The Martyrdom in Poetry—Efforts for Food Supplies and Protection for the People of Nauvoo—The Daniels Affidavit on the Martyrdom
“The following appropriate and expressive poetry we copy from the Times and Seasons:—
The Assassination of General Joseph and Hyrum Smith, First President and Second Patriarch of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, Who Were Massacred by a Mob, in Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, on the 27th of June, 1844
By Miss Eliza R. Snow
‘And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, how long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
And white robes were given unto every one of them; * * * that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also, and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled’ (Rev. 6:9-11).
‘Ye heavens attend! Let all the earth give ear.
Let God and seraphs, men and angels hear——
The worlds on high——the universe shall know
What awful scenes are acted here below!
Had nature’s self a heart, that heart would bleed
At the recital of that horrid deed;
For never, since the Son of Man was slain
Has blood so noble flowed from human vein
As that which now on God for vengeance calls
From freedom’s ground——from Carthage prison walls.
Oh! Illinois! thy soil has drank the blood
Of Prophets martyr’d for the truth of God.
Once lov’d America, what can atone
For the pure blood of innocence thou’st sown?
Were all thy streams in teary torrents shed
How vain the tribute, for the noblest worth
That graced thy surface, O degraded earth!
Oh wretched murd’rers! fierce for human blood!
You’ve slain the Prophets of the living God,
Who’ve borne oppression from their early youth,
To plant on earth the principles of truth.
Shades of heroic fathers! Can it be
Beneath your blood-stained flag of liberty,
The firm supporters of our country’s cause,
Are butchered while submissive to her laws?
Yes, blameless men, defam’d by hellish lies,
Have thus been offered as a sacrifice
T’appease the ragings of a brutish clan,
That has defied the laws of God and man!
‘Twas not for crime or guilt of theirs they fell—
Against the laws they never did rebel;
True to their country, yet her plighted faith
Has proved an instrument of cruel death!
Where are thy far-famed laws—Columbia, where
Thy boasted freedom——thy protecting care?
Is this a land of rights? Stern facts shall say,
If legal justice here maintains its sway.
The official pow’rs of State are sheer pretense
When they’re exerted in the Saints’ defense.
Great men have fallen, and mighty men have died—
Nations have mourn’d their fav’rites and their pride;
But TWO so wise, so virtuous, great and good,
Before on earth, at once, have never stood
Since the creation—men whom God ordain’d
To publish truth where error long had reign’d,
Of whom the world itself unworthy prov’d,
It knew them not; but men with hatred mov’d,
And with infernal spirits have combin’d
Against the best, the noblest of mankind.
Oh persecution! shall thy purple hand
Spread utter desolation through the land?
Shall freedom’s banner be no more unfurled?
Has peace indeed been taken from the world?
Thou God of Jacob, in this trying hour
Help us to trust in thy Almighty power;
Support thy Saints beneath this awful stroke,
Make bare thine arm to break oppression’s yoke.
We mourn thy Prophet, from whose lips have flow’d
The words of life thy Spirit has bestow’d—
A depth of thought no human art could reach
From time to time, roll’d in sublimest speech
From the celestial fountain, through his mind,
To purify and elevate mankind;
The rich intelligence by him brought forth,
Is like the sunbeam spreading o’er the earth.
Now Zion mourns—she mourns an earthly head;
The Prophet and the Patriarch are dead!
The blackest deed that men or devils know,
Since Calv’ry’s scene, has laid the brothers low!
One in their life, and one in death—they prov’d
How strong their friendship—how they truly lov’d;
True to their mission until death they stood,
Then seal’d their testimony with their blood.
All hearts with sorrow bleed, and every eye
Is bath’d in tears—each bosom heaves a sigh—
Heartbroken widows’ agonizing groans
Are mingled with the helpless orphans’ moans!
Ye Saints! be still, and know that God is just—
With steadfast purpose in his promise trust;
Girded with sackcloth, own his mighty hand,
And wait his judgment on this guilty land!
The noble martyrs now have gone to move
The cause of Zion in the courts above.
Nauvoo, July 1st, 1844.’
Tuesday, July 2, 1844.—We extract the following from Elders Kimball and Wight’s letter:—
Second Letter from Elders Wight and Kimball—Movements of the Twelve 1
June 21st, 1844.
We again resume the pen to give you a few further particulars. We met the church in the city of Philadelphia last evening, pursuant to adjournment, the members being all present. The vote was taken to know whether they would sustain the First Presidency and the Twelve in their calling, and follow their counsel spiritually and temporally, lay aside all their prejudice and fears, and follow them through evil as well as through good report. There was not a dissenting vote. We think the church is in a good condition. There will be some added next Sabbath by baptism, and we trust more ere long. For our manner of preaching and instructing the church, we refer you to brothers Forgeus and Price.
We leave here today, at 4 o’clock, for the Wilmington conference; many of the brethren and sisters from this place are going with us. We have so many calls in this place, from those in the church and out of it, that we cannot stop a night in a place. We are at this time at Sister McMinn’s, whose family treat us with all the kindness and attention that the servants of God could ask. They wish to be remembered to the Prophet and family, and so do all the saints in this place; and they are now determined to uphold you by their prayers in all things. I must confess this was not the case when we came here, with all. We learned that it is too much the case that the Twelve often find their way hedged up by the presiding elders endeavoring to exalt themselves and debase us, but you will find it different with your case in Philadelphia.
June 24th, 1844.
Just returned from Wilmington conference, accompanied by several of the brethren and sisters who went from this place. We can truly say that this was one of the most pleasant trips in our life. We went down on the steamer Balloon, and returned by railway.
Our conference commenced on Saturday, the 22nd. The brethren came in from the adjacent country, and after much instruction from Brothers Kimball and Wight, we took a vote to know whether they would go withersoever the Presidency, Patriarch and Twelve went, should it be to Oregon, Texas, or California, or any other place directed by the wisdom of Almighty God. The saints, numbering about 100, rose to their feet and exclaimed, Whithersoever they go, we go, without a dissenting voice. This was truly an interesting meeting. We have not the least idea that anyone will back out; they are nearly all men of wealth, and have commenced this morning to offer all surplus property for sale, that whenever you say go, they are ready. We ordained ten as promising young elders as we ever laid hands upon. They pledged themselves to start this week and go through the state of Delaware from house to house, and proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
On Sabbath, the 23rd, we preached alternately to a large and respectable congregation, and left the warmest of friends in that place, both in and out of the church. We have hundreds of pleasant sceneries in our journals, which are too numerous to mention at present.
Yours as ever,[Signed] Heber C. Kimball,
Tuesday, 2—Elder John Taylor was brought home from Carthage to the joy of his friends.
Action of City Council on Supplying Food for Nauvoo
‘A special session of the city council was called to devise ways and means for supplying the city with provisions. Dr. Richards, Colonel Dunham, Marshal Greene, and others, stated to the council that many were destitute, and that unless active measures were taken, many must suffer with hunger, as some had already; wherefore it was
Resolved, by the city council of the city of Nauvoo, that special committees be appointed to visit the different sections of the surrounding country, and solicit the benevolent for donations, or provisions and means for supplying the wants of the destitute of this city; and so far as donations fail, supply the deficiency by loans.
Resolved, That Charles Patten, W. H. Jordan, and L. S. Dalrymple be this committee for Iowa; that D. M. Repsher, A. Morrison, and Captain Ross go to Madison, Burlington, and the north country; that Benjamin Clapp, Samuel James, and Hiram Clark visit Ramus, La Harpe, and the eastern country, and that Isaac Morley assist the south to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Resolved, That L. N. Scovil, Edwin D. Woolley, and William M. Gheen, be a standing committee to negotiate for all necessary supplies to those who are on duty by order of government.
Resolved, That each of said committees keep an accurate account of all donations and loans, and make returns of the same to the marshal of the city.
Passed July 2nd, 1844, 6 p.m.[Signed] Orson Spencer, President pro tem.
W. Richards, Recorder.’
George J. Adams—Messenger to Brigham Young—Failure of
‘To whom it may concern—
Elder George J. Adams has been deputed by council of the church to bear despatches to Elder Young, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, relative to the death of the Prophet Joseph, and his brother Hyrum Smith, and the brethren are requested to see that no means are wanting to speed him on his important mission.
In behalf of the church,[Signed] Willard Richards,
Clerk of the Quorum of the Twelve.’
George J. Adams failed to perform this mission, although he had plenty of means, but Jedediah M. Grant went right through, and carried the word.
General Dunham wrote as follows:——
Letter of General Dunham to Governor Ford—Call for More Militia Troops To Check Mob at Warsaw and Golden’s Point
‘His Excellency Governor Ford.
I am sorry to inform you that the mob is still prowling between Warsaw and Golden’s Point, waiting for an opportunity to come in and burn and destroy. The mob party are continually threatening us, and are driving our people away from their homes, and they are obliged to come here for protection.
I want you to send about one hundred or two hundred men whom you can depend upon as loyal, to quarter in the woods between here and Golden’s Point, so that they can be between us and the mob, and protect us. Our troops are worn out, and I shall soon expect an order from you to discharge my men from the duty they are obliged to perform, to fulfil your order.
I am your Excellency’s obedient servant,[Signed] Jonathan Dunham,
Major-General Commanding Nauvoo Legion.
July 2, 1844, 8 p.m.’
Council of the Twelve at Boston.
At a council of the Twelve and other elders, held in the Franklin Hall, Boston, there were ordained two elders, and arrangements made for dividing off into different parts of the vineyard. Each of the Twelve were appointed to attend several conferences.
Elders Wilford Woodruff and Milton Holmes took steamer for Portland, Maine.
Colonel Lyman Wight delivered a political address at Bunker Hill, at 4 p.m.
Wednesday, 3.—We copy from the Neighbor:—
The Answer of Governor Ford to the Warsaw Committee—Review of Murder of the Generals Smith
‘Quincy, July 3, 1844.
To the Warsaw Committee:
Gentlemen,—I have received your communication on behalf of the citizens of Warsaw, stating their unalterable determination to compel the Mormons of your county to leave the state; or otherwise to abandon their own homes and evacuate the county, and asking my interference and influence to assist you in procuring the removal of the Mormons.
I have no reply whatever to make to that part of your letter which treats of the history, character, and offenses of the Mormons. I deem this, however, a fit occasion to remark somewhat upon the character of the events which have just transpired. These events present reasons for my determination which must be noticed.
When I came to your county I announced the policy by which I intended to be governed. The law was to be my guide; and this you well understand. I announced this determination in numerous public addresses, and uniformly in my private conversations. I successively obtained a vote to sustain me in this course from every troop stationed at Carthage, or who was visiting there.
From the detachment of your town and vicinity, who visited Carthage the day before the surrender of the Smiths, I obtained a similar pledge. I met them on the prairie, before they arrived in town, and as they must testify, stated to them at length, the reason which ought to influence them to keep the peace and abide the operation of the laws. They gave every demonstration of satisfaction, and signified, with unanimous acclamation, that they would stand by me in taking a strictly legal course.
All the other portion of the Hancock forces under my command were repeatedly and deeply pledged to sustain me in the same course. Under the firm and confident assurance of support thus obtained, I demanded the surrender of the Smiths, and promised them security.
In doing so, I now acknowledge that I erred, and erred grievously, in relying with too much confidence upon men with whom I was but little acquainted. The idea that men could be treacherous under such circumstances was abhorrent to my nature, and rejected with indignation.
Whatever your hatred of the Smiths might be, I was too confident you would respect your honor—the honor of your country and state, and the rights of defenseless prisoners. I could not believe that so much stupidity and baseness as was necessary for such an enterprise as the murder of defenseless prisoners in jail would be, could be mustered in Hancock county.
What aggravates the transaction, as a matter personal to myself, is that you betrayed my honor as well as your own, and that of the state; and you selected a time to commit the deed when you believed I was in Nauvoo, in the power of the Mormons, and would most probably be murdered by them by way of retaliation.
Upon the whole I cannot too strongly express my indignation and abhorrence of the base and profligate act which has disgraced the state and raised suspicions in the minds of many in regard to my conduct in the matter of the most painful character to my feelings.
I am happy, however, to learn that these denunciations apply only to a small portion of the people of Warsaw and Hancock county. All the most responsible inhabitants ought to be acquitted of any direct participation with the conspirators.
If they are culpable at all, it is for not using their influence against the act, and for not communicating to me information which would have enabled me to prevent it. The intention of the people must, to some extent, have been whispered about and understood, and ought to have been communicated to me as commander-in-chief.
Under these circumstances I am in but a poor situation to use influence with the Mormons, to procure their removal. Your own people have destroyed whatever influence I might otherwise have possessed in that quarter to serve you.
Your own conduct has placed me in a painfully suspicious attitude; and I have no hopes that I could now have a more persuasive influence with the Mormons than I had with the perpetrators of the horrid deed which I sought to prevent. Under the circumstances I cannot ask the Mormons to confide in me.
It must appear to them that they have been betrayed by somebody, and they do not know by whom.
If you mean to request me to exercise a forcible influence to expel them from the state, I answer you now, as I have uniformly done, that the law is my guide, and that I know of no law authorizing their expulsion. From this determination I have not swerved for an instant from the beginning until this time.
I see nothing now requiring any deviation, and besides, if I were ever so much determined to drive them out, I believe such is the abhorrence against the base deed which some of you have committed, that I could not obtain voluntary aid from the people.
I suppose that you are aware that a call for volunteers is the only mode in which a force can be raised, and the force when raised must be provisioned by voluntary contribution.
You had better not make too loud a call upon your fellow citizens; you may want their aid for defense; and may yet be glad to receive aid for defense rather than aggression.
I know the apprehensions which you entertain of Mormon violence; I will not now say whether your fears are well or ill founded; a little time will develop what may be expected.
Taking the law for my guide, I can assure you that, although some of you have treated me badly, in thwarting my policy and violating my honor, and have acted basely towards defenseless prisoners, yet you are entitled to, and are assured of all the force of the state to prevent or avenge illegal violence towards any of you. An inquiry must be made concerning the murderers; they must for the honor and credit of the state be dealt with according to law.
You ask a small force to be stationed in your county as a protection against small parties. You have not probably duly considered how large a force would be necessary for this purpose. A small force could protect but a few points of attack, and must necessarily leave the residue of the county exposed.
A large force cannot be stationed there permanently. Your best protection is the assurance that upon the first aggression or well defined threats, an overpowering force is ready to march directly for the scene of action.
I am informed that a design is still entertained at Warsaw of attacking Nauvoo. In this you will not be sustained by myself or the people; it is a part of my policy that you remain quiet, and if you please, watchful, but strictly on the defensive; and I now announce to you that I will not be thwarted in this policy with impunity.
I am, most respectfully
Your obedient servant,[Signed] Thomas Ford.’
The Members of the Mob Wounded at Carthage.
Wednesday, 3.—Messrs. John B. Kimball, of Warsaw, and Elias Smith, of Nauvoo, reported that John Patrick Wells and W. Voorhees were wounded in the affray at Carthage.
Elders Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball spent the day together in the city of Boston, and in the evening visited the museum.
Thursday, 4.—Elder Samuel H. Smith received a letter from Richard Ballantyne, introducing Mr. William M. Daniels.
Mr. Daniels made the following affidavit:——
Affidavit of William M. Daniels
‘State of Illinois,
On the 4th day of July, 1844, came William M. Daniels before me, Aaron Johnson, a justice of the peace within and for said county, and after being duly sworn, deposeth and saith that on Saturday, the 22nd day of June, 1844, he came to the town of Warsaw, in said county of Hancock, and continued there until the Thursday following, the 27th day of June; that on that morning your affiant joined the rifle company commanded by Jacob Davis; that the lieutenant and———Chittenden, Esq., said that as the governor would be absent from Carthage that day, that they would send ten men from each of the two companies to join the Carthage Greys, and kill the two Generals Smith, and if the governor opposed, to kill him too; that among those twenty men were Mr. Houck, a tailor and Mr. Stephens, a cooper; the rest of the two companies marched towards Golden’s Point to the railroad crossing, when they were met by the governor’s order to disband all the troops, and Colonel Williams disbanded them.
That then the captains called them to order, saying they had no command over them, but wished them to form in line, which they did; that then Mr. Sharp, the editor of the Warsaw Signal, urged by a speech the necessity of killing the two Smiths, and a vote was then called who would go and do it.
Captain Davis and about twenty men went home, the residue, eighty-four men, went to Carthage, having six runners ahead to stop the twenty men who had before started for Carthage.
Soon after they started, one of the Carthage Greys met them with a letter, saying it was a most delightful time, the governor had gone, they could now kill Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and must do it quick before the governor returned; that they then turned to the left between the Warsaw and Nauvoo roads, and were not seen again by your affiant till they arrived at the jail in Carthage; that among the names of those who committed the murder at the jail in Carthage, Hancock county aforesaid, on the 27th day of June, 1844, at about 5 o’clock and 20 minutes, was Colonel Levi Williams, of Green Plains precinct, Captain Wires,———Chittenden, Esq., of Warsaw.——Houck, the tailor, Captain Grovenor, three brothers by the name of Stephens, coopers,——Allen, a cooper, all of Warsaw, and a man by the name of Mills, who was wounded in the right arm.
That your affiant would further state that this company before mentioned were painted black; that the guns of the guard at the jail were loaded with blank cartridges; that this was an arrangement entered into by the Carthage Greys, as said the messenger who came to meet said company in the morning.
That your said affiant saw Joseph Smith leap from the window of the jail, and that one of the company picked him up and placed him against the well curb, and several shot him, Colonel Williams exclaiming, ‘Shoot him! Damn him! Shoot him!’ and further your affiant saith not. 2[Signed] William M. Daniels.’
The following anonymous letter was written:—
A Plea for Liberty and Justice—Anonymous
‘For the Lee County Democrat,
Lee County, Iowa, July 4, 1844,
Sir,—On this birthday of our common country, I am admonished by surrounding circumstances that something must be done by the friends of liberty, and that speedily too, or the star spangled banner of the American Eagle must soon cease to wave its golden pinions over the heads of freemen.
I was aroused to these reflections by the statements of Messrs. Reid and Woods in the Nauvoo Neighbor Extra, of Sunday, June 30th, 1844, 3 p.m., also of the Neighbor of yesterday. Mr. H. T. Reid is a gentleman of high legal attainments, of Madison, in our county, possessed of a character for truth and veracity not to be impeached. Mr. J. W. Woods is an attorney, of Burlington, in this territory, of the same character and standing. His word may be relied on; and as these gentlemen were in the midst of the circumstances which led to the horrid butchery of Generals Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage, on the 27th ult., and as they, like myself, are no Mormons, and live in a neighboring territory, I hope the citizens of these United States will give their statements of this horrid affair, that confidence and calm deliberation which the case solemnly demands.
If the freeborn sons of American liberty can be incarcerated in prison for some supposed or real crime without the privilege of an investigation, and be murdered by a ruthless mob in that defenseless state, in open daylight, and in the presence of the authorities of the land too, where, I ask in the name of freemen, where is our freedom? Where is our security for all the blessings for which our fathers fought and bled? Who will ere long dare lay his head upon his pillow in his own habitation and say, I am safe? If the strong walls of a prison are not sufficient to guarantee safety to citizens of this republic, what may we soon expect who live in unwalled houses? I ask in the name of humanity, are not American liberties on the verge of a mighty precipice, just ready to plunge into the whirlpool of utter dissolution?
Perhaps it may be said the Mormons are to blame; and supposing they are, does this warrant death and destruction to be hurled at them without judge or jury? The riots at Philadelphia and other places have been sufficiently alarming, but the recent tragedy at Carthage mocks all parallel—history has no equal.
The page of time till June 27th, 1844, has been unstained by such a riot. I mourn for my country. How has the soil of an independent state been crimsoned with innocent blood? I say innocent, for the law holds every man innocent till he is proved guilty. Were the Smiths proved guilty? No! they had no trial. Where is the plighted faith of the state?
How is the honor of all this western country tarnished! How will the jealousies of the eastern states be excited by this unheard of butchery!
I am a native of New England. I know the prejudices of the eastern people concerning the west and south. They feel that a man cannot travel in safety in our region, in Illinois, in Iowa, and the surrounding states and territories, without a pistol and a bowie knife, and that we almost belong to another race of beings; and when our eastern friends shall read the true and frightful tale of Messrs. Reid and Woods, well may their fears be increased, their jealousies aroused, and they led to believe that all they had anticipated was true concerning us. But, Mr. Editor, I would undeceive them; and although not one palliating circumstance, to my knowledge, offers itself to the public mind in relation to the occurrence at Carthage, yet I would say to my friends in New England, and to all men, the citizens of the west do not approbate such proceedings.
More than nineteen-twentieths of the citizens of Iowa, and, I am confident, of Illinois, reprobate with unqualified abhorrence the atrocious deed.
The wise, the virtuous, the patriotic of all sects and denominations and parties, political or religious, hurl their anathemas at the barbarous deed which was transacted by a lawless mob, a few scores of desperadoes, if we can believe the most authentic intelligence from the scene of trouble.
The great, great mass of the people deprecate the event as much as would the inhabitants of Vermont, Massachusetts, or any other state, and why not? We are their sons, their brothers, their sisters, their daughters, nursed by the same mothers, cradled by the same firesides.
I repeat what is well known, I am no Mormon, and that they may be guilty of some things as a society. If they are, I do not know it. So far as I have seen their leaders, their teachings have been moral and upright, and their publications state if they have erred in anything, they have erred unintentionally, and they are ready to be set right by the powers above them.
Why then should not the law have its course? Why should any man be condemned without a hearing? If this thing is suffered to go any further, God knows where it will end; I fear a general civil war, and I do hope that every good man in the union will arise and stamp with infamy any such unlawful proceedings.
If the city of Nauvoo erred in declaring the printing press of the Expositor a nuisance, what then? I am no lawyer, but I suppose it could be no more than a trespass—they liable for damage only; and if they erred in judgment, it is not the first time a legislative body has erred. Congress might have done as much, and not be killed for it; then why kill them?
Mr. Editor, is the action of the government to bring the murderers of the Generals Smith to justice? I ask for information. Have the perpetrators been discovered? Have arrests been made? Have rewards been made? Have rewards been offered by the governor of Illinois? or has he been dilatory in his duties, as the respectable part of the community think him to be?
If he does his duty, I trust justice will be done to the assassins; but it is not enough to deprecate alone, action, decided action should be had in the case, that our country may be saved from mobocracy and violence, and order and law bear rule again in our land. 3
I am, sir,[Signed] A Friend to Equal Rights.’ ”
2. It is unfortunate that this affiant did not keep his subsequent statements at the trial within the limits of this affidavit as he would then have been a much more efficient witness at the subsequent trial of the murderers of the Prophet at which he was a witness and testified; but with the aid of a young typo in the Times and Seasons printing office at Nauvoo, he enlarged his affidavit to a sensational pamphlet detailing many miraculous occurrences in connection with the martyrdom which discredited him as a witness and did much towards making the murderers of the Prophet farcical.
This pamphlet detailing the alleged miraculous incidents in the murder was brought out in the trial and Daniels confronted with it, swore to the statements. The counsel for the defendants asked the court to eliminate all consideration of such testimony from the record. The court granted the request in the following terms:
“That in making up their (the jury’s) verdict they will exclude from their consideration all that was said by Daniels, Brackenbury, and Miss Graham (witnesses).”
It was supposed that the testimony of Brackenbury and Miss Graham would support the testimony of Daniels, but this support failed to appear. We quote what is alleged to be a reproduction of much of it, in a book published in Utah under the title of The Martyrs. The excerpt begins with the appearance of the Prophet in the window of the prison under the fire of the mob:—
“He sprang into the window; but just as he was preparing to descend, he saw such an array of bayonets below, that he caught by the window casing, where he hung by his hands and feet, with his head to the north, feet to the south, and his body swinging downward. He hung in that position three or four minutes, during which time he exclaimed, two or three times, ‘O, Lord, My God!!!’ and fell to the ground. While he was hanging in that position, Colonel Williams hallooed, ‘Shoot him! G—d d—m him! shoot the dam’d rascal!’ However, none fired at him.
He seemed to fall easy. He struck partly on his right shoulder and back, his neck and head reaching the ground a little before his feet. He rolled instantly on his face. From this position he was taken by a young man, who sprang to him from the other side of the fence, who held a pewter fife in his hand, was barefoot and bareheaded, having no coat, with his pants rolled above his knees, and shirt sleeves above his elbows. He set President Smith against the south side of the well curb, that was situated a few feet from the jail. While doing this, the savage muttered aloud, ‘This is Old Jo; I know him. I know you, Old Jo. Damn you; you are the man that had my daddy shot.’ The object he had in talking in this way, I supposed to be this: He wished to have President Smith and the people in general, believe he was the son of Governor Boggs, which would lead to the opinion that it was the Missourians who had come over and committed the murder. This was the report that they soon caused to be circulated; but this was too palpable an absurdity to be credited.
* * * The ruffian, of whom I have spoken, who set him against the well curb, now secured a bowie knife for the purpose of severing his head from his body. He raised the knife and was in the attitude of striking, when a light, so sudden and powerful burst from the heavens upon the bloody scene, (passing its vivid chain between Joseph and his murderers), that they were struck with terrified awe and filled with consternation. This light, in its appearance and potency, baffles all powers of description. The arm of the ruffian, that held the knife, fell powerless; the muskets of the four, who fired, fell to the ground, and they all stood like marble statues, not having power to move a single limb of their bodies.
By this time most of the men had fled in great disorder. I never saw so frightened a set of men before. Colonel Williams saw the light and was also badly frightened; but he did not entirely lose the use of his limbs or speech. Seeing the condition of these men, he hallooed to some who had just commenced to retreat, for God’s sake to come and carry off these men. They came back and carried them by main strength towards the baggage wagons. They seemed as helpless as if they were dead” (The Martyrs, pp. 79-81. For treatment somewhat in full see Comprehensive History of the Church, Century I, vol. 2, ch. 60, pp. 321-34; also History of Hancock County, Gregg, pp. 323-31). B. H. R.
3. It is appreciated that this is an anonymous communication, and anonymous letters are not often woven into serious historical statements; but it must be remembered that this anonymous letter was written for and published in the Lee County Democrat of Iowa, and is such a truthful statement of the main facts connected with the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and discusses the points at issue in such a temperate and striking manner that it represents a fixed and important view of the whole case; and for these valuable elements in it, notwithstanding its defects of composition, is here presented for preservation. B. H. R.