The Nauvoo Legion filled important military, ceremonial, social, and symbolic roles for the Latter-day Saint community in western Illinois during the 1840s. The Legion’s participation in regular drills, parades, mock battles, and special activities such as those on Independence Day and at the cornerstone ceremonies of the Nauvoo Temple gave the militia considerable visibility. For those concerned with social standing, dinner parties for staff officers and their wives following some field exercises provided personal access to Nauvoo’s governing circle.Some residents of nearby communities feared the Legion’s presence in Hancock County as an offensive force, but Nauvoo’s leaders maintained that the Legion existed only for defensive purposes. Whatever the interpretation of its intent, the Nauvoo Legion left an indelible impression on the memories of Latter-day Saints and other residents of western Illinois.
When artists sought to visually depict the history of Nauvoo, they not surprisingly included images of the Nauvoo Legion and its officers. Most of the Legion artwork centered on Joseph Smith himself or on his involvement with the militia as it prepared for self-defense. These images ensured a place for the twenty-five hundred Legion members in the visual history of Nauvoo, but also they raise interesting questions about the historical accuracy of the portrayed information, including the setting and the militia uniforms. However, careful examination of the visual record and other independent sources provides some assurance of the historical validity of these early illustrations. Each picture not only imparts a particular interpretation of the person or event it portrays, but also communicates significant information.
Portraits of Uniformed Military Leaders
American men often chose to be identified socially by their military positions because of the status these represented in Jacksonian society. Many officers of the Nauvoo Legion and many militia leaders in western Illinois were known in civic discourse by their military titles instead of by their civilian titles.In addition, Joseph Smith, John C. Bennett, and Brigham Young had portraits painted of them in military uniform.
Processes Used by Maudsley and Campbell. Sutcliffe Maudsley (1809–1882) created carefully detailed portraits—always in profile and usually full-length—of many Nauvoo residents. He portrayed Joseph Smith both in civilian best dress and in military uniform (the images discussed here).Little attention has been paid to Maudsley’s technique although his precisely drawn portraits have been widely published and exhibited.
In late-eighteenth-century Europe, and soon afterward in North America, artists and inventors developed a method for creating inexpensive, miniature profile likenesses in a neoclassical style as substitutes for more expensive oil portraits. An artist first traced an image from life onto paper, using a mechanical device incorporating a pantograph, which could copy a design, map, or drawing in any size. The more complicated of these devices included seats, head braces, and special viewing lenses. But with a simple pantograph attached to a wall an artist could create an accurate, reduced outline. The artist merely traced around a subject’s head and upper torso with a rod extending from the pantograph. The device dramatically reduced the image to a small outline on paper.
Like other profile artists of his time, Maudsley certainly used a mechanical drawing aid. In England, before he emigrated to Nauvoo in 1841, Maudsley or his associates may have used a pantograph or a camera lucidain the textile mills of Accrington, Lancashire, where he worked as a pattern designer for calico and cotton cloth weavers and printers. His brother Ashworth carved the patterns into wood blocks for printing, so Sutcliffe certainly understood that process of reproduction. Maudsley’s Nauvoo profiles have a two-dimensional character that is consistent with his training in England and that hints of the mechanical process used in their creation.
According to one second-hand report, Maudsley stood his subject against a wall, traced an outline on a large piece of paper with a pencil attached to a long stick, and then reduced the images. Maudsley’s poverty may have prevented him from owning a large mechanical device and the quantities of tracing paper it required.Most likely the long stick referred to a simple pantograph, perhaps homemade, attached to the wall. With this simple device, Maudsley could have traced the head and upper body of his subjects, a typical approach for profile artists. A number of Maudsley bust profiles of this type exist, including one of Joseph Smith in military uniform (figure 1). This image, an enhanced outline of the head and torso, is only lightly finished with some shading and a touch of red on the cheeks and lips.
Some artists added the full figure, usually through freehand sketching. Likewise, Maudsley’s bust profiles were not his only final product. After adding internal details to the drawing, and sometimes enhancing it with white and black chalk, the artist would have the image engraved on a lithographic stone or copper plate. As a final touch, artists usually finished the lithographic line prints produced in this way with black and white chalk, a black-and-gray ink wash, or black ink and watercolor. Miniature profile likenesses were widely available in the United States by the 1790s, as were silhouettes created by a similar process. The technique was not limited to expert artists. Anyone could buy and use inexpensive versions of the pantograph.
Others in Nauvoo who undoubtedly understood the workings of a pantograph include Robert Campbell (1810–1890), who provided lithographic services for Sutcliffe Maudsley’s patrons. An English schoolteacher who immigrated to Nauvoo sometime in 1842 or 1843, Campbell worked as a clerk, draftsman, copperplate engraver, and stone lithographer. He joined with Nauvoo surveyors to create maps and helped William W. Major create paintings for a Mormon history panorama (discussed below). Campbell is known to have made stone lithographic prints of Maudsley’s portrait profiles. In 1845, Hosea Stout paid Maudsley to do his likeness, then arranged for Campbell to transfer the image to sandstone with his lithographer’s crayon and to make prints. Campbell would have traced the drawing from paper to the stone with a pantograph. Campbell’s work on maps and murals may also have employed mechanical drawing instruments or a camera lucida.
Nauvoo-Period Militia Images of Joseph Smith and John C. Bennett. With an understanding of the processes used by profile artists such as Sutcliffe Maudsley, it is possible to propose a relationship between the six Nauvoo-period militia portraits of Joseph Smith illustrated in this article. All of them were created by Maudsley or drawn from his works. These images were copied by others to create a wax seal and two woodcuts.
The first published portraits of the Nauvoo Legion’s top two leaders, John C. Bennett and Joseph Smith, appeared in Bennett’s History of the Saints, an exposé published in late 1842.The expertly crafted drawings of Bennett and General Smith in military uniform are credited to Boston engraver Oliver Pelton (identified by the abbreviation “sc” for sculptor/engraver). For his full-figure portrait of Joseph Smith (figure 2), Pelton used a work of art “delineated” (drawn) by Sutcliffe Maudsley. An artist identified as A. Clark created the John C. Bennett military portrait (figure 3). This image was likely drawn specifically for Bennett’s book in 1842, after he left Nauvoo.
Pelton probably worked from one of Maudsley’s finished color portraits of Joseph Smith in military uniform. Two such paintings from the Nauvoo period are known.The larger of the two, executed in egg tempera or watercolor (see colorplate 1 at the end of this article) was painted with a matching portrait of Emma Smith. Maudsley’s profile of Joseph’s face is so exact that it matches almost exactly the outline of the death mask made by George Cannon in June 1844, further evidence that Maudsley used a mechanical or visual aid. With a precise initial outline in place, Maudsley added details inside the borders using freehand work. For instance, in unfinished areas in the epaulet on Joseph’s shoulder and in the coattail decorations, he left telltale pencil lines and a light yellow paint to guide him in applying the final colors.
The second surviving color portrait (colorplate 2) also by Maudsley shares many distinctive features with the first and larger image but has notable differences as well.The two may have originated from separate sittings or from a common source—an outline created from life using a pantograph. Or the smaller may have been reduced from the larger. The two are most alike in the head and torso, while, as might be expected for the pantographic technique, the most significant differences are found from the chest down. For example, the artist changed the angle of the arm so that the hand in the smaller drawing appears above the level of the nearby tabletop instead of just below it.
Joseph Smith’s clerks documented a sitting associated with one or both of these portraits. The Prophet’s Illinois journal records that on June 25, 1842, he “sat for the drawing of his profile for lithographing on the city chart.”A lithograph print of Joseph in military uniform eventually appeared as an inset on the Map of the City of Nauvoo compiled by Gustavus Hills (colorplate 3). Hills, a Nauvoo musician, newspaper employee, and watchmaker, collected the information and illustrations for the map in 1842, but the New York City printer, John Childs, did not deliver the finished map for nearly two years. Brigham Young offered the map for sale at his home in May 1844.
The entire sheet—including the map and the illustrations of the temple and Joseph Smith—was probably printed from a lithographic stone. The printer’s credit line on the Nauvoo map reads “Lith. of J. Childs, 90 Nassau Cor. of Fulton St. N.Y.” In addition, maps were known to have been produced using this method in the 1840s.
Close similarities between Maudsley’s small watercolor portrait and the lithograph print on the map immediately led to the conclusion that the art work was the source for the map.It seems plausible to surmise that the original watercolor was returned to Brigham Young by the map’s printer. The piece has distinct folds that suggest it was inserted into a small envelope. Whether these folds were made during the Nauvoo years or while the profile was tucked away in Mary Ann Young’s papers cannot be determined with certainty.
Perhaps anticipating multiple requests for his image of Lieutenant General Joseph Smith, Maudsley (or one of his clients) arranged for Robert Campbell to create lithographic outline prints based on one of the paintings. Nauvoo area resident John L. Smith preserved one of these prints, and early in the twentieth century, his daughter Clarissa Gillette, of Declo, Idaho, presented the image to the LDS Church Museum on Temple Square (figure 9, facing colorplate 1). The angle of the arm in the outline print matches the same detail on the small watercolor and on the map, and other details match as well. While this angle of the arm points to the small watercolor as the basis of the outline print, this relationship is nevertheless uncertain, because some details from the large watercolor that were not carried over to the small watercolor do appear in the outline pattern. Such minor artistic variations make it almost impossible to determine a chronological relationship between the outline print and the two watercolors.
That there is an influence of one or more of these images upon the others is confirmed by comparing nearly two dozen specific details that differ on one or more of the military profiles. The engraving published in Bennett’s book and that on the map share a dozen specific points in common. Most of these shared details can be found as well on the small watercolor. All three are almost exactly the same size. If the small watercolor served as the source for the Nauvoo map (a widely accepted premise), was it also the source for the engraving in Bennett’s history? That the engraver Pelton had temporary access to the watercolor is a reasonable conjecture, especially since the other two options—that Pelton copied either from the map itself or from an independent source—are both untenable. The map and the engraving have many details in common. But because Brigham Young did not receive the printed map until April 1844, it seems unlikely that Pelton copied from the map (unless he obtained an early proof). Barring the creation of a second duplicate watercolor, the only independent source known would be a copy of the outline print, and such a copy can easily be eliminated from consideration—the Pelton engraving and the outline print share none of the distinguishing factors used in the comparison.
Since the remaining option is that the small watercolor is the source for both the map and the Pelton engraving, how could John C. Bennett have temporarily gained access to the watercolor? Circumstantial evidence suggests a possible scenario. Bennett lost his Church, civic, and Nauvoo Legion positions in Nauvoo in May 1842 after confessing to adultery. During the summer, he published letters against the Church in Illinois and headed east to find a publisher for his book. In August, Bennett tried to get James Arlington Bennet to help him arrange his materials for publication. When that friend of the Saints declined, John C. Bennett next turned to another Mormon sympathizer, James Gordon Bennett, publisher of the New York Herald. That tentative copublishing arrangement failed as well. Then Boston publishers Emerson Leland and Willard J. Whiting, who had read some of John C. Bennett’s newspaper articles, met with him in New York City in late August and agreed to facilitate the publication. They became primary publishers and had the book printed in Boston, but two other companies, one in New York City and the other in Cincinnati, shared publication costs.
Like John C. Bennett, Gustavus Hills, the Nauvoo map maker, lost his standing in the Church (in November 1842) for immoral conduct. Hills had justified his actions using the same “spiritual wife” heresy as Bennett.This defense suggests Hills was influenced by Bennett and was perhaps even his friend. Perhaps through this acquaintanceship, Hills loaned the small watercolor to Bennett in July 1842 for use in his anti-Mormon book.
If Bennett had the drawing for a time, that may help explain not only the engraving, but also a variant printing of the Nauvoo map. The maps offered for sale in Nauvoo contain the Joseph Smith lithograph in the lower left corner. A rare variant printing lacks this image. In its place, the engraver has continued the Mississippi River through the space. It may be that the variant printing was struck in a very few copies as proofs for review in the belief that the Joseph Smith image would not be available.Perhaps significant in this regard is that Willard Richards saw John C. Bennett on Fulton Street (where Foster had his daguerreotype shop) during one of Richards’s trips there in connection with the map of Nauvoo.
Adaptations of Pelton’s Military Portrait. Soon after John C. Bennett published his exposé, Pelton’s impressive engraving of Maudsley’s Joseph Smith began to be copied by others.The most interesting adaptation from Bennett’s book is found on a letter dated October 24, 1843, from James Arlington Bennet, Esq., in New York City to General Smith in Nauvoo. Bennet impressed onto the letter a bright red (vermilion) wax seal depicting the uniformed bust of Joseph Smith (colorplate 7).
Nauvoo officials had honored James Arlington Bennet in April 1842 with an honorary law degree from the University of the City of Nauvoo and with appointment as inspector general of the Nauvoo Legion with the rank of major general. (In 1844 they would invite him to serve as vice-presidential candidate in the 1844 U.S. presidential campaign.)These honorary positions allowed Bennet to be known in Nauvoo society by two prestigious titles. He honored those who had honored him by using Lieutenant General Smith’s image on his personal seal. The Pelton engraving is the obvious source for the seal and was certainly available to Bennet.
The military portrait in Bennett’s book may also have been the source for a woodcut in the January 4, 1845, issue of Samuel Brannan’s New York City newspaper, The Prophet (figure 4). Joseph Smith appears in a formal suit, but three clues point to an adaptation from the Pelton engraving. First is the distinctive shadowing around the eye. Second, the woodcut retains a slightly modified high military collar and has no evidence of the white tie found in portraits of Joseph Smith in civilian clothing. Third, the loose lock of hair that hangs over the right side of the forehead appears in all of Maudsley’s military images of Smith but in none of the Nauvoo-period civilian poses. (It reappears in the Piercy engraving and a few other images of that period, including an unsigned oil painting at the LDS Museum attributed at various times to William W. Major or David W. Rogers but clearly influenced by Maudsley.)
John Taylor criticized Brannan’s woodcut and promised handsomer portraits of the Prophet by Nauvoo’s talented portraitists. He named Major and Seal Van Sickle. In July a new image based on one of Maudsley’s civilian profiles appeared in the New York paper as an editorial page logo.Since that time, artists and publishers within the Church have preferred to show Joseph Smith in his Sabbath-day suit rather than in military uniform. This trend reflects an interest in emphasizing his prophetic role rather than his civic involvement as military commander.
Historical Accuracy of the Officers’ Uniforms. If the map’s production is a story with many unknown aspects, the accuracy of the precisely detailed clothing worn by Maudsley’s subjects is not. Historical sources verify that Maudsley took few artistic liberties in his profiles. His precision can be demonstrated by looking at the military uniform worn by Lieutenant General Joseph Smith. The portrait of Major General Bennett, by a different artist, survives similar scrutiny. Under Illinois law, militia officers were required to wear blue coats and pantaloons patterned after the regular U.S. army military uniform. The uniforms worn by the two top officers of the Nauvoo Legion for their militia portraits meet this standard (figures 2 and 3). The white pants seen in the Nauvoo portraits had been standard through the early 1800s and, especially for formal or ceremonial events, continued to appear for many years thereafter, even after the blue pants became the authorized standard. The various accouterments and the adornments, though personalized, fit the expectations of the times.
An officer could purchase an entire outfit, if desired, from one of hundreds of suppliers. A fully equipped officer in 1843 would pay more than $200 for his hat and feathers, coat, epaulets, pantaloons, sash, belt, gloves, and sword. Equipping his horse would add another $185 to the bill.Local tailors often made the uniforms to order from patterns secured from one of dozens of commercial suppliers of military clothing, patterns, and pieces. John Bills, a Nauvoo tailor and brigade major on the Legion’s general staff, made coats for several of the Nauvoo Legion officers, including Joseph Smith and John C. Bennett. He used a pattern secured from Philadelphia by Hyrum Smith, possibly from the Army’s quartermaster corps administrative center in that city. The accuracy of Bills’s work is evident throughout the officer’s coat he made for the Prophet. For example, he adjusted the length of the tails to fit his customer, placing them at the required midpoint between the knee and the crotch.
Because officers were allowed wide latitude in how they finished and decorated their uniforms, differences can be expected. Even though he held the higher office, Joseph Smith’s uniform had much less adornment than John C. Bennett’s, perhaps a clue to the differences in personality of the two men. Additionally, Joseph Smith’s portraits reveal minor differences from one to another and from the customary standard. The large watercolor presents the most traditional uniform. Artistic production techniques and a penchant for modernizing influenced certain changes in the other images. For instance, the nine-button coat signified major general, but since Smith’s office of lieutenant general had not been used since George Washington’s death, no convention for more buttons existed. Nine buttons appear in the large watercolor and in the outline print (one button is hidden under the belt), but only seven can be seen in the other images (an eighth is hidden), because the coat has been foreshortened in the small watercolor and in all subsequent images influenced by it. Smith’s coat appears to have a single row of buttons, a pattern authorized for positions of major or below. Bennett used the double row found on uniforms of the higher ranks and personalized the uniform with gold bars and braids.
The uniforms of both officers begin with the required blue officers’ coat topped with a stiff collar. Both men wear a white shirt under the dress coat, gold epaulets on the shoulders, and white dress trousers (also known as pantaloons—an earlier term—or breeches). The trousers extend to just below the top of the boots, with knee-length stockings below. Smith’s high, black leather boots, buttoned down the outside, are typical.
Bennett wears a colored sash under the belt, while Smith has opted to ignore this conventional placement. Another part of the sash hangs the standard length from the belt down to just above the knee. The color of the men’s sashes would have varied to indicate affiliation with different combat branches, such as infantry, artillery, and cavalry. In the large watercolor, Smith sports a gold sash, a color reserved for the highest officers; in the smaller painting and on the map, the color is red, an indication of affiliation with artillery. Red is also a generally popular color. All of the images show Smith wearing a garrison belt buckle that would not have been approved; in contrast, Bennett’s “leaning eagle” buckle and leather belt meet military expectations for an officer.
Smith has removed his sword from its scabbard; the attached pommel cord and patterned bluing are visible. Bennett’s sword hangs in its scabbard at his left hip, while he places his gloved hand into his vest (no gloves are shown in Smith’s portrait). The sword patterns are typical.Smith holds a straight, double-edged ceremonial sword used in signaling to the troops during a formal review. Bennett’s sword has a fancy guard and a lamb (or lion) head.
Smith’s chapeau, a French-style military hat, adorned with a black ostrich feather plume and personalized gold brocade, sits on an adjacent table; Bennett would have worn a similar one, decorated to his taste. The style of this hat was popular in colonial America and was not abandoned by military leaders until the Civil War.
The eight-pointed stars on the hat in the large watercolor reflect the traditional choice to identify a head of state in Europe and high-ranking military officials in the United States. At the center of each star would be found an eagle, or, for mounted infantry, a horse. The eight-pointed star appeared on many American flags as well as early uniforms. By the early nineteenth century, the five-pointed stars seen in the other portraits had become popular. In the large watercolor, the coattails are turned back on both sides and held correctly by the standard six-pointed star (but simplified to four points in the other drawings).
Certain adornments indicate rank or assignment, while others are merely decorative. Designations of rank would have appeared on the top of the epaulets (not visible in the Smith portraits) and on the sleeve. The small insignia on Smith’s upper arm indicates a special interest in artillery. The image represents flames shooting out of a cannon ball—the Legion had three cannons. Bennett’s epaulets are decorated with eight-pointed stars. Both men wear the more expensive epaulets with large curls. Smith’s have been slipped under a blue and gold keeper and buttoned at the top. Bennett’s appear fastened with two buttons and a round keeper. The bars on Smith’s collar, sleeve, and coattail are merely decorative—an 1833 dragoon pattern—as are the commonly used oak leaves on Bennett’s collar and cuff.
Bennett had been cashiered from the Nauvoo Legion on June 30, 1842, several months before he published his anti-Mormon History of the Saints. That he chose to depict himself in military dress reinforces the status that association with the militia gave him in Jacksonian America. The captions of both portraits include the subject’s military title and name, a signature, and a profession (“Mormon Prophet” for Joseph Smith, “Doctor of Medicine” for Bennett).
Artifacts at the LDS Museum of Church History and Art offer physical evidence for comparison with the artistic image of Joseph Smith. The museum collection includes epaulets, swords, and sashes associated with the Nauvoo Legion. These items are consistent with the period; some are also similar to those in the paintings. Two of the sets of epaulets, preserved by the Hyrum Smith family, feature the larger metallic braids seen in the portraits. Those chosen for display in the Joseph Smith exhibit have the smaller, less expensive braids but were a gift from the Prophet to Albert Rockwood, one of his bodyguards. The handsome field sword in the exhibit does not match the ceremonial piece in Maudsley’s drawing nor do two other swords in the collection attributed to Joseph Smith (one of them donated by Wilford Woodruff). Swords were often presented to prominent militia officers as gifts. Lieutenant General Smith no doubt received several from friends, and it is known that he gave away at least one sword. The donor of the exhibited sword said that the Prophet wore the sword and later gave it to Orrin Porter Rockwell. None of the museum’s red military sashes are attributed to Joseph Smith, but two of them follow closely the pattern of the knotting visible in the Maudsley drawings.The epaulets and sash depicted by Maudsley were no doubt those preserved by Emma Smith. Joseph’s ceremonial sword resembles one handed down through Hyrum Smith’s family. (See colorplate 4.)
Military Portrait of Brigham Young. After Joseph Smith’s death, the Nauvoo Legion filled the position of lieutenant general by electing Brigham Young to the premier position in August 1844. He had served previously for a time as an assistant chaplain, an appointment without uniform. The Illinois legislature rescinded the Nauvoo city charter the following January and with it the Nauvoo Legion. However, in territorial Utah, Young once again served as titular head of the militia. He knew of Joseph Smith’s military portraits and owned one of them. That knowledge may have convinced him of the appropriateness of acquiring a uniform and allowing William M. Major to create a small oil portrait (see front cover). As a later commentator noted, “It is said that about the only purpose his elegant uniform ever served was to have his picture taken in.”
William W. Major (1804–1854) arrived in Nauvoo from England late in 1844 and painted a number of portraits (including group portraits) and other works there. He continued his painting career in Utah after 1848 and died while on a mission to England in 1854. Major painted Young’s portrait after the Provisional State of Deseret created the Utah militia in 1849 and named it the Nauvoo Legion. The painting has been dated to around 1850, about the time Major was finishing a fine portrait of Young with his wife Mary Ann and their children. In later years, Brigham Young Jr. preserved the canvas, and it now hangs at the Pioneer Memorial Museum of the International Society of Daughters of Utah Pioneers in Salt Lake City.
Major was no less careful than Maudsley in capturing details in his delicately rendered portraits. Even though Major often created full figures in miniature size, unlike Maudsley he seldom used profiles. A self-trained artist of limited experience, he understood the techniques of his trade. He employed those proprietary secrets to create faithful likenesses, though the images are often stiff and sometimes awkward. Nevertheless, Young’s uniform reflects the same authentic details found on the portraits of Smith and Bennett. For example, like Bennett, Young wears his sash under the belt as well as hanging at his side. Young’s hat features an eight-pointed star and his belt an eagle. One interesting detail is the number of buttons in the two-row pattern on the coat. Including those on the stand-up collar, eleven buttons are visible in each row, with a twelfth hidden under the red sash. This number exceeds the nine used by Lieutenant General Smith; perhaps Young was attempting to have the number of buttons reflect this unusually high rank. Young differed from his predecessors in selecting boots with knee protectors and large gloves known as gauntlets. His military sword, an 1841 pattern common through the Civil War years, is attached with saber chains to leather rings at his belt. All of these details are appropriate for an officer of the 1840s; the uniform depicted in Major’s painting can be trusted for its historically accurate detail.
Celebrating Joseph Smith’s Last Address to the Legion
On June 18, 1844, Joseph Smith and several associates from the Nauvoo Legion climbed atop Porter Rockwell’s partially built home across from the Mansion House. From this makeshift speaker’s platform, the Prophet addressed the assembled Legion for the last time. A number of men who heard him kept notes of the address. Most commonly they remembered his challenge to them to defend their families and beloved Nauvoo from mob threats.
One of those who heard the last address was Robert Campbell, the British lithographer and collaborator with Sutcliffe Maudsley. Campbell not only made notes of the talk, but also accepted an invitation a few months later from Philo Dibble to memorialize this and other events in a proposed multiple image panorama.For Joseph’s last address, Campbell first created a small pencil drawing, which he finished in watercolor and ink (colorplate 5). Barely visible around the edges of the finished drawing are lightly penciled hatch marks and numbers that reveal its use as a pattern for a larger image. The hatch marks correspond exactly to the proportions needed for the corresponding 128-square-foot mural, which was shown publicly for the first time in Nauvoo’s Masonic Hall in September 1845. The watercolor carries the hand-lettered title General Joseph Smith Addressing the Nauvoo Legion, as presumably did the canvas.
Dibble enlisted William W. Major and other painters to execute the large canvas. This partnership also produced a painting memorializing the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage Jail, exhibited first in April 1845 at Nauvoo. It was Dibble’s desire to “make a Joseph and a Hyrum appear and speak to the eye and the heart of the thousands of Saints, assembled at Nauvoo.” The two mural-sized oil paintings were shown again in Winter Quarters and at Council Bluffs. Dibble lectured throughout Utah Territory for thirty years with the Nauvoo paintings, plus busts of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and a third mural of the Mormon Battalion.
As might be expected from Campbell, the landscape and architectural renderings of the buildings shown in the watercolor capture details with historical precision. The perspective is accurate, and the scattered homes on the hillside resemble the reality of the sparsely populated Davison Hibbard lands. At the far left, Parley Street climbs the hill to join the road to Carthage beyond the horizon. Campbell verifies the presence of a cupola atop the Mansion House. Previously known, but contradictory, evidence includes both David Hyrum Smith’s idyllic picnic scene, which includes the cupola, and an 1843 Hancock County map, drawn by Campbell and two others, which excluded the cupola. The evidence of Campbell’s reliable painting means that the ladder hidden in a second story closet directly under the cupola was used by the Smith family to gain access to the rooftop lookout, not to a hiding place for the Prophet, as previously surmised. In the painting, two tin rain gutter spouts on the front of the house approximate the shape of the actual pieces, with their sun and six-pointed-star decorations. The “Nauvoo Mansion” sign advertising the building as a public inn resembles one in Campbell’s drawing on the county map.
Two adjacent homes and Theodore Turley’s log cabin appear where they should be to the east along Water Street. Beyond that is a long, log building that looks very much like one suited for a rope-making operation. At the right of the picture, in the block where Joseph Smith stands delivering his address, the log home of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith occupies the corner lot. The unfinished Rockwell home serves as a speaker’s platform, and the new brick stable that served guests at the Mansion House forms a backdrop. The white picket fences in the foreground identify the lots where Joseph’s log homestead and an adjoining home stood. The artist may have stood atop that second home, with the Red Brick Store just behind him. One wonders if Campbell used a camera lucida to obtain the perspective and architectural details and relationships shown in this expertly drafted watercolor. That certainly would have been the easiest way to accomplish his objective.
Upwards of a year passed before Campbell began his panorama for Dibble. Of necessity, he added the people in the scene from memory. Each major figure served a purpose—the mural was a visual aid for use by a lecturer telling the story of Joseph Smith’s last address. The specific narrative has not survived, but Hosea Stout understood Dibble’s intent and objected that his own portrait would be seen with the officers and civilians who betrayed Joseph Smith and the Church.One of these traitors may be the blue-suited officer on horseback in the left foreground who waves to a mounted colleague in white pantaloons at the center of the crowd, possibly a coconspirator. Are the three well-dressed civilians by the picket fence other opponents? Perhaps additional research into the event could identify these and other major participants.
Visually the men in the foreground demand attention, but the story’s central player is Joseph Smith, seen on the stand, his profile a clear borrowing from Maudsley’s uniformed portrait. Immediately behind Joseph is a companion also dressed in white trousers, presumably Major General Charles C. Rich (second-in-command of the Legion) or possibly Brevet Major General Hyrum Smith, a staff officer. Three other officers with plumed hats stand on the platform (along with a distinguished civilian), while eight other high-ranking officers look on from horseback in the crowd. The Prophet tips his hat in a gesture of friendship to his associates (and traitors) in Nauvoo’s respected army, a paradoxical symbol of what is soon to transpire.
While the uniforms of the militia leaders meet government standards, two American flags on the speaker’s platform curiously appear with red and blue stripes and no field of stars. Of greater interest to historians are the brightly colored coats and diagonal sashes shown on members of the Nauvoo Legion. Historical evidence points to a poorly outfitted militia. As Hamilton Gardner notes, “The high-ranking officers probably appeared in colorful and flamboyant dress, while the enlisted men made shift with such homemade accouterments and clothing as they could piece together.”Campbell seems to contradict the evidence by giving every soldier a full uniform, including the standard tall, narrow-rimmed hat and bayonetted rifle. His purposes may have been educational rather than historical, didactic rather than accurate.
Campbell puts a large number of the men (at the left and back) in all-blue uniforms and smaller contingents (in the middle and at the right) in yellow-orange or light blue coats with pale blue trousers. Two officers on the stand and three below on horseback wear green jackets. By using these colors, the artist may have been identifying the men as staff officers (dark blue), mounted dragoons (yellow-orange), infantry (light blue), and medical aids (emerald green). These were the standard sash colors for these assignments, but local units could alter their meaning. The large number of blue-uniformed officers seems an accurate reflection of the Nauvoo Legion, known for its unusually top-heavy organization. Only a few of the men wear sashes, perhaps an indication of rank, perhaps a measurement of wealth.
Campbell had no doubt seen Nauvoo’s junior legion. These boys, known as the Sons of Helaman, paraded in colorful uniforms made by their mothers. Each boy sported white pants, a colorful blouse, and palm hat. They marched with banners and wooden guns. The reported completeness of the youthful uniforms seems projected inaccurately upon the adult militiamen, but such idealized costuming for militias in art was not uncommon.
No one voiced objection to the uniforms given the Legion forces in the mural that Campbell and Major created for Dibble. But in April 1845, the Nauvoo Neighbor spoke disparagingly of the way an artist hired by Sam Brannan provided full uniforms for Missouri mobs at Far West. The hand-colored lithograph, The Extermination of the Latter Day Saints from the State of Missouri in the Fall of 1838, was the first of an intended series issued from the office of The Prophet, Brannan’s newspaper for Latter-day Saints in the northeast.The Nauvoo editor contended that only men acting in their capacity as militiamen should be depicted in uniform. Members of a mob acting outside the law should be represented in civilian clothes.
Early illustrations of the Martyrdom followed this convention. In the William Daniels-Lyman O. Littlefield pamphlet of 1845, the Carthage Greys arrive late at the scene in full uniform while the mob flees in workingmen’s clothing—and the murdered Joseph Smith lies at the well curb dressed all in white.This visual language, typical for the times, ignores actual clothing worn by the participants in order to communicate to the viewer. In this light, Brannan’s extermination drawing and Campbell’s portrayal of the Prophet’s address both echoed artistic conventions of the times. So did other drawings of the Latter-day Saint experience in Missouri and Illinois.
More than thirty years passed before a Latter-day Saint artist again interpreted the June 1844 discourse. The mural-sized Dibble-Campbell-Major painting circulated widely in Utah before its retirement in the 1880s, no doubt well worn from use. John Hafen, born in 1857 in Switzerland and an immigrant to Utah six years later, may have seen it. The new interpretation was occasioned by a reunion of the veterans of Utah’s militia, who encouraged Hafen to create a new painting of the 1844 discourse (and one other Nauvoo Legion painting, discussed below). The Utah territorial militia, which had been called the Nauvoo Legion since its creation in 1849, had been deactivated seventeen years earlier by a territorial governor and had just been disbanded by Congress.
Along with his earlier work, Lieutenant-General Joseph Smith, First Commander of the Nauvoo Legion, Hafen’s oil painting the Last Public Address of Lieut.-Gen. Joseph Smith (figure 5) was published as a poster in 1888 for the reunion. Last Public Address echoes the historical setting of the 1845 drawing but offers an artistically more sophisticated composition. While Campbell drew upon his experience as a draftsman, Hafen offered the talents of a young but skilled artist. Because of the attention to photographic detail, the early watercolor emphasizes the setting. In contrast, Hafen gives Joseph Smith the commanding position. Instead of his hat, the Prophet lifts his sword to the crowd. Hafen clearly wished to memorialize the famous call to arms issued during the address. Joseph Smith’s words appear as a quotation in a printed caption below the picture: “I call upon God and angels to witness that I have unsheathed my sword with firm and unalterable determination that this people shall have their legal rights and shall be protected from mob violence, or my blood shall be spilt upon the ground.”
In the painting’s detail, Hafen memorialized the officers of the Nauvoo Legion but was less careful than Campbell in his historical information. All of Hafen’s officers wear white pantaloons in imitation of Lieutenant General Smith’s uniform. Sutcliffe Maudsley’s portrait remains the model, but Hafen added a second row of buttons on all the uniforms and gave the men fancy belts and buckles. Joseph and Hyrum Smith dominate the platform, with Joseph’s two aides-de-camp given secondary roles. The seated youth holds his own tall military hat. Similar hats and some less formal caps appear on the heads of the solidiers in the crowd (and similarly in the 1845 watercolor), but Hafen allows only their heads to be visible. Through this visual device, he carefully avoids the question of uniforms for the men. Ordinary Nauvoo citizens of all ages cluster at the foot of the frame preaching stand, a feature absent from the 1845 mural.
Emphasizing people, Hafen uses buildings only to define the setting—Joseph on a framed platform located across from the Mansion House and on the flat below the Nauvoo Temple. In the most dominant architectural features, accuracy is ignored. Hafen’s Mansion House is shuttered (the way B. H. Roberts photographed it in 1885).The Nauvoo Temple on the far horizon appears the way it looked months after the Prophet’s death. Its presence in the painting is as a symbol of Nauvoo’s purpose rather than a statement of strict historical detail. Hafen created his handsome work in shades of black, white, and grey for reproduction as a photolithographic print. The image continues to appear in publications telling the Nauvoo story.
Remembering the Legion’s Military Might
The art portraying Joseph Smith’s last address to the Nauvoo Legion celebrated his commitment to preserve the rights of his people. Another series of images of the Prophet as military leader place him on horseback at one of the annual reviews of the militia (for example, figure 6). The earliest of these drawings adopts the perspective of the Mormon militia as a threat, an image created by the opponents of Nauvoo’s growing political strength. The engravings link the Prophet’s religious and civic roles and create a negative image of a militaristic leader bent on conquest. This interpretation is subtle in the drawings but supports the texts of the publications in which they appear—articles and books in Great Britain and America from the 1850s through the 1870s. Because of the “historical look” of the engravings, they continue to be used, sometimes without an awareness of the implied visual message. All of these nineteenth-century images present well-equipped troops in full uniform led by Joseph Smith dressed in the uniform that Sutcliffe Maudsley first illustrated in Nauvoo.
One of the most widely published of the drawings of Joseph Smith reviewing the Nauvoo Legion (figure 6) was used as early as 1851 in England and was copied by many subsequent publishers.The unnamed artist skillfully presents his anti-Mormon message. Surrounded by a bevy of young women on prancing white horses, Lieutenant General Smith directs his well-trained, formally uniformed troops on the flats below the city of Nauvoo. A Massachussets lecturer who had visited Nauvoo in 1843 reported seeing at a military parade “six ladies on horses, with white feathers or plumes waving over black velvet, riding up and down in front of the regiment.” A finished temple atop the hill reminds the viewer that Joseph Smith is both a military and religious leader. Almost hidden behind the women are officers carrying two local militia flags, decorated with eagles sitting atop shields. This drawing defined for all subsequent artists the visual components of a memorable experience for Nauvoo’s residents and neighbors—those times when Joseph Smith rode his black steed, “Joe Duncan,” while reviewing the Nauvoo Legion.
An artist for author T. B. H. Stenhouse shifted the focus even more to the prophet-general duality in an engraving of Joseph Smith riding a white horse. This image, published in The Rocky Mountain Saints in 1873 (figure 7), only hints of the men being reviewed and in a subtitle draws attention to Joseph Smith’s religious role. In two tiny engravings that illustrate a map of the city, Stenhouse presented the broader view of officers reviewing the Legion. In the miniature views, Joseph Smith lifts his sword to signal to his men, who appear in the straight lines typical of the formal review.
Two Latter-day Saint artists responded to these images and adapted them in subtle ways to present a positive message. Beginning in the late 1870s, C. C. A. Christensen created his popular Mormon Panorama. The Danish immigrant artist had not experienced any of the events he portrayed. As a visual historian, he drew from existing illustrations as well as the reminiscences of participants. In his panorama, Christensen included a view of Joseph Mustering the Nauvoo Legion (colorplate 6). This large canvas reinterprets the event to give it a celebratory emphasis.
Like Campbell, Christensen sought for historical accuracy in his cityscape. The scene is a parade ground south and east of Nauvoo. A prosperous, industrial city forms the backdrop (smoke rises from mills along the Mississippi), and an unfinished temple sits barely visible on the far horizon. On the parade ground, a red-coated military drum corps heads the straight line of soldiers. Christensen generalizes the soldiers into a steady blur. They stand at strict attention in blue and white uniforms. Presumably Joseph Smith rides the black horse, although his companion on the white horse appears to be a mirror image. Christensen tellingly includes only one woman in the entourage (is it Emma?) and avoids any innuendo of plural wives. He replaces the militia flags with the stars and stripes, an emphasis on loyalty to nation rather than to the city-state.
When Christensen’s son traveled with the panorama, he reminded audiences of the Legion’s existence for self-defense against mobs. Curiously, his oral narrative centered on Lieutenant General Smith’s last address, which Christensen said took place on the parade ground with the troops formed into a hollow square. In effect, Christensen used one painting to tell two stories.
In 1887, not long after Christensen’s Mormon Panorama began its tour of Mormon country, John Hafen created the first of his two black-and-white oil paintings of the Nauvoo Legion—Lieutenant-General Joseph Smith, First Commander of the Nauvoo Legion (figure 8). This painting picks up on Stenhouse’s portrait of a military leader on horseback, with American flags as a backdrop. For Hafen, as in his painting of the last address, a finished temple offers a more important symbol than the flags. And Lieutenant General Smith becomes the central figure, with everything else receding into the background. Hafen’s ultimate source, Maudsley’s profile portrait of the revered leader, is given life and energy, and the alert steed adds to the drama. While Stenhouse’s Joseph rides with his hat in hand, dropped to his side, Hafen gives Lieutenant General Smith an authoritative pose—sword lifted in a salute to his mounted dragoons. In First Commander, Hafen came as close as anyone since Maudsley to a formal military portrait of Joseph Smith.
At a gathering in Salt Lake City in the first decade of the twentieth century, veterans of Utah’s territorial militia gathered for a photograph. They were members of the Nauvoo Legion Association of Utah, organized in 1904. They wore commemorative ribbons on their chests and held aloft a banner celebrating the militia that was no more.Because Utah’s new volunteer militia carried the name Utah National Guard, these veterans were concerned that with their deaths, memories of the Nauvoo Legion would fade. The visual images on their badges and banner were directly from John Hafen’s painting of the Nauvoo Legion’s first commander.
Dan Weggeland painted this banner and several others for various Nauvoo Legion veterans groups. His large parade banner for the Nauvoo Legion Benevolent Association corrects Hafen’s depiction of the Nauvoo Temple by showing it under construction in June 1844 (see colorplate 8). In other respects, the banner is a direct imitation of Hafen’s more ably painted portrait. The memorial ribbon (see back cover), manufactured in Newark, New Jersey, uses a photographic image of Hafen’s First Commander under a central glass button and reproduces an 1868 drawing of the Nauvoo Temple (with its misshapened attic-level windows).
These commemorative items, like Hafen’s paintings, marked the end of the pioneer generation and the beginning of a new era. For more than a hundred years since Hafen redefined the visual image of the Nauvoo Legion, Latter-day Saint artists have failed to create new works of similar significance about this citizens’ militia. Picturing the Nauvoo Legion has apparently lost its appeal, this subject being replaced by other stories from Joseph Smith’s life that are of greater application to modern gospel living.Perhaps an invitation for the creation of new illustrations of the Nauvoo Legion story is found in a message on the reverse side of the memorial ribbon. It is from the Nauvoo Legion Association (N.L.A.), and reads, “N.L.A.: Not Dead But Sleepeth.”