Episode 49 – Profit of High Treason
On this episode, shock and awe is an effective strategy. In the wake of the Haun’s Mill massacre, the Jo and the Mormon leadership are given a final ultimatum, surrender or the twin cities (Far West & Adam-ondi-Ahman) fall and the Mormons fall with them. General Lucas of the Missouri militia dictates four stipulations of surrender as the Mormons are outnumbered 5 to 1 and surrounded. Mormon Colonel George Hinkle negotiates an extension for the night but Jo and the leaders are taken as hostage to force compliance to surrender. The twin sanctuary cities are violated and the national media explodes with rumors and fake news.
Parley P. Pratt (P-cubed) autobiography
Reed Peck Manuscript
Local Missouri newspapers
General Sampson Avard
Thomas B. Marsh
1838 Mormon War in Missouri Stephen LeSueur
The Rise of Mormonism: 1816-1844 H. Michael Marquardt
Music by Jason Comeau http://aloststateofmind.com/
Show Artwork http://weirdmormonshit.com/
Legal Counsel http://patorrez.com/
Voicemail Line (864)Nake-dMo (625-3366)
Nauvoo Neighbor 27 Dec, 1843, Orrin Porter Rockwell: Man of God/Son of Thunder 3rd ed. pg 103*,* Schindler Harold, University of Utah Press, 1993)
Porter Rockwell’s triumphant return from Missouri prison:
“This demagoguery and political corruption has caused an innocent man to be immolated in the Missouri dungeon for upwards of eight months, without the slightest evidence of his guilt, or even the most remote evidence of crime leading to his committal. He was taken without process, and committed to jail upon mere supposition, and finally acquitted without any shadow of proof having been adduced from beginning to end. This is the way that Missouri treats free-born American citizens, and they can obtain no redress. . .”
NaMo home evening with Andrew Torrez
Last historical episode was a bit of a diversion from our usual historical monologue format. The thing is, there’s simply no way to convey the terror and intensity of the Haun’s Mill massacre. Many scholars and historians have done amazing work in reconstructing the historical events from the abundant firsthand accounts, but no medium is apt to actually make us feel what it was like to be there with the muskets firing and people wailing in agony and fear. I’m putting out an honest petition for feedback here. Did you guys enjoy that presentation of the Haun’s mill massacre, and do you want episodes similar to it, of course tweaked and optimized, or do you want us to stick with the historical monologue from yours truly as every other historical episode has been to this point? We have a few other big events coming up and if you guys would like, episodes with different people reading firsthand accounts will be reserved for those few crucial big events, or, like I said, we can just stick with the straight monologue.
That being said, we don’t have much to roundup this week before we pick up our timeline. Last episode was just that, the most well-known and highly championed massacre in Mormon history.
Let’s get into the meat of today’s episode.
The massacre at Haun’s mill happened just as the sun was setting on October 30, 1838. As the dust settled, a messenger made his way to Far West near midnight and reported to Jo what had just happened. This had a few profound effects; Jo suddenly realized that the Saints living in the twin sanctuary cities of Far West and Diahmen could be the next victims of mob assault. The thing is, this had been a long time coming.
Jo had been warned by multiple people that his actions over the previous month would serve to destroy the Mormons. Here’s a quote from George Hinkle. Hinkle was the military leader overseeing the Mormon militia at Diahmen. He’d been strategically involved with the entire conflict as one of Jo’s closest trusted advisors and he’s an instrumental piece to today’s episode. I’m reading this from H. Michael Marquardt’s Rise of Mormonism pg 480:
“[Hinkle had] told him that this course of things of burning houses & plundering by the mormon troops would ruin us, that it could not be kept hid and would bring the force of the State upon us, that houses would be searched & stolen property found.”
Hinkle was wise and truly prophetic that the Missouri militias would react to the Mormon’s violence with more violence. We’ve had this discussion in the past, nothing was happening to deescalate the situation and Hinkle saw the writing on the wall.
In response to this wise plea to cease and desist with the Mormon depredations, Jo chastized Hinkle and told him to fall in line or get out of the way. He told him “to keep still, that I should say nothing about it, that it would discourage the men & he would <not> suffer me to say any thing about it.”
Herein lies the fundamental problem with incompetence. Granted, this specific counsel was given before the battle of Crooked River and the Mormon extermination order, but Smith couldn’t realize at that time the impossible odds with which he was faced. The Mormons had been stealing goods and there’s simply no way they could get away with it. Jo figured it was best to sweep that problem under the rug. Hinkle wasn’t the only reasonable person giving Jo sound military advice in spite of Jo’s blind optimism.
However, just because Jo was blindly optimistic about the outcome of the whole Mormon war, it doesn’t mean there wasn’t a certain amount of distrust for those who questioned Jo’s military acumen. After Hinkle dissented and gave Jo that great advice, advice which Jo clearly wanted to hear absolutely none of, but giving unwanted and necessary advice is the mark of a good advisor; Jo demoted Hinkle, bringing him back to Far West and took direct control over the Mormon militia at Diahmen, commanding them by proxy from Far West. As if Jo didn’t already have enough problems spreading himself too thin, he chose to take on direct command of an extra 300 men. Hinkle wasn’t the only important Mormon military commander. Another who had been a close advisor during the entire conflict was Sampson Avard, one of the Danite captains.
Let’s talk about the Danites and Sampson Avard for a minute. We’ve briefly mentioned him before now, but those were more remarks about his physical appearance being a dominating and powerful man, the bad cop if you will. The Danites were formed as the Mormon enforcer squad soon after Smith and Rigdon fled Kirtland for Missouri. The Danites were the muscle that enforced the Mormon ban on the Whitmers, Oliver Cowdery, and any other dissenters in Missouri. They were a shady and extra-legal underground armed mob force who obeyed the prophet, regardless of his most insane orders, like looting towns in Daviess County.
This is the Danite Oath which later surfaced due to legal issues. Once again, I’m reading from The Rise of Mormonism pg 479:
“In the name of Jesus Christ the son of God, I do solemnly obligate myself ever to conceal & never to reveal the secret purposes of this society called the daughter of Zion; Should I ever do the same I hold my life as the forfeiture.”
The temple rituals before the 90’s included the blood oaths which parishioners performed, symbolically disemboweling themselves and cutting their own throats. That’s the 1990’s by the way, not the 1890’s. The idea is that if you reveal the secret rituals performed in the temple the penalty is death; whether by your own hand or the hands of the Danites, I don’t think that detail too much matters.
The same was the penalty for violating the Danite oath, only they were a bit more serious than the Mormon church prior to changing the blood oaths in the temple ceremony. Sampson Avard was essentially head captain of the Danites, and understandably held a lot of Mormon secrets concerning their military actions in the Missouri conflict. This is a great passage from pg 469 of the Rise of Mormonism describing the foundation and basic organizational structure of the Danites, details which are important to keep in mind as this Mormon-Missouri war sits at a crucial tipping point.
“It appears that Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith, members of the First Presidency, did not take the Danite oath as the Danites were to support their program. Rigdon mentioned in 1843 that the Danites were formed for mutual protection and they ‘had certain signs and words by which they could know one another, either by day or night.’ In July the order of Danites was organized at Adam-ondi-Ahmen headed by Lyman Wight. The total number who joined the Danite organization at the two locations numbered in the hundreds. The leaders had military titles. There are no known minutes of the secret meetings where members were initiated. Reed Peck, who had been an Adjutant with the Danites mentioned the names of the leading officers of the band of Danites. The following is a listing of the officers:
Captain General -- Jared Carter (replaced after July 4 by Elias Higbee)
Brigadier General -- Sampson Avard
Major General -- Cornelius P. Lott
Colonel -- George W. Robinson
Lieutenant Colonel -- Philo Dibble
Major -- Seymour Brunson”
That was the layout of the commanding ranks of the Mormon enforcer squad, formed a mere 3 months before the Mormon depredations in Daviess County. Keep in mind, this was not actually the Army of Israel. If I’m not mistaken, in a past few episodes I may have equivocated the Army of Israel with the Danites, that was wrong. In my defense, there is a fair amount of controversy surrounding the Danites and Jo’s affiliation, while the Army of Israel was essentially an overarching broad term to describe any armed Mormon mob.
When Jo marched those 200 men into Missouri back in 1834 referred to as “Zion’s camp,” that was the actual foundation of the “Armies of Israel,” to which Jo was elected commander-in-chief, and the term was later appropriated for the Mormon Battalion established in 1846 to assist in the Mexican-American War. So the term “Army or Armies of Israel,” is a fairly broad term that was used to define basically any armed militia of Mormons.
The Army of Israel’s primary purpose in this 1838 Missouri conflict was the defense of Mormon settlements and performing publicly visible military actions. Essentially, they were the Mormon national guard, not making any aggressive public actions.
The Danites, however, were a secret society existing for the purposes of directly handling ecclesiastical affairs. With handling the dissenters after Defection-Day for which D-Day David Whitmer was named, the Danites made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. They would either leave Far West or be killed. Go back to the Red Sermon on Episode 43 to hear this in detail, but to reiterate and help contextualize the end of October crisis afflicting the Mormons and Jo specifically, let’s briefly go over some of the highlights.
The Danite Manifesto was written by Hingepin Sidney Rigdon and delivered to Ollie Cowdung, John Goebbels Whitmer, William Wines/Double-Dub Phelps, and Leadfoot Lyman E. Johnson by the ruff n’ tuff bad-cop Brigadier General Sampson Avard. Part of the letter reads:
“for out of the county you shall go, and no power shall save you. And you shall have three days after you receive this communication to you, including twenty-four hours in each day, for you to depart with your families peaceably; which you may do undisturbed by any person; but in that time, if you do not depart, we will use the means in our power to cause you to depart; for go you shall.”
This was a public death threat attributed to Rigdon commanding Sampson Avard to direct the Danites to aggressively chase out or kill these Mormon dissenters. We’re talking about people who’d been there since the foundation of the church, people who’d witnessed Jo drunkenly staring into his hat rambling off verse after verse for the BoM. These foundational leaders in the church all fled upon receiving the threat. Many of those people were Jo’s deepest friends with whom he’d shared the best and worst of times, but they were also really pissed with how much of a bag of dicks Jo had been for years by this point.
We tend to cover the worst of times a lot, so here’s a great example of the best of times recounted by Professor Bill, William E. McLellin taken from pg 100 of Hearts Made Glad by Lamar Petersen:
“’Soon fine dressing and fine parties were the go, and soon a fine ride was determined upon. Some fifteen couples hired fine carriages, with fine harness and horses and, when all was in readiness, they set out for Cleveland, some nineteen miles away. They drove round and round through the streets. People gazed and inquired, ‘Who is all this?’ ‘Oh, it’s Joe Smith, the Mormon prophet, and his company.’ They put up at a first-class tavern, called for a room, refreshments and something to drink. Some of them became intoxicated, and they broke up about twenty dollars’ worth of dishes and furniture. Next morning they paid their bill and set out for home. They stopped at Euclid—half way—and took dinner again and after they set out for home they commenced running horses, and turned over a buggy and broke it up, so they had to haul it home on a wagon. But all went swimmingly.”
Those people who Jo shared this crazy party-night with were forcibly removed from Far West. It must have caused unimaginable problems for Jo and the leadership, not to mention the personal friendships that were forever severed. Add that background pressure to George Hinkle telling Jo that the Mormon depredations in Daviess County will essentially be the downfall of the Mormons in Missouri, and things may seem to be getting a little tense. As I said earlier, George Hinkle wasn’t alone in telling Jo he’s making some gigantic fuck-ups. Thomas B. Marsh (Darsh) and Orson L’Chydem, the “olive branch of Israel” as he later came to be known, also told Jo that the Mormon depredations in Daviess were a huge mistake, and some form of altercation must have happened because they both went to Richmond and wrote affidavits telling all about the destroying company and the Danites. Darsh made some incredibly inflammatory claims in the affidavit which L’Chydem affirmed as wholly true. Here are some of the operative phrases that really caused a number of problems.
“Joseph Smith, the Prophet, had preached, in which he said, that all the Mormons who refused to take up arms, if necessary, in difficulties with the citizens, should be shot, or otherwise put to death”
“…commanded by a man fictitiously named Captain Fearnought, [the Mormons] marched to Gallatin. They returned, and said they had run off from Gallatin twenty or thirty men, and had taken Gallatin, -- had taken one prisoner, and another had joined the company. I afterwards learned from the Mormons that they had burnt Gallatin, and that it was done by the aforesaid company that marched down. The Mormons informed me that they had hauled away all the goods from the store in Gallatin, and deposited them at the Bishop’s storehouse at ‘Diahmon.”
“The Prophet, on hearing the property was left, commenced a reply, and said, ‘We had better see to it,’ when Wight stopped him by saying, ‘Never mind, we will have a private council;’ and Smith replied, ‘Very well.’ The private council I did not hear. The men were determined to go to their camps. The same evening, a number of footmen cam e up from the direction of Millport, laden with property, which I was informed consisted of beds, clocks, and other household furniture.”
“When Wight returned from Millport, and informed Smith that the people were gone nad the property left, Smith asked him if they had left any of the negroes fro them, and Wight replied, ‘No;’ upon which some one laughed, and said to Smith, ‘You have lost your negro then.’”
“they passed a decree that no Mormon dissenter should leave Caldwell county alive; and that such and that such as attempted to do it, should be shot down, and sent to tell their tale in eternity. In a conversation between Dr. Avard and other Mormons, said Avard proposed to start a pestilence among the Gentiles, as he called them, by poisoning their corn, fruit, &c., and saying it was the work of the Lord; and said Avard advocated lying for the support of their religion, and said it was no harm to lie for the Lord!! The plan of said Smith, the Prophet, is to take this State; and he professes to his people to intend taking the United States, and ultimately the whole world.”
“it is believed by every true Mormon that Smith’s prophecies are superior to the law of the land. I have heard the Prophet say that he should yet tread down his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies;”
“They have among a company consiting of all that are considered true Mormons, called the Danites, who have taken an oath to support the heads of the Church in all things, that they say or do, whether right or wrong. Many, however, of this band are much dissatisfied with this oath, as being against moral and religious principles. On Saturday last, I am informed by the Mormons that they had a meeting at Far West, at which they appointed a company of twelve, by the name of the Destruction Company, for the purpose of burning and destroying; and that if the people of Buncombe came to do mischief upon the people of Caldwell, and committed depredations upon the Mormons, they were to burn Buncombe; and if the people of Clay and Ray made any movements against them, this destroying company were to burn Liberty and Richmond.”
In response to this information, which Jo later claimed to be false, the militia commanded by Colonel Thomas Jennings in Liberty, Clay County, organized his militia of 250 men and marched on Haun’s Mill which Jo had just now learned of. He hadn’t known that Darsh and L’Chydem had betrayed him and signed these affidavits and he found out by hearing about the massacre which stemmed from the affidavits.
Is this convoluted string of linked causal factors beginning to come into focus yet? Thomas Darsh and Orson L’Chydem had participated in Danite activities and more importantly had taken the Danite oath saying if they reveal Danite secrets then they forfeit their lives. They dissented from Jo and revealed to the Missouri government the Mormon plans and strategies, laying bare previously unknown details of the Mormon depredations. Their intel led directly to the Haun’s Mill massacre.
When Jo learned of the massacre late in the night of October 30th, this was his response, which is accurate. I’m reading this from page 163 of Stephen LeSueur’s 1838 Mormon War in Missouri.
“Joseph Smith repeatedly warned the Haun’s Mill Saints to move into Far West for safety, but due to a misunderstanding of the Prophet’s instructions, they chose to remain at the village, trusting in the Lord and their recently signed treaty to protect them. ‘None had ever been killed who abode by my counsel,’ Smith later said. ‘At Hauns’ Mill the brethren went contrary to my counsel; if they had not, their lives would have been spared.’”
Kind of a douche-bag move to pull an “I told you so” in the wake of 18 of his flock being slaughtered, but he wasn’t wrong. He’d given counsel for the Mormons to leave, but Jacob Haun said they could defend Haun’s Mill, which they needed as it was the only mill in Caldwell County the Mormons could access to grind their wheat and corn into flour and meal.
Once Hauns’ Mill fell, it signaled to Jo and the leadership that their time was short. They were out of options and the few Missouri militia generals who’d been friendly to the Mormons were now under the command of General John B. Clark who was not very friendly, mingled together with the other anti-Mormon military commanders such as General Lucas, Captain Bogart, Captain Austin, etc. All of these militia commanders were gathered outside of Far West and Diahmen, cutting off the Mormons from any supply lines and strictly limiting their communication with one another, capturing nearly any Mormon who step foot outside of the sanctuary cities. Maybe sanctuary is the wrong label for Far West and Diahmen at this point, they were actually the last holdout cities of refuge for the Mormons who’d been removed from the neighboring counties. The Mormons were consolidated to two locations which were now completely under siege by the Missouri militia. The Mormons were truly out of options.
October 31st 1838 was a very tense day for the Mormon leadership. The Missouri militia was armed with the Mormon Extermination order which gave them quasi-legal carte blanche to do whatever necessary to the Mormons to remove them from Missouri. Stephen LeSueur captures the situation quite well on pg 168 of his book.
“News of the massacre seemed to change Joseph Smith’s perception of the conflict. He not only saw that the Mormons could not win an all-out war with the Missourians, but he also realized that his people would be utterly destroyed if such a war occurred. He now pressed the five representatives to work out a compromise with the militia. Both Reed Peck and John Corrill wrote that Smith instructed them to “beg like a dog for peace.” Hinkle reported that Smith told them to obtain a treaty “on any terms short of a battle.” According to Corrill, Smith said he would go to prison for twenty years or even die rather than allow his people to be exterminated. When the appointed time arrived, the Mormon representatives, with clear instructions from Smith to seek a compromise, rode out to meet the Missouri officers.”
All of the pressures we’ve been discussing for the past 7 historical timeline episodes finally culminated in the Hauns’ Mill massacre, shocking Jo’s system into comprehending just how real this conflict was. He and Rigdon had been preaching for months that they would rather die than be chased out of Missouri and removed from their homes again, but now that Mormons had actually died and the rest of the thousands of believers were on the Missourian’s chopping block, it was time to get serious about surrender negotiations and face the consequences.
Jo was defeated. He knew that if he personally went out to meet General Lucas to negotiate he would be immediately captured and the Mormons would lose all their negotiation leverage. The Missourians wanted the Mormons out, but they REALLY wanted Jo and the church leadership to answer for their crimes. The Mormon liaisons rode out to General Lucas’ 4000 strong militia. Lucas assured the Mormons that he would not be as harsh as the governor had described in the Mormon extermination order and that a peaceful surrender was possible if they fulfilled his terms of surrender which were as follows:
“1st To give up their leaders to be tried and punished.
2nd To make an appropriation of their property, all who had taken up arms, to the payment of their debts, and indemnify for damage done by them.
3rd That the balance should leave the State, and be protected out by the militia, but to be permitted to remain under protection until further orders were received from the Commander-in-Chief.
4th To give up the arms of every description to be receipted for.”
As is the nature of nearly any surrender, the outlook wasn’t good for the Mormons, and giving the Missouri militia the Mormon leadership was the only leverage they had which was insufficient for negotiating better terms with General Lucas. Keep in mind, General Lucas was armed with Governor Boggs’ Extermination order, but the order was addressed to General John B. Clark who was the commanding officer over General Lucas. Lucas didn’t actually have the quasi-legal authority enshrined in the Extermination order, and General Clark, who did have the authority, was still en route and wouldn’t arrive for another 4 days. But what could the Mormons do? They could scream and cry foul all they wanted, at the end of the day they were still surrounded by an army that outnumbered them 5 to 1 which was under the command of General Lucas who was itching to kill him some damned Mormon fanatics.
Colonel George Hinkle, the primary representative of the Mormon interests reportedly refused the terms of surrender as soon as Lucas stated them. There was no possible way to get around the terms, they are completely logical and consistent with the vast majority of respectful military surrenders. The point Hinkle was stuck on was the surrender of the Mormon’s guns. An argument ensued between Hinkle and General Lucas and Lucas essentially said you can comply with the terms or we will wage battle on Far West right then starting with you 5 messengers.
Hinkle took the threat seriously. He asked General Lucas if they could wait out the rest of the night and come back with a decision the next morning. Lucas said okay, but he needed collateral that they would come back with a decision the next morning instead of just holding out and biding their time. Lucas demanded Jo, Rigdon, Lyman Wight, P-cubed Parley P. Pratt, and Rigdon’s son-in-law George Robinson be surrendered as hostages. Without the leaders in Lucas’ hands, there was nothing guaranteeing the Mormons’ agreement to or compliance with the surrender terms. Hinkle said we’ll get back to you on that and the 5 messengers hauled ass back to Far West to discuss the surrender terms with Jo. General Lucas gave them one hour to surrender the leadership or his army would destroy Far West that night beginning with bombarding the town with cannon fire.
Lucas’ troops were camped less than a mile from Far West, so it didn’t take long for Hinkle and the other 4 messengers to get back to Jo and tell him just how supremely fucked they were. Jo initially refused the surrender terms, but Hinkle told him just how insistent General Lucas was about the terms and that no other negotiation would be accepted. With no options left, Jo, Rigdon, P-Cubed, Wight, and Robinson mounted up on their horses and made their final ride out of Far West. They must have been incredibly close to that one-hour Lucas gave them to comply because General Lucas met the Mormon leaders with a massive contingency of his troops marching towards Far West to enforce Lucas’ terms should the Mormons refuse to comply.
Just to clarify, the leadership giving themselves up was merely for collateral. They could still try and negotiate terms with General Lucas and decide to accept or decline the terms on the morning of November 1st, they were merely being taken hostage by Lucas’ troops until then. This is how P-Cubed Parley P. Pratt recounts the situation on page 203 of his autobiography linked in the show notes.
“October 31, 1838—In the afternoon we were informed that the Governor had ordered this force against us, with orders to exterminate or drive every “Mormon” from the State. As soon as these facts were ascertained we determined not to resist anything in the shape of authority, however abused. We had now nothing to do but to submit to be massacred, driven, robbed or plundered, at the option of our persecutors.
Colonel George M. Hinkle, who was at that time the highest officer of the militia assembled for the defense of Far West, waited on Messrs. J. Smith, S. Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, L. Wight, George Robinson and myself, with a request from General Lucas that we would repair to his camp, with the assurance that as soon as peaceable arrangements could be entered into we should be released. We had no confidence in the word of a murderer and robber, but there was no alternative but to put ourselves into the hands of such monsters, or to have the city attacked, and men, women and children massacred. We, therefore, commended ourselves to the Lord, and voluntarily surrendered as sheep into the hands of wolves. As we approached the camp of the enemy General Lucas rode out to meet us with a guard of several hundred men.”
We’re going to let P-cubed tell us what happened next momentarily, but let’s just take a second to assess this shit taco Jo had been wedged into. General Lucas had been one of the most active and outspoken anti-Mormons in the Missouri militia. The wolf had successfully coaxed the sheep out of the pen. The Mormons had absolutely NO reason to trust that Lucas would play fair, especially given the massacre that’d happened the night before at the hands of Colonel Thomas Jennings who’d been absorbed as reinforcements to this same militia outside of Far West. Many of the men who’d just killed the Mormons were in the ranks of Lucas’ army of 2500 men who’d actively mobilized to meet the Mormon leaders in no-man’s land. Can we see why Hinkle and literally every other Mormon were all a bit apprehensive to give up their arms? Without the Mormons being armed, what stops this anti-Mormon mob from literally carrying out Boggs’ extermination order and just blowing through Far West in one afternoon killing every Mormon they could? Nothing is the answer to that question. There was nothing but a thin veneer of law stopping Lucas from killing every Mormon in Missouri and the Extermination order provided the loophole necessary to make his actions not prosecutable. There’s no possible way to understand just how terrifying this situation was for every Mormon involved. It gets even more confusing when you factor the local media into the equation. We’ll read some news clippings after we find out how everything else went down.
Continuing on in the autobiography of P-Cubed on pg 204
“The haughty general [Lucas] rode up, and, without speaking to us, instantly ordered his guard to surround us. They did so very abruptly, and we were marched into camp surrounded by thousands of savage looking beings, many of whom were dressed and painted like Indian warriors. These all set up a constant yell, like so many bloodhounds let loose upon their prey, as if they had achieved one of the most miraculous victories that ever graced the annals of the world. If the vision of the infernal regions could suddenly open to the mind, with thousands of malicious fiends, all clamoring, exulting, deriding, blaspheming, mocking, railing, raging and foaming like a troubled sea, then could some idea be formed of the hell which we had entered.”
LeSueur describes the situation when the leaders were taken hostage, but I can’t seem to find the source he’s using so it may be slightly editorialized. It shows us that there were a few remaining white knights who’d defend the law regardless of who was right or wrong in the situation. From pg 172
“As Hinkle and the others rode off, the Missouri troops closed around the prisoners and began shouting triumphantly. Some of the men, guns cocked, rushed in and threatened to shoot the hostages. General Doniphan and several other officers rode up and, with swords drawn, drove the men back, threatening to cut them down if they did not uncock their guns and move away. At camp, many of the Missouri soldiers continued to insult and threaten the Mormon prisoners; consequently, Lucas placed a guard of thirty soldiers in a double ring around the Mormons to protect them. The Mormon leaders spent the entire night on open ground, in the cold and rain, surrounded by thousands of hostile troops. They were given no opportunity to discuss the surrender terms with the militia officers.”
P-Cubed is a little more descriptive of the evening, continuing on page 204 of his autobiography.
“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; wanted signs, such as: “Come, Mr. Smith, show us an angel.” “Give us one of your revelations.” “Show us a miracle.” “Come, there is one of your brethren here in camp whom we took prisoner yesterday in his own house, and knocked his brains out with his own rifle, which we found hanging over his fireplace; he lays speechless and dying; speak the word and heal him, and then we will all believe.” “Or, if you are apostles or men of God, deliver yourselves, and then we will be Mormons.” Next would be a volley of oaths and blasphemies; then a tumultuous tirade of lewd boastings of having defiled virgins and wives by force, etc., much of which I dare not write; and, indeed, language would fail me to attempt more than a faint description. Thus passed this dreadful night, and before morning several other captives were added to our number, among whom was brother Amasa Lyman.”
We’ll attempt to deal with that last claim of rape in a little while as it’s a very loaded accusation and there’s more to it than meets the eye. Let’s talk about the treatment of the Mormon prisoners in Lucas’ military camp. Historians may disagree about how they were treated, but it seems entirely possible that the majority of what P-cubed Parley Pratt claimed in his autobiography is entirely believable. This state-sanctioned militia, as was the case with every other Missouri militia up to this point, was comprised wholly of Missouri citizens, many who hated the damned religious fanatics known as the Mormons. They’d been fighting with them for years by this point, and given the social pressures we’ve discussed ad nauseam by this point, the Missourians would stoop to unprecedented lows to disparage Jo and his followers. They had beat the brains out of a man named John Tanner, this is how the situation is recounted by Stephen LeSueur on pg 148:
“John Tanner and his son Myron were driving their wagon to a mill to obtain provisions for the Mormon army when they spotted a company of Missourians riding toward them. Tanner told his twelve-year-old son to hide in the woods and make his way home as best he could. Although the elder Tanner made no attempt to escape, Myer Odell, captain of the militia unit, shot twice at the Mormon as he rode toward the wagon, his gun misfiring each time. Upon reaching the wagon, Odell called Tanner a “god damned old Mormon: and struck him on the side of the head with the butt of his rifle. Tanner suffered a large, ugly gash, but his thick felt hat partially cushioned the blow and prevented more serious injury to the sixty-year-old man. The stunned Mormon was taken as a prisoner to the Missourians’ camp.”
The Missouri militia had beaten this old man nearly to death and when they finally took delivery of Jo as prisoner, they made fun of him telling him to heal the old man they’d nearly killed. Two things to say about this, what a bunch of dicks, and good on them. Jo and his missionaries had claimed many times that they could perform healing, what better scenario to convert these thousands of anti-Mormon mobsters than to heal a man they’d nearly killed by hitting him in the head with his own gun? They set up a testable situation and the prophet couldn’t intervene in any meaningful way, much like any other person who claims themselves to be a prophet.
LeSueur tends to take the perspective that the Mormon leaders’ time in Lucas’ camp wasn’t as bad as some like P-cubed claim, I disagree. The accounts may be somewhat exaggerated, but it wasn’t a pleasant situation. They were kept up all night in an open field with freezing cold Missouri November rain while being constantly bombarded by verbal jabs from the Missouri militia. What if the line broke? What if some of the guards decided to commit mutiny? What if their ol’ friend General Doniphan wouldn’t be there to defend them when shit went down? The fear of the unknown and the very real mistreatment they received must have simply sucked.
The Mormons remaining at Far West weren’t sure what to expect the following morning. Would their prophet escape and return to wage war? Would he emerge from Lucas’ army with terms of surrender? Would the militia exercise their extra-legal authority granted by the extermination order and ignore any surrender terms and wipe out the Mormons now that they’d captured Jo and the other key Mormon leaders? Of the thousands of people living in Far West, I doubt they shared a collective wink of sleep the entire night.
Boggs had issued the Mormon extermination order in response to the Mormon aggression against Captain Bogart’s troops on Crooked River. The Mormons knew that anybody associated with the Crooked River battle would be treated with extreme prejudice by Lucas’ troops and the larger Missouri militia. Most of them were in Far West at the time. 70 men who’d participated or had been linked to Crooked River fled at midnight towards the Iowa territory, only to return once the dust had settled for the purpose of removing their families to Illinois.
The next morning, November 1st, dawned. A messenger from Lucas’ army arrived in Far West with explicit instruction from Jo to surrender and comply with Lucas’ surrender orders. The Mormons were ready to fight, but obviously, they expected to surrender, otherwise they wouldn’t have sent off those 70 fighting men in the middle of the night had they been expecting a battle.
George Hinkle was Commander-in-chief in Jo’s absence. Once he received Jo’s order to surrender, he organized the logistics and sent a messenger to Diahmen validating the claims of the militia there that the Mormons had surrendered.
The confusing morning of November 1 is described well by LeSueur on pg 175:
“The Mormon hostages spent the entire night surrounded by hostile troops, listening to boasts and threats of violence. The following morning, 1 November, General Lucas informed them that they could surrender and accept the terms offered, or they could fight—and be exterminated by the Missouri troops. According to Joseph Thorp, a member of Doniphan’s brigade, Lyman Wight was the only hostage who wanted to return to tow. ‘They were about as badly scared set as I ever saw,’ Thorp said concerning the hostages, ‘except old Wright [sic], who stood like a lion and said fight, without a sign of fear about him….’ At about 8:00 a.m. Joseph Smith sent a message to Far West instructing the Saints to surrender.
So many Mormons simply didn’t believe it. They’d heard Jo and Rigdon’s firebrand preaching about this war of extermination they would wage against the damned mobocrats. Here’s a quote from the Reed Peck manuscript linked in the show notes:
“Joseph Smith addressed them and after capitulating the vexations to which the church had been subject and the persecutions they had endured in Missouri, informed them of the answer of the Governor to their petition [p. 78] and in continuation said the law we have tried long enough, who is so big a fool as to cry the law! the law! when it is always administered against us and never in our favor I do not intend to regard the law hereafter as we are made a set of outlaws by having no protection from it We will take our affairs into our own hands and manage for ourselves We have applied to the Gov. and he will do nothing for us, the militia of the county we have tried and they will do nothing, all are mob the Governor is mob [p. 79] the militia are mob and the whole State is mob.
We have yielded to the mob in Dewitt and now they are preparing to strike a blow in Daviess, but I am determined that we will not give another foot and I care not how many come against us, 10 or 10000 God will send his angels to our deliverance and we can conquer 10000 as easily as 10” (http://www.mormoninformation.com/reedpeck.htm)
Here's another quote from a man named Samuel Kimble concerning something Jo said regarding the mobs taken from the later court documents. I’m reading it from pg 481 of Marquardt’s Rise of Mormonism:
“It was impossible to please a mob, that he had applied to the Governor, and he understood the governor said he could do nothing for us, he said the whole state was a mob and that the governor was nothing but a mob, & if he come upon them he would make war upon him. He cursed the state as a damn mob & that God would damn them. He observed that the people might think he was swearing, but that the Lord would not take notice of it”
After that kind of rhetoric, surrender didn’t seem like an option, and once agreed upon by Jo, it didn’t seem like a reality to his thousands of faithful followers who would be adversely affected by this surrender. The problem stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of how war works. These men were fighting with God on their side and considered defeat completely impossible because God was watching over them. They understood that as God’s army, just like the 2000 stripling warriors in the BoM, they could take on “10 as easily as 10,000” with God’s protection; they were simply ignorant of how war really works.
Hinkle gathered the Mormon soldiers to the middle of Far West and told them what happened. The majority were incredulous, thinking Jo and the other leaders had been unfairly captured and Hinkle was pulling the wool over their eyes. Some Mormons who claimed they were ready to fight to the death considered George Hinkle as a traitor working for General Lucas to subvert the captured Mormon leaders. Nobody was sure what to believe. Regardless of what the Mormons believed, the reality was that the surrender had been made official and Jo would never return to Far West.
Lucas’ army then carried out the terms which weren’t so much negotiated as they were dictated. I would go find a bunch of firsthand accounts to reconstruct the sacking of Far West and Diahman, but I would much rather rely on a trusted historian instead of my amateur self. I’m going to read a huge excerpt from Stephen LeSueur’s book here, so bear with me and I’ll recommend the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri once again. Read it for yourself because there are so many details we simply don’t have time to cover that really help paint a higher resolution picture of this conflict.
Beginning with page 180
“The disarming of the Mormon soldiers opened the way for widespread plundering and violence against the Saints that continued until they left the state. Missouri soldiers ransacked homes, some looking for property allegedly stolen from them, others simply searching for booty, while the Mormon owners looked helplessly on. William E. McLellin, a former Mormon apostle, led a search of Joseph Smith’s home to confiscate books and papers that might prove damaging to the Mormons. The Danite constitution was reportedly found in a trunk filled with the Prophet’s personal papers. Josiah Butterfield said the Missourians would enter homes during the night, awaken the Mormons with cocked guns, and then search the houses for weapons and take whatever they pleased. A gang of eight men, catching William Clark alone, beat him up because ‘you’re a God Dam Mormon Preacher & we are Determined to kill every Mormon.’ In Carroll County a mob captured Riley Stewart and, holding two pistols at his head, forced him to take off his coat, kneel down, and receive fifty lashes. James Powell, a non-Mormon whose wife belonged to the Church, was clubbed senseless by a group of Missourians when he resisted their attempts to take possession of his property and home. Powell received a six-inch gash in his head, exposing his brain, and a doctor later removed fourteen pieces of bone from his skull. Swearing they would indemnify themselves for Mormon damages in Daviess County, the Missourians warned Powell’s wife and her parents, who witnessed the entire affair, ‘to be gone by early breakfast time the next morning or they would kill every one of us.’
At Far West several Mormon families crowded into each small cabin for shelter. Many lived in tents and slept near fires to keep warm during the night. The Missouri soldiers lived off the Mormons’ livestock and crops and used their house logs for fire, while the Mormons ate frozen potatoes and boiled corn. The soldiers reportedly shot hogs and cattle for sport, claiming the animals were ‘Mormons running away on all fours.’ According to Mormon reports, the soldiers also raped several women. The accusations of rape, which were promptly denied by Missouri officials, are difficult to verify. Yet, there are at least two eyewitness accounts of attempted rapes, and the evidence indicates that the soldiers brazenly threatened the unprotected Mormon women. Mercy Thompson, whose husband fled the state the night before the surrender, said she lived in such constant terror that ‘at times I feard to lay my Babe down lest they should slay me and leave it to suffer worse than immediate Death.’”
As I said, it was a long excerpt, but any reconstruction of these events that I attempt would simply be inadequate. This sacking of Far West and Diahmen would have been a horrible experience to live through, there’s no way of getting around that fact. The thousands of absolutely terror-struck Mormons running and hiding from the thousands of anti-Mormon soldiers who were pillaging and destroying their homes and property, killing their livestock, and, if some accounts are to be believed, raping Mormon women. LeSueur contends with that point in a footnote on page 181:
“Nearly all reports of rape are based on hearsay and rumors. In addition, the reports are generally vague and often exaggerated—Brigham Young, for example, said that several Mormon women were ‘ravished to death.’ But it cannot be expected that the victims would readily reveal details of these incidents. Parley P. Pratt said one of the victims verified that she had been raped but ‘delicacy at present forbids my mentioning the names’. Charles Morehead, the representative to the state legislature from Ray County, said during a debate that ‘he was in Far West when one of these reports [of rape] was started, and he assisted in attempting to ascertain the truth, and the Mormons themselves admitted that it was false’.”
There’s really a lot to parse out there and I think LeSueur gets to a foundational problem with allegations of rape when he said “it cannot be expected that the victims would readily reveal details of these incidents”. He hits it home even more when he says that reports are based on hearsay and rumors. What hard evidence would we expect to find given the raping actually occurred? Do we really expect to find a woman’s journal entry telling about how she was raped? Rape isn’t usually something a person discusses with their most trusted friends or family members, why would we expect to find any hard evidence substantiating such allegations?
The way our culture views rape is out of sight, out of mind, and often ends in victim blaming. How much more was rape swept under the rug in 19th century puritanical frontier America? We have a fundamentally broken perception of rape. It begins with lack of education concerning the matter and ends with systematic underreporting and widespread silencing, further perpetuating the problem. Many of those who suffer through rape won’t share that information with even those who should have that for many different reasons. People will go with unchecked PTSD for years after an incident because talking about it is too traumatic or they feel like it was their fault. An ancillary point I’m trying to make is that silence on these matters only sweeps them further under the rug and not believing rape allegations because it doesn’t seem plausible makes the problem even worse. Education and prevention of rape is the only way we can better our society in this regard.
The primary point I want to make relates to how we qualify evidence of rape. Historically speaking, men have been raiding and pillaging civilizations they just conquered for longer than we have written history. One common underlying theme is widespread rape. From the sacking of Carthage to the Blitzkrieg of Poland, violent men have taken advantage and raping women by the millions. The vast majority of the evidence we have for those rapes comes from hearsay and rumor, because women don’t tend to talk about it even if it’s with someone they trust who should probably know the information. I’m not pointing this out for the sake of calling out just how fucked up humans are, I’m trying to qualify what scant evidence exists of some rapes occurring in Far West or Diahmen when the Missourians conquered them after the Mormon surrender. Hard evidence of these rapes simply doesn’t exist, nor would we expect it to, only rumors and complete denials by those in charge of the men who pillaged the cities and allegedly committed the crimes in the first place. There’s no way for us to know if it really did happen, but I prefer to play it safe and say if there are allegations of rape, then it probably happened.
But I have to qualify the situation further. The surrender of the Mormons at Diahman and Far West was no sacking of Carthage or Blitzkrieg of Poland. Supposedly 350,000 of the 400,000-people living in Carthage were killed with the rest sold into slavery and some 200,000 casualties resulted from the invasion of Poland. Those sackings were on a completely different level and scale. All said and done, very few Mormons were directly killed by Missourians during the days following the surrender. A significant number died of starvation and exposure during the following winter, but the 18 who died at Haun’s Mill were the only Mormons who really felt the wrath of Missouri muskets.
Of course, things didn’t get better for the captured leaders while Far West and Diahman were plundered by the Missouri militia. Because General Lucas was so viciously opposed to the Mormons, he decided to hold a court martial for Jo and the other leaders. To clarify, court-martials are held for members of the military when they step out of line, but none of the Mormon leaders were actually members of the state militia, so Lucas had absolutely zero authority to hold this military tribunal.
According to some accounts, Judge Austin A. King, who’d presided over the trial of Jo and Lyman Wight at that guy’s farm back in early September, was present along with some other important people who voted in the trial. But even just saying that makes this sound more organized than it really was. The way I picture this scenario playing out is the Missouri militia had spent the night of October 31st, bombarding the Mormon leaders with insults and threats, but the Mormons hadn’t officially surrendered at that point, so they were prisoners of war. Once the Mormons had officially surrendered the next day, it was a victory for the Missouri militia and they were probably half slammed with dirty whiskey by the time evening rolled around after they’d spent all day disarming and looting the Mormons. I’ll bet a bunch of the Missouri militia wanted nothing more in the world than to shoot Jo on the spot and be done with the whole Mormon problem right there, once and for all. A court-martial was the only thing Lucas could do to satiate the Missourian bloodthirst, but it was entirely illegal. Jo and the Mormon leaders needed to stand proper trial in a civilian court of law, but General Lucas seemed to have other plans.
Here's an excerpt from LeSueur’s book pg 182:
“Lyman Wight reported that during the proceedings Gen. Moses Wilson of Jackson County called him aside and promised to release him if he provided evidence against the Mormon prophet. Wight promptly refused, but told the general, ‘If you will give me the boys I brought from Diahman yesterday, I will whip your whole army.’
‘Wight, you are a strange man,’ said Wilson, ‘but if you will not accept my proposal, you will be shot to-morrow morning at 8.’
‘Shoot and be damned,’ Wight replied…
At midnight, Lucas issued the following order to Doniphan: ‘Sir: You will take Joseph Smith and the other prisoners into the public square of Far West, and shoot them at 9 o’clock to-morrow morning.’ Whatever Lucas’s feelings regarding the necessity of this action, he doubtless realized that the court-martial and execution of civilians was illegal. Consequently, if Doniphan carried out the order, it would help to justify Lucas’s action and shield him from any subsequent criticism. Had the prisoners’ own friend and lawyer carried out the sentence, few would have questioned its expediency…
Doniphan returned the following note to Lucas:
‘It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall march for Liberty to-morrow morning, at 8 o’clock; and if you execute those men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God!’
Doniphan’s indignant refusal—for which he was never called to account—prevented the execution of the Mormon prisoners. Neither Lucas nor the other officers pursued the matter further. Lucas, perhaps embarrassed by his hasty and unlawful tribunal, later denied that the court-martial was held.”
General Doniphan was a badass. Doniphan, who’d been Jo and Wight’s lawyer for that September trial and had been one of the few people in the Missouri militia the Mormons could trust, essentially saved the lives of Jo and the other captured leaders. Had Lucas given that order to any other general present in the militia it may have been carried out, and Jo never would have lived to see the Saints reach Nauvoo. It literally came down to one person who was a friend of the Mormons for this illegal court-martial and death sentence to not be carried out. Legally speaking, that’s waaaaaay too damn close for comfort, okay? When one person who’s more moral than the group mentality is the check to stop a lynching, something went wrong way further up the line.
We have to remember, General Lucas wasn’t the head military authority in the field, he was operating under General Clark, to whom the extermination order was originally addressed, who was still 2 days away from arriving at Far West. If Lucas were credited with putting down the Mormon rebellion by forcing a surrender and then subsequently killing off the Mormon leadership to properly quell the fanatics, he would be seen by every anti-Mormon Missourian as a hero, it would have been an amazing career move and would have established General Lucas as the man who stopped those damn religious fanatics from taking over the whole state of Missouri. Thanks to General Doniphan’s sober intellect and willingness to uphold the law, regardless of how unpopular, Jo and the leadership were taken to Richmond, Ray County to have a proper civilian court, which we’ll get in to next episode.
To try and put all of this in perspective, let’s read a couple of Missouri newspapers to see how the public perceived this whole ordeal. These are all hosted on SidneyRigdon.com, one of Dale Broadhurst’s many sites and there will be a link in the show notes.
The first is from the Jeffersonian Republican out of Jefferson City Nov 3, 1838. Keep in mind, news travelled a bit slower back then so this was published after the surrender had already taken place, and all these news articles are working with about a 10 to 15 day-delay from what actually happened until it reached print.
“The Mormon War again.
It is with the most heartfelt regret, we this week [spread] before our readers the reality of all the accusations against this deluded and troublesome people, who are ravaging the counties of Daviess and Caldwell and carrying destruction and consternation along with their movements. After reading the following documents which we have been politely favored with, can a feeling and patriotic people "long debate" what course to pursue? We will answer no! The country is already in arms and are marching to the relief of their distressed fellow-citizens. Our county has met the full requisition of the Governor, and her troops are already on the wing, the mounted troops from Gasconade left here on yesterday about 100 in number, well armed and equipped for a siege such as they will most likely encounter:
STILL LATER FROM THE WAR.
In addition to the foregoing, the Governor yesterday received an express from Gen'ls Atchison and Lucas, confirming the above statements. The Mormons are now in a perfect state of rebellion, and are beyond all doubt the aggressors, setting the laws of the country at defiance. The express from Gen. Atchison brought also a communication from Gen. Clark, with information that he was then on his way to the seat of war with five hundred men -- that five hundred more were to join him that day; he is doubtless by this time at Richmond.”
This is from The Western Star out of Liberty Nov. 6, 1838 and it’s referring to when Boggs essentially fired Atchison for unknown reasons.
“The course of Gov. Boggs, in superseding Gen. Atchison, we hear much complaint about. Why the Gov. did this we are at a loss to know. So far as we have heard an expression of opinion, the people appear to be satisfied with Mr. A. as a General...”
This is from The Far West out of Liberty Nov. 10, 1838
“Just as our paper was going to press, we received a communication from Gen'l Lucas, giving the stipulations of the treaty made by him and the Mormons. It will be recollected that we stated that General Atchison and his staff returned home, having considered himself virtually ordered from the field by Gov. Boggs; who assigned the command to Gen. Clarke of Howard county. Gen. Lucas was in command of the troops previous to and at the time of the surrender of the Mormons. -- The matter was entirely settled before the arrival of General Clarke. -- What motive could have operated on Gov. Boggs for excluding Gen. Atchison from any command, we do not pretend to know, but this we do know, that he has done himself very little credit, by so illiberal a course of procedure.
Gen. Lucas states that the officers and men under his command conducted themselves in a manner that will ever recommend them to his highest approbation…
There will be a dinner given to General Atchison on Monday next at the Liberty Hotel, as a tribute of the high regard and esteem entertained for his personal character, and his meritorious and prudent course in the late difficulties with the Mormons. The citizens of this, and the surrounding counties are respectfully invited.”
This is from The Western Emigrant out of Boonville Nov. 15, 1838
“Just as our paper was going to press, a portion of the Guards have returned from the Mormon war, from whom we have gathered a few particulars. Our informant[s] state that Jo Smith and the other leaders, are to be put on their trial at Richmond, Ray county, and 47 other Mormons are to be tried at the same place. It is not true that the Mormons are to be sent out of the State forthwith, but are allowed to remain at present with the distinct understanding that they are not to make another crop in Missouri, but to leave it between this and next summer. The forces are all disbanded and sent home, except one troop of cavalry from Cole county, which will be retained until the Mormon trials are over.
The Circuit Court for Ray County commenced its session on Monday the 11th inst., at which term it is expected, the trial of Joe Smith and other Mormons will come on. These facts may be relied on as true, as we have them from persons immediately from the spot, on whose statements reliance may be placed.”
This is from the Southern Advocate out of Jackson County November 17, 1838:
“THE MORMONS. -- We are happy to learn that our difficulties with this deluded people, are probably ere now terminated. Our latest intelligence, derived from the "Jeffersonian Republican" of the 10th instant, justifies the belief; though we are really apprehensive, that there will be no permanent peace & tranquility in that quarter of the State, while these fanatics are permitted to remain.
We are informed by the "Jeffersonian" that General LUCAS had captured 400 Mormons, in an engagement at Far West, among whom was the ring-leader, Joe Smith, with four others of the principal offenders, who were, by orders of the Governor, to be delivered over to Gen. CLARK for safe keeping, until tried by the civil authority at Head Quarters in Richmond, Ray County.
We furthermore learn from the same paper, that an engagement had also taken place in Caldwell county, in which 35 Mormons were killed without any loss of our citizens. It is said too that they are fast leaving the State; and this in our opinion is their best policy.”
This is The Western Star out of Liberty November 20, 1838
“Some twenty-five of thirty [Mormons] were discharged, and about thirty-five are retained for indictment and trial -- some for treason against the State, some for murder, some as accessories to murder, and some for arson, burglary, robbery and larceny. -- We are informed the testimony discloses many facts which have not yet been published to the world, but not deeming it proper to make them the subject of newspaper comment before the trials of the accused, we forbear their disclosure. We are not apprized with certainty what steps will be taken for the safe custody of the prisoners, but think it most probable they will be divided and sent to the jails of the most convenient counties having jails. They are at present under the guard of a part of Capt. Bogard's company of militia, Gen. Clark having disbanded all his troops by order of the Governor...”
The media really hyped up public opinion against the Mormons and often conveyed false information. These were merely relevant extracts, but when I put Mormon war 1838 in my search bar at newspapers.com there are 385 matches ranging from the Columbia Democrat out of Pennsylvania to the Weekly Standard out of North Carolina. This Mormon war which had finally come to an end was spoken of and rumored around by nearly everybody. People who had previously never heard of the Mormons were hearing gossip and reading newspaper articles about this sect of religious fanatics burning through Missouri, waging war on the state militia, being massacred at a mill, and finally surrendering to the superior forces of General Lucas at the hands of the Missouri government. This was the craziest thing most of these people had heard of since the burning of the Capitol by British troops 24 years prior. Never in American history had something like this actually happened. Never had a religious sect waged open warfare against the American government, nobody knew what to think. And even now, I’m not sure what to think…
The day following Lucas’ court-martial for the leadership, committees went through Far West and Diahman, appraising the value of the Mormon goods that were surrendered. Consequently, the Mormons were also billed for all the expenses of the conflict, which was later withdrawn due to being unconstitutional.
General Clark, the commanding officer of every single militia-man in the field finally arrived 2 days later and said he would uphold the surrender terms negotiated by General Lucas. The Mormon prisoners were taken to Richmond for their designated civilian trial set to begin on November 12, which is where we’ll pick up episode 50.
When I was on Cognitive Dissonance episode 229 over a year and a half ago, Tom made a point that stuck with me. We were talking about Mark Hofmann and how he bombed two people and nearly killed himself all because of Mormon history. Tom said “Big fish, little pond” which summarized everything about Mormonism. The thing about that little pond is there’s no bottom visible bottom to it, and I don’t think anybody knows all the big fish that lurk in the shadowy depths unexplored leagues beneath the surface.
We’re only capable of exploring one small feature at a time with a laser pointer, but no mechanism exists to light up the entirety of the endlessly unexplored depths that exist within this brief snapshot of history. One thing is for certain, it requires hands-on research and tireless dedication to truth, my two favorite concepts in the world. That being said, we have a very exciting announcement coming on episode 50 involving those two concepts. Hopefully some people out there will be interested in helping to illuminate more of the convoluted perplexity which so wonderfully embraces all Mormon history. It’s been a ride so far getting Jo and friends up to the 1838 Mormon war in Missouri, but the Nauvoo years lie on the horizon and I feel like we may be spending more episodes like this where it takes 2 hours to detail the events of essentially 3 days. I’m excited, but at the same time intimidated by this historical mountain looming in the distance. We’re going to be leveraging the research of many other scholars much like we’ve leveraged Stephen LeSueur and H. Michael Marquardt for this 1838 Missouri conflict, because they’re trained historians and they’ve done the work of reconstructing this information in a sensible way. I guess that might be the sales pitch with which to end the show. These books I reference are truly invaluable. When I cite these amazing biographies and historiographies or read large excerpts from them, don’t take that as all the information you need to get from those books. Support more research by buying these books and reading them for yourself. You’ll gain a much richer understanding of Mormon history which I’ve only really come to appreciate these past 2 years, and even better, you can call me out when I inevitably fuck up, as I’m often wont to do. Historical studies aren’t anything without peer review and critique leading to corrections, and I can’t do that without anybody calling out the presented information. I guess that’s a round-about way of saying thank you for listening and even more for engaging when circumstances require.
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