“What Means This Carnage?”: The Civil War in Mormon Thought

Brett D. Dowdle

Brett D. Dowdle, "'What Means This Carnage?': The Civil War in Mormon Thought," in Civil War Saints, ed. Kenneth L. Alford (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012), 107–25.

Brett D. Dowdle is a PhD student in American history at Texas Christian University.

Few events have captured the country’s attention with greater power than the American Civil War. Resulting in over six hundred thousand deaths, the Civil War remains, by far, the country’s most devastating military conflict. The war reached well beyond the battlefield, affecting almost every aspect of American society and touching nearly every home. Throughout the four-year span of the Civil War, newspapers were filled with reports of the carnage. Beyond newspapers, the war made its way into personal diaries and letters, as well as the literature of the day. According to historian Drew Gilpin Faust, the Civil War carnage “transformed the American nation” and “created a veritable ‘republic of suffering.’”[1] Indeed, because of the war, “death dominated the thoughts of many Americans” during the first five years of the 1860s.[2]

As it did to the rest of the nation, the Civil War left its mark upon Utah and the Church. Although very few Mormons actually participated in the war, reports of the difficulties regularly filled the pages of the Deseret News. Further, while Utah communities did not experience the high mortality rates that devastated Northern and Southern communities, Utahns were affected by the war in a variety of ways. Like other Americans, Mormon leaders struggled to understand the meaning of the war and its devastating effects, making it a familiar topic in their public sermons, private conversations, correspondence, and diaries. These glimpses into the thoughts and feelings of Mormonism’s leaders provide valuable insights into the question of why an American community remained largely neutral during the greatest tragedy in American history.

The Meaning of the War

The Civil War presented Americans with a scene of destruction that was unlike anything the country had ever seen. The numbers were staggering, almost beyond comprehension, and challenged the American populous to grapple with the painful landscape of death. In their search for understanding, many Americans turned to religion and theological explanations. One reverend expressed the country’s desire to understand the war in verse, writing,

“Oh great god! What means this carnage

Why this fratricidal strife,

Brethren made in your own image

Seeking for each other’s life?”

Thus spoke a dying Federal soldier,

Amid the clash of arms he cried;

With hope he fixed his eyes on heaven,

Then bid adieu to earth—and died.[3]

For such religious seekers, theology yielded a number of answers. As historian Mark Noll has pointed out, the Civil War became something of a “theological crisis” for the United States.[4] While some lost faith in the ability of God and religion to provide them with answers, others continued to find “spiritual meaning in death.”[5] Their pain of death eased, many Americans were cheered by the idea of a “steadfast hope in a joyous, eternal reunion” with their departed loved ones in heaven.[6]

Although somewhat disconnected from the day-to-day scenes of the war because of geography, Mormons likewise turned to religion as they grappled with news of the conflict. Similar to many Americans, Mormons saw the war as a result of the sins of the nation.[7] In defining which sins America was being punished for, Mormons differed drastically from their Christian counterparts. Whereas many Northerners attributed the carnage of the Civil War to the sin of slavery, Mormons saw it as the divine judgment for the nation’s persecution of the Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young suggested that war in general was “instigated by wickedness” and was “the consequence of a nation’s sin.”[8] For Saints like Wilford Woodruff, the country was “ripe for the Harvest” and worthy of “the Judgments of God . . . because of their wickedness.”[9] Although acknowledging that the war would come at a tremendous cost to the nation, Brigham Young believed that America had contracted a substantial debt through its persecution of the Saints and that any result other than the “overthrow” of the nation “would rob justice of its claims.”[10]

For Latter-day Saints, the Civil War was not only a divine response to their persecuted past but also a fulfillment of prophecy and a vindication of Joseph Smith’s prophetic status. On Christmas Day in 1832, the Prophet received a revelation concerning a coming war between the states. The prophecy predicted that the deluge of blood and wars prior to the Lord’s Second Coming would begin with “the rebellion of South Carolina,” leading to a vicious war between the North and the South.[11] Due to the dramatic nature of this prophecy, both Joseph Smith and his followers occasionally referred to it during the following years, although at the time it was not formally published among the revelations.[12] When the Civil War finally came, the prophecy became a key tool by which Latter-day Saints interpreted the conflict. Most of the explanations for the war that were championed by Latter-day Saint leaders during the 1860s were first expressed within the prophecy’s wording, which covers only one page in Revelation Book 1 of The Joseph Smith Papers. As Mormon leaders interpreted the Civil War, they stayed close to the ideas and concepts of Joseph Smith’s revelatory language.

Painful Old Wounds

Viewed through contemporary eyes, the Mormon response to the beginnings of the Civil War seems harsh, uncaring, and even vindictive. Mormon leaders seemed to take a measure of satisfaction in the nation’s struggle. While the correctness of such reactions is debatable, these sentiments must be viewed in the context of the early Mormon experience and their memories of persecution.[13] For Mormons, “the mystic chords of memory” stirred deep emotions and provided painful reminders of a country whose chief executive had responded to their plight, “Your cause is just but I can do nothing for you.”[14] As the war clouds grew increasingly threatening, Brigham Young remembered this infamous statement by Martin Van Buren and said with feeling, “The Curse of God will be upon the Nation and they will have Enough of it. . . . They have persecuted the Saints of God and the Rulers would do nothing for us but all they Could against us and they will now get their pay for it.”[15]

Even before the difficult experiences of Jackson County, Haun’s Mill, and Carthage Jail, Latter-day Saint leaders had begun to see the coming civil strife in the context of the persecution of the Church. The Lord told Joseph Smith that the coming scourge and “the consumption decreed” were to be brought about so that “the cry of the Saints of the bloodshed of the Saints shall cease to come into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth from the earth to be avenged of their enemies.”[16]

Not long after Joseph’s prophecy, the Saints experienced serious troubles with the larger American communities in both Missouri and Illinois. In 1833, Latter-day Saints were driven from their settlements in Jackson County and forced to seek refuge in neighboring counties. Then in 1838, the Church’s struggles in Missouri erupted into war, leading to the imprisonment of Joseph Smith and other leaders, as well as the expulsion of the body of the Saints from the state. Little more than five years later, the Saints found themselves experiencing similar difficulties in Illinois, culminating in the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and prompting Church leaders to abandon Nauvoo and seek refuge in the sparsely populated West.

The experiences of Missouri and Illinois left many Mormons feeling betrayed by the American Republic and its promised freedoms. Latter-day Saints felt that these experiences had left an indelible stain upon the United States and that the country would have to pay for these transgressions. Pained by the tragedy at Carthage, W. W. Phelps penned a well-known tribute to Joseph Smith now entitled “Praise to the Man.”[17] In its original language, the poem read, in part,

Praise to his mem’ry, he died as a martyr;

Honor’d and blest be his ever great name;

Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins,

Stain Illinois, while the earth lauds his fame. . . .

Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;

Earth must atone for the blood of that man!

Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.

Millions shall know “brother Joseph” again.[18]

Writing in a similar strain, John Taylor exclaimed,

Ye men of wisdom, tell me why—

No guilt, no crime in them were found—

Their blood doth now so loudly cry,

From prison walls and Carthage ground?[19]

The challenges of Haun’s Mill and Carthage Jail, together with the irresponsiveness of both state and federal officials, convinced many Mormons of the justness of a divine punishment upon the nation. Less than three years after the Martyrdom, as the Church was preparing to leave Winter Quarters and go to the West, Brigham Young received a revelation in which he was told,

Thy brethren have rejected you and your testimony, even the nation that has driven you out, and now cometh the day of their calamity even the days of sorrow like a woman that is taken in travail, and their sorrow shall be great: unless they speedily repent; yea, very speedily! for they have killed the Prophets and them that were sent unto them; and they have shed innocent blood which crieth from the Ground against them. . . . Many have marveled because of [Joseph Smith’s] death, but it was needful that he should seal his testimony with his blood, that he might be honored, and the wicked might be condemned.[20]

At least for Brigham, such sentiments did not soften as time elapsed. In February 1861, with the secession crisis in full sway and the nation on the brink of war, Brigham stated that he “knew the reason why this Government was in trouble.” He attributed the national problems to the fact that “they had killed Joseph Smith” and noted that the country would “have to pay for it as the Jews did in killing Jesus.”[21] As the news of secession portended an eruption into civil war, one Haun’s Mill Massacre survivor told a group of Saints that he dreamed two years prior to that time that “the U. S. Government & Army will all break to peaces [sic] as they are now doing.”[22] Then, as the war ravaged Missouri, Brigham assured the Saints that their persecutions in the state “will not begin to compare with the misery and real suffering they are now receiving . . . in consequence of war.”[23]

While Brigham believed that the war was at least partially the result of the persecutions in Missouri and Illinois, the war also provided him with a new perspective on the Missouri and Illinois experiences. As the conflict ravished the state of Missouri, Brigham noted that because the Saints had been “invited to sign away our property to pay the expenses of our persecutors” and to “take away as much of our moveable property as we could,” the Saints had avoided the suffering brought on by the war.[24] Painful as the early persecutions had been, Mormon leaders began to see them as having been somewhat providential in that they had led the Saints to the Utah Territory, where they were able to avoid the war.

Drawing upon more recent experiences, Mormon leaders also attributed the Civil War to the 1857–58 campaign officially known as the “Utah Expedition,” more commonly known as the Utah War, in which the United States Army was dispatched to put down a supposed Mormon rebellion in Utah. Occurring only three years prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, the Utah Expedition was a fresh and painful memory that had only deepened the rifts between Mormons and the federal government. During the Utah War, public opinion against the Church had been mean-spirited and even violent. Citizens throughout the country had written to James Buchanan declaring that “B. Young and fifty others, of the leaders [ought] to be hanged up by the ‘neck.’”[25] When Buchanan finally sent a Peace Commission to investigate matters in Utah, the New York Times praised the decision but assured Buchanan that “the Government is not likely to be held to a very strict account for its acts towards [the Mormons],” even suggesting that “they should be utterly exterminated, or driven from their present resting-place.”[26] Brigham later reminded a group of leaders that “when Buchanan sent the armey it was there intention to Hang the Leaders then send thousands of Gentiles here.”[27]

Even though the Saints had been exonerated from the claims of rebellion, federal officials remained skeptical of the Mormons. In 1861, as the war was just under way, a California newspaper claimed, “Brigham Young . . . has nearly completed his preparations for withdrawing Utah from the Union.”[28] Then, as the troops stationed at Camp Floyd prepared to leave Utah to fight in the Civil War, Mormons were allowed to purchase many of the army’s supplies at a nominal price. On orders from Washington, DC, however, the army destroyed all of the munitions that could not be taken east. This display of continued mistrust angered Brigham, leading him to describe the perceived insult to several friends.[29] Writing to Walter Murray Gibson, Brigham described the destruction of the arms and ammunition as clear evidence of “the animosity still existing against us in the breasts of the would be ‘powers that be’ at Washington.” For Brigham, the scene was “a fitting finale” to the government’s “unholy . . . crusade” against the Mormons, tangible proof that the government had never abandoned its mistrust of the Utah community.[30]

To counter national distrust, Brigham made it known that “he did not wish Utah mixed up with the secession movement.”[31] When someone asked if the Saints would secede if an undesirable man was appointed governor of the territory, Brigham responded, “No, we will keep our records Clean. . . . It is better for us to Submit to those things which are unplesant than for us to do wrong.” He then promised, “For all the oppressions [the government] put upon us God will bring them into Judgment.”[32] In answer to the continued questions of Mormon loyalty, Brigham noted that Utah was “preparing to appropriately celebrate our Nation’s birthday” in 1861, while “commotion and war [were] rife in our land.” Noting the irony of the circumstances, he commented that “when the nation that sought our destruction is disunited, we celebrate the day it asserted its independence against oppression.” For Brigham, such actions proved the Saints’ “constant loyalty to our Government correctly administered.”[33] These displays of patriotism were important to Brigham Young, who was trying to convince government officials that “Utah [had] not seceded but [was] firm for the constitution and laws” of the country.[34]

Although Latter-day Saint leaders were anxious to emphasize their loyalty to the United States, they had not forgotten the Utah War and frequently referred to it in speaking about the Civil War. For some Saints, it was a kind of poetic justice to see the army that had been sent to Utah divided and fighting each other. Brigham Young found it particularly fitting that the secession crisis happened at the end of “the reign of king James [Buchanan] the defunct.”[35] Sharing similar feelings, some Saints prayed that Confederate general Albert Sidney Johnston, commander of the Utah Expedition, would “be hung as a traitor” or find himself involved in a battle where he would “be right well whipped.”[36] Johnston died during the bloody fighting at the battle of Shiloh on April 6, 1862. In spite of the many hurt feelings that Johnston’s name occasioned in Utah, his death was reported to the Saints in a matter-of-fact manner.[37]

A Political Crisis

While the war provided Mormons with ample opportunity to see the judgments of God upon a sinful nation, Mormon leaders were likewise cognizant of the fact that the nation’s volatile political circumstances had created the country’s struggles. Sectional divisions plagued the country since its founding and had been an important issue in the 1830s, when Joseph Smith prophesied that the beginning of the bloodshed would “probably arise through the slave question” (D&C 130:13). During the three decades between 1832 and the beginning of the war in 1861, the slavery question became increasingly divisive, a fact of which Mormon leaders were particularly cognizant.

While representing the Church in Washington a year prior to the outbreak of the war, George Q. Cannon noted the political divisions. He reported to Brigham Young, “Party feeling runs high, and the interest of the country are completely lost sight of in the desire to benefit the party. The daily scenes in the halls of Congress present a wretched spectacle.”[38] Using news from the Pony Express and the telegraph, the Saints in Utah likewise kept close tabs on the country’s political situation during 1860 and 1861 and frequently discussed it in private conversations. Wilford Woodruff in particular kept a detailed record of the political chaos. As the election of 1860 progressed, Elder Woodruff seemed to sense that dramatic events were unfolding. Just weeks before the election, he read the news and wrote, “Politicks still occupy the attention of the united States.”[39] Then, upon receiving news of Lincoln’s election, Elder Woodruff wrote that he “spent [the] evening . . . at President Youngs. . . . Conversing upon the Election & governmentull affairs.”[40] In the months prior to Lincoln’s inauguration, Elder Woodruff paid close attention to the secession crisis and recorded the events in his diary.[41] On the day of Lincoln’s inauguration, Woodruff noted, “This day Abel [sic] Lincoln is Inaugurated as the President of the United States, or that portion of it which is left.”[42] The day’s simple entry spoke volumes about the chaos of the previous four months.

For Brigham Young, the cause of this sectional strife was clear: slavery. Since America’s founding, no single issue had been more politically divisive than slavery. To appease the slaveholding colonies, the Continental Congress had eliminated several lines about slavery from the Declaration of Independence.[43] Then, during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the debate over slavery became so strident that the founders finally agreed to leave it alone with hopes that the issue would eventually resolve itself “without intervention by the central government.”[44] Such hopes, however, proved to be unrealistically optimistic as slavery and sectional strife increasingly plagued the country in the decades following the 1780s, eventually erupting into the Southern secession and Civil War.

Since 1832, the Saints had suspected that a conflict would eventually arise in the States “through the slave question” (see D&C 87:1–4; 130:12–13). Mormons learned just how divisive the politics of slavery could be during their experience in Jackson County in the early 1830s and witnessed the contentious debate over the topic during 1850 with keen interest.[45] Between 1830 and 1860, the topic of slavery affected nearly every American, including Mormons. Although Brigham emphatically denied any connections to the abolitionist movement, he opposed the institution of slavery.[46] When some questioned whether Utah would “lay a foundation for Negro slavery” in the early 1850s, Brigham responded, “No[,] God forbid. And I forbid. I say let us be free.”[47] He then proclaimed his belief that “those who mistreat slaves will be damned.”[48] But Brigham’s opposition to slavery went beyond the well-founded concern that slaves were often mistreated. With his New England eyes, he saw the South’s “peculiar institution” as a blight on America and “the ruin of the South.” Brigham was convinced that “slavery ruins any soil,” including the South with its “beautiful climate and rich soil.”[49] His views reflected the views of most people with a New England upbringing who had challenged the institution of slavery. Hence, when he ascribed political reasons to the war, Brigham was quick to note that the war had begun “to give freedom to millions that are bound.”[50] Given the significant historiographical debates since 1865 about the cause of the Civil War, it is significant that, at least for Brigham Young, the political origins of the war had everything to do with the question of slavery and its detrimental effects on the country.

Brigham noted a number of additional factors linked to the issue of slavery that led to the war. He felt that the war was at least partially due to the work of radical politicians who had been allowed to take center stage on the country’s political scene, and he bemoaned the contributions of both the secessionists and abolitionists who had “set the whole national fabric on fire.”[51] Brigham believed that the war might have been shortened if the government had “cast out the Seceders” when the secession crisis had begun.[52] Although many Mormons sympathized with the South, Brigham was emphatic that “South Carolina [had] committed treason” when it seceded, and he regretted that Buchanan had not “hung up the first man who rebelled” in the state.[53] When some suggested that peaceful secession was an option, Brigham scoffed at the idea and argued that eventually “the fierce spirit urging to civil war” would overwhelm the nation, resulting in “rapine, flame, and bloodshed.”[54]

In addition to blaming the radicalization of American politics, Brigham correctly noted that “commercial interests” had helped to lay “the foundation of the war.”[55] Wilford Woodruff concurred, journalizing that “the Banks & rich men throughout the whole Country were Consecrating there millions of Dollars to sustain the war.”[56] Prior to the Civil War, the South was in the midst of an economic boom that was mostly due to the growth of the slave economy and the cotton that the slaves produced.[57] Slavery was big business, and “the South—or more accurately, the slaveholders of the South—had a great deal at stake in the continuation of their peculiar institution.”[58] For Southern slaveholders who had amassed their wealth by relying upon a system of slavery, the election of a Republican president spelled disaster. They accordingly pushed for secession and the protection of their “peculiar institution” and the wealth it created.

It Comes as No Surprise

In some regards, the outbreak of the Civil War came as no surprise to Latter-day Saints. They had been expecting a war between the states since 1832 and almost immediately recognized the secession crisis and the Civil War as the fulfillment of Joseph Smith’s prophecy. Hearing some early calls for Southern secession at the end of 1859, William H. Hooper, Utah’s representative to Congress, wrote a letter to Brigham predicting, “This union will be disolved within 18 month.”[59] A month later, the country’s political divisiveness led George Q. Cannon to conclude that “the glory of our nation is rapidly fading away” and that if such a course continued, “the destruction of the government . . . is inevitable.”[60] As the volatile election of 1860 unfolded, W. W. Phelps discussed the prophecy with Brigham Young, both clearly demonstrating their confidence that the current political situation was part of its fulfillment.[61] Following Lincoln’s election and the outbreak of secession talk, Wilford Woodruff recalled Joseph’s prophecy and concluded, “1860 has laid the foundation for the fulfillment of these things.”[62] Likely with Latter-day Saint involvement, the text of the prophecy subsequently appeared throughout American newspapers, where it received a mostly negative reception.[63]

While some individuals seemed certain of the meaning of the prophecy and of the course of national events, the Deseret News editorials were less definitive in their declarations of coming war. Following Lincoln’s election, one editorial wrote that it was “hard to predict” what would happen and that many in Salt Lake were “anxious to know what the South will do, whether they will back down, or carry their threats into execution, by taking measures to establish a Southern Confederacy.”[64] For the paper’s editors, however, what seemed certain was that the crisis would cause plenty of political problems in Washington and that the federal government would “have enough business” to draw their attention away from “the annihilation of the Saints.”[65]

Brigham Young was similarly cautious in his interpretation of the crisis. The divisive election of 1860 made it clear to him that there were “some great Events at the door of this generation which will effect both Zion & great Babylon,” but he was careful about defining just what those events would be and when they would occur.[66] Brigham’s use of the phrase “at the door” hearkened back to the scriptural language that taught both the closeness and the uncertain timing of the Second Coming.[67] Still pained by the persecutory events of earlier years, Brigham expressed some hope that the nation would be moved to war in fulfillment of Joseph’s prophecy. Even as events seemed to make this hope likely, however, Brigham expected some change in national feelings to avert the crisis. On the day of Lincoln’s election, Brigham commented to Wilford Woodruff, “I hope that Abel Lincoln was Elected Presidet of the United States yesterday & that the South meet in Convention & nominate Breckenride to day to be the presidet of the South but I am afraid they will not have pluck enough to do it.”[68] As national events unfolded and Southern secession became a reality, however, Brigham became firmly convinced that the nation actually would soon tear itself apart just as Joseph had prophesied. In January 1861, he remarked that “the news from the States would be extremely interesting about the middle of next April.”[69] In February 1861 he commented, “There is no union in the North or in the South. The nation must crumble to nothing.”[70] Although peace commissioners worked to mend the growing rift, Brigham placed “but little confidence” in their efforts because of the fact that the members of Congress had “done but little” and were “not likely to do much” to save the Union.[71] By early 1861, Brigham was convinced that a peaceful resolution was no longer an option; the secession crisis and the lackluster efforts of those in Congress could only end in war.

While the events of 1860 and 1861 likely led most Americans to conclude that some bloodshed between the North and the South was inevitable, most expected a short conflict, marked more by fanfare than by fury. In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln gave voice to these sentiments, noting that “neither party [had] expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration” which the nation had by that point “already attained.” On the contrary, both sides had “looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.”[72] Northern soldiers expressed similar sentiments. One Wisconsin volunteer wrote, “Many were confident that the war would last but for a few months,” with none anticipating “more than a year away from those happy homes to which so many were destined never to return.”[73] Another volunteer reassured his mother that most believed “the contest [would] be a short and decisive one” and “comparatively bloodless.”[74] So certain had most Northerners been of a quick and relatively bloodless war that some interested citizens, with “no understanding of the realities of war,” travelled to Manassas, Virginia, in July 1861 to witness one of the Civil War’s first battles.[75] Watching the fray, one spectator reportedly exclaimed, “Oh, my! Is not that first-rate? I guess we will be in Richmond this time tomorrow.”[76]

In contrast to such perspectives, Latter-day Saints fully expected a long and bloody conflict. Joseph Smith’s prophecy about the war had promised that it would lead to an “outbreak of general bloodshed” and would “eventually terminate in the death & misery of many Souls.”[77] So certain had Joseph been of the reality and intensity of the coming war that he advised Emmanuel Murphy, an early convert from the South, “to go to South Carolina & Georgia & warn his friends of the wrath & desolation . . . & to gather out his Friends to Zion for the wars & rebelion would begin in South Carolina.”[78] Concurring with Joseph’s prophecy, a few years prior to the war, Heber C. Kimball prophesied that he would live to see a “division . . . between the North and South . . . and much Blo[o]d would be spilt on the ocation.”[79] As events began to unfold, Latter-day Saints trusted Joseph’s assessment, believing that secession would “gain bitterness” and that the events would “probably lay a foundation for a bloody war.”[80]

Even the ebb and flow of the war would not change Brigham’s mind that it was to be a prolonged conflict. In April 1862, while some were declaring that “the tide of war” had turned “most decidedly in favor of the Federal armies” and that “the rebellion will soon be put down and peace again prevail,” Brigham emphatically stated that the South would not easily submit and that “the war has scarcely commenced.”[81] Brigham had been there when Joseph “predicted that the time would come when slavery in the South, and abolitionism in the North would sever the Union, divide the slave States from the free States, and there would be a great war,” and he refused to believe that the war would be any different than Joseph’s prophecy predicted.[82] Early in the war, Brigham had hoped that his “voice [might] be . . . effectually heard in the strife” so that he could “most cheerfully endeavour to reciprocate the noble deeds” of Thomas L. Kane during the Utah War and help restore peace to the Union. To his dismay, however, he saw that “the roar of canon and the clash of arms drown the still, small voice of prudent counsel,” making peaceful negotiations almost impossible.[83] At least by 1863, he was convinced that nothing could be done to stop the scourge. Speaking to a group of Saints, he said, “[Joseph’s] prediction is being fulfilled, and we cannot help it.”[84]

The Beginning of Bloodshed

Part of the reason that the Saints were so certain that the crisis would be long and bloody lay in their beliefs about the timing of the Second Coming. Millennialism pervaded American religious thought throughout the nineteenth century and was particularly influential during the Civil War.[85] Expressions like “the Son of Man cometh” were commonly used to describe the “suddenness of death” during the Civil War years. The war’s high death rates combined with these scriptural phrases encouraged soldiers to prepare their souls to meet God.[86] Yet such phrases also bespoke the common belief that the war’s awful carnage was evidence that the Lord’s return was near.

For Latter-day Saints, a millennial interpretation of the Civil War was embedded in the revelations as well as in the surrounding society. Joseph’s prophecy about the war stated that “the day of the Lord . . . cometh quickly.”[87] Joseph also prophesied that the “commencement of bloodshed” in South Carolina would be “preparatory to the coming of the Son of Man.” Then, upon inquiring concerning the timing of the Second Coming, he was informed, “Joseph my son, if thou livest until thou art 85 years old thou shall see the face of the Son of Man.”[88] Alluding to this revelation, Joseph’s early feeling about the approaching Millennium was that “the coming of the Lord . . . was nigh” and that “fifty six years, should wind up the scene.”[89] Although in later years Joseph began to see far more ambiguity in the prophecy’s statement about the timing of the Second Coming, many Latter-day Saints continued to see the prophecy as an announcement of the imminence of the Lord’s return.[90]

With such expectations for the Lord’s immediate return, Latter-day Saints spoke of the Civil War in apocalyptic terms. As they observed the events of the day, it seemed to them that the nation was “going to peices fast” and that “Destruction was nigh there door.”[91] Indeed, in the words of Wilford Woodruff, the Lord had “commenced a Controversy with the American Government and Nation in 1860 and he will never cease untill they are destroyed from under heaven, and the Kingdom of God Esstablished upon their ruins.” Even if the full Second Coming was still some years away, the message of the Civil War was “Let the Gentiles upon this land prepare to meet their God.”[92] Because of the nation’s sins, “the Lord was about to Empty the Earth th[at?] men would be destroyed.”[93]

While the war certainly brought unprecedented death and destruction to America, it did not bring the all-consuming devastation that some had expected. Joseph’s prophecy, however, only stated that the Civil War would be “the first outbreak of general bloodshed” and “the commencement of bloodshed as preparatory to the coming of the Son of Man.”[94] It was clear that there was more to come. Accordingly, Mormon leaders continued to emphasize the need for the Saints to prepare for the Second Coming. In the closing months of the war, as a Northern victory appeared to be the inevitable outcome, Brigham Young admonished the Saints in England to “be warned by the signs of the times, and be on the alert, that they be not overtaken by the evils which are coming upon Babylon.” Such difficulties would only end when the Savior had come to “reign and sway an undisputed sceptre over the earth.” He warned, however, that in order for the Saints to “participate in all the blessings of this glorious and happy future, they must be humble and faithful and diligently seek to obey every commandment which the Lord has given.”[95]

A Case for Neutrality

Expectations that the war would roll into the events of the Second Coming helps to partially explain why Mormons remained mostly neutral throughout the Civil War. At the end of Joseph’s prophecy on the war, the Saints had been admonished, “Wherefore stand ye in holy places & be not moved untill the day of the Lord come for Behold it cometh quickly saith the Lord.”[96] Given the feelings that the Civil War was a part of God’s wrath upon a wicked nation, most Latter-day Saints likely felt no inclination to participate in the war, preferring instead to remain “peacefully and prosperously progressing in [their] ‘mountain retreat.’”[97]

Although Utah was connected to the Union by its territorial status, many of its citizens felt disconnected from the war and felt no real allegiance to either side of the controversy. As many Saints saw the matter, neither the North nor the South had been friendly to the Saints, and therefore they were under no obligation to desire the triumph of either side. Explaining his reasons for staying out of the war, Brigham compared himself to a “woman who saw her husband fighting with a Bear.” When her “husband called upon her to assist him, she replied I have no interest in who whips [who].”[98] By his own account, Brigham “earnestly prayed for the success of both North & South,” hoping that “both parties might be used up.”[99]

Because of the Church’s past history with the federal government, Brigham was determined not to raise volunteers for the war. Noting that the federal government had “sought our Destruction all the day long,” he promised that they would not “get 1,000 men to go into the Armey” from Utah. He then declared, “I will see them in Hell before I will raise an army for them.”[100] While Brigham’s comments were certainly incendiary and had the potential to raise questions, Mormon neutrality and distance from the conflict seemed to suit Lincoln, whose avowed Mormon policy was “I will let them alone, if they will let me alone.”[101]

Remaining neutral, the Saints continued the work of establishing the Church in the Intermountain West and in various other parts of the world. Church leaders believed that God was ordering the events of the war so as to allow the Church to grow and prosper in Utah while the rest of the nation was at war. Upon receiving news of secession, Brigham Young reportedly “seem[ed] pleased.” Brigham’s pleasure, however, was not in the idea of the total annihilation of America but only that it would give God’s Kingdom the opportunity of “being established upon the Earth.”[102] God’s purpose in “vex[ing] the nations” was to “break down the barriers that have prevented His Elders from searching out the honest among all peoples.”[103] Some missionaries noted a change in the demeanors of the people they taught. George Q. Cannon noted that the war created “gloomy feelings” among the people of England, stirring many up to “a sense of their actual position, and to enquire of the origin of it.”[104] Having properly established God’s kingdom, in due time the Saints would “step in and rescue the Constitution and aid all lovers of freedom in sustaining such laws as will secure justice and rights to all, irrespective of creed or party.”[105]

Further Struggles to Come

Even as the Civil War allowed Latter-day Saints an opportunity to better establish God’s Kingdom and afforded them a brief respite from the pressures of intense federal scrutiny, Church leaders warned that it would only be a short-lived reprieve from their problems. Although Lincoln’s election and the ascendancy of the Republican Party spelled an immediate conflict over the issue of slavery, it likewise portended future problems for Mormonism over the other “twin relic of barbarism,” polygamy.

Although the government had made some concessions toward the Mormons, Brigham cautioned that the mere fact that the government was “not yet quite ready to commence open war upon the other ‘twin relic’” was “by no means an indication that their feelings toward us are any better.”[106] By Brigham’s account, some Americans had taken Lincoln to task “for not destroying both ‘the twins’ together.”[107] While he expected that the Civil War would “keep [the government] busy . . . for a time longer,” Brigham fully expected future campaigns against polygamy and the Mormons.[108]

Although slavery and the Civil War were the immediate tasks at hand, the government also began a long legal campaign against polygamy during this same period. Little more than a year into the war, the Republican Congress passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, which specified a punishment by “a fine not exceeding $500, and by imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years,” for “every person having a husband or wife living, who shall marry any other person, whether married or single, in a Territory of the United States.”[109] Learning that the Senate had passed the act, Brigham wrote to William H. Hooper requesting a copy of the bill.[110] Although the war prevented the act’s immediate implementation, antipolygamy prosecution became an important part of the postbellum era. Indeed, in the years following the war, both Northern and Southern politicians joined together to support and pass antipolygamy legislation. This joint crusade thus “provided one set of bonds that helped reforge national unity after the Civil War and Reconstruction.”[111]

This Republic of Suffering among the Mormons

Although most Church members were largely detached from the Civil War and the death and suffering it brought, the war’s massive death rates moved Mormon leaders. Brigham Young, in particular, still had family and friends in the East. As the death count grew and the pain of the Civil War deepened, Mormon statements about the justness of the nation’s destruction almost entirely disappeared. Brigham’s correspondence revealed a growing sense of compassion toward those who were suffering as a result of the war.

It is likely that nobody affected Brigham’s thinking about the war more than Thomas L. Kane, who for years served as Brigham’s closest non-Mormon confidant. Throughout his life, Kane had been motivated by a deep sense of patriotism. This patriotism led Kane to broker agreements between the Saints and the government when the Saints left Nauvoo in 1846 and again during the Utah War in 1858. And although he was an avowed pacifist, this same patriotism led Kane to enlist as an officer in the Northern army to help restore order to the Union when the war began.[112] Throughout the course of the war, Kane was wounded numerous times and was eventually encouraged by his physicians to withdraw from the army.[113] After learning that Kane had been wounded in 1862, Brigham wrote to John Bernhisel, “I was much gratified to learn that our good Friend Col. Kane had entirely recovered from his wounds. When you again see him, please give him my kind regards and best wishes for himself, dear family, and all his father’s house.”[114] Although Kane’s several battle wounds were not fatal, they affected him throughout the remainder of his life. The effect of the war upon Kane’s health was so dramatic that upon seeing him in 1869, Brigham Young Jr. wrote to his father that he had found Kane “miserable in health” and that he “would not have recognised him had we met in the street.”[115]

This close connection to the hellish effects of war only redoubled Brigham’s resolves for peace and his desires for both family and friends to avoid the dangers of the war. His desire to protect loved ones went so far as to welcome willing and friendly gentiles to Utah, where they would be shielded from the reach of the draft. He encouraged one friend and her family “to sell out and remove to far off and peaceful Utah,” where they would “assuredly meet a cordial welcome.”[116] Brigham also became more cautious to ensure that missionaries sent to England did not find their way to the battlefields. While en route to England in 1862 for missionary service, Brigham Jr. visited Thomas L. Kane, who was recuperating from a wound in Philadelphia. Kane asked Brigham Jr. “to go with him one month . . . as his aidde camp.” In writing to his father, Brigham Jr. hoped to gain “one word of advice, to me on that point.” Because of the delay in mail service, Brigham Jr. decided to continue his journey toward England, and his father’s subsequent letter revealed his pleasure with the decision to turn down Kane’s offer.[117] For his part, Brigham Jr.’s decision had likely been influenced by a trip to Washington, DC, during which he had seen “some hundreds of wounded” arrive in the city “minus arms, legs, heads tied up, blood dripping from the hind end of the waggons, as they went through the streets—others shot through the body and puking blood at every step.” The experience had horrified Brigham Jr., who wrote in his diary, “I would rather be in Utah than anywhere else in the world.”[118] In 1864, when Brigham Jr. was called to yet another mission in England, his father sent a letter to Kane formally asking that “no requests, wishes or solicitations be made or inducements held out to him to go into the war now raging in the States, for I cannot and shall not in the least degree consent to his so doing,—at least not before his return from his present mission to Europe.”[119] Thus, while Brigham did not entirely reject the idea of his son serving in the army, he left little room for speculation as to his feelings about Brigham Jr.’s potential service.

As the horrors of war came closer to home, Brigham became far more sympathetic as he spoke about those who were fighting in the war. Acknowledging the goodness of many of the soldiers, he referred to them as “multitudes of good and honorable men” who, for various reasons, had chosen to “expose themselves upon the field of battle.”[120] For Brigham, the loss of what he estimated to be “not less than one million men . . . in a little over two years” was the most shameful consequence of the “useless war.”[121] Brigham laid most of the blame for these deaths at the feet of the “popular leaders, who have inaugurated war instead of arbitrating peace.” He went so far as to label the deaths occasioned by the war as “murder” and suggested that the leaders who were responsible would be “held accountable to God for the lives of their subjects which they have caused to be destroyed on the battlefields.” Furthermore, Brigham believed that the leaders of the nation would also be held accountable for “the thousands of hearts they have broken and for the destitution and suffering they have caused to exist outside the battlefields.”[122] Thus, for Brigham, the devastation of the Civil War went far beyond the battlefield and the astronomical death rates occasioned by gunfire, and reached into the homes and families of the dead, leaving them emotionally and temporally shattered. Moved by such grief, Brigham exhorted the members “not to boast over our enemies’ downfall.”[123]


A mixture of conflicting memories and emotions defined the Civil War experience of the Latter-day Saints. For Mormons, the war represented a fulfillment of prophecy and the just vengeance of God upon a nation that spurned the “innocent who [had] cried for redress.”[124] Accordingly, Latter-day Saints had remained neutral in the dispute and at times even “seem[ed] pleased with the news” of secession and the war.[125] In some regards, the war even seemed to benefit the Saints, providing them with a few years of long-desired refuge. Yet in spite of all this, they were Americans, and they wept over the painful effects of the Civil War. Brigham pled for the nation to develop “the bonds of everlasting peace” that would “continue to grow stronger and stronger until all are sanctified.”[126] Although “passion[s] [had] strained” and harsh rhetoric had been uttered, by the end of the war, the Saints had been “touched . . . by the better angels of [their] nature,” causing them to mourn the fact that their “once happy country [had been] clothed in mourning [and] drenched in fratricidal blood.”[127]


[1] Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (New York: Vintage Books, 2008), xiii.

[2] Sean A. Scott, A Visitation of God: Northern Civilians Interpret the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 193.

[3] “My God! What Is All This For?,” quoted in Faust, Republic of Suffering, 177.

[4] Mark A. Noll, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006).

[5] Scott, Visitation of God, 193.

[6] Scott, Visitation of God, 194; see 213.

[7] Such explanations were particularly prominent among Northerners, many of whom viewed the war as a divine punishment for Southern slavery. Scott, Visitation of God, 35–70.

[8] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854–86), 10:230.

[9] Wilford Woodruff, diary, November 24, 1860, and January 1, 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal: 1833–1898 Typescript, ed. Scott G. Kenney (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1983–85), 5:520, 533.

[10] Brigham Young to Charles C. Rich, April 4, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City (hereafter cited as CHL).

[11] Joseph Smith, revelation, December 25, 1832, in Robin Scott Jensen, Robert J. Woodford, and Steven C. Harper, eds., Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile edition, first volume of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2009), 291.

[12] For a fuller treatment of the prophecy’s history and usage, see Scott C. Esplin, “‘Have We Not Had a Prophet among Us?’: Joseph Smith’s Civil War Prophecy,” within this volume.

[13] For an examination of how Mormons remembered and interpreted their persecutory past, see David W. Grua, “Memoirs of the Persecuted: Persecution, Memory, and the West as a Mormon Refuge” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 2008).

[14] Abraham Lincoln, “First Inaugural Address,” The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Bassler (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 4:271; Martin Van Buren, quoted in Church Historian’s Office, History of the Church, February 6 1840, CHL.

[15] Wilford Woodruff, diary, April 28, 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:570.

[16] Joseph Smith, revelation, December 25, 1832, in Robin Scott Jensen, Robert J. Woodford, and Steven C. Harper, eds., Manuscript Revelation Books, 291.

[17] There is some question as to whether “Praise to the Man” was written by W. W. Phelps or Eliza R. Snow. Not having a conclusive answer, I will follow the tradition that attributes the poem to Phelps.

[18] “Joseph Smith,” Times and Seasons, August 1, 1844.

[19] “O, Give Me Back My Prophet Dear,” in The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, ed. G. Homer Durham (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987), 386.

[20] Brigham Young, “The Word and Will of the Lord Concerning the Camp of Israel in their Journeyings to the West, 1847 Jan. 14,” CHL; see D&C 136: 34–36, 39.

[21] Brigham Young, office journal, February 2, 1861, in Richard S. Van Wagoner, ed., The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2009), 3:1744.

[22] Wilford Woodruff, diary, February 13, 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:552.

[23] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 9:320.

[24] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 9:320.

[25] J. Porter Brawley to James Buchanan, December 17, 1857, James Buchanan Papers, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT; E. G. Butler to James Buchanan, July 1, 1858, James Buchanan Papers, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT; “The Utah Expedition,” New York Herald, April 20, 1858, in Church Historian’s Office, Historical Scrapbooks, CHL.

[26] “Light Wanted on Mormon Difficulty,” New York Times, January 28, 1858.

[27] Wilford Woodruff, diary, March 10, 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:559.

[28] “The Mormons Seceding,” San Francisco Evening Mirror, May 6, 1861, in Church historian’s office, Historical Scrapbooks, CHL.

[29] Wilford Woodruff, diary, December 11, 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:605; Brigham Young to Dwight Eveleth, July 23, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL; Brigham Young to H. B. Clawson, July 26, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL; Brigham Young to Amasa Lyman and Charles C. Rich, July 26, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[30] Brigham Young to Walter Murray Gibson, September 18, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[31] Wilford Woodruff, diary, March 10, 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:559.

[32] Wilford Woodruff, diary, April 28, 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:570.

[33] Brigham Young to Walter Murray Gibson, July 2, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[34] Brigham Young to Abraham Lincoln, October 18, 1861, quoted in Leonard J. Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses (New York: Knopf, 1985), 294.

[35] Brigham Young to Dwight Eveleth, January 1, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[36] Brigham Young, in Complete Discourses, 3:1733.

[37] Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 6, 1862, CHL; “Progress of the War,” Deseret News, April 23, 1862.

[38] George Q. Cannon to Brigham Young, January 18, 1860, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[39] Wilford Woodruff, diary, October 20, 1860, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:514.

[40] Wilford Woodruff, diary, November 11, 1860, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:517.

[41] See Wilford Woodruff, diary, November 22, 24, 26, 1860; December 15, 24, 28, 1860; January 1, 5, 7, 9–11, 24, 26, 1861; February 28, 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:519–21, 523, 525, 533, 539–40, 542–43, 556.

[42] Wilford Woodruff, diary, March 4, 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:557.

[43] Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government’s Relations to Slavery, ed. Ward M. McAfee (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 17.

[44] Fehrenbacher, Slaveholding Republic, 34.

[45] In Missouri, the mostly Yankee-born population of Mormons found themselves accused of “tampering with . . . slaves, and endeavoring to sow dissentions and raise seditions among them” following W. W. Phelps’s publication of abolitionist articles in the Evening and Morning Star. Nathaniel R. Ricks, “A Peculiar Place for the Peculiar Institution: Slavery and Sovereignty in Early Territorial Utah” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 2007), 26.

[46] Brigham said, “I am neither an abolitionist nor a pro-slavery man. If I could have been influenced by private injury to choose one side in preference to the other, I should certainly be against the pro-slavery side of the question, for it was pro-slavery men that pointed the bayonet at me and my brethren in Missouri.” Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 10:111; see also 9:157.

[47] Wilford Woodruff, diary, June 1, 1851, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 4:31.

[48] Brigham Young, in Complete Discourses, 1:432.

[49] Brigham Young, office journal, December 26, 1860, in Complete Discourses, 3:1720.

[50] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 10:209.

[51] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 10:110.

[52] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 9:333.

[53] Brigham Young, office journal, February 2,1861, in Complete Discourses, 3:1744. Noting some of the pro-South loyalties, Brigham’s clerk, George Sims, wrote to a friend, “The sympathies of our brethren are divided some for the Union and some for the South, but the south gets the greatest share.” George Sims to William C. Staines, February 21, 1862, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[54] Brigham Young to W. H. Hooper, January 3, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[55] Brigham Young, in Complete Discourses, 3:1919.

[56] Wilford Woodruff, diary, May 1, 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:571.

[57] See Roger L. Ransom, Conflict and Compromise: The Political Economy of Slavery, Emancipation, and the American Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 42–53.

[58] Ransom, Conflict and Compromise, 49.

[59] Wilford Woodruff, diary, December 28, 1859, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:405.

[60] George Q. Cannon to Brigham Young, January 18, 1860, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[61] Brigham Young, office journal, October 9, 1860, in Complete Discourses, 3:1686.

[62] Wilford Woodruff, diary, December 31, 1860, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:528.

[63] George Q. Cannon to Brigham Young, June 15, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL; see “A Mormon Prophecy,” Philadelphia Mercury, May 5, 1861, in Church Historian’s Office, Historical Scrapbooks, CHL; “From Salt Lake City,” Los Angeles Star, April 20, 1861, in Church Historian’s Office, Historical Scrapbooks, CHL; “Ominous,” San Francisco Herald, March 15, 1861, in Church Historian’s Office, Historical Scrapbooks, CHL; “A Prophecy of Joe Smith,” Sacramento Bee, January 7, 1863, in Church Historian’s Office, Historical Scrapbooks, CHL. See also the chapter by Scott C. Esplin in this volume.

[64] “Will the South Resist?,” Deseret News, November 21, 1860.

[65] “Prospective Dissolution,” Deseret News, November 28, 1860.

[66] Brigham Young, quoted in Wilford Woodruff, diary, 7 November 1860, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:513.

[67] See, for instance, Matthew 24:33; Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:39; D&C 110:16; Joseph Smith, Diary, April 3, 1836, in Dean C. Jessee, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen, eds., Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839, vol. 1 of the Journals series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2008), 222.

[68] Wilford Woodruff, diary, November 7, 1860, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:516.

[69] Brigham Young, office journal, January 28, 1861, in Complete Discourses, 3:1742.

[70] Brigham Young, office journal, February 2, 1861, in Complete Discourses, 3:1744.

[71] Brigham Young to Walter Murray Gibson, March 5, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[72] Abraham Lincoln, “Second Inaugural Address,” Collected Works, 8:332–33.

[73] Quoted in Jeffrey D. Wert, The Sword of Lincoln: The Army of the Potomac (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005), 5.

[74] Frank L. Lemont, quoted in Wert, Sword of Lincoln, 15.

[75] David Detzer, Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 (Orlando: Harcourt, 2004), 310. Detzer argues that this scene was not as dramatic as it has often been portrayed in later years. Most of those who went to see the battle were either politicians or civilians with family members in the army rather than entertainment seekers.

[76] Quoted in Detzer, Donnybrook, 313. Detzer questions the accuracy of this wording.

[77] William Clayton, diary, April 2, 1843, in An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, ed. George D. Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995), 97; Joseph Smith, revelation, December 25, 1832, in Manuscript Revelation Books, 291.

[78] Wilford Woodruff, diary, December 30, 1860, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:526.

[79] Heber C. Kimball, memorandum book, March 27 [year unknown], in On the Potter’s Wheel: The Diaries of Heber C. Kimball, ed. Stanley B. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1987), 173.

[80] Brigham Young to William H. Hooper, January 3, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL; Wilford Woodruff, diary, November 22, 1860, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:520.

[81] “News from the East,” Deseret News, April 9, 1862; Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 10:33.

[82] Brigham Young, in Complete Discourses, 4:2092.

[83] Brigham Young to Thomas L. Kane, September 21, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[84] Brigham Young, in Complete Discourses, 4:2092.

[85] See James H. Moorhead, American Apocalypse: Yankee Protestants and the Civil War, 1860–1869 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978).

[86] Scott, A Visitation of God, 196.

[87] Joseph Smith, revelation, December 25, 1832, in Manuscript Revelation Books, 291.

[88] Joseph Smith, diary, April 2, 1843, An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, ed. Scott H. Faulring (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 340; see also William Clayton, diary, April 2, 1843, Intimate Chronicle, 95–97.

[89] Minutes, Kirtland, Ohio, February 14–15, 1835, Minute Book 1, CHL, accessed April 6, 2011, http://beta.josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/minutes-14%E2%80%9315-february-1835.

[90] In 1896, Francis M. Lyman said, “The prophet Joseph had foretold that some great event would transpire 56 years hence, which was figured out to be 1891. And many of our people thought that the world would come to an end in that year, and were greatly disappointed when it did not.” Francis M. Lyman, in Collected Discourses Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, His Two Counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and Others, ed. Brian H. Stuy (Burbank, CA: BHS, 1991), 4:433; italics in original. Joseph Smith was far less certain about the timing implied in these revelations, remarking, “I was left thus without being able to decide w[h]ether this coming referred to the beginning of the Millennium, or to some previous appearing or w[h]ether I should die and thus see his face. I believe the coming of the son of man will not be any sooner than that time.” William Clayton, diary, April 2, 1843, Intimate Chronicle, 95–96. Similar to Joseph, some members recognized the ambiguity within the prophecy and determined that it would “require further explanation, if not further revelation, to make [Joseph’s statements on the matter] plain.” Joseph E. Taylor, in Collected Discourses, 1:137. See also B. H. Roberts, in Collected Discourses, 2:105–6.

[91] Wilford Woodruff, diary, 1 February 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:547.

[92] Wilford Woodruff, diary, 31 December 1860, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:529.

[93] Brigham Young, quoted in Wilford Woodruff, diary, July 28, 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:587.

[94] William Clayton, diary, April 2, 1843, Intimate Chronicle, 97; Joseph Smith, diary, April 2, 1843, American Prophet’s Record, 340.

[95] Brigham Young to Daniel H. Wells and Brigham Young Jr., February 28, 1865, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[96] Joseph Smith, revelation, December 25, 1832, in Manuscript Revelation Books, 291.

[97] Brigham Young to Erastus Snow, February 21, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[98] Brigham Young, office journal, December 28, 1860, in Complete Discourses, 3:1720.

[99] Brigham Young, office journal, July 9, 1861, in Complete Discourses, 3:1884.

[100] Wilford Woodruff, diary, 11 December 1861, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 5:605. It should be noted, though, that less than five months later, at the request of President Lincoln, Brigham Young authorized the enlistment of a cavalry company, under the command of Lot Smith. See Joseph R. Stuart and Kenneth L. Alford, “Lot Smith: Utah Goes to War,” within this volume.

[101] Abraham Lincoln, quoted in Brigham Young to George Q. Cannon, June 25, 1863, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[102] Brigham Young, office journal, May 1, 1861, in Complete Discourses, 3:1804.

[103] Brigham Young to Charles C. Rich, November 28, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[104] George Q. Cannon to Brigham Young, September 7, 1861, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[105] Brigham Young to William H. Hooper, December 20, 1860, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[106] Brigham Young to George Q. Cannon, May 30, 1863, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[107] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 10:306.

[108] Brigham Young to George Q. Cannon, May 30, 1863, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[109] Cong. Globe, 37th Cong., 2d Sess. 157 (1862)..

[110] Brigham Young to William H. Hooper, June 5, 1862, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[111] Patrick Q. Mason, The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 14.

[112] See Matthew J. Grow, “Liberty to the Downtrodden”: Thomas L. Kane, Romantic Reformer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 211.

[113] See Grow, “Liberty to the Downtrodden,” 217–19, 222, 231.

[114] Brigham Young to John Bernhisel, March 22, 1862, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[115] Brigham Young Jr. to Brigham Young, December 18, 1869, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL; quoted in Grow, “Liberty to the Downtrodden,” 237.

[116] Brigham Young to Angeline E. Worden, June 10, 1862, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[117] Brigham Young Jr. to Brigham Young, July 11, 1862, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL; Brigham Young to Brigham Young Jr., August 6, 1862, in Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons, ed. Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), 25–26.

[118] Brigham Young Jr., diary, July 4, 1862, quoted in Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons, 24.

[119] Brigham Young to Thomas L. Kane, April 29, 1864, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.

[120] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 10:248.

[121] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 10:250.

[122] Brigham Young, in Complete Discourses, 4:2150.

[123] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 8:324.

[124] Brigham Young, in Complete Discourses, 4:2048.

[125] Brigham Young, office journal, May 1, 1861, in Complete Discourses, 3:1804.

[126] Brigham Young, in Complete Discourses, 4:2151.

[127] Abraham Lincoln, “First Inaugural Address,” The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 4:271; Brigham Young, in Complete Discourses, 4:2048.