A Busy City — Meeting in the Temple — Sacrifice of Property — Detachments Move Forward — a Singular Exodus — the First Encampment — Cool Proposal From Brother Brannan — the Journey — Courage and Good Cheer — Swelling of Their Numbers — the Remnant of the Saints in Nauvoo — Attitude of the Gentiles — the Mormons Attacked — Continued Hostilities — the Final Departures — the Poor Camp — a Deserted City.
THE holy city now presented an exciting scene. Men were making ready their merchandise, and families preparing to vacate their homes. Hundreds were making tents and wagon covers out of cloth bought with anything they happened to have; companies were organized and numbered, each of which had its own wagon-shop, wheelwrights, carpenters, and cabinetmakers, who were all busily employed.1 Green timber was prepared for spokes and felloes, some kiln-dried, and some boiled in salt and water. it the Nauvoo house shops were established as well as at the mason's hall and arsenal. Iron was brought from different parts of the country, and blacksmiths were at work night and day.2
Some three years previous, the prophet Joseph had ordered that there should not be another general conference
1Parley Pratt's calculation for an outfit of every family of 5 persons was 1 good wagon, 3 yoke cattle, 2 cows, 2 beef cattle, 3 sheep, 1,000 lbs flour, 20 lbs sugar, 1 rifle and ammunition, a tent and tent-poles, from 10 to 20 lbs seed to a family, from 25 to 100 lbs tools for farming, and a few other items, the cost being about $250, provided they had nothing else but bedding and cooking utensils. Hist. B. Young, MS., 125.
2In December the drying-house of emigrating company no. 18 was burned to the ground, consuming $300 worth of wagon timber. Id., MS., Dec, 1845.
|p. 215||until it could be
held in the temple. And now, on the 5th of October, 1845, five thousand
persons assembled, and on the following day began the great conference,
which lasted three days. The saints, however, were permitted but short
enjoyment of their beautiful structure, a meagre reward for all the tell
and money expended. Holiness to the Lord was the motto of it; and there
was little else they could now carry hence; the hewn stone, the wood-work,
and the brass they must leave behind. This building was to them as a
temple "where the children of the last kingdom could come together to
praise the Lord." As they cast one last gaze on their homes and the
monuments reared to their faith, they asked, "Who is the God of the
gentiles? Can he be our God?"3
In the same number of the Times and Seasons in which appeared a notice of this meeting was published a circular signed by Brigham Young, and addressed to the brethren scattered abroad throughout America, informing them of the impending change. "The exodus of the nations of the only true Israel from these United States to a far distant region of the west, where bigotry, intolerance, and insatiable oppression will have lost its power over them, forms a new epoch, not only in the history of the church, but of this nation."4
3Kane, with the carelessness usual in his statements, says that the temple was completed and consecrated in May, and that the day after its consecration its ornaments were carried away. 'For that one day the temple shone resplendent in all its typical glories of sun, moon, and stars, and other abounding figured and lettered signs, hieroglyphs, and symbols; but that day only. The sacred rites of consecration ended, the work of removing the sacrasancta proceeded with the rapidity of magic. It went on through the night; and when the morning of the next day dawned,' all the ornaments and furniture, everything that could provoke a sneer, had been carried off; and except some fixtures that would not bear removal, the building was dismantled to the bare walls. It was this day saw the departure of the last elders, and the largest hand that moved in one company together. The people of Iowa have told me that from morning to night they passed westward like an endless procession. They did not seem greatly out of heart, they said; but at the top of every hill, before they disappeared, were to be seen looking back, like banished Moors, on their abandoned homes and the far-seen temple and its glittering spire.' The Mormons, 21.
4Times and Seasons, vi. 1018. In this number is a notice, signed by Willard Richards, cutting off William Smith, the prophet's brother, for apostasy.
|p. 216|| The
arbitrary acts of the people of Illinois in forcing the departure of the
saints lays them open to the grave charge, among others, of a desire to
possess their property for less than its value. Houses and lots, farms and
merchandise, could not be turned into money, or even into wagons and
live-stock, in a moment, except at a ruinous sacrifice. Granted that the
hierarchy was opposed to American institutions, that the Mormons wished to
gain possession of the United States and rule the world: no one feared the
immediate consummation of their pretentious hopes. Granted that among them
were adulterers, thieves, and murderers: the gentiles were the stronger,
and had laws by which to punish the guilty. It was not a noble sentiment
which had actuated the people of Missouri; it was not a noble sentiment
which now actuated the people of Illinois, thus to continue their
persecutions during the preparations for departure, and drive a whole
cityful from their homes out upon the bleak prairie in the dead of winter.
In January 1846 the council ordered that a detachment should set forth at once, and that the remainder of the saints should follow as soon as possible. "Beloved brethren," said their leader, "it now remains to be proven whether those of our family and friends who are necessarily left behind for a season, to obtain an outfit through the sale of property, shall be mobbed, burned, and driven away by force. Does any American want the honor of doing it? or will any Americans suffer such acts to be done, and the disgrace of them to remain on their character, under existing circumstances. If they will, let the world know it."
The world was soon to know it. Driven almost at the point of the sword, a large number of the saints, soon afterward followed by the president, the twelve, the high council, and other companies, gathered on the eastern bank of the Mississippi early in February.
There was but little money in circulation throughout
|p. 217||the west at this
time. Over vast wild sections skins were the only currency, and at the
settlements traffic for the most part assumed the form of barter or
exchange of labor. It was, therefore, exceedingly difficult, as I have
said, for the saints to get their property into portable form, even after
selling their lands at half or quarter their value. The gentiles, of
course, could pay what they pleased, being the only buyers, and the saints
being forced to sell. Moreover, there was more property thrown upon the
market than could be taken at once, and the departure of so large and
thrifty a portion of the population was of itself sufficient to depreciate
property. The best they could do was to exchange their lands for wagons
and horses and cattle, and this they did to as large an extent as
possible, scouring the country for a hundred miles around in search of
And now, putting upon their animals and vehicles such of their household effects as they could carry, in small detachments the migratory saints began to leave Nauvoo.6 Before them was the ice-bound river, and beyond that the wilderness.
There is no parallel in the world's history to this migration from Nauvoo. The exodus from Egypt was from a heathen land, a land of idolaters, to a fertile region designated by the Lord for his chosen people, the land of Canaan. The pilgrim fathers in flying to America came from a bigoted and despotic people—a
5'The Mormons went up and down with their furniture, etc., and traded for anything that could travel, such as an animal or a wagon…Another company went out in May, but they did not sell their property, leaving it in the hands of trustees to sell.' Wells' Narrative, MS., 37. Their two-story brick house, which they had occupied but three months, and which they had denied themselves in every way to build, Mrs Richards says was sold for 'two yoke of half-broken cattle and an old wagon.' Reminiscences, MS., 20.
6When we were to leave Mo., the saints entered into a covenant not to cease their exertions until every saint who wished to go was removed, which was done…We are better off now than we were then;…he [B. Y.] wants to see this influence extend from the west to the east sea.' Brigham moved: 'That we take all the saints with us, to the extent of our ability, that is, our influence and property; seconded by Elder Kimball, and carried unanimously.' This covenant was entered into Oct. 6, 1845. Times and Seasons, vi. 1011.
|p. 218||people making few
pretensions to civil or religious liberty. It was from these same people
who had fled from old-world persecutions that they might enjoy liberty of
conscience in the wilds of America, from their descendants and associates,
that other of their descendants, who claimed the right to differ from them
in opinion and practice, were now fleeing. True, the Mormons in various
ways had rendered themselves abominable to their neighbors: so had the
puritan fathers to their neighbors. Before this the Mormons had been
driven to the outskirts of civilization, where they had built themselves a
city; this they must now abandon, and throw themselves upon the mercy of
The first teams crossed about the 10th, in flat boats, which were rowed over, and which plied forth and back from early dawn until late into the night, skiffs and other river craft being also used for passengers and baggage. The cold increased. On the 16th snow fell heavily; and the river was frozen over, so that the remainder of the emigration crossed on the ice. Their first camp, the camp of the congregation, was on Sugar Creek, a few miles from Nauvoo and almost within sight of the city.7 All their movements were directed by Brigham, who with his family and a quorum of the twelve, John Taylor, George A. Smith, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, and Amasa Lyman, joined the brethren on Sugar Creek on the 15th. Wilford Woodruff, who had been sent to preside over the mission to England, joined the emigration later at Mount Pisgah.
On the morning of the 17th, all the saints in camp being assembled near the bridge to receive their leader's instructions, the president stood upright in his wagon, and cried with a loud voice, "Attention! the
7'We encamped at Sugar Creek, in the snow, while two of my children were very ill. We slept in our wagons, which were placed close to our tents.' Horne's Migrations, MS., 16.
|p. 219||whole camp of
Israel."8 He then went on to
say that as the Lord had been with them in times past, howsoever singular
had been his method of proving his presence, so would he be with them in
the future. His empire, the empire of his people, was established, and the
powers of hell should not prevail against it.9
After this, with comparatively light hearts, they broke camp, and slowly wending their way westward, disappeared at length beyond the horizon, in pursuit once more of the ever-mocking phantom of home. Whither they journeyed they were as yet uncertain. They knew only that they were to search out, probably beyond the Rocky Mountains, if not indeed among them, some isolated spot, where, far away from the land of boasted freedom, the soil, the skies, and mind and manners were free. If they were offensive to the laws, if the laws of the land were offensive to them, they would go where they might have land and laws of their own.
Considering their situation, and what they had been lately called to undergo—ignominy, insult, the loss of property, the abandonment of home—there was little complaint. It was among their opponents, and in the midst of a general recital of their wrongs, that the saints were accustomed to put on a long face and strike into a doleful strain. Among themselves there were
8The camp of Israel was wherever the president and apostles were.
9It has been stated that after dismissing his congregation on the 17th the president led several of the twelve aside to a valley east of the camp, and held a council. A letter was then read from Samuel Brennan, a Mormon elder then in New York, together with a copy of an agreement between him and one A. G. Benson. Brennan was at that time in charge of a company of saints bound for the Pacific coast by way of Cape Horn, and the agreement which he forwarded for Brigham's signature required the pioneers to transfer to A. G. Benson and company the odd numbers of all the town lots that they might acquire in the country where they settled. 'I shall select,' writes Brennan, 'the most suitable spot on the bay of San Francisco for the location of a commercial city.' the council refused to take any action in the matter. In case they refused to sign the agreement, Tullidge soberly relates, Life of Brigham Young, 19-23, the president, it was said, would issue a proclamation, setting forth that it was the intention of the Mormons to take sides with either Mexico or Great Britain against the United States, and order them to be disarmed or dispersed! Further mention of this matter is made in History of California, vol. v. cap. xx., this series.
|p. 220||few people more
free from care, or more light-hearted and happy.
In the present instance, though all were poor and some destitute, and though man and beast were exposed to driving rain and hail, and the chill blasts of a western winter often sweeping down upon them unchecked from the limitless prairie, they made the best of it, and instead of wasting time in useless repining, set themselves at work to make the most of their joys and the least of their sorrows. On the night of March 1st, when the first camp was pitched beyond Sugar Creek, after prayer they held a dance, and as the men of Iowa looked on they wondered how these homeless outcasts from Christian civilization could thus praise and make merry in view of their near abandoning of themselves to the mercies of savages and wild beasts.10 Food and raiment were provided for all; for shelter they had their tents and wagons, and after the weather had spent somewhat of its ruggedness, no extreme hardships were suffered. Without attempting long distances in a single day, they made camp rather early, and after the usual manner of emigrants, the wagons in a circle or semicircle round the camp-fire, placed so as best to shield them from the wind and wild beasts and Indians, with the animals at a convenient distance, some staked, and some running loose, but all carefully guarded. The country through which they passed was much of it well wooded; the land was fertile and afforded abundant pastures, the grass in summer being from one to ten feet high. Provisions were cheap: corn twelve cents and wheat twenty-five to thirty cents a bushel,
10'In the latter part of March we started for Council Bluffs, 400 miles distant, and were three months on the way. Crossing a long prairie in a fearful storm, the mud became so soft that we could not travel, and we were obliged to encamp; the water was several inches deep all over our camping-ground; we had no wood for a fire, and no means of drying our soaked clothing. In the morning everything was frozen fast; and a squirrel was found frozen…Frequently boughs were laid on the ground before the teams could pass…We had to camp in mad until the roads were dry enough to travel.' Horne's Migrations, MS., 18-19.
|p. 221||beef two cents a
pound, and all payable in labor at what was then considered good wages,
say forty or fifty cents a day.
Into the wilderness they went, journeying day after day on toward the setting sun, their hearts buoyant, their sinews strengthened by a power not of this world. Forever fades the real before the imaginary. There is nothing tougher than fanaticism. What cared they for wind and rain, for comfortless couches or aching limbs?—the kingdom of the Lord was with them. What cared they for insults and injustice when the worst this world could do was to hasten heaven to them? So on toward the west their long train of wagons rolled, leaving each day farther and farther behind the old, cold, fanatical east, with its hard, senseless dogmas, and its merciless civilization, without murmurings, without discord, the man above any other on earth they most loved and feared riding at their head, or standing with uplifted and extended hands as his people passed by, blessing and comforting them. "We were happy and contented," says John Taylor, "and the songs of Zion resounded from wagon to wagon, reverberating through the woods, while the echo was returned from the distant hills."11
There were brass or stringed instruments in every company, and night and morning all were called to prayers12 at the sound of the bugle. Camp-fires drew around them the saints when their day s work was finished, and singing, dancing, and story-telling enlivened the hour.
As they went on their way their ranks were swelled by fresh bands, until there were brought together 3,000 wagons, 30,000 head of cattle, a great number of mules and horses, and immense flocks of sheep.
11'It is true,' he writes, 'that in our sojourning we do not possess all the luxuries and delicacies of old-established countries and cities, but we have abundance of the staple commodities, such as flour, meal, beef, mutton, pork, milk, butter, and in some instances cheese, sugar, coffee, tea, etc.' Letter in Millennial Star, viii. 114.
12Each family had prayers separately. Taylor's Rem., MS., 9.
Richardson Point13 they made their second stationary camp, the third at Chariton River, the fourth at Locust Creek, where a considerable time was spent. Then there were—so named by the saints—Garden Grove,14 a large timbered tract which had been burned over, Mount Pisgah,15 and finally Winter Quarters, in Nebraska, on the west side of the Missouri, a little above the modern Omaha, on the site of the present town of Florence.16 At Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah were established farming settlements for the benefit of those who were to follow. In July the main body reached the Missouri at the spot now known as Council Bluffs, and soon afterward many crossed the river in a ferry-boat of their own construction, and pitched their tents at Winter Quarters. Other large encampments
13In Lee County, Iowa, three weeks from their staging-point.
14About 150 miles from Nauvoo, on the east fork of the Grand River. 'Many located there, ploughing and sowing, and preparing homes for their poor brethren for a longer period.' Horne's Migrations, MS., 19. 'On the morning of the 27th of April the bugle sounded at Garden Grove, and all the men assembled to organize for labor. Immediately hundreds of men were at work, cutting trees, splitting rails, making fences, cutting logs for houses, building bridges, making ploughs, and herding cattle. Quite a number were sent into the Missouri settlements to exchange horses for oxen, valuable feather-beds and the like for provisions and articles most needed in the camp, and the remainder engaged in ploughing and planting. Messengers were also despatched to call in the bands of pioneers scattered over the country seeking work, with instructions to hasten them up to help form the new settlements before the season had passed; so that, in a scarcely conceivable space of time, at Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah, industrious settlements sprung up almost as if by magic.' Tullidge's Life of Brigham Young, 41.
15This site was discovered by Parley, who was sent forward to reconnoitre by Brigham. It was situated on a branch of Grand River, and for years was the resting-place for the saints on their way to Utah. Autobiog. P. Pratt, 381.
16Here 700 log cabins and 150 dugouts (cabins half under ground) were built. A large quantity of hay was cut, and a flouring mill erected. Id., 383.
|p. 223||were formed on both
banks of the river, or at points near by, where grass was plentiful. In
early autumn about 12,000 Mormons were assembled in this neighborhood, or
were on their way across the plains.
Leaving here the advance portion of the emigration, let us return to Nauvoo and see how it fared with those who were still engaged in preparations for their pilgrimage. It had been stipulated, the reader will remember, that the Mormons should remove from the state in the spring, or as soon afterward as they could sell their property, and that meanwhile they should not be molested. Long before spring, thousands had crossed the Mississippi, among whom were all the more obnoxious members of the sect. Meanwhile, how had the gentiles kept their faith?
But passing the cause, what a picture was now presented by the deserted city and its exiled inhabitants!—the former, as Colonel Kane viewed it—but which view must be regarded as ideal rather than strictly historical—with "its bright new dwellings set in cool green gardens, ranging up around a stately dome-shaped hill, which was crowned by a noble marble edifice, whose high tapering spire was radiant with white and gold. The city appeared to cover several miles; and beyond it, in the background, there rolled off a fair country, checkered by the careful lines of fruitful husbandry."
To the Nauvoo Eagle Major Warren sent notice from Carthage, on the 16th of April, that he had been directed by the governor to disband on the 1st of May the force which had been kept there ostensibly for the protection of the saints, as the time appointed for their departure would expire on that day.17 The day arrived, and there were yet many Mormons remaining, many who had found it impossible to remove on
17'The removal of the entire population,' the major adds, has been locked forward to as an event that could alone restore peace and quiet to this portion of our state,' Fullmer's Expulsion, 24.
|p. 224||account of
sickness, failure to dispose of their property, or other adverse fortune;
whereat the men of Illinois began to bluster and threaten annihilation.
Warren, who had disbanded his troops on the 1st, received an order from
the governor on the following day to muster them into service again. This
he did; for he would, if possible, see the treaty between the Mormons and
the governor faithfully carried out, and while urging the saints to haste,
he endeavored to stand between them and the mob which now threatened their
lives and the destruction of their property.18
Major Warren appears to have performed his duty firmly and well, and to have done all that lay in his power to protect the Mormons. In a letter to the Quincy Whig, dated May 20th, he writes: "The Mormons are leaving the city with all possible despatch. During the week four hundred teams have crossed at three points, or about 1,350 souls. The demonstrations made by the Mormon people are unequivocal. They are leaving the state, and preparing to leave, with every means God and nature have placed in their hands." It was but the lower class of people that clamored for the immediate expulsion of the remnant of the saints—the ignorant, the bigoted, the brutal, the vicious, the lawless, and profligate, those who hated their religion and coveted their lands.
18'Thus while with one hand he pushed the saints from their possessions across the river to save their lives, with the other he kept at bay the savage fiends who thirsted for blood, and who would fain have washed their hands in the blood of innocence, and feasted their eyes on the smoking ruins of their martyred victims.' Id., 24-5. From Nauvoo, May 11, 1846, Warren writes: 'To the Mormons I would say, Go on with your preparations, and leave as fast as you can. Leave the fighting to be done by my detachment. If we are overpowered, then recross the river and defend yourselves and property. The neighboring counties, under the circumstances, cannot and will not lend their aid to an unprovoked and unnecessary attack upon the Mormons at this time; and without such aid the few desperadoes in the county can do but little mischief, and can be made amenable to the law for that little. The force under my command is numerically small; but backed as I am by the moral force of the law, and possessing as I do the confidence of nine tenths of the respectable portion of the old citizens, my force is able to meet successfully any mob which can be assembled in the county, and if any such force does assemble, they or I will leave the field in double-quick time.'
|p. 225|| On
the 6th of June the people of Hancock county met at Carthage to arrange
for celebrating the 4th of July. One of the citizens rose and said that
since the Mormons were not all removed they could not rejoice as freemen.
Mormon affairs then took precedence, and another meeting was appointed for
the 12th, an invitation being sent to the gentiles at Nauvoo who had
occupied the deserted dwellings of the saints. It happened that this was
the day appointed for the assembling of the militia, with a view to raise
volunteers for the Mexican war; and now, it was thought, was a good
opportunity to show the Mormons the military strength of the county. The
officers conferred, and without authority from the governor, marched their
troops, some three or four hundred in number, to a place called Golden
Point, five miles from Nauvoo, where they encamped, and opened
communication with the city. It happened, however, at this juncture, that
Colonel Markham and others had returned with teams from Council Bluffs for
some of the church property, and arming a force of six or eight hundred,
prepared to sally forth; the name of Colonel Markham was a terror to
evil-doers, and the militia fled, no one pursuing them.
There were yet remaining, as late as August, certain sturdy saints who, having committed no crime, would not consent to be driven from their homes or barred from their occupations. Among these was a party engaged in harvesting wheatat a settlement eight miles from Nauvoo, in company with one or two of the gentiles, although it was forbidden by the men of Illinois that any Mormon should show himself outside the city, except en route for the west. The harvesters were seized and beaten with clubs, whereupon the people of Nauvoo, both Mormons and gentiles, took up the matter. Some arrests were made, and the culprits taken to Nauvoo, but by writ of habeas corpus were removed to Quincy, where they met with little trouble. While in Nauvoo, a gun in the hands
|p. 226||of a militia
officer was recognized by William Pickett as belonging to one of the
harvesters. Pickett took possession of the weapon, and a warrant was
issued against him for theft; when an officer came to arrest him, he
refused to surrender. As the Mormons stood by him in illegal attitude, the
affair caused considerable excitement.
In short, from the let of May until the final evacuation of the city, the men of Illinois never ceased from strife and outrage. Of the latter I will mention only two instances: "A man of near sixty years of age," writes Major Warren in the letter just referred to, "living about seven miles from this place, was taken from his house a few nights since, stripped of his clothing, and his back out to pieces with a whip, for no other reason than because he was a Mormon, and too old to make a successful resistance. Conduct of this kind would disgrace a horde of savages." In August a party consisting of Phineas H. Young, his son Brigham, and three others who were found outside the city, were kidnapped by a mob, hurried into the thickets, passed from one gang to another—men from Nauvoo being in hot pursuit—and for a fortnight were kept almost without food or rest, and under constant threat of death.
Fears are now entertained that, by reason of the popular feeling throughout the country, Nauvoo city will be again attacked; the gentile citizens therefore ask Governor Ford for protection, whereupon Major Parker is sent to their relief.19 All through August
19'Sir—I have received information that another effort is to be made on Monday next to drive out the inhabitants of Nauvoo, new as well as old, and destroy the city. I am informed that it is believed in the surrounding counties that the new citizens in Nauvoo are all Mormons, and that the remnant of the old Mormon population are determined to remain there, although I am assured that the contrary in both particulars is the truth. You are therefore hereby authorized and empowered to repair to Nauvoo, and there remain until you are relieved. You will immediately inquire how many of the inhabitants are new citizens, and how many of them are Mormons; how many of the old Mormon population remain, and what the prospect is of their removal in a reasonable time; and in case an attack on the city should be attempted or threatened, you are hereby authorized to take command of such (cont.)
|p. 227||troubles continue,
the anti-Mormons almost coming to blows among themselves. Before the end
of the month about six hundred men are assembled at Carthage, by order of
Thomas Carlin, a special constable, ostensibly to enforce the arrest of
Pickett, but in reality to enforce the expulsion of the Mormons. Major
Parker orders the constable's posse to disperse, otherwise he threatens to
treat them as a mob. The constable replies that if the major should
attempt to molest them in discharge of their duty he will regard him and
his command as a mob and so treat them. "Now, fellow-citizens,"
declares a committee selected from four counties,20
in a proclamation issued at Carthage, "an issue is fairly raised. On
the one hand, a large body of men have assembled at Carthage, under the
command of a legal officer, to assist him in performing legal duties. They
are not excited—they are cool, but determined at all hazards to execute
the law in Nauvoo, which has always heretofore defied it. They are
resolved to go to work systematically and with ample precaution, but under
a full knowledge that on their good and orderly behavior their character
is staked. On the other hand, in Nauvoo is a blustering Mormon mob, who
have defied the law, and who are now organized for the purpose of
arresting the arm of civil power. Judge ye which is in the right."
Intending, as it seems, to keep his word, Carlin places his men under command of Colonel Singleton, who at once throws off the mask, and on the 7th of September announces to Major Parker that the Mormons must go. On the same day a stipulation is made, granting to the saints sixty days' extension of time, and signed by representatives on both sides.21
(19cont.) volunteers as may offer themselves, free of cost to the state, to repel it and defend the city.' Fullmer's Expulsion, 29-30.
20Among the members was the Rev. Thomas S. Brockman, who afterward took command of the posse.
21Hostilities to cease; the city to be evacuated in 60 days, 25 men remaining to see the stipulation carried out. Id., 34-5.
|p. 228||But to the terms of
this stipulation the men of Illinois would not consent. They were sore
disgusted, and rebelled against their leaders, causing Singleton, Parker,
and others to abandon their commands, the posse being left in charge of
Constable Carlin, who summoned to his aid one Thomas Brockman, a clergyman
of Brown county, and for the occasion dubbed general. On the 10th of
September the posse, now more than a thousand strong, with wagons,
equipments, and every preparation for a campaign, approached Nauvoo and
encamped at Hunter's farm.
At this time there were in the city not more than a hundred and fifty Mormons, and about the same number of gentiles, or, as they were termed, 'new citizens,' capable of bearing arms, the remainder of the population consisting of destitute women and children and of the sick. Many of the gentiles had departed, fearing a general massacre, and those who remained could not be relied upon as combatants, for they were of course unwilling to risk their lives in a conflict which, if successful, would bring them no credit. Nothing daunted, the little band, under command of colonels Daniel H. Wells22 and William Cutler, took up its position on the edge of a wood in the suburbs of Nauvoo, and less than a mile from the enemy's camp.23
Before hostilities commenced, a deputation from Quincy24 visited the camp of the assailants, and in vain attempted to dissuade them from their purpose. No sooner had they departed than fire was opened on the Mormons from a battery of six-pounders, but without effect. Here for the day matters rested. At sunrise the posse changed their position, intending to take the city by storm, but were held in cheek by
22Who afterward became lieut-gen. of the Nauvoo legion in Utah.
23There were about 300 Mormons and new citizens who could then bear arms against the mob, but on the day of the fight no more than 100 could be found to go, as the Mormons were continually leaving.' Wells' Narrative, MS., 39.
24John Wood, the mayor, Major Flood, Dr Conyera, and Joel Rice. See Wells' Narrative, MS., passim.
|p. 229||Captain Anderson25
at the head of thirty-five men, termed by the saints the Spartan band. The
enemy now fired some rounds of grape-shot, forcing the besieged to retire
out of range; and after some further cannonading, darkness put an end to
the skirmish, the Mormons throwing up breastworks during the night.26
On the morning of the 12th the demand of unconditional surrender was promptly rejected; whereupon, at a given signal, several hundred men who had been stationed in ambush, on the west bank of the river, to cut off the retreat of the Mormons, appeared with red flags in their hands, thus portending massacre. The assailants now opened fire from all their batteries, and soon afterward advanced to the assault, slowly, and with the measured tramp of veterans, at their head being Constable Carlin and the Reverend Brockman, and unfurled above them—the stars and stripes. When within rifle-range of the breastworks the posse wheeled toward the south, attempting to outflank the saints and gain possession of the temple square. But this movement had been anticipated, and posted in the woods to the north of the Mormon position lay the Spartan band. Leading on his men at double-quick, Anderson suddenly confronted the enemy and opened a brisk fire from revolving rifles.27 The posse advanced no farther, but for an hour and a half held their ground bravely against the Spartan band, the expense of ammunition in proportion to casualties being greater than has yet been recorded in modern warfare. Then they retreated in excellent order to the camp. The losses of the Mormons were three killed and a few slightly wounded; the losses of the gentiles are variously
25He was more than brave, he was presumptuous. Wells, in Utah Notes, MS., p. 7.
26'Many of our log houses were torn down by the mob, which numbered 1,000 men; we made barricades of corn-stalks stacked up.' Wells, in Utah Notes, MS., 7.
27Elder John S. Fullmer, then a colonel in the Nauvoo legion, claims that he directed this movement. Expulsion, 38.
Among those who fell were Captain Anderson and his son, a youth of
sixteen, the former dying, as he had vowed that he would die, in defence
of the holy sanctuary.
The following day was the sabbath, and hostilities were not renewed; but on that morning a train of wagons, despatched by the posse for ammunition and supplies, entered the town of Quincy. It was now evident that, whether the men of Illinois intended massacre or forcible expulsion, it would cost them many lives to effect either purpose. With a view, therefore, to prevent further bloodshed, a committee of one hundred proceeded to Nauvoo and attempted mediation. At the same time the Reverend Brockman sent in his ultimatum, the terms being that the Mormons surrender their arms, and immediately cross the river or disperse, and that all should be protected from violence.29 There was no alternative. The armed mob in their front was daily swelling in number, while beyond the river still appeared the red flag; their own ranks, meanwhile, were being rapidly thinned by defection among the new citizens.30
28'But three in all were killed…Meetings were held to stop the effusion of blood,…but there was no necessity for such action, when no blood was shed.' Wells, in Utah Notes, 7.
29'1st. The city of Nauvoo will surrender. The force of Reverend Brockman to enter and take possession of the city to-morrow, the 17th of September, at three o'clock P.M. 2d. The arms to be delivered to the Quincy committee, to be returned on crossing the river. 3d. The Quincy committee pledge themselves to use their influence for the protection of persons and property, and the officers of the camp and the men likewise pledge themselves. 4th. The sick and helpless to be protected and treated with humanity. 5th. The Mormon population of the city to leave the state or disperse as soon as they can cross the river. 6th. Five men, including the trustees of the church, and five clerks with their families (William Pickett not one of the number), to be permitted to remain in the city for the disposition of property, free from all molestation and personal violence. 7th. Hostilities to cease immediately, and ten men of the Quincy committee to enter the city in the execution of their duty as soon as they think proper.' It will be observed that nothing is said about the surrender of Pickett. He was not even arrested.
30'The mob entered the temple, instituted an inquisition, and regardless of the Mormons or new citizens, went from house to house plundering cow-yards, pig-pens, hen-roosts, and bee-stands indiscriminately; thus turning some of their best friends into enemies, bursting open trunks and cheats, searching for arms, keys, etc.' p. 343. 'In the temple ringing the bells, shouting, and (cont.)
|p. 231|| On
the 17th of September the remnant of the Mormons crossed the Mississippi,
and on the same day the gentiles took possession of Nauvoo.31
It was indeed a singular spectacle, as I have said, this upon the western border of the world's great republic in the autumn of 1846. A whole cityful, with other settlements, and thousands of thrifty
(30cont.) hallooing; they took several to the river and baptized them, swearing, throwing them backward, then on to their faces, saying: "The commandments must be fulfilled, and God damn you."'. Hist. B. Young, MS., 345.
31The best narrative, and indeed the only one that enters circumstantially into all the details of the expulsion from Nauvoo, is contained in the Assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the Prophet and the Patriarch of the Church of Latter-day Saints. Also a Condensed History of the Expulsion of the Saints from Nauvoo by Elder John S. Fullmer (of Utah, U. S. A.), Pastor of the Manchester, Liverpool, and Preston Conferences. Liverpool and London, 1855. The work is written from a Mormon standpoint, but including as it does copies of the despatches of Illinois officers and officials, of the stipulations between the belligerents, and of some comments made by the Quincy Whig, appears in the main reliable. The author's comments on the gentiles are sufficiently bitter, and his description of the fight at Nauvoo and the valor of the saints militant must of course be taken with due allowance. For instance: 'Seeing our men take possession of some vacant buildings on the line of their approach, they took a position on an elevated spot of ground, and opened a heavy cannonade at a distance of something less than half a mile. This was returned with great spirit on our part from guns made of steam shafts that carried six-pound balls. Many were the balls that we picked up as they came rolling and bounding among us, and we sent them back with as much spirit and precision as they were first sent.' p. 37. Col Kane says: 'A vindictive war was waged upon them, from which the weakest tied in scattered parties, leaving the rest to make a reluctant and almost ludicrously unavailing defence.' The Mormons, 54. In the General Epistle of the Twelve, Dec. 23, 1847, in Snow's Voice of Joseph, 14-15, we read: 'In September 1846 an infuriated mob, clad in all the horrors of war, fell on the saints who had still remained in Nauvoo for want of means to remove, murdered some, and drove the remainder across the Mississippi into Iowa, where, destitute of houses, tents, food, clothing, or money, they received temporary assistance from some benevolent souls in Quincy, St Louis, and other places, whose names will ever be remembered with gratitude. Their property in Hancock co., Illinois, was little or no better than confiscated; many of their houses were burned by the mob, and they were obliged to leave most of those that remained without sale; and those who bargained sold almost for a song; for the influence of their enemies was to cause such a diminution in the value of property that for a handsome estate was seldom realized enough to remove the family comfortably away; and thousands have since been wandering to and fro, destitute, afflicted, and distressed for the common necessaries of Life, or unable to endure, have sickened and died by hundreds; while the temple of the Lord is left solitary in the midst of our enemies, an enduring monument of the diligence and integrity of the saints.' Mention of the expulsion from Nauvoo is of course made in most of the books published on Mormonism, but in none of them, except perhaps in one or two of the meet rabid anti-Mormon works, which I have not thought it worth while to notice, is the conduct of the Illinois mob defended.
|p. 232||agriculturists in
the regions about, citizens of the United States, driven beyond the border
by other citizens: not by reason of their religion alone, though this was
made a pretence; not for breaking the laws, though this was made a
pretence; not on account of their immorality, for the people of Illinois
and Missouri were not immaculate in this respect; nor was it altogether on
account of their solid voting and growing political power, accompanied
ever by the claim of general inheritance and universal dominion, though
this last had more to do with it probably than all the rest combined,
notwithstanding that the spirit of liberty and the laws of the republic
permitted such massing of social and political influence, and
notwithstanding the obvious certainty that any of the gentile political
parties now playing the role of persecutors would gladly and
unscrupulously have availed themselves of such means for the
accomplishment of their ends. It was all these combined, and so combined
as to engender deadly hate. It gave the Mormons a power in proportion to
their numbers not possessed by other sects or societies, which could not
and would not endure it; a power regarded by the others as unfairly
acquired, and by a way and through means not in accord with the American
idea of individual equality, of equal rights and equal citizenship. In
regard to all other sects within the republic, under guard of the
constitution, religion was subordinated to politics and government; in
regard to the Mormons, in spite of the constitution, politics and
government were subordinated to religion.
And in regard to the late occupants of the place, the last of the Mormon host that now lay huddled to the number of 640 on the western bank of the river in sight of the city:32 if the first departures from Nauvoo escaped extreme hardships, not so these. It was the
32A few months before, Nauvoo with the neighboring Mormon settlements had contained some 20,000 saints, of whom in July about 15,000 were encamped on the Missouri River, or were scattered through the western states in search of employment.
|p. 233||latter part of
September, and nearly all were prostrated with chills and fevers;33
there at the river bank, among the dock and rushes, poorly protected,
without the shelter of a roof or anything to keep off the force of wind or
rain, little ones came into life and were left motherless at birth.34
They had not food enough to satisfy the cravings of the sick, nor clothing
fit to wear. For months thereafter there were periods when all the flour
they used was of the coarsest, the wheat being ground in coffee and hand
mills, which only cut the grain; others used a pestle; the finer meal was
used for bread, the coarser made into hominy. Boiled wheat was now the
chief diet for sick and well. For ten days they subsisted on parched corn.
Some mixed their remnant of grain with the pounded bark of the slippery
elm which they stripped from the trees along their route.
This encampment was about two miles above Montrose on the Mississippi, and was called the Poor Camp. Aid was solicited, and within three weeks a little over one hundred dollars was collected, mostly in Quincy, with provisions and clothing, though the prejudice against them was deep and strong.35 Some of the people were crowded into tents, made frequently of quilts and blankets; others in bowers made of brush; others had only wagons for shelter. They suffered from heavy thunder-storms, when the rain was bailed out with basins from their beds. Mothers huddled their children in the one dress which often was all they possessed, and shaking with ague or burning with fever, took refuge from the pitiless storms under wagons and bushes.36
33While at Montrose, Heber C. Kimball writes thus in his journal of the condition of his family, his wife having a babe a few days old, and he himself ill with ague. 'I went to the bed; my wife, who was shaking with the ague, having two children lying sick by her side;…the only child well was little Heber Parley, and it was with difficulty he could carry a two-quart pail full of water from a spring at the bottom of the hill.'
34'Such deaths occurred from exposure and fright in Nauvoo. The camp journalist recorded: Effect of persecution by the Illinois mob.'
35The trustees from Nauvoo also distributed clothing, and molasses, salt, and salt pork. Hist. B. Young, MS., 1846, 383.
36Mrs Clara Young's Experience, MS., 3.
|p. 234|| "While
the people for the most part were ill with chills and fever," says
Wells, "quail fell into camp and were picked up with ease.37
This supply was looked upon as miraculous by the half famished people. So
long had they been lashed by the fierce winds of misfortune, that now they
accepted with gratitude this indication of providential care.
Wagons were sent from Winter Quarters for the removal of the people from Poor Camp; and gradually all reached the various stations in which the Mormons had gathered.38
Of their long journey many painful incidents are recorded. Weakened by fever or crippled with rheumatism, and with sluggish circulation, many were severely frost-bitten. Women were compelled to drive the nearly worn-out teams, while tending on their knees, perhaps, their sick children. The strength of the beasts was failing, as there were intervals when they could be kept froth starving only by the browse or tender buds and branches of the cotton-wood, felled for the purpose.39
At one time no less than two thousand wagons could be counted, it was said, along the three hundred miles of road that separated Nauvoo from the Mormon encampments. Many families possessed no wagons,
37'On the 9th of October, while our teams were waiting on the banks of the Miss. for the poor saints…left without any of the necessaries of life,…and nothing to start their journey with, the Lord sent flocks of quail, which lit upon their wagons and on their empty tables, and upon the ground within their reach, which the saints, and even the sick, caught with their hands until they were satisfied.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1847, 9. This phenomenon extended some 30 or 40 miles along the river, and was generally observed. The quail in immense quantities had attempted to cross the river, but it being beyond their strength, had dropped into the river boats or on the bank.' Wells, in Utah Notes, MS., 7.
38See The Mormons: A Discourse delivered before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, March 26, 1850, by Thomas L. Kane. Philadelphia, 1850. A copy of it will be found at the end of Orson Pratt's Works, and in Mackay's The Mormons, 200-45. The story of the Mormon exodus, as handed down to us by a man of Colonel Kane's powers of observation, would have been a valuable record were it not plainly apparent that truth is too often sacrificed to diction. Among Mormon writers we find no detailed narrative of this exodus, and among others little that is not borrowed from the colonel's discourse.
39Snow's Biography, 89.
|p. 235||and in the long
procession might be seen vehicles of all descriptions, from the lumbering
cart, under whose awning lay stretched its fever-stricken driver, to the
veriest makeshifts of poverty, the wheelbarrow or the two-wheeled trundle,
in which was dragged along a bundle of clothing and a sack of meal—all
of this world's goods that the owner possessed.
On arriving at the banks of the Missouri, the wagons were drawn up in double lines and in the form of squares. Between the lines, tents were pitched at intervals, space being left between each row for a passage-way, which was shaded with awnings or a lattice-work of branches, and served as a promenade for convalescents and a playground for children.
And what became of Nauvoo? The temple was destroyed by fire and tempest,40 and all the wood-work consumed, while the rock was utilized for miles around as foundations of houses, for door-steps, and other purposes. A French company coming in later bought the stone from those in possession, and built wine-vaults. Foundations of buildings were broken up, and houses once surrounded by carefully tended flower-gardens, pillaged of all that was valuable, were now abandoned by their ruthless destroyers.41 "At present," writes Linforth, "the Icarians form the most important part of the population of Nauvoo…They live in a long ugly row of buildings, the architect of which and of the school-house was a cobbler." In the house built for the prophet and his family dwelt in 1854 the prophet's widow, his mother, and his family.42
40The temple was half destroyed by fire on Nov. 19, 1848. Nauvoo Patriot, in Millennial Star, xi. p. 46; and on May 27, 1850, further damaged by a tornado. Hancock Patriot, in Mackay's The Mormons, 210. For cut of remnants, see Linforth's Route from Liverpool to G. S. L. Valley, 62, and Hyde's Mormonism, 140. See also George Q. Cannon, in Juvenile Instuctor, vol. ix. no. 5, and Wells' Narrative, MS., 41; Deseret News, Aug. 24, 1850; Frontier Guardian, July 24, 1850.
41As James Linforth describes in writing of Nauvoo in 1858.
42Route from Liverpool to G. S. L. Valley, 63.
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