"The Redemption of Zion Must Needs Come by Power": Insights into the Camp of Israel Expedition, 1834
The story of the Camp of Israel, better known as Zion's Camp, has been told many times. The tale of Joseph Smith leading a group of over two hundred individuals to Missouri to reclaim Mormon lands lost after Jackson County mobs forced the Saints from the county has assumed almost mythical status. Yet details about some aspects of the camp are still somewhat murky, especially in terms of its membership, its funding, its provisioning, and its intentions. Those of us working on the Joseph Smith Papers have discovered many new insights as we have examined documents pertaining to the camp. Such insights include how camp members funded much of the expedition themselves, the fact that the camp appeared to have adequate food and provisions, and indications that Missouri Governor Daniel Dunklin's refusal to call up the state militia to assist the expedition was more complicated than has previously been depicted.