Vol. 1. No. 8.
Nauvoo, Illinois, June, 1840.
Whole No. 8.
Times and Seasons, Vol.1, No.8, p.113
A HISTORY, OF THE PERSECUTION, OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST, OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN MISSOURI. CONTINUED.
Soon after these things had transpired in Daviess county, Caldwell was threatened from every quarter; and her citizens assembled in Far West, many of them moving their wives and children, goods, provisions, and even houses into the city; leaving their lands desolate, in order that they might be embodied and prepared to defend themselves and families to the last. Colonel Hinckle, and. other commissioned officers, had the troops paraded night and morning on the public square, and ordered them to be always read in case of alarm. When we were dismissed at eve, we were ordered to sleep in our clothes, and be ready at a moments warning, to run together at any hour of the night. During this state of alarm, the drum was beat, and guns fired, one night, about midnight. I ran to the public square, where many had already collected together, and the news was that the south part of our county, adjoining Ray, was attacked by a mob, who were plundering houses, threatening women and children, and taking peaceable citizens prisoners; and, telling families to be gone by the next morning or they would burn their houses over their heads. With this information, captain Killian (to whom Col. Hinckle had committed the command of the troops in Far West, when he himself was not present) sent out a detachment under the command of the brave D. W. Patten. This company, consisting of about sixty men, was sent to see what the matter was on the lines, and who was committing depredations, and if necessary, to protect or move in the families and property: and if possible, effect the release of the prisoners.
This company was soon under way, having to ride some ten or twelve miles mostly through extensive prairies. It was October, the night was dark, and as we moved briskly on, (being forbidden to speak a loud word,) no sound was heard but the rumbling of our horses hoofs over the wide extended and lonely plains. While the distant plains, far and wide, were illuminated by blazing fires; and immense columns of smoke were seen rising in awful majesty, as if the world was on fire. This scene of grandeur can only be comprehended by those who are acquainted with the scenes of prairie burning. As the fire sweeps over millions of acres of dry grass in the fall season, and leaves a smooth black surface, divested of all vegetation: The thousand meteors blazing in the distance like the camp fires of some war host, through a fitful gleem of light upon the distant sky, which many might mistake for the Aurora Borealis, The scene added to the silence of midnight -- the rumbling sound of the prancing steeds -- the glistening of armor -- and the unknown destiny of the expedition -- all combined to impress the mind with deep and solemn thoughts; and to throw a romantic vision over the imagination, which is not often experienced, except in the poet's dream, or the wild imagery of sleeping fancy. -- In this solemn procession we moved on for some two hours, when it was supposed that we were in the neighborhood of danger. We were then ordered to dismount and leave our horses in care of part of the company, while the others should proceed on foot along the principal highway, to see what discoveries could be made, This precaution was for fear we might be suddenly attacked, in which case we could do better on foot than on horse back. We had not proceeded far when as we entered the wilderness; we were suddenly fired upon by an unknown enemy, in ambush. -- First one solitary gun, us was supposed, from some out post of the enemy, brought one of our number to the ground, where he lay groaning while the rest of the troop had to pass directly by his dying body. If was dawn of day in the eastern horizon, but darkness still hovered over the awful When our men saw that they were ambushed and attacked, they found it too late to retreat, and orders were issued to form along in the brush, and under the cover of trees, which was instantly done, while the enemy, though unseen, were pouring in a deadly fire upon our whole line. We soon returned the fire, and charged upon the enemy, the whole wilderness seemed for a few moments as if wrapped in a blaze of lightning; and overwhelmed with the sharp crack of peals of thunder. The enemy were soon driven from their ambush and completely routed. Having a creek immediately in their rear, many were seen forcing their retreat through the stream, and up to their arms in water. The firing now ceased, and the whole battle ground resounded with the watch word. "God and Liberty." Our forces which had been thrown into some disorder, were instantly formed, and their pieces reloaded, while here and there over the battle ground, lay the dead and wounded. The enemy had left their horses, saddles, camp and baggage, in the confusion of their flight, which fell into our hands. Their baggage wagon was immediately harnessed to a couple of horses, and the wounded were picked up and laid in it upon blankets, while every man saddled and mounted a horse, and we commenced our retreat to the place where we h left out, horses and guard, a distance of more than a mile; here we halted, and laid our wounded upon blankets, on the ground, while we made arrangements in the wagon fur them to ride more comfortably. -- There were about six of our men badly, wounded, among whom was the brave D, W. Patten, a ball having entered the lower part of his body. It was an awful sight to see them pale and helpless, and hear their groans. We had as yet lost but one man, who was left dead on the ground; his name was Gideon Carter. The enemy had one killed and four wounded, as we afterwards learned. We ascertained form the prisoners whom we had rescued, and one whom we had taken, that the enemy consisted of one Captain Bogart and his company, who together with some volunteers from different neighborhoods, mounted about 60 men. Our party engaged, was from forty to fifty in number at the time of the engagement. There were three of our fellow citizens prisoners in their camp. Tow of these ran away and escaped at the commencement of the firing, and the other was shot through the body in trying to run to our lines, but fortunately he recovered, and is now a witness against them.
Having now arranged every thing to the best advantage for the wounded, we moved on slowly towards Far West. When we came within five miles of the city, our express had reached there with the news of the battle, and we were met by a surgeon and others for our relief, and among others the wife of the pale and dying Patten.
Our wounded were now taken into a house, and their wounds dressed and as Mrs. Pattan entered the room and cast her eyes on the pale and ghastly features of her husband, she burst into tears, exclaiming O God! O my husband! how pale you look! He was still able to speak, but he died that evening in the triumphs of faith; having laid down his life as a martyr in the cause of his country and his God! The young Obanion, who was shot through the body by the first fire of the enemy's sentinel, also died about the same time. Thus three brave men had fallen; and their blood cries against their enemies for vengeance. the others I believe recovered of their wounds. Having conveyed the wounded to this place of hospitality, we hastened home to Far West, and delivered the horses and spoils of the enemy to Col. Hinkle, the commanding officer of the Regiment. These several defeats of the mob in Daviess and Caldwell, checked, for a time, their ruinous ravages. -- They saw that it was impossible to conquer a people who were fighting for their homes, and their wives and children, unless they could come against them with some show of authority, for it was a well known fact, that the Mormons never resisted authority, however abused; therefore their next exertion was spread lies and falsehoods of the most alarming character; such as the Mormons were in a state of rebellion against the Government, and that they were about to burn Richmond, &c. This flame was greatly assisted by several in high authority who deserted from the church, and fell away to the robbers because of fear, and also for the sake of power and gain. These deserters became far more false, hardened and blood-thirsty, that those who had never known the way of righteousness, insomuch that they were filled with all manner of lying and murders, and plundering. The Governor who had long sought some opportunity to destroy us, and drive us from the State; now issued an order for General Clark to raise several thousand men, and march against the Mormons, and drive from the State, of exterminate them if necessary, etc. While General Clark was mustering his forces for this murderous and treasonable enterprize, Major General Lucas, and Brigadier General Wilson, the old leaders of the Jackson co. conspiracy, being nearer the scene of action, and wishing to immortalize their names, put themselves at the head of the old Jackson county robbers, together with the while been embodied who had all the while been embodied against us, and turning General Atchison out of the command, took the lead of all the assembled forces of the upper country, consisting of three or four thousand men, and with this formidable force, commenced their march directly for the city of Far West. where they arrived, while General Clark and his forces were several days march in the rear. In the mean time the Governor's order, and all these military movements, were kept an entire secret from the Mormons, and even the mail was withheld from Far West, thus cutting off all intelligence. We had only heard that companies of armed men were seen in the south part of the county: and we had sent a white flag and a guard of one hundred and fifty men, to make enquiries. But while they were absent on this business, an alarm came into town that the whole county to the south or us was filled with hostile troops, who were murdering, plundering, and taking peaceable citizens prisoners, in their own houses, etc. On receiving this intelligence, every man flew to arms, for the protection of our city. It was now towards evening, and we had heard nothing of our white flag, and the hundred and fifty men who went south in the morning. While we stood in our armor, gazinse, we discovered an army advancing on horse back, over the hills, at two miles distance from the town. -- We at first supposed it might be our little company of a hundred and fifty returning to us, but we soon saw that there were thousands of men, with a long train of baggage wagons; we then were in hopes that it might be some friendly troops sent for our protection; and then we thought it might be a troop of the robbers coming to destroy us. At all events, there was no time to be lost, for although our force then present did not exceed five hundred men, yet we did not intend that they should enter the town without giving some account of themselves. -- We accordingly marched out upon the plains on the south of the city, and for med in battle array, extending our line of foot something like a half a mile, while a small company of horse was posted on our right wing on a commanding eminence, and another small company in the rear of our main body, intended as a kind of reserve. By this time the sun was near setting, and the advance of the unknown army had come within plain view, at less than one mile distant. On seeing our forces present a small but formidable front, they came to a halt, and formed along the borders of the wilderness. And in a few moments both parties sent out a white flag, which met between the tow armies; when our messenger demanded who they were, and what was their intentions? The answer was. that they wanted three persons out of the city before they massacred the rest. This was a very alarming and unexpected answer. But they were soon prevailed upon to suspend hostilities till morning, when we were in hopes of some further and more satisfactory information. The hostile army under the command of Lucas, then commenced their encampment for the night, and our little army continued to stand to their arms for fear of some treachery. Our company of a hundred and fifty soon returned, informing us that they had been hemmed in through the day, and only escaped from their superior knowledge of the ground. We also sent an express to Daviess county, and by morning were reinforced by quite a number of troops, with Colonel wight at their In the mean time, the painted robbers and murderers under the command of one Gilliam, came pouring in from the west, to strengthen the enemy, and another company of murderers came in from Carrel county, and were taken into the ranks of Lucas, after murdering some twenty of our citizens at Haun's mill, of which I will give a particular account hereafter. Thus both parties were considerably reinforced during the night. In the mean time our people, being determined, if attacked, to defend their homes, and wives the night in throwing up a temporary breastwork of building timber, logs, rails, &c., and by morning our south side of the city was fortified with a breastwork, and also a considerable part of the east and west sides; the whole line of fortification extending a mile and a half. -- This nights labor may seem incredible; but it happened that a great quantity of building materials had been accumulated near the spot where were thrown up the breastworks: and this proved an excellent material for the work. The next day, towards evening, we were informed that the Governor had ordered this force against us, with orders to exterminate us or drive us from the State. As soon as these facts were ascertained, determined not to resist any thing in the shape of authority, however tyrannical or unconstitutional might be the proceedings against us; therefore we had nothing more to do but to submit to be massacred or driven at the option of our persecutors. Colonel Hinkle waited on Messrs. J. Smith, S. Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, L. Wight, G. Robinson and myself, with a polite request from General Lucas, that we would surrender ourselves as prisoners and repair to his camp, and remain over night, with assurance that as soon as peaceable arrangements could be entered into next morning, we should be released. With this request we readily complied, as soon as we were assured by the pledge of the honor of the principal officers, that our lives should be safe; we accordingly walked near mile voluntarily, towards the camp of the enemy; who, when they saw us coming came out to meet us by thousands, with general Lucas at their head. -- When the haughty General rode up to us, and scarcely passing a compliment, gave orders to his troops to surround us, which they did very abruptly, and we were marched into camp surrounded by thousands of savage looking beings, many of whom were painted like Indian warriors. These all set up a constant yell, like so many blood hounds let loose on their prey, as if they had achieved one of the most miraculous victories which ever dignified the annals of the world. In camp we were placed under a strong guard, and before morning, A. Lyman and several others were added to our number. -- P. P. Pratts history of the persecution.