Facts Relative Expulsion Section E

Facts Relative to the Expulsion

(Section 5)

In order that it may be fully understood what were the relative states of mind of the Mormons and the people of Daviess County, at this time, reference may be made to a letter from Major George Woodward to his wife, which was seen and read by me, John P. Greene, to whom Mrs. Woodward showed it. It was dated headquarters, Daviess County. He says, that after having been patrolling Daviess County for the last two days, for the purpose of ascertaining where the fault lay, and who were under arms, he had found many of the people of Daviess and other counties armed and apparently hostile to the Mormons; and that having visited the city of Adam-ondi-Ahman, to his great astonishment, instead of block-houses and entrenchments and cannon, as had been reported by the citizens of Daviess County, he had found a poor but industrious people, living in pole houses, and no men under arms, but each engaged about his own business. He continues he is surprised to see such violence of feeling existing against a people who seem so inoffensive.

Gen. Atchison stationed Gen. Parks, with his detachment, to remain in Daviess County 30 days, to keep the peace, as he found it was impossible for the militia to control the mob. Meanwhile, the Mormons in Caldwell County were relieved from all apprehension, being satisfied that the troops would not be removed until the difficulties were settled. In these hopes, however, they were sadly disappointed. The mob finding themselves prevented from perpetrating farther outrages in Daviess County, collected at DeWitt, (where the Mormons had a small settlement,) with increased force, a reinforcement from Jackson County, with a six pounder, having joined them. Here they proceeded to burn houses, shoot cattle, destroy property, threaten lives, and even fire at Mormons. Gen. Parks, hearing of their new attack, moved at once with his troops to DeWitt. The mob, however, had now become so strong that they put him at defiance, and declared that they were a mob-that they would make no compromise except on the condition of the Mormons quitting the state, and that otherwise they would exterminate them. The leaders of this mob were Major Ashby, a member of the legislature, and Sashiel Woods, a Presbyterian clergyman. Meanwhile, Gen. Atchison, hearing of the situation of the Mormons, (who were now hemmed in by the mob between the Missouri and Grand rivers, near their junction,) went down to De Wit; and, by his advice, they sent a petition to Gov. Boggs, requesting his protection, who returned for answer, that he could give them no assistance, but that they must fight their own battle for themselves. The Mormons were therefore compelled, at great loss of property, to evacuate the place, and fly to Far West, in Caldwell County.

At this time, General Doniphan, with 200 men, on his way to Daviess County, to intercept the mob, came to Far West, where he and his men encamped for the night. He held consultation with the civil and military officers of Caldwell County, who, be it remembered, although Mormons, were still commissioned by the state, and advised them to collect under arms and march to Daviess County, to defend the Mormons there from the depredations of the mob. He also stated that Gen. Parks, with his men, were on the way for Daviess County. In consequence of this advice, some of them did arm and march, while others remained under arms in Caldwell County.

And here we wish particularly to call attention to the fact, that the Mormons in Caldwell were the regular state militia for that county, and were at this time acting under the legal authorities of the county. To prove that they were distinctly regarded by the executive as the state militia, we relate the fact, that, sometime in September last, Gen. Parks being ordered to collect a body of troops out of his brigade, which should be ready to march to the frontier in case of aggression from Indians, called for a company of 60 men from Caldwell County; whereupon, 300 volunteers, (all Mormons,) presented themselves, from whom he selected his company of minute-men.

The Mormons (the state militia acting under the authorities of the county,) marched into Daviess County and encamped for the night, where they were met the next morning by Gen. Parks. Nothing of importance occurred during the day; Gen. P. making all possible inquiries to learn the true situation of affairs. The night following, a party of the mob under the command of C. Gilliam, burned seven Mormon houses west of Grand river, turning the families, women and children, out of doors. The appearance in the camp the next morning of these poor people who had been obliged to wade the river and march through snow during the night, excited much indignation. They were carried before Gen. Parks, who, having examined them, called upon Col. Wight and ordered him to sent out his troops (the militia, although Mormons,) and disperse the mob. This was done. The mob were met and scattered without a gun’s being fired, and their cannon taken. The mob left many houses burning, which they had set on fire before they had fled. These houses belonged to the Mormons, they having purchased the pre-emption rights from the people of Daviess County. The mob fled into other counties, spreading the report that the Mormons were massacring the people of Daviess County, and burning their property. The troops (the Mormon state militia,) now marched back to Caldwell, hoping that as the mob had dispersed, there would be peace. But in this they were disappointed. On the very evening of their arrival, they learned that a large mob had collected to the south of Far West, in Ray County, under the command of Samuel Bogart, a Methodist clergyman. The report was, that they were plundering and burning houses, taking the arms of Mormons, &c. About 12 o’clock an express came in bringing intelligence that Bogart had made three men prisoners, one of whom only was a Mormon; upon which alarm two or three hundred men collected upon the public square at Fort West [Battle of Crooked River]. Elias Higbee, the first judge of the county now commanded the militia officers to go out and re-take the prisoners; and Capt. David W. Patten, with about 60 men (all Mormons) obeyed the order. As they were passing through a thin piece of woods, and had, without knowing it, approached near Bogart’s encampment, the guard stationed there by the mob fired without giving any warning, killing one of Capt. Patten’s men. The mob was routed; but before they fled they placed the Mormon prisoner in their front and shot him. He was wounded severely, though he afterward recovered. The Mormon troops here took about 40 horses, deserted by the mob. One of the Mormons, who had been killed during the battle, and buried on the field, was afterwards dug up by the ruffians, and literally hacked to pieces with a sword. The remains were collected and buried, after they had gone, by his friends.

The following is a short history of my travels to the state of Missouri, and of a bloody tragedy acted at Haun’s Mill, or Shoal creek, October 30th, 1838.

On the 6th day of July last, I started with my family from Kirtland, Ohio, for the state of Missouri, the county of Caldwell, in the upper part of the state, being the place of my destination. On the 13th of Oct. I crossed the Mississippi at Louisiana, at which place I heard vague reports of the disturbances in the upper country, but nothing that could be relied upon. I continued my course westward till I crossed Grand River, at a place called Compton’s Ferry; at which place I heard, for the first time, that if I proceeded any farther on my journey, I would be in danger of being stopped by a body of armed men. I was not willing, however, while treading my native soil, and breathing republican air, to abandon my object; which was to locate myself and family in a fine healthy country, where we could enjoy the society of our friends and connections. Consequently, I prosecuted my journey till I came to Whitney’s mills, situated on Shoal creek, in the eastern part of Caldwell County. After crossing the creek and going about three miles, we met a part of the mob, about 40 in number, armed with rifles, and mounted on horses, who informed us that we could go no farther west- threatening us with instant death if we proceeded any farther. I asked them the reason for this prohibition, to which they replied, that we were Mormons, and that every one who adhered to our religious faith would have to leave the state in ten days or renounce their religion. Accordingly, they drove us back to the mills above mentioned.

Here we tarried three days; and, on Friday, the 26th, we re-crossed the creek, and following up its banks, we succeeded in eluding the mob for the time being, and gained the residence of a friend in Myers’ settlement. On Sunday, 28th Oct., we arrived, about 12 o’clock, at Haun’s mills, where we found a number of our friends collected together, who were holding a council, and deliberating upon the best course for them to pursue, to defend themselves against the mob, who were collecting in the neighborhood, under the command of Col. Jennings, of Livingston, and threatening them with house-burning and killing. The decision of the council was, that our friends there should place themselves in an attitude of self-defence.

Accordingly, about 28 of our men armed themselves, and were in constant readiness for an attack of any small body of men that might come upon them. The same evening, for some reason, best known to themselves, the mob sent one of their number to enter into a treaty with our friends, which was accepted, on the condition of mutual forbearance on both sides, and that each party, as far as their influence extended, should exert themselves to prevent any farther hostilities upon either party.

At this time, however, there was another mob collecting on Grand river, at William Mann’s, who were threatening us, consequently we remained under arms on Monday, the 29th, which passed away without molestation from any quarter. On Tuesday, the 30th, that bloody tragedy was acted; the scenes of which I shall never forget. More than three-fourths of the day had passed in tranquility, as smiling as the preceding one. I think there was no individual of our company that was apprised of the sudden and awful fate that hung over our heads like an overwhelming torrent, which was to change the prospects, the feelings, and circumstances, of about 30 families. The banks of Shoal creek, on either side, teemed with children, sporting and playing, while their mothers were engaged in domestic employments, and their father employed in guarding the mills, and other property, while others were engaged in gathering in their crops for their winter consumption. The weather was very pleasant-the sun shone clear -all was tranquil; and no one expressed any apprehension of the awful crisis that was near us-even at our doors.

It was about 4 o’clock, while sitting in my cabin with my babe in my arms, and my wife standing by my side, the door being open, I cast my eyes on the opposite bank of Shoal creek, and saw a large company of armed men, on horses, directing their course towards the mills with all possible speed. As they advanced through the scattering trees that stood on the edge of the prairie, they seemed to form themselves into a three-square position, forming a van-guard in front. At this moment, David Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers, (their being 240 of them, according to their own account,) swung his hat, and cried for peace. This not being heeded, they continued to advance, and their leader, Mr. Comstock, fired a gun, which was followed by a solemn pause of ten or twelve seconds, when, all at once, they discharged about 100 rifles, aiming at a blacksmith shop into which our friends had fled for safety; and charging up to the shop, the cracks of which between the logs were sufficiently large to enable them to aim directly at the bodies of those who had there fled for refuge from the fire of their murderers. There were several families tented in rear of the shop, whose lives were exposed, and amidst a shower of bullets fled to the woods in different directions.

After standing and gazing on this bloody scene for a few minutes, and finding myself in the uttermost danger, the bullets having reached the house where I was living, I committed my family to the protection of Heaven, and leaving the house on the opposite side, I took a path which led up the hill, following in the trail of three of my brethren that had fled from the shop. While ascending the hill we were discovered by the mob, who immediately fired at us, and continued so to do till we reached the summit. In descending the hill I secreted myself in a thicket of bushes, where I lay till eight o’clock in the evening, at which time I heard a female voice calling my name in an undertone, telling me that the mob had gone, and there was no danger. I immediately left the thicket, and went to the house of Benjamin Lewis, where I found my family, (who had fled there,) in safety, and two of my friends, mortally wounded, one of whom died before morning.

Here we passed the painful night in deep and awful reflections on the scenes of the preceding evening. After day-light appeared, some four or five men, with myself, who had escaped with our lives from the horrid massacre, repaired as soon as possible to the mills, to learn the condition of our friends, whose fate we had but too truly anticipated.

When we arrived at the house of Mr. Haun, we found Mr. Merrick’s body lying in rear of the house;-Mr. McBrides in front, literally mangled from head to foot. We were informed by Miss Rebecca Judd, who was an eye witness, that he was shot with his own gun, after he had given it up, and then cut to pieces with a corn cutter, by a Mr. Rogers, of Daviess County, who keeps a ferry on Grand river, and who has since repeatedly boasted of this act of savage barbarity. Mr. York’s body was found in the house, and after viewing these corpses, we immediately went to the blacksmith shop, where we found nine of our friends, eight of whom were already dead; the other, Mr. Cox, of Indiana, struggling in the agonies of death, who expired. We immediately prepared and carried them to the place of interment. This last office of kindness due to the relics of departed friends, was not attended with the customary ceremonies, nor decency, for we were in jeopardy, every moment expecting to be fired upon by the mob, who, we supposed, were lying in ambush, waiting for the first opportunity to dispatch the remaining few who were providentially preserved from the slaughter of the preceding day. However, we accomplished, without molestation, this painful task. The place of burying was a vault in the ground, formerly intended for a well, into which we threw the bodies of our friends promiscuously.

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