Nauvoo’s Whistling and Whittling Brigade



The repeal of the Nauvoo Charter in 1845 left the Mormon residents of the city virtually defenseless against persecutors. Feeling compelled to find some means of maintaining discipline in the city streets, the ecclesiastical leaders organized deacons into quorums of 12, headed by bishops, who were assigned to care for the poor and to guard the city. Out of this group arose the Whistling and Whittling Brigade, made up of mostly younger boys, who would escort suspected anti-Mormons, apostates, and other undesirables out of town. Their strategy was to employ harassment and “scare tactics” by following them around in large groups, whistling and whittling with large knives.


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