A State Of Civil War

All peaceable occupations were now at an end in Daviess County.

General Atchison reported to the governor that, on arriving there

on September 17, he found the county practically deserted, the

Gentiles being gathered in one camp and the Mormons in another. A

justice of the peace, in a statement to the governor, declared,

"The Mormons are so numerous and so well armed [in Daviess and

Caldwell counties] that the judicial power of the counties is

wholly unable to execute any civil or criminal process within the

limits of either of the said counties against a Mormon or

Mormons, as they each and every one of them act in concert and

outnumber the other citizens." Lee says that an order had been

issued by the church authorities, commanding all the Mormons to

gather in two fortified camps, at Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman.

The men were poorly armed, but demanded to be led against their

foes, being "confident that God was going to deliver the enemy

into our hands."*

* "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 78.

Both parties now stood on the defensive, posting sentinels, and

making other preparations for a fight. Actual hostilities soon

ensued. The Mormons captured some arms which their opponents had

obtained, and took them, with three prisoners, to Far West. "This

was a glorious day, indeed," says Smith.* Citizens of Daviess and

Livingston counties sent a petition to Governor Boggs (who had

succeeded Dunklin), dated September 12, declaring that they

believed their lives, liberty, and property to be "in the most

imminent danger of being sacrificed by the hands of those

impostorous rebels," and asking for protection. The governor had

already directed General Atchison to raise immediately four

hundred mounted men in view of indications of Indian disturbances

on our immediate frontier, and the recent civil disturbances in

the counties of Caldwell, Daviess, and Carroll." The calling out

of the militia followed, and General Doniphan found himself in

command of about one thousand militiamen. He seems to have used

tact, and to have employed his force only as peace preservers. On

September 20 he reported to Governor Boggs that he had discharged

all his troops but two companies, and that he did not think the

services of these would be required more than twenty days. He

estimated the Mormon forces in the disturbed counties at from

thirteen hundred to fifteen hundred men, most of them carrying a

rifle, a brace of pistols, and a broadsword; "so that," he added,

"from their position, and their fanaticism, and their unalterable

determination not to be driven, much blood will be spilt and much

suffering endured if a blow is at once struck, without the

interposition of your excellency."

* Smith's autobiography, at this point, says: "President Rigdon

and I commenced this day the study of law under the instruction

of Generals Atchison and Doniphan. They think by diligent

application we can be admitted to the bar in twelve months."

Millennial Star, Vol. XVI, p. 246.

The people of Carroll County began now to hold meetings whose

object was the expulsion of the Mormons from their boundaries,

and some hundreds of them assembled in hostile attitude around

the little settlement of Dewitt. The Mormons there prepared for

defence, and sent an appeal to Far West for aid. Accordingly, one

hundred Mormons, including Smith and Rigdon, started to assist

them, and two companies of militia, under General Parks, were

hurried to the spot. General Parks reported to General Atchison

on October 7 that, on arriving there the day before, he found the

place besieged by two hundred or three hundred Missourians, under

a Dr. Austin, with a field-piece, and defended by two hundred or

three hundred Mormons under G. M. Hinckle, "who says he will die

before he is driven from thence." Austin expected speedy

reenforcements that would enable him to take the place by

assault. A petition addressed by the Mormons of Dewitt to the

governor, as early as September 22, having been ignored, and

finding themselves outnumbered, they agreed to abandon their

settlement on receiving pay for their improvements, and some

fifty wagons conveyed them and their effects to Far West.

A period of absolute lawlessness in all that section of the state

followed. Smith declared that civil war existed, and that, as the

state would not protect them, they must look out for themselves.

He and his associates made no concealment of their purpose to

"make clean work of it" in driving the non-Mormons from both

Daviess and Caldwell counties. When warned that this course would

array the whole state against them, Smith replied that the "mob"

(as the opponents of the Mormons were always styled) were a small

minority of the state, and would yield to armed opposition; the

Mormons would defeat one band after another, and so proceed

across the state, until they reached St. Louis, where the Mormon

army would spend the winter. This calculation is a fair

illustration of Smith's judgment.

Armed bands of both parties now rode over the country, paying

absolutely no respect to property rights, and ready for a "brush"

with any opponents. At Smith's suggestion, a band of men, under

the name of the "Fur Company," was formed to "commandeer" food,

teams, and men for the Mormon campaign. This practical license to

steal let loose the worst element in the church organization,

glad of any method of revenge on those whom they considered their

persecutors. "Men of former quiet," says Lee, who was among the

active raiders, "became perfect demons in their efforts to spoil

and waste away the enemies of the church."* Cattle and hogs that

could not be driven off were killed.** Houses were burned, not

only in the outlying country, but in the towns. A night attack by

a band of eighty men was made on Gallatin, where some of the

houses were set on fire, and two stores as well as private houses

were robbed. The house of one McBride, who, Lee says, had been a

good friend to him and to other Mormons, did not escape: "Every

article of moveable property was taken by the troops; he was

utterly ruined." "It appeared to me," says Corrill, "that the

love of pillage grew upon them very fast, for they plundered

every kind of property they could get hold of, and burnt many

cabins in Daviess, some say 80, and some say 150." ***

* Lee naively remarks, "In justice to Joseph Smith I cannot say

that I ever heard him teach, or even encourage, men to pilfer or

steal little things."--"Mormonism Unveiled," p. 90.

** W. Harris's "Mormonism Portrayed," p. 30.

*** "Brief History of the Church," p. 38.

The Missourians retaliated in kind. Mormons were seized and

whipped, and their houses were burned. A lawless company (Pratt

calls them banditti), led by one Gilliam, embraced the

opportunity to make raids in the Mormon territory. It was soon

found necessary to collect the outlying Mormons at Far West and

Adam-ondi-Ahman, where they were used for purposes both of

offence and defence. The movements of the Missourians were

closely watched, and preparations were made to burn any place

from which a force set out to attack the Saints.

One of the Missouri officers, Captain Bogart, on October 23,

warned some Mormons to leave the county, and, with his company of

thirty or forty men, announced his intention to "give Far West

thunder and lightning." When this news reached Far West, Judge

Higbee, of the county court, ordered Lieutenant Colonel Hinckle

to go out with a company, disperse the "mob," and retake some

prisoners. The Mormons assembled at midnight, and about

seventy-five volunteers started at once, under command of Captain

Patton, the Danite leader, whose nickname was "Fear Not," all on

horseback. When they approached Crooked River, on which Bogart's

force was encamped, fifteen men were sent in advance on foot to

locate the enemy. Just at dawn a rifle shot sounded, and a young

Mormon, named O'Barrion, fell mortally wounded. Captain Patton

ordered a charge, and led his men at a gallop down a hill to the

river, under the bank of which the Missourians were drawn up. The

latter had an advantage, as they were in the shade, and the

Mormons were between them and the east, which the dawn was just

lighting. Exchanges of volleys occurred, and then Captain Patton

ordered his men to rush on with drawn swords--they had no

bayonets. This put the Missourians to flight, but just as they

fled Captain Patton received a mortal wound. Three Mormons in all

were killed as a result of this battle, and seven wounded, while

Captain Bogart reported the death of one man.*

* Ebenezer Robinson's account in The Return, p. 191.

The death of "Fear Not" was considered by the Mormons a great

loss. He was buried with the honors of war, says Robinson, "and

at his grave a solemn convention was made to avenge his death."

Smith, in the funeral sermon, reverted to his old tactics,

attributing the Mormon losses to the Lord's anger against his

people, because of their unbelief and their unwillingness to

devote their worldly treasures to the church.

The rout of Captain Bogart's force, which was a part of the state

militia, increased the animosity against the Mormons, and the

wiser of the latter believed that they would suffer a dire


* Corrill's "Brief History of the Church," p. 38.

This vengeance first made itself felt at a settlement called

Hawn's Mill (of which there are various spellings), some miles

from Far West, where there were a flour mill, blacksmith shop,

and other buildings. The Mormons there were advised, the day

after the fight on Crooked River, to move into Far West for

protection, but the owners of the buildings, knowing that these

would be burned as soon as deserted, decided to remain and defend

their property.

On October 30 a mounted force of Missourians appeared before the

place. The Mormons ran into the log blacksmith shop, which they

thought would serve them as a blockhouse, but it proved to be a

slaughter-pen. The Missourians surrounded it, and, sticking their

rifles into every hole and crack, poured in a deadly fire,

killing, some reports say eighteen, and some thirty-one, of the

Mormons. The only persons in the town who escaped found shelter

in the woods. The Missourians did not lose a man. When the firing

ceased, they still showed no mercy, shooting a small boy in the

leg after dragging him out from under the bellows, and hacking to

death with a corn cutter an old man while he begged for his life.

Dead and wounded were thrown into a well, and some of the

wounded, taken out by rescuers from Far West, recovered. "I heard

one of the militia tell General Clark," says Corrill, "that a

well twenty or thirty feet deep was filled with their dead bodies

to within three feet of the top."*

* Details of this massacre will be found in Lee's "Mormonism

Unveiled," pp. 78-80; in the Missouri "Correspondence, Orders,

etc.," p. 82; the Millennial Star, Vol. XVI, p. 507, and in

Greene's "Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons from

Missouri," pp. 21-24.

The Mormons have always considered this "massacre," as they

called it, the crowning outrage of their treatment in Missouri,

and for many years were especially bitter toward all participants

in it. A letter from two Mormons in the Frontier Guardian, dated

October, 1849, describing the disinterred human bones seen on

their journey across the plains, said that they recognized on the

rude tombstone the names of some of their Missouri persecutors:

"Among others, we noted at the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains

the grave of one E. Dodd of Gallatin, Missouri. The wolves had

completely disinterred him. It is believed that he was the same

Dodd that took an active part as a prominent mobocrat in the

murder of the Saints at Hawn's Mill, Missouri; if so, it is a

righteous retribution." Two Mormon elders, describing a visit in

1889 to the scenes of the Mormon troubles in Missouri, said, "The

notorious Colonel W. O. Jennings, who commanded the mob at the

[Hawn's Mill] massacre, was assaulted in Chillicothe, Missouri,

on the evening of January 20, 1862, by an unknown person, who

shot him on the street with a revolver or musket, as the Colonel

was going home after dark." * They are silent as to the avenger.

* "Infancy of the Church" (pamphlet).

Governor Boggs now began to realize the seriousness of the

situation that he was called to meet, and on October 26 he

directed General John B. Clark (who was not the ranking general)

to raise, for the protection of the citizens of Daviess County,

four hundred mounted men. This order he followed the next day

with the following, which has become the most famous of the

orders issued during this campaign, under the designation "the

order of extermination":--



"Sir:--Since the order of this morning to you, directing you to

cause four hundred mounted men to be raised within your Division,

I have received by Amos Rees, Esq., of Ray County and Wiley C.

Williams, Esq., one of my aids, information of the most appalling

character, which entirely changes the face of things, and places

the Mormons in the attitude of an open and avowed defiance of the

laws, and of having made war upon the people of this state. Your

orders are, therefore, to hasten your operations with all

possible speed.

"The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated

or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace--their

outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your

force, you are authorized to do so to any extent you may consider

necessary. I have just issued orders to Maj. Gen. Willock, of

Marion County, to raise five hundred men, and to march them to

the northern part of Daviess, and there unite with Gen. Doniphan,

of Clay, who has been ordered with five hundred men to proceed to

the same point for the purpose of intercepting the retreat of the

Mormons to the north. They have been directed to communicate with

you by express; you can also communicate with them if you find it


"Instead therefore of proceeding, as at first directed, to

reinstate the citizens of Daviess in their homes, you will

proceed immediately to Richmond and then operate against the

Mormons. Brig. Gen. Parks, of Ray, has been ordered to have four

hundred of his brigade in readiness to join you at Richmond. The

whole force will be placed under your command.

"I am very respectfully, "Your ob't serv't, "L. W. Boggs,


The "appalling information" received by the governor from his

aids was contained in a letter dated October 25, which stated

that the Mormons were "destroying all before them"; that they had

burned Gallatin and Mill Pond, and almost every house between

these places, plundered the whole country, and defeated Captain

Bogart's company, and had determined to burn Richmond that night.

"These creatures," said the letter, "will never stop until they

are stopped by the strong hand of force, and something must be

done, and that speedily."*

* For text of letter, see "Correspondence, Orders, etc.," p. 59.

The language of Governor Boggs's letter to General Clark cannot

be defended. The Mormons have always made great capital of his

declaration that the Mormons "must be exterminated," and a man of

judicial temperament would have selected other words, no matter

how necessary he deemed it, for political reasons, to show his

sympathy with the popular cause. But, on the other hand, the

governor was only accepting the challenge given by Rigdon in his

recent Fourth of July address, when the latter declared that if a

mob disturbed the Mormons, "it shall be between us and them a war

of extermination, for we will follow them till the last drop of

their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate

us." What compromise there could have been between a band of

fanatics obeying men like Smith and Rigdon, and the class of

settlers who made up the early Missouri population, it is

impossible to conceive. The Mormons were simply impossible as

neighbors, and it had become evident that they could no more

remain peaceably in the state than they could a few years

previously in Jackson County.

General Atchison, of Smith's counsel, was not called on by the

governor in these latest movements, because, as the governor

explained in a letter to General Clark, "there was much

dissatisfaction manifested toward him by the people opposed to

the Mormons." But he had seen his mistake, and he united with

General Lucas in a letter to the governor under date of October

28, in which they said, "from late outrages committed by the

Mormons, civil war is inevitable," and urged the governor's

presence in the disturbed district. Governor Boggs excused

himself from complying with this request because of the near

approach of the meeting of the legislature.

General Lucas, acting under his interpretation of the governor's

order, had set out on October 28 for Far West from near Richmond,

with a force large enough to alarm the Mormon leaders. Robinson,

speaking of the outlook from their standpoint at this time, says,

"We looked for warm work, as there were large numbers of armed

men gathering in Daviess County, with avowed determination of

driving the Mormons from the county, and we began to feel as

determined that the Missourians should be expelled from the

county."* The Mormons did not hear of the approach of General

Lucas's force until it was near the town. Then the southern

boundary was hastily protected with a barricade of wagons and

logs, and the night of October 30-31 was employed by all the

inhabitants in securing their possessions for flight, in

anticipation of a battle the next day.

* The Return, Vol. I, p. 189.

Wild Vagaries Of The Converts After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail