John Corrill is a very important witness. He left the
church over these issues.
John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, p.33
Election in Davies-- Unhappy affray-- Excitement-- Expedition to Davies County-- Adam Black-- Smith and Wight-- Public meeting in Richmond-- The sheriff-- Gathering in Davies-- Trials before Judge King.
The election in Davies County was not conducted in this manner. Every man there voted as he pleased; but an unhappy affray took place there.
Feelings existed, as I observed before, between the Mormons and other citizens on account of their settling the new town of Adamondiaman, and filling up the county so fast. William Pennington, a citizen and candidate, on seeing that the Mormons were not going for him, made a flaming speech on election day, in which he said, that the Mormons ought not to be suffered to vote. I was informed, however, that they were not prohibited; but still, feelings became somewhat excited on both sides, though there was but little said, until one of the Mormons and one of the other citizens got into a conversation, in which they gave each other the lie: the citizen struck the Mormon, and followed him up for another blow, when he was met by another Mormon, who knocked him down. From this, one after another, on both sides, fell into the ranks, and a general conflict was the result. Some were badly hurt from clubs and boards that were used on both sides. The Mormons got the better, I believe, in that affray, but left the polls I was told, soon after it was over. This affray increased the excitement on both sides. Some of the citizens threatened those Mormons that had distinguished themselves in the battle, and Mormons kept a look out that night. The next morning, news of the battle came to Far West, and it was stated and believed that they were gathering on both sides, in Davies; that two Mormons had been killed, and that the citizens would not let the Mormons bury them. Doctor Arverd called for volunteers, and raised about one hundred and fifty men who went out to Davies under arms. Smith and Rigden went with them. When they got to Davies they did not meet with any gathering of the mob, though it was said there was a collection at Gallatin. They also found that none had been killed. Instead of returning home again, as they ought to have done, they took a notion to make the citizens agree to live in peace, and not come out in mobs. They went to the house of Adam Black, a justice of the peace, and compelled him to sign a writing to that effect. After staying a day or two, and trying to make some two or three others sign the paper, they went home. But the citizens of Davies were not satisfied. Black went to Richmond and entered complaint. Others went to other parts and made general complaint against the Mormons. Smith, Wight, and others, they said, had broken the law by going into Davies armed, and making Black sign the paper. It was said that L. Wight and J. Smith would not be taken, but would die first.
Some one or two meetings were got up in Richmond, in which they took some exceptions to Rigden's orations, but they resolved to do nothing contrary to law, nor approbate a mob. This, I thought had a good effect in suppressing unlawful proceedings. But the law must be enforced. A writ was issued for Smith and Wight, and the sheriff, it is said, informed Wight of it, but, through fear of Wight's threatenings, desisted from trying to take him, but went to Judge King for advice. He advised him to try to serve the precept, but, if Wight resisted, then command assistance of the citizens, and if they were resisted by a superior force, then to call for the militia, until he got force enough. Runners went into other counties to solicit assistance. They requested the citizens to gather in by a day appointed, and be in readiness to assist the sheriff in taking Wight. Accordingly, they gathered in to a considerable number. This excited and alarmed the Mormons. They began to think there was some other object in view besides taking Wight; for Smith had previously told the sheriff that he had never resisted, but was perfectly willing to surrender, and said he would persuade Wight to do so. For this purpose, he sent for Wight to come to Far West and see him, which he did, and agreed to submit, saying that the sheriff had never attempted to take him. The citizens continued to gather, and news came to Smith that there would be four thousand together in a few days. This alarmed Smith, and he sent a messenger to General Atchison to come out to Far West and see him, and to advise what to do. He did so, and also went to Davies, and advised Smith and Wight, and such others as were accused, to surrender, which they did, and were tried before Judge King, and bound over; then Judge King and General Atchison returned home.
Gathering continued-- Prisoners taken--Arms taken-- Dispersion by the militia-- Gathering at Dewitt-- General Parks-- Petition to the Governor-- Mormons leave Dewitt-- Their spirits and feelings become desperate.
This, however, did not satisfy the people of Davies. In my opinion, their great object was to get rid of the Mormons in their county. The excitement grew worse and worse, the people continued to gather to the number of two or three hundred in Davies, and appointed Dr. Austin, of Carroll, as their leader. The Mormons also gathered at Adamondiaman, under L. Wight, ready for defence. Sentinels were kept out by both parties, and they reconnoitered the country as they thought proper.
A party of Austin's men fired on two Mormons, a man and a boy, the man escaped, but the boy they took prisoner. They also sent to Richmond and got sixty or eighty stand of arms, but on the way to Davies the wagon broke down, and the Mormons got news of it and sent ten men, who took the arms, forty-four in number, and three men prisoners, and carried them to Far West. These were afterwards delivered up to General Doniphan as he passed through on his way to Davies County. A messenger from the Mormons with this news, together with affidavits, taken before Judge King, was sent to General Atchison, who ordered out five hundred militia to quell the disturbance. Gilliam, with a company from the Platte country, had joined Austin's company, and some Mormons from Caldwell had joined Wight's company.
Thus the militia found them. General Doniphan placed the militia between the parties, visited both, and required them to disperse. Wight, I was told, submitted and said he would be governed by the authorities. The troops from Caldwell dispersed and went home, but Austin's company did not disperse under two or three days and then with such reluctance that it was thought necessary to leave a company of militia for thirty days, to keep the peace.
A little previous to this, the citizens of Carroll County had called meetings, and resolved to drive the Mormons from that county. Several of the citizens of Carroll went to assist the people of Davies, but after they were dispersed from Davies they commenced gathering against the Mormons in Dewitt. The number collected was about three hundred, and they also appointed Dr. Austin to be their commander. The Mormons, though weak in that place, prepared themselves for defence, and were commanded by Colonel Hinkle. When they got this news at Far West, they turned out about one hundred in number, and went to assist their brethren at Dewitt. Smith and Rigden went along. General Parks, of Ray County, with two companies of militia, went to the scene of difficulty, but had not force enough to disperse them. Some of the citizens near Dewitt sent a petition to the Governor, praying the dispersion of the mob, as I was informed; but the Mormons were informed that the Governor said they must take care of themselves.
This, the Governor has since told me was a mistake, for he was at St. Louis at the time; and, moreover, General Atchison and other officers had full power to act when necessary without an order from him.
General Parks called upon General Doniphan for more militia, but before they arrived, the Mormons concluded to give up the ground and leave the place, and the citizens of Carroll agreed to pay them for their improvements. I never heard of any accusation that the people of Carroll had against the Mormons, but still
they were determined they should not settle in that county, so they came to Far
West, about fifty wagons in number.
I have since understood that the people of Carroll did not mean to pay them, as they had agreed, but I know not whether this be true or not. When they came from Dewitt I discovered that the feelings of many were much exasperated at the treatment they had received at Dewitt, and especially at having been obliged to leave the place. News also followed them that the citizens were coming from Dewitt to Davies, with the cannon, for the purpose of driving the Mormons from Davies County. They took two Mormon prisoners on their way, and told them that they meant to drive the Mormons from Davies to Caldwell, and from Caldwell to h---l. Smith and others appeared much excited in feeling. "They (the Church) had been driven from place to place; their property destroyed; their rights as citizens taken from them; abuse upon abuse practiced upon them from time to time; they had sought for redress through the medium of the law, but never could get it; the state of Missouri refused to protect them in their rights; the executive had been petitioned many times, but never would do anything for them." This, in substance, had been their talk for months: "And the Governor," they said, "while they were at Dewitt, refused to do anything for them, but said that they must take care of themselves." Now they meant to do it, for they found that they must take care of themselves, as they could get help from no other quarter. Moreover, they said, that they had found out that several members of the Church had dissented in feeling, and were operating against them by carrying evil reports to their lives; and now they were determined to clear them out or spill their blood in the streets; moreover they meant to make clean work now, and expel the mob from Davies and then from Caldwell County. I asked Smith whether he thought they could hold out in that course and prosper in carrying it into effect. He answered they would, or die in the attempt. I answered that they would not have the whole state on them, but only that party which was governed by a mob spirit, and they were not very numerous; and they, when they found they would have to fight, would not be so fond of gathering together against them. I plainly saw that their feelings were much irritated, and they determined on their course; I therefore said no more. I had highly disapproved of their course for months past, and had taken no part in their warfare. I knew that they were jealous of me as a dissenter, and that it was of no use for me to say anything more; in fact, I felt it was necessary for me to look out for my own safety.
Public meeting-- Resolutions passed-- Volunteers raised-- Reflections- Expedition to Davies-- Doings there-- New order of consecration-- Enthusiastic motives-- Plunderings-- Piece of ordinance taken.
This conversation was on Sunday morning after they returned from Dewitt. Smith preached that day pretty much from the same spirit, and requested a general meeting of all the male members on the next day. They accordingly met, and passed resolutions to the following effect. All the members of the church should take hold and help; those who had been backward in carrying on the warfare should now come forward, and their property should be consecrated, so far as might be necessary for the use of the army. If any man undertook to leave the place, and go to the enemy, he should be stopped and brought back, or loose his life. As soon as this meeting was over, they collected upon the public square, and called for volunteers. About two hundred were raised to go to Davies County. Others were raised to guard Far West. A company, called the Fur Company, was raised, for the purpose of procuring provisions, for pressing teams, and even men sometimes, into the army in Caldwell. I now saw plainly that they had become desperate, and their career would soon end; for I knew that their doings would soon bring the people on them, and I dreaded the consequences. I would have been glad to have left the county with my family, but I could not get away; the decree was passed, and there was no other chance for me and the other dissenters but to pretend to take hold with the rest. I now understood that they meant to fall upon and scatter the mob wherever they could find them collected.
The next day, which was Tuesday, they marched to Adamondiaman. The following day it snowed, and there was not much done, except perhaps to lay some plans of operation. The next day a company of about eighty mounted men went to Gallatin, where they found from ten to twenty men, who fled as they approached the town. They plundered a store and burnt it, and carried off some other property. Another company of seventy or eighty went to Millport, and on finding the place pretty much deserted they left it as they found it. Another company of about the same size, went on to Grindstone Fork, and professed themselves to be citizens of Carroll. This they did, I was told, to find out who was against them. They also committed some little thefts. Another company, on foot, went somewhere in the country, and returned with a quantity of plundered property.
During these two days I laid by the fire with a lame leg. I clearly saw, from the remarks passing through the camp, and from their doings, that destruction to the Mormons was nigh at hand. I was astonished at the weakness and folly of the Mormons, to think they could possibly hold out in such a course.
I heard nothing from the leaders, but in the camp it was said that they meant not only to scatter the mob, but also to destroy those places that harbored them; that Gallatin and Millport were of that number; that the time had arrived for the riches of the Gentiles to be consecrated to the House of Israel, but they meant to confine themselves to the mob characters in their plunderings. They conjectured that job after job, as they termed it, would arise against them, which they would have to subdue, one after another, even till they should reach St. Louis, where Wight said he meant to winter. Many had the weakness to believe that God would enable them to do it.
As yet, they had found no citizens collected in Davies, save those few in Gallatin; though, when we started from Far West, it was currently reported, and believed by all, that there were five hundred in Millport, and that the next day there would be eight hundred to commence operations. On Friday morning, I returned to Far West, with W. W. Phelps, who had come out the day before with some provisions.
When they found no citizens gathered together against them, they ought to have been peaceable, and merely stood on the defensive; but they had become too desperate in feeling for that, and resolved to clear Davies County from everything in the shape of what they called mobs, which they did effectually in the course of that and the next week. It appeared to me also 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 Davies, some say eighty, and some say one hundred and fifty.
They also went with a company to Livingston, and took a piece of ordinance, which had been brought there by the company that came from Carroll County. After this, most of those who belonged to Caldwell returned home.
Destructionist and destroying angel-- Battle with Bogard-- Great excitement and people in arms-- Marsh and Hyde escape-- General Atchinson and the militia-- Battle at Hawn's Mill.
Far West, meanwhile, was well guarded, for they heard they were to be attacked by Captain Gilliam, with a company from the Platte. But he did not attempt it. They also heard that a company of ten men, that were called the Destructionists, whose commander was called the Destroying Angel. Their business was, to watch the movements of the citizens, and if they gathered in Buncum, and left the place for Far West, these Destructionists were to slip in behind them, and burn the place. So they were to do, it was said, by Richmond, or any other place that should turn out men to injure them. I believe they never attempted to burn either place, though it was reported in Richmond that the time was set for them to burn that place, and many left it for a short time; but this, I think, was incorrect.
Shortly after the Mormon troops came from Davies, they received news that a company was gathered on Crooked River, and that some of them had been to some houses on Log Creek, in Caldwell, and ordered off the families, with severe threats if they were not off by sunrise the next morning. They took away their arms, and it was said, also burnt a wagon and a house, and took three men prisoners. On receiving this news, a company was fitted out to disperse them. Captain Fear-not (David W. Patten) commanded them. They went in the night to the house of Fields, on Crooked River, but not finding the company there they proceeded to another place, and had not proceeded far till they met with a sentinel, who hailed them, and after a word or two shot one of them down, and then ran to his company, but they followed him up in a hurry, and after a fire or two, charged on the company, and soon dispersed them, and supposed they had killed several. They then gathered up a part of the plunder, and about thirty horses, and returned, leaving one of their men dead on the ground, though they did not miss him till they had got home. Three or four others were badly wounded, and Patten and one other died soon. One of the opposite party was killed and others wounded.
This battle produced great excitement among the people, and the Mormons found in a day or two that it was militia instead of a mob that they had assailed. Captain Bogard had collected a company and got permission to guard Buncum, and was there encamped for that purpose when they fell on him. The excitement increased rapidly, and in a day or two the whole country, seemingly, was in arms. At this I was greatly alarmed, for I expected the people would turn out enmasse against Far West, without order or regulation, and massacre and destroy without mercy, and that nothing could stop them. I tried to contrive some plan to get away with my family, but I could not affect it. T. B. Marsh, O. Hyde, and some others, made their escape in the night, with their families, but were followed the next day by twenty horsemen from Far West without success.
The Mormons were still collected at Adamondiaman and at Far West, and a small company also collected at Hawn's Mill, who lived in that section of country. General Atchinson seeing the tumult and uproar, called out the militia. The news of this pleased me, for I thought that if they turned out under authority they would, of course, observe good order; and it was also stated that General Atchinson's object was to investigate the affair, and bring the guilty to punishment, and rescue the innocent. I was informed that the Mormons at Hawn's Mill made a covenant with the other citizens to let each other alone, and the Mormons were to remain at the mill. But in a short time, two or three companies of militia came upon them, from what cause I knew not. A battle was the result, and some twenty or thirty Mormons were killed, but none of the militia, as I heard, but some wounded. There were different reports about the number killed, but I heard one of the militia tell General Clark, that a well twenty or thirty feet deep, was filled up with their dead bodies to within three feet of the top. These troops, I was told, were from Davies and Livingston, and some from Carroll, but by what authority they fell upon these Mormons I never could learn.
Peace sought for-- Militia encamp at Far West-- Correspondence with the officers-- Breast-work-- Governor's order.
On Sunday, the fourth of November, we heard that Generals Atchinson and Doniphan, with an army, were encamped on Crooked River.
On Sunday evening Smith came to me to have me accompany Reed Peck the next day to meet their army with a white flag, in order to open a correspondence, if possible, and agree upon some terms of peace. We went in company with Colonel Hinkle and about one hundred and sixty horsemen. When we got near Crooked River we learned that the army had moved on to Log Creek, and were making their way to Far West. We thought proper to return, and it was with difficulty that we got back, for the militia had come between us and town. When we arrived, we saw a line of battle drawn up by the militia, and the Mormons also arrayed to meet them, but the militia, for some cause, withdrew to their camp on Goose Creek. About dark, Reed Peck took a white flag, and went into their camp. He saw General Doniphan and others. General Lucas, with his troops from Jackson County, had joined the army, and they were about thirteen hundred strong. When Peck returned he said that General Doniphan had appointed the next morning at eight o'clock to meet a committee of Mormons and make proposals of peace. He promised that no harm should befall us that night; he stated that their object was to bring the guilty to punishment, but the innocent should have an opportunity to escape before they would attack the place.
That night, the Mormons built a sort of breast-work of rails, house- logs, boards, etc., on that side of town next to the army, but it was about as good a defence as a common fence would be. Much has been said abroad about the Mormons building forts, entrenchments, etc., but this breast-work spoken of above is all that they ever had. In the night both armies were alarmed more or less, each being afraid of an attack from the other.
Next morning, at the time appointed, Reed Peck, Colonel Hinkle, and myself, went with the white flag, and met Generals Lucas, Doniphan, and some other officers, who informed us that they were waiting for General Clark, whom they expected soon with the Governor's order; that they were not prepared to make proposals of peace until it arrived, for they knew not what it would require of them or us. They agreed to let us know as soon as they received it. At the same time, General Doniphan informed us that General Lucas had the chief command. Smith appeared to be much alarmed, and told me to beg like a dog for peace, and afterwards said he would rather go to States- prison for twenty years, or would rather die himself than have the people exterminated. About three o'clock in the evening we received word that the Governor's order had arrived, so we went again to meet them, and see what it was. Colonel Hinkle, W. W. Phelps, Captain Morrison, Reed Peck, and myself went, and General Lucas read the order to us.
Smith had previously requested that after receiving the order, or finding out what the Governor required, we should see him before we agreed to any proposals. We did so, and although the Mormons have accused us of giving up their leaders by intrigue, yet Smith himself was the first man that agreed to the proposals.
The following is a copy of the Governor's order:
"Head Quarters of the Militia, City of Jefferson, October 27th, 1838."
"Sir--Since the order of the morning to you, directing you to cause four hundred mounted men to be raised within your division, I have received by Amos Rees, of Ray County, and W.G. Williams, Esq., one of my aids, information of the most appalling nature, 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 and endeavor to reach Richmond, in Ray County, 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. If you can increase your forces, you are authorized to do so to any extent you may consider necessary. I have just issued orders to Major General Willcock, of Marion County, to raise five hundred men, and to march them to the northern part of Davies, and there unite with General 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 necessary. Instead, therefore, of proceeding as at first directed, to reinstate the citizens of Davies in their homes, you will proceed immediately to Richmond, and there operate against the Mormons. Brigadier General Parks, of Ray, has been ordered to have four hundred men of his brigade in readiness to join you at Richmond. The whole force will be placed under your command.
"General John B. Clark, Fayette, Howard Co." (Signed,) L.W. BOGGS, Commander in Chief
Reflections-- Terms of peace-- Surrender of Smith, Rigden , and others-- Arms surrendered-- Place guarded-- Prisoners and arms taken to Jackson County.
This order greatly agitated my mind. I expected we should be exterminated without fail. There lay three thousand men, highly excited and full of vengeance, and it was as much as the officers could do to keep them off from us anyhow; and they now had authority from the executive to exterminate, with orders to cut off our retreat, and the word Mormons, I thought, included innocent as well as guilty; so of course there was no escape for any. These were my first reflections on hearing the order. But General Lucas soon said that they would be more mild than the order required; that if we would give up the heads of the Church to be punished; surrender our arms; give up all our property, (those who had taken up arms,) to pay the debts of the whole Church and the damages done in Davies and elsewhere; and then all leave the state forthwith, except those retained to be punished, they would spare our lives, and protect us out of the state.
The sun was then about two hours high, and he gave us till sunset to make up our minds and deliver the prisoners. A gentleman of note told me that if these men were suffered to escape, or if they could not be found, nothing could save the place from destruction and the people from extermination. We knew that General Lucas had no authority, and his requirements were illegal; for he was out of the bounds of his division, and the Governor's order was to General Clark, and not to him; but there was no other way for the Mormons but to submit. We immediately went into town and collected Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigden , Lyman Wight, Parley P. Pratt, and George W. Robertson together, and told them what the Governor's order and General Lucas required. Smith said if it was the Governor's order, they would submit, and the Lord would take care of them. So we hurried with them as fast as possible to the place appointed. We met General Lucas, with his army, but a short distance from town. He had made every arrangement to surround and destroy the place; but the prisoners delivered themselves up, and General Lucas, with the army and prisoners, returned to their camp. These prisoners were to be retained as hostages till morning, and then, if they did not agree to the proposals, they were to be set at liberty again. I suppose they agreed to the proposals, for they were not set at liberty.
Next morning, General Lucas marched his army near to town, and Colonel Hinkle marched out the Mormons, who gave up their arms, about six hundred guns, besides swords and pistols, and surrendered themselves as prisoners.
I would here remark, that a few days previous to this, news had frequently come to Far West that they were soon to be attacked, and Caldwell County destroyed; so the judge of the county court had ordered Colonel Hinkle, with the militia, to guard the county against invasion. They turned out and organized under this order, and in this situation surrendered to General Lucas. A guard was placed around Far West to keep all things secure, and General Parks, with an army, was sent to Adamondiaman, where were about one hundred and fifty armed Mormons, who surrendered to him and gave up their arms. The five prisoners who first surrendered, together with Amasa Lyman and Hiram Smith, who had been added to them, remained in the camp until Friday morning, When General M. Wilson, of Jackson, started the prisoners and arms to Independence. The troops were then discharged except a guard around town.