As the Saints settled in Missouri, they suffered from internal dissension and external persecution. In 1834, Joseph and Hyrum Smith organized Zion’s Camp, and two hundred people walked hundreds of miles to assist the beleaguered Saints.
“‘We Believe the Hand of the Lord Is in It’: Memories of Divine Intervention in the Zion’s Camp Expedition,” Matthew C. Godfrey, BYU Studies Quarterly 56, no. 4 (2017)
Reminiscences of Zion’s Camp show that participants saw the hand of God throughout the journey. Journals tell of volunteers inspired to join; members sacrificing to fund the camp; the procuring of food and water; healing of the sick; and protection. Even chastisement was seen as God’s involvement and support.
“‘The Redemption of Zion Must Needs Come by Power’: Insights into the Camp of Israel Expedition, 1834,” Matthew C. Godfrey, BYU Studies, vol. 53, no. 4 (2014)
Documents tell the history, purpose, and management of Zion’s Camp. Church leaders had legitimate reasons to expect that the Missouri governor would assist the camp. This article tells about the negotiations between the camp and Governor Dunklin and why the camp disbanded.
“Zion’s Camp (Camp of Israel),” Church History Topics, Church website
A short overview of the history and purpose of Zion’s Camp.
“Joseph Smith and Zion’s Camp,” Alexander L. Baugh, Ensign, June 2005
Was Zion’s Camp a failure? The Zion’s Camp was successful in many ways: (1) by responding to the call, the Saints in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan demonstrated their loyalty to God and His Prophet and their love for members of the Church living in Missouri; (2) while in Missouri the Prophet organized the Missouri Stake, further strengthening the Church; (3) most important, for those who demonstrated their steadfastness, this trial of faith prepared them for future leadership roles.”
“‘Journal of the Branch of the Church of Christ in Pontiac, . . . 1834’: Hyrum Smith’s Division of Zion’s Camp,” Craig K. Manscill, BYU Studies 39, no. 1
On April 21, 1834, Hyrum Smith and Lyman Wight set out from Kirtland, Ohio, for Pontiac, Michigan, to recruit volunteers for the march of Zion’s Camp. Their objective was to lead their recruits on a six-hundred-mile march to a prearranged rendezvous with Joseph Smith’s Kirtland division in Missouri. Typically, scholarly treatments have overlooked the Hyrum Smith-Lyman Wight division of Zion’s Camp. Yet Hyrum’s group, when compared with Joseph’s command, demonstrated a similarly significant commitment to addressing the needs of their fellow Saints in Missouri. In addition, a study of this division offers new and insightful details about the recruitment, organization, and march of this ecclesiastical militia. Included in this article is a transcription of the journal of the Pontiac Branch kept by Elijah Fordham. The day-by-day account of the march from Michigan to the Salt River in Missouri is contained in thirty-eight illuminating journal entries.
“We Also Marched: The Women and Children of Zion’s Camp, 1834,” Andrea G. Radke-Moss, BYU Studies 39, no. 1
Much like the women of the Mormon Battalion and other military expeditions, the Zion’s Camp women contributed in various ways to the overall character of the group and its success and helped prepare for later mass migrations to the West. The women helped with the traditional domestic duties of cooking and laundering and caring for children. They also provided a civilizing influence on the camp. This article tells the stories of twelve women and several children known to have traveled with the more than 200 men of Zion’s Camp. Also, a woman (Ruth Vose) made the largest financial contribution to the funding of the march.
“The Acceptable Offering of Zion’s Camp,” Matthew C. Godfrey, Revelations in Context
The story of Nathan Baldwin, one member of Zion’s Camp, exemplifies the spirit of the expedition. He was inspired to go to Kirtland to volunteer for the camp, he gave fully of his resources, and he benefitted from associating with Joseph Smith and other elders.
“After the Missouri governor promised militia assistance, about 200 Saints marched from Ohio to Missouri to escort the exiles back to their homes. This paramilitary relief party was known as Zion’s Camp. But reports of the camp’s coming mobilized anti-Mormons throughout Missouri’s western counties, and when it arrived in Missouri, it encountered hundreds of armed adversaries. The promised military assistance from the governor was not forthcoming, and the camp disbanded in June 1834 without crossing into Jackson County. The revelation disbanding Zion’s Camp declared that, because the Saints had not been blameless and must yet learn much, their anticipated Zion would not be redeemed for ‘many days..”
“Missouri: LDS Communities in Jackson and Clay Counties,” Clark V. Johnson, Encyclopedia of Mormonism
“The year 1833 brought numerous new challenges to the Church in Jackson County. Some members circumvented appointed leaders and ignored their authority to preside. Others tried to obtain property through means other than the revealed laws. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had visited the area in the spring of 1832, but now there arose a general concern among Missouri Latter-day Saints that their Prophet should move permanently from Ohio to the new Zion. Additionally, there were petty jealousies, covetousness, and general neglect in keeping the commandments. None of this helped the newcomers to cope with the worst problem–increasing hostility with the “old settlers” of Jackson County. As the LDS population in the county reached twelve hundred by the summer of 1833, concerns of the local citizens reached fever pitch. It did not help that some members unwisely boasted that nonmembers would be driven from the county.”
“The Political and Social Realities of Zion’s Camp,” Peter Crawley and Richard L. Anderson, BYU Studies 14, no. 4 (1974)
After being expelled from Jackson County, Missouri, the Latter-day Saints asked Governor Daniel Dunklin for assistance in returning to their homes in Jackson County. The governor promised a protective force, but he did not promise a force to protect them once they were back in the county. The Saints knew they would be expelled again, since the Jackson County mob was constantly making threats. A council in Kirtland decided to begin the expedition to take back Mormon lands in Jackson County, and Zion’s Camp was created so that the Saints would be able to retain their property once they returned there. However, Governor Dunklin eventually shifted his position and no longer would provide a force to help the Saints regain their property, out of a very real fear that civil war would erupt in Missouri. Without government assistance, Zion’s Camp had no real political recourse but to disband.