breach of the law, and that they might the better excite the prejudice of the populace, and thereby get aid and assistance to carry out their hellish purposes of extermination.
“Immediately on the authentication of these facts, messengers were dispatched from Far West to Austin A. King, judge of the fifth judicial district of the state of Missouri, and also to Major-General Atchison, commander-in-chief of that division, and Brigadier-General Doniphan,[iv] giving them information of the existing facts and demanding immediate assistance.
“General Atchison returned with the messengers and went immediately to Diahman and from thence to Millport, and he found the facts were true as reported to him; that the citizens of that county were assembled together in a hostile attitude, to the amount of two to three hundred men, threatening the utter extermination of the ‘Mormons.’ He immediately returned to Clay County and ordered out a sufficient military force to quell the mob.
“Immediately after they were dispersed and the army returned, the mob commenced collecting again. Soon after, we again applied for military aid, when General Doniphan came out with a force of sixty armed men to Far West; but they were in such a state of insubordination, that he said he could not control them, and it was thought advisable by Colonel Hinckle, Mr. Rigdon, and others, that they should return home. General Doniphan ordered Colonel Hinckle to call out the militia of Caldwell, and defend the town against the mob, for, said he, ‘you have great reason to be alarmed,’ for, he said, Neil Gilliam, from Platte County, had come down with two hundred armed men, and had taken up their station at Hunter’s Mill, a place distant about seventeen or eighteen miles northwest of the town of Far West, and, also, that an armed force had collected again at Millport, in Daviess County, consisting of several hundred men, and that another armed force had collected at DeWitt, in Carroll County, about fifty miles southeast of Far West, where about seventy families of the ‘Mormon’ people had settled, upon the bank of the Missouri River, at a little town called DeWitt.
“Immediately, whilst he was yet talking, a messenger came in from DeWitt, stating that three or four hundred men had assembled together at that place, armed cap-a-pie,[v] and that they threatened the utter extinction of the citizens of that place if they did not leave the place immediately; and that they also surrounded the town and cut off all supplies of food, so that many of them were suffering with hunger.
“General Doniphan seemed to be very much alarmed, and appeared to be willing to do all he could to assist and to relieve the sufferings of the ‘Mormon’ people. He advised that a petition be immediately got up and sent to the governor. A petition was accordingly prepared, and a messenger immediately dispatched to the governor,[vi] and another petition was sent to Judge King.
“The ‘Mormon’ people throughout the country were in a great state of alarm, and also in great distress. They saw themselves completely surrounded with armed forces on the north, and on the northwest, and on the south. Bogart, who was a Methodist preacher and who was then a captain over a militia company of fifty soldiers, but who had added to his number out of the surrounding counties about a hundred more, which made his force about one hundred and fifty strong, was stationed at Crooked Creek, sending out his scouting parties, taking men, women, and children prisoners, driving off cattle, hogs, and horses, entering into every house on Log and Long Creeks, rifling their houses of their most precious articles, such as money, bedding, and clothing, taking all their old muskets and their rifles or military implements, threatening the people with instant death if they did not deliver up all their precious things and enter into a covenant to leave the state or go into the city of Far West by the next morning, saying that they ‘calculated to drive the people into Far West, and then drive them to hell.’ Gilliam also was doing the same on the northwest side of Far West; and Sashiel Woods, a Presbyterian minister, was the leader of the mob in Daviess County; and a very noted man of the same society was the leader of the mob in Carroll County; and they were also sending out their scouting parties, robbing and pillaging houses, driving away hogs, horses, and cattle, taking men, women and children, and carrying them off, threatening their lives, and subjecting them to all manner of abuses that they could invent or think of.
“Under this state of alarm, excitement and distress, the messengers returned from the governor, and from the other authorities, bringing the fatal news that the ‘Mormons’ could have no assistance. They stated that the governor said that the ‘Mormons’ had got into a difficulty with the citizens, and they might fight it out for all what he cared. He could not render them any assistance.
“The people of DeWitt were obliged to leave their homes and go into Far West; but did not do so until many of them had starved to death for want of proper sustenance, and several died on the road there and were buried by the wayside without a coffin or a funeral ceremony. The distress, sufferings, and privations of the people cannot be expressed.
“All the scattered families of the ‘Mormon’ people, in all the counties except Daviess were driven into Far West, with but few exceptions. This only increased their distress, for many thousands who were driven there had no habitations or houses to shelter them and were huddled together, some in tents, and others under blankets, while others had no shelter from the inclemency of the weather. Nearly two months the people had been in this awful state of consternation, many of them had been killed, whilst others had been whipped until they had to swathe up their bowels to prevent them from falling out.
“About this time General Parks, who was one of the commissioned officers, came out from Richmond, Ray County, to Diahman, and I, myself, and my brother Joseph Smith went out at the same time.
“On the evening that General Parks arrived at Diahman, the wife of the late Don Carlos Smith,[vii] my brother, came into Colonel Wight’s about eleven o’clock at night, bringing her two children along with her, one about two and a half years old, the other a babe in her arms.[viii] She came in on foot, a distance of three miles, and waded Grand River, and the water was then about waist deep, and the snow about three inches deep. She stated that a party of the mob, a gang of ruffians, had turned her out of doors, had taken her household goods, and had burnt up her house, and she had escaped by the skin of her teeth. Her husband at that time was in Virginia,[ix] and she was living alone.
“This cruel transaction excited the feelings of the people of Diahman, especially of Colonel Wight, and he asked General Parks in my hearing how long we had got to suffer such base treatment. General Parks said he did not know how long. Colonel Wight then asked him what should be done. General Parks told him he ‘should take a company of men, well armed, and go and disperse the mob wherever he should find any collected together, and take away their arms.’ Colonel Wight did so precisely, according to the orders of General Parks, and my brother, Joseph Smith, made no order about it.
“And after Colonel Wight had dispersed the mob, and put a stop to their burning houses belonging to the ‘Mormon’ people and turning women and children out of doors, which they had done up to that time, to the amount of eight or ten houses, which were consumed to ashes, after being cut short in their intended designs, the mob started up a new plan. They went to work and moved their families out of the county, and set fire to their houses, and not being able to incense the ‘Mormons’ to commit crimes, they had recourse to this stratagem-to set their houses on fire and send runners into all the counties adjacent to declare to the people, that the ‘Mormons’ had burned up their houses and destroyed their fields; and if the people would not believe them, they would tell them to go and see if what they had said was not true. Many people came to see-they saw the houses burning; and being filled with prejudice, they could not be made to believe, but that the ‘Mormons’ set them on fire; which deed was most diabolical and of the blackest kind; for indeed the ‘Mormons’ did not set them on fire nor meddle with their houses or their fields.
“And the houses that were burnt, together with the pre-emption rights, and the corn in the fields, had all been previously purchased by the ‘Mormons’ of the people, and paid for in money, and with wagons and horses, and with other property about two weeks before; but they had not taken possession of the premises. This wicked transaction was for the purpose of clandestinely exciting the minds of a prejudiced populace and the executive, that they might get an order, that they could the more easily carry out their hellish purposes in expulsion or extermination or utter extinction of the ‘Mormon’ people.
“After witnessing the distressed situation of the people in Diahman, my brother, Joseph Smith, and myself, returned back to the city of Far West and immediately dispatched a messenger with written documents to General Atchison, stating the facts as they did then exist, praying for assistance if possible, and requesting the editor of the Far West to insert the same in his newspaper, but he utterly refused to do so.
“We still believed that we should get assistance from the governor and again petitioned him, praying for assistance, setting forth our distressed situation. And in the meantime, the presiding judge of the county court issued orders, upon affidavits made to him by citizens, to the sheriff of the county to order out the militia of the county to stand in constant readiness night and day to prevent the citizens from being massacred, which fearful situation they were exposed to every moment.
“Everything was very portentous and alarming. Notwithstanding all this, there was a ray of hope yet existing in the minds of the people that the governor would render us assistance. And whilst the people were waiting anxiously for deliverance-men, women, and children frightened, praying and weeping-we beheld at a distance, crossing the prairies and approaching the town, a large army in military array, brandishing their glittering swords in the sunshine; and we would not but feel joyful for a moment, thinking that probably the governor had sent an armed force to our relief, notwithstanding the awful forebodings that pervaded our breasts.
“But to our great surprise when the army arrived, they came up and formed a line in double file within one-half mile on the east[x] of the city of Far West, and dispatched three messengers with a white flag to come to the city. They were met by Captain Morey with a few other individuals, whose names I do not now recollect. I was, myself, standing close by, and could very distinctly hear every word they said.
“Being filled with anxiety, I rushed forward to the spot, expecting to hear good news, but, alas! and heart-thrilling to every soul that heard them-they demanded three persons to be brought out of the city, before they should massacre the rest. The names of the persons they demanded were Adam Lightner, John Cleminson, and his wife. Immediately the three persons were brought forth to hold an interview with the officers who had made the demand, and the officers told them they had now a chance to save their lives, for they calculated to destroy the people, and lay the city in ashes. They replied to the officers, and said, ‘If the people must be destroyed, and the city burned to ashes, we will remain in the city and die with them.’ The officers immediately returned, and the army retreated and encamped about a mile and a half from the city.
“A messenger was immediately dispatched with a white flag, from the colonel of the militia of Far West requesting an interview with General Atchison and General Doniphan; but, as the messenger approached the camp, he was shot at by Bogart, the Methodist preacher. The name of the messenger was Charles C. Rich,[xi] who is now brigadier-general of the Nauvoo Legion. However, he gained permission to see General Doniphan. He also requested an interview with General Atchison. General Doniphan said, that General Atchison had been dismounted by a special order of the governor, a few miles back, and had been sent back to Liberty, Clay County. He also stated, that the reason was, that he (Atchison) was too merciful unto the ‘Mormons’ and Boggs would not let him have the command, but had given it to General Lucas,[xii] who was from Jackson County, and whose heart had become hardened by his former acts of rapine and bloodshed, he being one of the leaders in murdering, driving, plundering, and burning some two or three hundred houses belonging to the ‘Mormon’ people in that county, in the years 1833 and 1834.
“Mr. Rich requested General Doniphan to spare the people and not suffer them to be massacred until the next morning, it then being evening. He coolly agreed that he would not and also said, that he had not as yet received the governor’s order, but expected it every hour and should not make any further move until he had received it; but he would not make any promises so far as regards Neil Gilliam’s army, (he having arrived a few minutes previously, and joined the main body of the army, he knowing well at what hour to form a junction with the main body).
“Mr. Rich then returned to the city, giving this information. The colonel [G. M. Hinckle] immediately dispatched a second messenger with a white flag to request another interview with General Doniphan in order to touch his sympathy and compassion, and if it were possible for him to use his best endeavors to preserve the lives of the people. On the return of this messenger, we learned that several persons had been killed by some of the soldiers, who were under the command of General Lucas.
“One Mr. Carey had his brains knocked out by the breech of a gun, and he lay bleeding several hours, but his family were not permitted to approach him, nor any one else allowed to administer relief to him whilst he lay upon the ground in the agonies of death. Mr. Carey had just arrived in the country, from the state of Ohio, only a few hours previous to the arrival of the army. He had a family consisting of a wife and several small children. He was buried by Lucius N. Scovil, who is now the senior warden of the Nauvoo Legion.
“Another man, of the name of John Tanner, was knocked on the head at the same time, and his skull laid bare the width of a man’s hand, and he lay, to all appearance, in the agonies of death for several hours; but by the permission of General Doniphan, his friends brought him out of the camp, and with good nursing he slowly recovered, and is now living.
“There was another man, whose name is Powell, who was beaten on the head with the breech of a gun until his skull was fractured. He is now alive, and resides in this [Hancock] county, but has lost the use of his senses. Several persons of his family were also left for dead, but have since recovered.
“These acts of barbarity were also committed by the soldiers under the command of General Lucas, previous to having received the governor’s order of extermination.[xiii]
“It was on the evening of the thirtieth of October, according to the best of my recollection, that the army arrived at Far West, the sun about half an hour high. In a few moments afterwards, Cornelius Gilliam arrived with his army and formed a junction. This Gilliam had been stationed at Hunter’s Mill for about two months previous to that time-committing depredations upon the inhabitants, capturing men, women and children, and carrying them off as prisoners, lacerating their bodies with hickory withes.
“The army of Gilliam were painted like Indians, some of them were more conspicuous than others, designated by red spots, and he also was painted in a similar manner, with red spots marked on his face, and styled himself the ‘Delaware Chief.’ They would whoop, and halloo, and yell, as nearly like Indians as they could, and continued to do so all that night.
“In the morning early the colonel of the militia [G. M. Hinckle] sent a messenger into the camp, with a white flag, to have another interview with General Doniphan. On his return, he informed us that the governor’s order had arrived. General Doniphan said that the order of the governor was to exterminate the ‘Mormons,’ but he would be d–d if he would obey that order, but General Lucas might do as he pleased.
“We immediately learned from General Doniphan, that the governor’s order that had arrived was only a copy of the original, and that the original order was in the hands of Major-General Clark,[xiv] who was on his way to Far West, with an additional army of six thousand men.
“Immediately after this there came into the city a messenger from Haun’s Mill, bringing the intelligence of an awful massacre of the people who were residing in that place, and that a force of two or three hundred, detached from the main body of the army, under the superior command of Colonel Ashley, but under the immediate command of Captain Nehemiah Comstock, who, the day previous, had promised them peace and protection, but on receiving a copy of the governor’s order, ‘to exterminate or expel,’ from the hands of Colonel Ashley, he returned upon them the following day, and surprised and massacred the whole population of the town, and then came on to the town of Far West, and entered into conjunction with the main body of the army.[xv]
“The messenger informed us that he, himself, with a few others, fled into the thickets which preserved them from the massacre, and on the following morning they returned and collected the dead bodies of the people, and cast them into a well; and there were upwards of twenty who were dead or mortally wounded, and there are several of the wounded, who are now living in this city. One, by the name of Yocum, has lately had his leg amputated, in consequence of wounds he then received. He had a ball shot through his head, which entered near his eye and came out at the back part of his head, and another ball passed through one of his arms.
“The army during all the while they had been encamped in Far West, continued to lay waste fields of corn, making hogs, sheep and cattle common plunder, and shooting them down for sport.
“One man shot a cow and took a strip of her skin the width of his hand, from her head to her tail, and tied it around a tree to slip his halter into to tie his horse to.
“The city was surrounded with a strong guard, and no man, woman, or child was permitted to go out or come in under the penalty of death. Many of the citizens were shot, in attempting to get out to obtain sustenance for themselves and families. There was one field fenced in, consisting of twelve hundred acres, mostly covered with corn. It was entirely laid waste by the horses of the army.
“The next day after the arrival of the army, towards evening, Col. Hinckle came up from the camp, requesting to see my brother Joseph, Parley P. Pratt, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, and George W. Robinson, stating that the officers of the army wanted a mutual consultation with those men. Hinckle also assured them that these Generals Doniphan, Lucas, Wilson and Graham, (however, General Graham is an honorable exception; he did all he could to preserve the lives of the people, contrary to the order of the governor,) had pledged their sacred honor, that they should not be abused or insulted; but should be guarded back in safety in the morning, or so soon as the consultation was over.
“My brother Joseph replied that he did not know what good he could do in any consultation, as he was only a private individual. However, he said that he was always willing to do all the good he could and would obey every law of the land, and then leave the event with God.
“They immediately started with Colonel Hinckle to go down into the camp. As they were going down, about halfway to the camp, they met General Lucas with a phalanx of men, with a wing to the right and to the left and a four-pounder in the center. They supposed he was coming with his strong force to guard them into the camp in safety; but, to their surprise, when they came up to General Lucas, he ordered his men to surround them, and Hinckle stepped up to the general and said, ‘These are the prisoners I agreed to deliver up.’
“General Lucas drew his sword, and said, ‘Gentlemen, you are my prisoners,’ and about that time the main army were on their march to meet them.
“They came up in two divisions and opened to the right and left, and my brother and his friends were marched down through their lines with a strong guard in front and the cannon in the rear to the camp, amidst the whoopings, howlings, yellings, and shoutings of the army, which were so horrid and terrific, that they frightened the inhabitants of the city. It is impossible to describe the feelings of horror and distress of the people.
“After being thus betrayed, they were placed under a strong guard of thirty men, armed cap-a-pie, which were relieved every two hours. There they were compelled to lie on the cold ground that night and were told in plain language that they need never expect their liberties again.[xvi] So far for their honors pledged! However, this was as much as could be expected from a mob under the garb of military and executive authority in the state of Missouri.
“On the next day, the soldiers were permitted to patrol the streets, to abuse and insult the people at their leisure, and enter into the houses and pillage them and ravish the women, taking away every gun and every other kind of arms or military implements. About twelve o’clock that day, Colonel Hinckle came to my house with an armed force, opened the door and called me out of doors and delivered me up as a prisoner unto that force. They surrounded me and commanded me to march into the camp. I told them that I could not go; my family were sick, and I was sick myself, and could not leave home. They said they did not care for that-I must and should go. I asked when they would permit me to return. They made me no answer, but forced me along with the point of the bayonet into the camp, and put me under the same guard with my brother Joseph; and within about half an hour afterwards, Amasa Lyman was also brought and placed under the same guard. There we were compelled to stay all that night and lie on the ground. But some time in the same night, Colonel Hinckle came to me and told me that he had been pleading my case before the court-martial, but he was afraid he would not succeed.
“He said there was a court-martial then in session, consisting of thirteen or fourteen officers; Circuit Judge Austin A. King, and Mr. Birch, district attorney; also Sashiel Woods, Presbyterian priest, and about twenty other priests of the different religious denominations in that country. He said they were determined to shoot us on the next morning in the public square in Far West. I made him no reply.
“On the next morning about sunrise, General Doniphan ordered his brigade to take up the line of march and leave the camp. He came to us where we were under guard to shake hands with us and bid us farewell. His first salutation was, ‘By G–d, you have been sentenced by the court-martial to be shot this morning; but I will be d–d if I will have any of the honor of it, or any of the disgrace of it, therefore I have ordered my brigade to take up the line of march and to leave the camp, for I consider it to be cold-blooded murder, and I bid you farewell,’ and he went away.
“This movement of General Doniphan made considerable excitement in the army, and there was considerable whisperings amongst the officers. We listened very attentively and frequently heard it mentioned by the guard that ‘the d–d Mormons would not be shot this time.’
“In a few moments the guard was relieved by a new set. One of those new guards said that ‘the d–d Mormons would not be shot this time,’ for the movement of General Doniphan had frustrated the whole plan, and that the officers had called another court-martial and had ordered us to be taken to Jackson County and there to be executed; and in a few moments two large wagons drove up, and we were ordered to get into them; and while we were getting into them, there came up four or five men armed with guns, who drew up and snapped their guns at us in order to kill us. Some flashed in the pan, and others only snapped, but none of their guns went off. They were immediately arrested by several officers, and their guns taken from them, and the drivers drove off.
“We requested General Lucas to let us go to our houses and get some clothing. In order to do this, we had to be driven up into the city. It was with much difficulty that we could get his permission to go and see our families and get some clothing; but, after considerable consultation, we were permitted to go under a strong guard of five or six men to each of us, and we were not permitted to speak to any one of our families, under the pain of death. The guard that went with me ordered my wife to get me some clothes immediately, within two minutes; and if she did not do it, I should go off without them.
“I was obliged to submit to their tyrannical orders, however painful it was, with my wife and children clinging to my arms and to the skirts of my garments, and was not permitted to utter to them a word of consolation, and in a moment was hurried away from them at the point of the bayonet.[xvii]
“We were hurried back to the wagons and ordered into them, all in about the same space of time. In the meanwhile, our father, and mother, and sister had forced their way to the wagons to get permission to see us, but were forbidden to speak to us and we were immediately driven off for Jackson County. We traveled about twelve miles that evening, and encamped for the night.[xviii]
“The same strong guard was kept around us and was relieved every two hours, and we were permitted to sleep on the ground. The nights were then cold with considerable snow on the ground, and for the want of covering and clothing, we suffered extremely with the cold. That night was the commencement of a fit of sickness from which I have not wholly recovered unto this day,[xix] in consequence of my exposure to the inclemency of the weather.
“Our provision was fresh beef, roasted in the fire on a stick; the army having no bread, in consequence of the want of mills to grind the grain.
“In the morning, at the dawn of day, we were forced on our journey, and were exhibited to the inhabitants along the road, the same as they exhibit a caravan of elephants or camels. We were examined from head to foot by men, women, and children, only I believe they did not make us open our mouths to look at our teeth.[xx] This treatment was continued incessantly until we arrived at Independence, in Jackson County.
“After our arrival at Independence, we were driven all through the town for inspection, and then we were ordered into an old log house and there kept under guard as usual until supper, which was served up to us as we sat upon the floor or on billets of wood, and we were compelled to stay in that house all that night and the next day.
“They continued to exhibit us to the public by letting the people come in and examine us, and then go away and give place for others alternately, all that day and the next night. But on the morning of the following day we were all permitted to go to the tavern to eat and sleep; but afterwards they made us pay our own expenses for board, lodging, and attendance, and for which they made a most exorbitant charge.
“We remained in the tavern about two days and two nights, when an officer arrived with authority from General Clark to take us back to Richmond, Ray County, where the general had arrived with his army, to await our arrival. But on the morning of our start for Richmond, we were informed by General Wilson that it was expected by the soldiers that we would be hung up by the necks on the road while on the march to that place, and that it was prevented by a demand made for us by General Clark, who had the command in consequence of authority; and that it was his prerogative to execute us himself.
“During our stay at Independence, the officers informed us that there were eight or ten horses in the place belonging to the ‘Mormon’ people, which had been stolen by the soldiers, and that we might have two of them to ride upon if we would cause them to be sent back to the owners after our arrival at Richmond. We accepted of them and they were ridden to Richmond, and the owners came there and got them.
“We started in the morning under our new officer, Colonel Price, of Keytsville, Chariton County, Missouri, with several other men to guard us. We arrived there on Friday evening, the ninth day of November, and were thrust into an old log house with a strong guard placed over us. After we had been there for the space of half an hour, there came in a man who was said to have some notoriety in the penitentiary, bringing in his hands a quantity of chains and padlocks. He said he was commanded by General Clark to put us in chains.
“Immediately the soldiers rose up, and pointing their guns at us, placed their thumb on the cock and their finger on the trigger, and the state’s prison keeper went to work putting a chain around the leg of each man and fastening it on with a padlock, until we were all chained together, seven of us.[xxi]
“In a few moments General Clark came in. We requested to know of him what was the cause of all this harsh and cruel treatment. He refused to give us any information at that time, but said he would in a few days; so we were compelled to continue in that situation-camping on the floor, all chained together, without any chance or means to be made comfortable, having to eat our victuals as they were served up to us, using our fingers and teeth instead of knives and forks.[xxii]
“Whilst we were in this situation, a young man of the name of Jedediah M. Grant,[xxiii] brother-in-law to my brother, William Smith, came to see us and put up at the tavern where General Clark made his quarters. He happened to come in time to see General Clark make choice of his men to shoot us on Monday morning, the twelfth day of November. He saw them make choice of their rifles and load them with two balls in each; and after they had prepared their guns, General Clark saluted them by saying, ‘Gentlemen, you shall have the honor of shooting the “Mormon” leaders on Monday morning at eight o’clock!’
“But in consequence of the influence of our friend, the inhuman general was intimidated so that he durst not carry his murderous design into execution, and sent a messenger immediately to Fort Leavenworth to obtain the military code of laws.
“After the messenger’s return, the general was employed nearly a whole week examining the laws, so Monday passed away without our being shot. However, it seemed like foolishness to me for so great a man as General Clark pretended to be, should have to search the military law to find out whether preachers of the gospel, who never did military duty, could be subjected to court-martial.
“However, the general seemed to learn the fact after searching the military code, and came into the old log cabin, where we were under guard and in chains, and told us he had concluded to deliver us over to the civil authorities, as persons guilty of treason, murder, arson, larceny, theft, and stealing. The poor, deluded general did not know the difference between theft, larceny, and stealing.
“Accordingly, we were handed over to the pretended civil authorities, and the next morning our chains were taken off, and we were guarded to the courthouse where there was a pretended court in session; Austin A. King being the judge and Mr. Birch the district attorney, the two extremely, and very honorable gentlemen, who sat on the court-martial when we were sentenced to be shot!
“Witnesses were called up and sworn, at the point of the bayonet, and if they would not swear to the things they were told to do, they were threatened with instant death; and I do know, positively, that the evidence given in by those men, whilst under duress, was false.
“This state of things was continued twelve or fourteen days, and after that we were ordered by the judge to introduce some rebutting evidence, saying if we did not do it, we would be thrust into prison. I could hardly understand what the judge meant, for I considered we were in prison already and could not think of anything but the persecutions of the days of Nero, knowing that it was a religious persecution and the court an inquisition; however, we gave him the names of forty persons who were acquainted with all the persecutions and sufferings of the people.
“The judge made out a subpoena and inserted the names of those men and caused it to be placed in the hands of Bogart, the notorious Methodist minister; and he took fifty armed soldiers and started for Far West. I saw the subpoena given to him and his company, when they started.
“In the course of a few days, they returned with most of all those forty men, whose names were inserted in the subpoena, and thrust them into jail, and we were not permitted to bring one of them before the court; but the judge turned upon us, with an air of indignation, and said, ‘Gentlemen, you must get your witnesses, or you shall be committed to jail immediately, for we are not going to hold the court open, on expense, much longer for you, anyhow.’
“We felt very much distressed and oppressed at that time. Colonel Wight said, ‘What shall we do? Our witnesses are all thrust into prison, and probably will be, and we have no power to do anything; of course we must submit to this tyranny and oppression; we cannot help ourselves.’
“Several others made similar expressions, in the agony of their souls, but my brother Joseph did not say anything, he being sick at that time with the toothache, and pain in his face, in consequence of a severe cold brought on by being exposed to the severity of the weather. However, it was considered best by General Doniphan and Lawyer Reese that we should try to get some witnesses, before the pretended court.
“Accordingly, I myself gave the names of about twenty other persons; the judge inserted them in a subpoena, and caused it to be placed in the hands of Bogart, the Methodist priest, and he again started off with his fifty soldiers, to take those men prisoners, as he had done to the forty others.
“The judge sat and laughed at the good opportunity of getting the names, that they might the more easily capture them, and so bring them down to be thrust into prison in order to prevent us from getting the truth before the pretended court, of which himself was the chief inquisitor or conspirator. Bogart returned from his second expedition, with one witness only, whom he also thrust into prison.
“The people at Far West had learned the intrigue and had left the state, having been made acquainted with the treatment of the former witnesses. But we, on learning that we could not obtain witnesses, whilst privately consulting with each other what we should do, discovered a Mr. Allen, standing by the window on the outside of the house. We beckoned to him as though we would have him come in. He immediately came in.
“At that time Judge King retorted upon us again, saying, ‘Gentlemen, are you not going to introduce some witnesses?’-also saying it was the last day he should hold the testimony open for us, and if we did not rebut the testimony that had been given against us, he should have to commit us to jail.
“I had then got Mr. Allen into the house, and before the court (so called) I told the judge we had one witness, if he would be so good as to put him under oath. He seemed unwilling to do so, but after a few moments’ consultation, the state’s attorney arose and said, he should object to that witness being sworn, and that he should object to that witness giving his evidence at all, stating that this was not a court to try the case, but only a court of investigation on the part of the state.
“Upon this, General Doniphan arose, and said he would be G–d d–d, if the witness should not be sworn, and that it was a d–d shame, that these defendants should be treated in this manner, that they could not be permitted to get one witness before the court, whilst all their witnesses, even forty at a time, have been taken by force of arms and thrust into the ‘bull pen,’ in order to prevent them from giving their testimony.
“After Doniphan sat down, the judge permitted the witness to be sworn and enter upon his testimony. But as soon as he began to speak, a man by the name of Cook, who was a brother-in-law to priest Bogart, the Methodist, and who was a lieutenant [in the state militia], and whose place at that time was to superintend the guard, stepped in before the pretended court, and took him by the nape of his neck and jammed his head down under the pole or log of wood that was placed up around the place where the inquisition was sitting, to keep the bystanders from intruding upon the majesty of the inquisitors, and jammed him along to the door, and kicked him out of doors. He instantly turned to some soldiers, who were standing by him, and said to them, ‘Go and shoot him, d–n him, shoot him, d–n him.’
“The soldiers ran after the man to shoot him. He fled for his life, and with great difficulty made his escape. The pretended court immediately arose, and we were ordered to be carried to Liberty, Clay County, and there to be thrust into jail. We endeavored to find out for what cause, but, all that we could learn was, because we were ‘Mormons.’
“The next morning a large wagon drove up to the door, and a blacksmith came into the house with some chains and handcuffs. He said his orders from the judge were to handcuff us and chain us together. He informed us that the judge had made out a mittimus, and sentenced us to jail for treason. He also said the judge had done this, that we might not get bail. He also said the judge stated his intention to keep us in jail until all the ‘Mormons’ were driven out of the state. He also said that the judge had further stated, that if he let us out before the ‘Mormons’ had left the state, that we would not let them leave, and there would be another d–d fuss kicked up. I also heard the judge say myself, whilst he was sitting in his pretended court, that there was no law for us nor the ‘Mormons’ in the state of Missouri; that he had sworn to see them exterminated and to see the governor’s order executed to the very letter, and that he would do so. However, the blacksmith proceeded and put the irons upon us, and we were ordered into the wagon, and were driven off for Clay County. As we journeyed along on the road, we were exhibited to the inhabitants, and this course was adopted all the way, thus making a public exhibition of us until we arrived at Liberty, Clay County.
“There we were thrust into prison again and locked up and were held there in close confinement for the space of six months,[xxiv] and our place of lodging was the square side of a hewed white oak log, and our food was anything but good and decent. Poison was administered to us three or four times. The effect it had upon our system was that it vomited us almost to death, and then we would lay some two or three days in a torpid, stupid state, not even caring or wishing for life-the poison being administered in too large doses, or it would inevitably have proved fatal, had not the power of Jehovah interposed on our behalf to save us from their wicked purpose.
“We were also subjected to the necessity of eating human flesh for the space of five days or go without food, except a little coffee or a little corn bread. The latter I chose in preference to the former. We none of us partook of the flesh, except Lyman Wight. We also heard the guard which was placed over us making sport of us, saying they had fed us on ‘Mormon’ beef.[xxv] I have described the appearance of this flesh to several experienced physicians and they have decided that it was human flesh. We learned afterwards, by one of the guard, that it was supposed that that act of savage cannibalism in feeding us with human flesh would be considered a popular deed of notoriety: but the people, on learning that it would not take, tried to keep it secret; but the fact was noised abroad before they took that precaution.
“Whilst we were incarcerated in prison, we petitioned the supreme court of the state of Missouri twice for habeas corpus but were refused both times, by Judge Reynolds, who is now the governor of that state. We also petitioned one of the county judges for a writ of habeas corpus, which was granted in about three weeks afterwards, but we were not permitted to have any trial. We were only taken out of jail and kept out for a few hours, and then remanded back again.[xxvi]
“In the course of three or four days after that time, Judge Turnham came into the jail in the evening and said he had permitted Mr. Rigdon to get bail, but said he had to do it in the night and unknown to any of the citizens or they would kill him, for they had sworn to kill him if they could find him.[xxvii] And as to the rest of us, he dared not let us go, for fear of his own life as well as ours. He said it was d–d hard to be confined under such circumstances; for he knew we were innocent men, and he said the people also knew it; and that it was only a persecution and treachery, and the scenes of Jackson County acted over again for fear that we would become too numerous in that upper country. He said the plan was concocted from the governor down to the lowest judge, and that that Baptist priest, Riley, was riding into town every day to watch the people, stirring up the mind of the people against us all he could, exciting them and stirring up their religious prejudices against us for fear they would let us go. Mr. Rigdon, however, got bail, and made his escape to Illinois.
“The jailer, Samuel Tillery, Esq., told us also that the whole plan was concocted by the governor, down to the lowest judge, in that upper country early in the previous spring, and that the plan was more fully carried out at the time that General Atchison went down to Jefferson City with Generals Wilson, Lucas, and Gilliam, the self-styled ‘Delaware Chief.’ This was sometime in the month of September, when the mob were collected at DeWitt in Carroll County. He also told us that the governor was now ashamed of the whole transaction, and would be glad to set us at liberty if he dared to do it. ‘But,’ said he, ‘you need not be concerned, for the governor has laid a plan for your release.’ He also said that Esquire Birch, the state’s attorney, was appointed to be circuit judge, on the circuit passing through Daviess County, and that he (Birch) was instructed to fix the papers, so that we would be sure to be clear of any incumbrance in a very short time.
“Sometime in April we were taken to Daviess County,[xxviii] as they said, to have a trial. But when we arrived at that place, instead of finding a court or jury, we found another inquisition, and Birch, who was the district attorney-the same man who was the one of the court-martial when we were sentenced to death-was now the circuit judge of that pretended court, and the grand jury that was empaneled were all at the massacre at Haun’s Mill, and lively actors in that awful, solemn, disgraceful, cool-blooded murder; and all the pretense they made of excuse was, they had done it because the governor ordered them to do it.
“The same men sat as a jury in the daytime and were placed over us as a guard in the nighttime. They tantalized us and boasted of their great achievements at Haun’s Mill and at other places, telling us how many houses they had burned, and how many sheep, cattle, and hogs they had driven off belonging to the ‘Mormons,’ and how many rapes they had committed, and what kicking and squealing there was . . . , saying that they lashed one woman upon one of the d–d ‘Mormon’ meeting benches, tying her hands and her feet fast, and sixteen of them abused her as much as they had a mind to, and then left her bound and exposed in that distressed condition. These fiends of the lower regions boasted of these acts of barbarity and tantalized our feelings with them for ten days. We had heard of these acts of cruelty previous to this time, but we were slow to believe that such acts had been perpetrated. The lady who was the subject of this brutality did not recover her health to be able to help herself for more than three months afterwards.
“This grand jury constantly celebrated their achievements with grog and glass in hand like the Indian warriors at their war dances, singing and telling each other of their exploits in murdering the ‘Mormons,’ in plundering their houses and carrying off their property. At the end of every song they would bring in the chorus, ‘. . .[xxix] Mormons! we have sent them to hell.’ Then they would slap their hands and shout, ‘Hosanna! Hosanna! Glory to God!’ and fall down on their backs and kick with their feet a few moments. Then they would pretend to have swooned away into a glorious trance, in order to imitate some of the transactions at camp meetings. Then they would pretend to come out of the trance, and would shout and again slap their hands and jump up, while one would take a bottle of whiskey and a tumbler and turn it out full of whisky and pour down each other’s necks, crying, ‘. . . Take it; you must take it!’ And if anyone refused to drink the whiskey, others would clinch him and hold him, whilst another poured it down his neck; and what did not go down the inside went down the outside.
“This is a part of the farce acted out by the grand jury of Daviess County, whilst they stood over us as guards for ten nights successively. And all this in the presence of the great Judge Birch, who had previously said, in our hearing, that there was no law for the ‘Mormons’ in the state of Missouri. His brother was there acting as district attorney in that circuit, and if anything, was a greater ruffian than the judge.
“After all their ten days of drunkenness, we were informed that we were indicted for ‘treason, murder, arson, larceny, theft, and stealing.’ We asked for a change of venue from the county to Marion County, but they would not grant it, but they gave us a change of venue from Daviess to Boone County, and a mittimus was made out by the pretended Judge Birch, without date, name, or place.
“They fitted us out with a two-horse wagon and horses, and four men, besides the sheriff, to be our guard. There were five of us. We started from Gallatin in the afternoon, the sun about two hours high, and went as far as Diahman that evening, and stayed till morning. There we bought two horses of the guard, and paid for one of them in our clothing which we had with us, and for the other we gave our note.[xxx]
“We went down that day as far as Judge Morin’s, a distance of some four or five miles. There we stayed until the morning when we started on our journey to Boone County, and traveled on the road about twenty miles distance. There we bought a jug of whiskey, with which we treated the company, and while there the sheriff showed us the mittimus before referred to, without date or signature, and said that Judge Birch told him never to carry us to Boone County, and never to show the mittimus ‘and,’ said he, ‘I shall take a good drink of grog, and go to bed, you may do as you have a mind to.’ Three others of the guard drank pretty freely of whiskey, sweetened with honey; they also went to bed, and were soon asleep, and the other guard went along with us and helped to saddle the horses.
“Two of us mounted the horses, and the other three started on foot, and we took our change of venue for the state of Illinois, and, in the course of nine or ten days, we arrived in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois, where we found our families in a state of poverty, although in good health, they having been driven out of the state previously, by the murderous militia, under the exterminating order of the executive of Missouri. And now the people of that state, a portion of them, would be glad to make the people of this state believe that my brother Joseph has committed treason, for the purpose of keeping up their murderous and hellish persecution; and they seem to be unrelenting and thirsting for the blood of innocence, for I do know, most positively, that my brother Joseph has not committed treason, nor violated one solitary item of law or rule in the state of Missouri.
“But I do know that the ‘Mormon’ people, en masse, were driven out of that state after being robbed of all they had, and they barely escaped with their lives, as well as my brother Joseph, who barely escaped with his life. His family also were robbed of all they had, and barely escaped with the skin of their teeth, and all of this in consequence of the exterminating order of Governor Boggs, the same being confirmed by the legislature of that state.
“And I do know, so does this court, and every rational man who is acquainted with the circumstances, and every man who shall hereafter become acquainted with the particulars thereof will know, that Governor Boggs, and Generals Clark, Lucas, Wilson, and Gilliam, also Austin A. King, have committed treason upon the citizens of Missouri and did violate the Constitution of the United States and also the constitution and laws of the state of Missouri and did exile and expel, at the point of bayonet, some twelve or fourteen thousand inhabitants from the state and did murder some three or four hundreds of men, women, and children in cold blood, and in the most horrid and cruel manner possible; and the whole of it was caused by religious bigotry and persecution, because the ‘Mormons’ dared to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and agreeable to his divine will, as revealed in the scriptures of eternal truth, and had turned away from following the vain traditions of their fathers and would not worship according to the dogmas and commandments of those men who preach for hire and divine for money and teach for doctrine the precepts of men, expecting that the Constitution of the United States would have protected them therein.
“But notwithstanding the ‘Mormon’ people had purchased upwards of two hundred thousand dollars’ worth of land, most of which was entered and paid for at the land office of the United States in the state of Missouri; and although the President of the United States has been made acquainted with these facts and the particulars of our persecutions and oppressions by petition to him and to Congress, yet they have not even attempted to restore the ‘Mormons’ to their rights, or given any assurance that we may hereafter expect redress from them. And I do also know most positively and assuredly, that my brother Joseph Smith, has not been in the state of Missouri since the spring of the year 1839. And further this deponent saith not.”
[i] Hyrum gave this report to the court after his father, Joseph Smith Sr., had died, meaning that the Prophet, Joseph Smith Jr., who now also had a son by the name of Joseph, had then become Joseph Smith Sr., according to the custom of the time. To avoid confusion, however, in this book, throughout Hyrum’s report the “Sr.” has been dropped from Joseph’s name altogether. This sworn statement of Hyrum’s was first published in full in Times and Seasons 4 (July 1, 1843): 246-56.
[ii] It was Monday, August 6, 1838.
[iii] The early Saints referred to Adam-ondi-Ahman as “Diahman.” On May 19, 1838, Joseph received a revelation that states: “Spring Hill is named by the Lord Adam-ondi-Ahman, because, said he, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (D&C 116).
[iv] Alexander William Doniphan (1808-1887) proved to be a true friend to the Saints in Missouri. He was a prominent lawyer in Liberty, Missouri, in 1833. He was elected to the Missouri state legislature in 1836, 1840, and 1854. He was instrumental in helping establish Caldwell and Daviess Counties as a refuge for the Saints. He refused to carry out his commanding officer’s order against the Mormon leaders at Far West. He later refused a general’s commission in both the Union and the Confederate armies during the Civil War. He died at Richmond, Missouri, a hero to the Saints.
[v] That is, “from head to foot.”
[vi] Governor Lilburn W. Boggs had been one of the large landowners in Jackson County and had helped instigate the driving out of the Mormons from there in 1833. Now, as governor, he took up residence in Jefferson City (on the Missouri River) in the center of the state about 175 miles from Far West.
[vii] Agnes Coolbrith Smith was widowed on August 7, 1841. Don Carlos apparently died of pneumonia.
[viii] These daughters were Agnes and Sophronia.
[ix] The Times and Seasons stated that Don Carlos was on a mission in Tennessee.
[x] The account in the Times and Seasons states “on the south of the city.”
[xi] Charles Coulson Rich, baptized April 1, 1832, proved to be a great leader in the Church. He stood by the Prophet and the Brethren in all trials; was ordained an Apostle on February 12, 1849; lived “the principle,” having six wives and fifty-one children; and died true to the faith on November 17, 1883. (See Cook, Revelations, pp. 271-72.)
[xii] General Samuel D. Lucas, born 1799, was an early settler in Independence, Missouri, where he was a store owner. He was major-general of the fourth division of the Missouri militia. When General Atchison was dismissed from his post, Lucas became senior officer of the actions against the Saints and presided at the surrender at Far West. (See Papers, p. 498.)
[xiii] The infamous “extermination order” was issued Saturday, October 27, 1838, in the form of a letter to Major-general John Clark, commanding officer of the Missouri militia (superior to Samuel Lucas), from Governor and Commander-in-Chief Lilburn W. Boggs. It stated, in part: “The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state, if necessary for the public good. Their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so, to any extent you may think necessary.” (History of the Church 3:175.)
[xiv] John B. Clark (1802-1885) was born in Madison County, Kentucky, and moved to Howard County, Missouri, in 1818. A lawyer by trade, he was appointed major-general in the Missouri militia in 1836. Beginning in 1854 he served three terms in the U.S. Congress and later became a Confederate brigadier-general during the Civil War. Clark was given supreme command over the militia forces operating against the Saints in the summer of 1838 and, although not in Far West when the Prophet Joseph and companions surrendered to General Lucas, presided over the dismantling of the community. (See Papers, pp. 479-80.)
[xv] Joseph Young, brother of Brigham Young, was an eyewitness to the massacre at Haun’s Mill and gave this account: “On Tuesday, the 30th, that bloody tragedy was acted, the scene of which I shall never forget. More than three-fourths of the day had passed in tranquility, as smiling as the preceding one. I think there was no individual of our company that was apprised of the sudden and awful fate that hung over our heads like an overwhelming torrent, which was to change the prospects, the feelings and the circumstances of about thirty families. The banks of Shoal creek on either side teemed with children sporting and playing, while their mothers were engaged in domestic employments, and their fathers employed in guarding the mills and other property, while others were engaged in gathering in their crops for their winter consumption. The weather was very pleasant, the sun shone clear, all was tranquil, and no one expressed any apprehension of the awful crisis that was near us-even at our doors.
“It was about four o’clock, while sitting in my cabin with my babe in my arms, and my wife standing by my side, the door being open, I cast my eyes on the opposite bank of Shoal creek and saw a large company of armed men, on horses, directing their course towards the mills with all possible speed. As they advanced through the scattering trees that stood on the edge of the prairie they seemed to form themselves into a three square position, forming a vanguard in front.
“At this moment, David Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers, (there being two hundred and forty of them, according to their own account), swung his hat, and cried for peace. This not being heeded, they continued to advance, and their leader, Mr. Nehemiah Comstock, fired a gun, which was followed by a solemn pause of ten or twelve seconds, when, all at once, they discharged about one hundred rifles, aiming at a blacksmith shop into which our friends had fled for safety; and charged up to the shop, the cracks of which between the logs were sufficiently large to enable them to aim directly at the bodies of those who had there fled for refuge from the fire of their murderers. There were several families tented in the rear of the shop, whose lives were exposed, and amidst a shower of bullets fled to the woods in different directions.
“After standing and gazing on this bloody scene for a few minutes, and finding myself in the uttermost danger, the bullets having reached the house where I was living, I committed my family to the protection of heaven, and leaving the house on the opposite side, I took a path which led up the hill, following in the trail of three of my brethren that had fled from the shop. While ascending the hill we were discovered by the mob, who immediately fired at us, and continued so to do till we reached the summit. In descending the hill, I secreted myself in a thicket of bushes, where I lay till eight o’clock in the evening, at which time I heard a female voice calling my name in an under tone, telling me that the mob had gone and there was no danger. I immediately left the thicket, and went to the house of Benjamin Lewis, where I found my family (who had fled there) in safety, and two of my friends mortally wounded, one of whom died before morning. Here we passed the painful night in deep and awful reflections on the scenes of the preceding evening.” (History of the Church 3:184-85.)
[xvi] Parley P. Pratt, one of the Brethren taken prisoner, recorded: “In camp we were placed under a strong guard, and were without shelter during the night, lying on the ground in the open air, in the midst of a great rain. The guards during the whole night kept up a constant tirade of mockery, and the most obscene blackguardism and abuse. They blasphemed God; mocked Jesus Christ; swore the most dreadful oaths; taunted brother Joseph and others; demanded miracles. . . . Thus passed this dreadful night, and before morning several other captives were added to our number. . . . We were informed that the general officers held a secret council during most of the night; . . . we were all sentenced to be shot. The day and hour was also appointed for execution of this sentence, viz: next morning at 8 o’clock, in the public square at Far West. . . . It was the common talk, and even the boast in the camp, that individuals lay here and there unburied, where they had shot them down for sport. The females they had ravished; the plunder they had taken; the houses they had burned; the horses they had stolen; the fields of grain they had laid waste, were common topics; and were dwelt on for mere amusement.” Parley goes on to describe the night before their planned execution: “No pen need undertake to describe our feelings during that terrible night, while there confined-not knowing the fate of our wives and children, or of our fellow Saints, and seeing no way for our lives to be saved except by the miraculous power of God. But, notwithstanding all earthly hopes were gone, still we felt a calmness indescribable. A secret whispering in our inmost soul seemed to say: ‘Peace, my sons, be of good cheer, your work is not yet done; therefore I will restrain your enemies, that they shall not have power to take your lives.'” (Pratt, Autobiography, pp. 160, 161.)
[xvii] Parley Pratt added further witness to this: “This was the most trying scene of all. I went to my house, being guarded by two or three soldiers; the cold rain was pouring down without, and on entering my little cottage, there lay my wife sick of a fever, with which she had been for some time confined. At her breast was our son Nathan, an infant of three months, and by her side a little girl of five years. On the foot of the same bed lay a woman in travail, who had been driven from her house in the night, and had taken momentary shelter in my hut of ten feet square-my larger house having been torn down. I stepped to the bed; my wife burst into tears; I spoke a few words of comfort, telling her to try to live for my sake and the children’s; and expressing a hope that we should meet again though years might separate us. She promised to try to live. I then embraced and kissed the little babes and departed.
“Till now I had refrained from weeping; but, to be forced from so helpless a family, who were destitute of provisions and fuel, and deprived almost of shelter in a bleak prairie, with none to assist them, exposed to a lawless banditti who were utter strangers to humanity, and this at the approach of winter, was more than nature could well endure.
“I went to Gen. Moses Wilson in tears, and stated the circumstances of my sick, heart-broken and destitute family in terms which would have moved any heart that had a latent spark of humanity yet remaining. But I was only answered with an exultant laugh, and a taunt of reproach by this hardened murderer.” (Pratt, Autobiography, p. 162.)
[xviii] Parley Pratt related a comforting episode here: “As we arose and commenced our march on the morning of the 3d of November, Joseph Smith spoke to me and the other prisoners, in a low, but cheerful and confidential tone; said he: ‘Be of good cheer, brethren; the word of the Lord came to me last night that our lives should be given us, and that whatever we may suffer during this captivity, not one of our lives should be taken'” (Pratt, Autobiography, p. 164).
[xix] Fifty-six months had passed since this “fit of sickness” began.
[xx] Parley Pratt recorded that at the Missouri River “one of the ladies came up and very candidly inquired of the troops which of the prisoners the ‘Mormons’ worshipped? One of the guards pointing to Mr. Smith with a significant smile, said, ‘This is he.’ The woman, then turning to Mr. Smith, inquired whether he professed to be the Lord and Saviour?
“Do not smile, gentle reader, at the ignorance of these poor innocent creatures, who, by the exertions of a corrupt press and pulpit, are kept in ignorance and made to believe in every possible absurdity in relation to the Church of the Saints. Mr. Smith replied, that he professed to be nothing but a man, and a minister of salvation, sent by Jesus Christ to preach the gospel. After expressing some surprise, the lady inquired what was the peculiar nature of the gospel, as held by himself and his Church? At this the visitors and soldiers gathered around, and Mr. Smith preached to them faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance towards God, reformation of life, immersion in water, in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.
“All seemed surprised, and the lady, in tears, went her way, praising God for the truth, and praying aloud that the Lord would bless and deliver the prisoners.” (Pratt, Autobiography, pp. 164-65.)
[xxi] From correspondence of the Prophet to his wife we learn who these seven were: “Brother Robison [George W. Robinson, son-in-law of Sidney Rigdon] is chained next to me. He has a true heart and a firm mind. Brother Wight [Lyman Wight] is next. Br. Rigdon, next; Hyrum, next; Parley, next; Amasa [Amasa Lyman], next; and thus we are bound together in chains as well as the cords of everlasting love. We are in good spirits and rejoice that we are counted worthy to be persecuted for Christ’s sake.” (The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984], p. 368.) Others who were at this time imprisoned include: Alexander McRae, Caleb Baldwin, Morris Phelps, Luman Gibbs, Darwin Chase, and Norman Shearer.
[xxii] Parley Pratt’s account of the Richmond imprisonment gives a view of this horrific situation: “In one of those tedious nights we had lain as if in sleep till the hour of midnight had passed, and our ears and hearts had been pained, while we had listened for hours to the obscene jests, the horrid oaths, the dreadful blasphemies and filthy language of our guards, Colonel Price at their head, as they recounted to each other their deeds of rapine, murder, robbery, etc., which they had committed among the ‘Mormons’ while at Far West and vicinity. They even boasted of defiling by force wives, daughters and virgins, and of shooting or dashing out the brains of men, women and children.
“I had listened till I became so disgusted, shocked, horrified, and so filled with the spirit of indignant justice that I could scarcely refrain from rising upon my feet and rebuking the guards; but had said nothing to Joseph, or any one else, although I lay next to him and knew he was awake. On a sudden he arose to his feet, and spoke in a voice of thunder, or as the roaring lion, uttering, as near as I can recollect, the following words:
“‘SILENCE, ye fiends of the infernal pit. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and bear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT!’
“He ceased to speak. He stood erect in terrible majesty. Chained, and without a weapon; calm, unruffled and dignified as an angel, he looked upon the quailing guards, whose weapons were lowered or dropped to the ground; whose knees smote together, and who, shrinking into a corner, or crouching at his feet, begged his pardon, and remained quiet till a change of guards.
“I have seen the ministers of justice, clothed in magisterial robes, and criminals arraigned before them, while life was suspended on a breath, in the Courts of England; I have witnessed a Congress in solemn session to give laws to nations; I have tried to conceive of kings, of royal courts, of thrones and crowns; and of emperors assembled to decide the fate of kingdoms; but dignity and majesty have I seen but once, as it stood in chains, at midnight, in a dungeon in an obscure village of Missouri.” (Pratt, Autobiography, pp. 179-80.)
[xxiii] Jedediah Morgan Grant, born February 21, 1816, would be ordained an Apostle at age thirty-eight and become a counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency in 1854. He passed away on December 1, 1856, just nine days after his wife, Rachel, had given birth to a son, Heber Jeddy Grant, who later would become the seventh President of the Church.
[xxiv] It appears that the actual confinement in the jail at Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, started on Saturday, December 1, 1838, and lasted until Saturday, April 6, 1839, when the brethren were removed to be taken to Daviess County. Their stay in Liberty Jail, then, lasted 127 days (four months and five days), but their being under chain and guard was five months and five days.
[xxv] George A. Smith reported: “Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Alexander McRae, Lyman Wight and others were for several months thrust into prison, and in one instance, while there, were fed on human flesh and tantalized with the inquiry, ‘How they liked Mormon beef’-it being the flesh of some of their murdered brethren” (in JD 13:108). A history of Lyman Wight indicates that he testified “of the sufferings of Joseph Smith and his fellow prisoners, concerning which he said, ‘We were committed to Liberty jail, under the care of Samuel Tillery, Jailor; we were received with a shout of indignation and scorn by the populace. The jailor sent for a mittimus some days after. His tender mercies were intolerable; he fed us on a scanty allowance of filthy and unpalatable food, and for five days on human flesh; from extreme hunger I was compelled to eat it.’ The guards inquired, ‘How do you like Mormon beef?'” (“History of Lyman Wight,” Millennial Star 27 [July 29, 1865]: 471.)
[xxvi] For Tuesday, January 1, 1839, Joseph recorded: “The day dawned upon us as prisoners of hope, but not as sons of liberty. O Columbia, Columbia! How thou art fallen! ‘The land of the free, the home of the brave!’ ‘The asylum of the oppressed’-oppressing thy noblest sons, in a loathsome dungeon, without any provocation, only that they have claimed to worship the God of their fathers according to His own word, and the dictates of their own consciences.” (History of the Church 3:245.)
[xxvii] Sometime around the end of January, 1839, Sidney Rigdon was let out of jail on habeas corpus. The mob had sworn that if any of them got out of the jail they would be killed. It appears that the intention of the mob was to kill Sidney, yet, as Joseph recorded, “through the friendship of the sheriff, Mr. Samuel Hadley, and the jailor, Mr. Samuel Tillery, he was let out of the jail secretly in the night . . . ; and being solemnly warned by them to be out of the state with as little delay as possible, he made his escape. Being pursued by a body of armed men, it was through the direction of a kind Providence that he escaped out of their hands, and safely arrived in Quincy, Illinois.” (History of the Church 3:264.)
[xxviii] The prisoners were removed from Liberty Jail, as noted, on Saturday, April 6, 1839.
[xxix] The “drinking song” was so full of profanity, and the use of God’s name taken so many times in vain, much of the text has been deleted by these editors from the original so as not to take away from the spirit of the reading of the text.
[xxx] William Bowman, ex-sheriff of Daviess County, was one of the guards of the Prophet and his companions in their change of venue. Bowman was later charged with complicity in the escape of the brethren (by providing them with horses), and “was dragged over the square by the hair of the head” and evidently, at this or a later time, was ridden on an iron rail until he was dead. Apparently the man who headed the mob that killed William Bowman was Obadiah Jennings, the same who, with Nehemiah Comstock, led the slaughter at Haun’s Mill. (See History of the Church 3:321-22; Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1846-1847, ed. Elden Jay Watson [Salt Lake City: Elden Jay Watson, 1971], pp. 558-59.)