History of Late Persecution
[Battle of Crooked River] It was dawn of day [25 Oct 1838] in the eastern horizon, but darkness still hovered over the awful scene. Mormon history tells us that when our men saw that they were ambushed and attacked, they found it too late to retreat, and orders were issued to form along in the brush, and under the cover of trees, which was instantly done, while the enemy, though unseen, were pouring in a deadly fire upon our whole line. We soon returned the fire, and charging upon the enemy, the whole wilderness seemed for a few moments as if wrapped in a blaze of lightning; and overwhelmed with the sharp crack of peals of thunder. The enemy was soon driven from their ambush and completely routed. Having a creek immediately in their rear, many were seen forcing their retreat through the stream, and up to their arms in water. The firing now ceased, and the whole battle ground resounded with the watchword, God and Liberty. The forces, which had been thrown into some disorder, were instantly formed, and their pieces reloaded, while here and there over the battle ground, lay the dead and wounded. The enemy had left their horses, saddles, camp and baggage, in the confusion of their flight, which fell into our hands. Their baggage wagon was immediately harnessed to a couple of horses, and the wounded were picked up and laid in it upon blankets, while every man saddled and mounted a horse, and we commenced our retreat to the place where we had left our horses and guard, a distance of more than a mile; here we halted, and laid our wounded upon blankets, on the ground, while we made arrangements in the wagon for them to ride more comfortably. There were about six of our men badly wounded, among whom was the brave D. W. Patten, a ball having entered the lower part of his body. It was an awful sight to see them pale and helpless, and hear their groans. We had as yet lost but one man, who was left dead on the ground; his name was Gideon Carter. The enemy had one killed and four wounded, as we afterwards learned.
We ascertained from the prisoners whom we had rescued, and one whom we had taken, that the enemy consisted of one Captain Bogart and his company, who together with some volunteers from different neighborhoods, mounted about 60 men. Our party engaged, was from forty to fifty in number, at the time of the engagement. There were three of our fellow citizens prisoners in their camp. Two of these ran away and escaped at the commencement of the firing, and the other was shot through the body in trying to run to our lines, but fortunately he recovered, and is now a witness against them.
Having now arranged everything to the best advantage for the wounded, the Mormons moved slowly towards Far West. When we came within five miles of the city, our express had reached there with the news of the battle, and we were met by a surgeon and others for our relief, and among others the wife of the pale and dying Patten.
Our wounded were now taken into a house, and their wounds dressed; and as Mrs. Patten entered the room and cast her eyes on the pale and ghastly features of her husband, she burst into tears, exclaiming O God! O my husband! how pale you look! He was still able to speak, but he died that evening in the triumphs of faith; having laid down his life as a martyr in the cause of his country and his God. The young [Patrick] O’Banion who was shot through the body by the first fire of the enemy’s sentinel, also died about the same time. Thus three brave men had fallen; and their blood cries against their enemies for vengeance. The others I believe recovered of their wounds. Having conveyed the wounded to this place of hospitality, we hastened home to Far West, and delivered the horses and spoils of the enemy to Colonel Hinkle, the commanding officer of the regiment. These several defeats of the mob in Daviess and Caldwell, checked, for a time, their ruinous ravages. They saw that it was impossible to conquer a people who were fighting for their homes, and their wives and children, unless they could come against them with some show of authority, for it was a well-known fact, that the Mormons never resisted authority, however abused; therefore their next exertion was to spread lies and falsehoods of the most alarming character; such as that the Mormons were in a state of rebellion against the government, and that they were about to burn Richmond, etc. This flame was greatly assisted by several in high authority who deserted from the Church, and fell away to the robbers because of fear, and also for the sake of power and gain. These deserters became far more false, hardened and blood-thirsty, than those who had never known the way of righteousness, insomuch that they were filled with all manner of lying and murders, and plundering. The governor who had long sought some opportunity to destroy us, and drive us from the state, now issued an order for General Clark to raise several thousand men, and march against members of the Mormon Church, and drive them from the state, or exterminate them if necessary, etc.
While General Clark was mustering his forces for this murderous and treasonable enterprise, Major General Lucas, and Brigadier General Wilson, the old leaders of the Jackson County conspiracy, being nearer the scene of action, and wishing to immortalize their names, put themselves at the head of the old Jackson County robbers, together with the late forces of the robbers who had all the while been embodied against us, and turning the brave and humane General Atchison out of the command, took the lead of all the assembled forces of the upper country, consisting of three or four thousand men, and with this formidable force, commenced their march directly for the city of Far West, where they arrived, while General Clark and his forces were several days march in the rear.
In the meantime, the governor’s order, and all these military movements, were kept an entire secret from the Mormons, and even the mail was withheld from Far West, thus cutting off all intelligence. We had only heard that companies of armed men were seen in the south part of the county; and we had sent a white flag and a guard of one hundred and fifty men, to make inquiries. But while they were absent on this business, an alarm came in to town that the whole county to the south of us was filled with hostile troops, who were murdering, plundering, and taking peaceable citizens prisoners, in their own houses, etc. On receiving this intelligence, every man flew to arms, for the protection of our city. It was now towards evening, and we had heard nothing of our white flag, and the hundred and fifty men who went south in the morning. While we stood in our armor, gazing to the south in anxious suspense, we discovered an army advancing on horseback, over the hills, at two miles distance from the town. We at first supposed it might be our little company of a hundred and fifty returning to us, but we soon saw that there were thousands of men, with a long train of baggage wagons; we then were in hopes that it might be some friendly troops sent for our protection; and then we thought it might be a troop of the robbers coming to destroy us. At all events, there was no time to be lost, for although our force then present did not exceed five hundred men, yet we didn’t intend that they should enter the town without giving some account of themselves.–We accordingly marched out upon the plains on the south of the city, and formed in battle array, extending our line of foot something like a half mile, while a small company of horse was posted on our right wing on a commanding eminence, and another small company in the rear of our main body, intended as a kind of reserve. By this time the sun was near setting, and the advance of the unknown army had come within plain view, at less than one mile distant. On seeing our forces presenting a small but formidable front, they came to a halt, and formed along the borders of the wilderness. And in a few moments both parties sent out a white flag, which met between the two armies; when our messenger demanded who they were, and what was their intentions? The answer was, that they wanted three persons out of the city before they massacred the rest.–This was a very alarming and unexpected answer. But they were soon prevailed upon to suspend hostilities till morning, when we were in hopes of some further and more satisfactory information. The hostile army under the command of Lucas, then commenced their encampment for the night, and our little army continued to stand to their arms for fear of some treachery. Our company of a hundred and fifty soon returned, informing us that they had been hemmed in through the day, and only escaped from their superior knowledge of the ground.–We also sent an express to Daviess County, and by morning were reinforced by quite a number of troops, with Colonel Wight at their head. In the meantime, the painted robbers and murderers under the command of one Gillum, came pouring in from the west, to strengthen the enemy, and another company of murderers came in from Carroll County, and were taken into the ranks of Lucas, after murdering some twenty of our citizens at Hauns’ Mill [30 Oct 1838], of which I will give a particular account hereafter. Thus both parties were considerably reinforced during the night.
In the meantime our people, being determined, if attacked, to defend their homes, and wives and children to the last, spent the night in throwing up a temporary breastwork of building timber, logs, rails, etc., and by morning our south side of the city was fortified with a breastwork, and also a considerable part of the east and west sides; the whole line of fortification extending a mile and a half. This night’s labor may seem incredible; but it happened that a great quantity of building materials had been accumulated near the spot where were thrown up the breastworks; and this proved an excellent material for the work. The next day, towards evening, we were informed that the governor had ordered this force against us, with orders to exterminate us and mormonism in general or drive us from the state. As soon as these facts were ascertained, we determined not to resist anything in the shape of authority, however tyrannical or unconstitutional might be the proceedings against us; therefore we had nothing more to do but to submit to be massacred or driven at the option of our persecutors. Colonel Hinkle waited on Messrs. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, George Robinson and myself, with a polite request from General Lucas, that we would surrender ourselves as prisoners, and repair to his camp, and remain overnight, with assurances that as soon as peaceable arrangements could be entered into next morning, we should be released. With this request we readily complied, as soon as we were assured by the pledge of the honor of the principal officers, that our lives should be safe; we accordingly walked nearly a mile voluntarily, towards the camp of the enemy; who, when they saw us coming, came out to meet us by thousands, with General Lucas at their head. When the haughty general rode up to us, and scarcely passing a compliment, gave orders to his troops to surround us, which they did very abruptly, and we were marched into camp surrounded by thousands of savage looking beings, many of whom were painted like Indian warriors. These all set up a constant yell, like so many blood hounds let loose on their prey, as if they had achieved one of the most miraculous victories which ever dignified the annals of the world.
IIn camp we were placed under a strong guard, and before morning, Amasa Lyman and several others were added to our number. We hardly got an interview with the general that evening; he maintained a most haughty and unsociable reserve; but a hint was given us that the general officers held a secret council which they dignified a court martial, in which without being heard, or even brought before them, we were all sentenced to be shot; and the day and hour appointed, as we learned afterwards by General Doniphan, who was one of the council, but who was so violently opposed to this cool blooded murder, that he assured them he would revolt and withdraw his whole brigade, if they persisted in so dreadful a proceeding, his remonstrance and a few others so alarmed the haughty murderer and his accomplices that they dare not put the decree in execution; and thus through a merciful providence of God, our lives were spared through that dreadful night, which was spent by us on the ground in the open air, and amid the most horrid imprecations, threats and insults, that ever was witnessed, even in the abodes of the damned.
News reached us by their own troops before morning, that they had murdered one prisoner on their march the day they entered Caldwell, by knocking out his brains, and also, that several of our citizens were then lying here and there unburied, whom they had shot down and murdered in cold blood, and also that several females had been ravished, and much robbery committed, besides the beef and corn which was taken from us to support three or four thousand men and horses for several days. No pen need undertake to describe our feelings while there confined; not knowing the fate of our wives and children, and our brethren and sisters, our Mormon religion, and seeing no way for our lives to be saved except by the miraculous power of God. But notwithstanding all earthly hopes were gone, still we felt a calmness indescribable, and a secret whispering, portending that our work was not yet done, and therefore our enemies would be restrained from taking our lives. While in this situation, William E. McLellin, (who had once been intimate with me as a fellow laborer in the gospel, having deserted from the Church) came to me, (being one of the soldiers against us) and observed, “Well, Parley, you have now got where you are certain never to escape; how do you feel as to the course you have taken in religion?” I replied that I had taken that course which I should take if I had my life to live over again. He seemed thoughtful for a moment, and then replied, “Well, Parley, I think if I were you, I would die as I had lived: at any rate, I see no possibility of escape for you and your friends.” This little interview gave us to understand that our doom was fixed in the minds of the people.