Assassination of Jospeh and Hyrum Smith!
Ronald D. Dennis, trans. and ed., Defending the Faith: Early Welsh Missionary Publications (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003).
J28 JONES, Dan. Llofruddiad Joseph a Hyrum Smith! (Assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith!) Swansea: Printed and published by D. Jones, .
16 pp. 17.3 cm. Welsh Mormon Writings 88.
Dan Jones was with Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage Jail the two nights before their martyrdom on 27 June 1844. A few hours before the shots were fired, Jones was sent to Quincy to enlist the services of a defense lawyer; consequently, he was an eyewitness to most of the events immediately preceding the onrush of the mob at about 5:00 P.M.
Jones’s first published account of the Martyrdom appeared in 1847 in his History of the Latter-day Saints, pp. 73–83 (J12). By official request from Thomas Bullock in Salt Lake City, Dan Jones wrote a lengthy account in English of events surrounding the Martyrdom; this account is dated 20 January 1855 and is housed in the LDS Church Archives in Salt Lake City. (The letter from Jones to Bullock is printed in its entirety, together with the English translation of his 1847 account of the Martyrdom, in Brigham Young University Studies 24 [Winter 1984]:78-109).
In the 3 February 1855 issue of Zion’s Trumpet (pp. 42–46), Jones printed a segment of Assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith! which he said was “then on the press.” Apparently, while writing an answer in English to Bullock’s request, Jones was prompted to publish a separate pamphlet on the same topic in Welsh. It is strange, however, that except for the first page, the contents of the 1855 pamphlet are almost word-for-word identical to the 1847 account. The account in English is much more complete, although there are many things which are common to both.
The first eleven pages of Assassination are originally by Jones; the final five, however, are translations of writings about the Martyrdom by Willard Richards and Thomas Ford. Governor Ford’s letter to the people of the State of Illinois concerning the Martyrdom is abbreviated in this pamphlet; also it does not have Dan Jones’s bracketed comments that appear in the 1847 account.
Assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith
The erroneous accounts the writer has heard and read in Newspapers, pamphlets, &c., together with his desire for the public to understand the truth of the matter, prompt him to offer to them “that which he saw, that which he heard, and that which he knows” concerning the assassination of these remarkable men.
The turmoil that ended the lives of these men began in April, 1844, when a number of men, proven evil-doers, and who were excommunicated from the Church in Nauvoo because of their deeds, purchased a Printing Press, and published a Newspaper by the name of the “Nauvoo Expositor,” in which they published shameful false accusations against Joseph Smith, and the elders and gentlemen of the city, with the purpose of causing commotion for revenge. Because the agitators had transferred their property to others, so they could not be brought to justice for the blasphemies they were proved guilty of publishing, the City Court, by the guidance of several Magistrates of other Counties, determined that the county charter which had been given to the city granted city officials the right to destroy the Press, as a nuisance, which was done, as had been done shortly before then with the Press in Alton in the same County, and in several other places, by the Mayor’s ordering the General and his officers to destroy it. Its owners took this opportunity to go through the country to incite the people to get revenge, by killing J. Smith, for his having enslaved the freedom of the Press. Soon several thousand enemies gathered in the towns of Carthage and Warsaw, which are about 16 miles from Nauvoo, and a plot was formed to get J. S. to Carthage to have the opportunity of killing him; some of the party turned traitor to the others, and they made an oath to all of them, which was sent to the Governor of the State, who lived about 300 miles from there. In the meantime J. S. was summoned to Carthage; but according to his right, he went before another Magistrate, and was freed. Again he was summoned, and the third time Governor Ford, having arrived in Carthage, June 22, and having believed the stories that mobs were there and feasting on the spoils they had plundered from the Mormons, sent the Sheriff with a numerous escort to summon J. Smith, and others to Carthage, promising he would defend their lives from the mobs, and that they would have justice if they came there. After hearing that, they left Nauvoo Monday morning, the 26th, and J. Smith and his brother, and about twenty of us, besides the City Council went toward Carthage. And J. Smith could have delivered himself from their clutches in many ways; yes, hundreds gathered around him, begging him with tears on their cheeks, out of affection for him, not to go to the slaughter; for almost everyone, and he too, believed that he would not come back alive. And I shall never forget that scene, when he stood in the middle, and looking around him, and then at the city and its inhabitants, who were dear to him, he said, “If I do not go there, the result will be the destruction of this city and its inhabitants; and I cannot think of my dear brothers and sisters, and their children, suffering the Missouri scenes again in Nauvoo; no, your brother Joseph prefers to die for them. My work is finished; the Lord listened to my prayers, and promised I should have rest from such cruelties before long, so then do not prevent me with your tears from going to bliss.” And having embraced his little children, who clung to his clothes—having bidden farewell to his wife, whom he loved very much, in tears—and having given the last comfort to his old, godly mother, he addressed the whole crowd very effectively, urging them to be faithful in the way, and with the religion he taught them, and thus he would be able to meet them before long out of the reach of mobs and every oppression, and that he was about to seal his belief in it with his blood; and had he a thousand lives, it would be worth them all.
After this strange and heartbreaking scene, which no tongue can relate, nor pen write, we set out from his house on horseback, but completely unarmed, apart from some of us who had pistols in our pockets. When on the upland, where the temple was, and with a host following to have the last sight of him; he stood, and looked back at the city for a moment with great solemnity, and then he said, “Oh! city, once the happiest, but now the most pitiful in sadness. These people are the godliest, the kindest, and the dearest to heaven of all the people of the world. Oh, if they knew what awaits them!” But he restrained himself, and after looking over it again, we proceeded on. When within four miles of Carthage, we met a large crowd of armed men near us, quite unexpectedly; and when they saw us, they formed up to attack us. At this Joseph Smith stopped his horse in the middle of the road, and addressed us cheerfully and fearlessly, urging us— “Dear brothers (said he), you cannot come with me any further; flee back for your lives, and may all their vengeance pour down on my head; I shall suffer it, for I go like a lamb to the slaughter, with my conscience clear toward God and men.” And thereupon he was surrounded by soldiers (as we understood them to be) and their bared swords; and the General ordered him to “surrender.” At this, his soldiers, as though they had won the battle of Waterloo, shouted three cheers for their victory. J. Smith addressed them briefly and comprehensively, and showed them that he had never been their enemy, or ever disobeyed any of their laws, and as proof of their misconception of him that he was now on his way voluntarily, and not of necessity, into the midst of those who were thirsting for his blood; and he said to them further,—”I ask one favor of you, if you are Americans, do not refuse me! If there is any humanity in you, and honor or human feelings, do not deny this last request of mine! This great favor is, that you defend my life so that I may have a fair trial before the assizes of my country. I do not dread the outcome, be it the most horrible death, as much as I fear dying with a blemish on my character, or for the world to disgrace the religion I profess: will you promise this?” he asked publicly. Their General answered immediately (that is, Dunn; he and his army had come from MacDonough County, although completely unacquainted with Joseph Smith before this), “If this is the Joe Smith whose evil we have heard so much about, I have been completely disappointed; all we heard was lies, lads, and I know that this is a good man, whoever he is, and I (said he with a great oath) am determined to defend him until he has a fair trial, even though it should cost me my life;” and his whole army agreed to the same thing with “three cheers for Joe Smith,” louder than before! After this, Dunn showed a letter from Governor Ford ordering the people of Nauvoo to surrender all their arms to him; and although it was so cruel and foolish to ask this, yet the Saints obeyed, and gave up quietly the only defense of their lives they possessed, at the request of the governor, who, at the request of the rioters, facilitated their murderous intentions. It is strange that the governor would do this without disarming the attackers, unless he was of the same heart and mind as they! We turned back to Nauvoo; all the arms and cannons were collected together; and in the afternoon, we set out again for Carthage, which we reached alive by midnight, although the rioters had tried to kill Joseph Smith, despite the soldiers. At the request of the armies, General Demming appeared before them with J. and H. Smith; for hardly any of them had seen them before, or known anything about them except the tales of the rioters. This caused quite a commotion in the ranks of the “Carthage Greys” army of Captain Smith (the same justice who issued the warrant, and who, with his army constituted the main rioters), because they considered that too much respect for the prisoners. Eventually, by threatening to order the other armies to imprison them, the “Carthage Greys” were quelled. In the afternoon an inquiry was held in the Hamilton house, because it was too dangerous for the prisoners to appear in the Court House. Because of the fury of the rioters, they chose to post bail for their appearance at the Quarter Session rather than go on trial. They finished posting bail, and the City Council was allowed to return home; but the mob had prepared another arrest for J. and H. Smith, by appointing two of their number, by the names of H. O. Norton and A. Spencer to swear a warrant against them for treason against the state. At this the sheriff insisted on transferring them to prison immediately, without trial or anything; but the rioting in the streets was such that they refused to go without an escort to defend them, and after it got dark, the “Carthage Greys” came to the house, and defended them as far as the jail, in the midst of threats, oaths, and curses. The prisoners had asked some of us to follow them to the jail for the sake of having our company, they said; but I could see before this that it was in order to be proven witnesses of their words, their behavior, and their character, until death, that we followed them; and we are grateful that we had such an honor, and woe betide us if we do not make the proper use of it without doubt. We were all locked up together in a dungeon, which was about ten feet square; and here we spent the first evening of our imprisonment in sweet conversation about “the mystery of godliness.” Oh, such joy possessed them when they foretold that they were both about to finish their race, and go their reward! I never saw them more cheerful and intent on heaven, nor did I ever before think that Carthage Jail was the “gate of paradise.”
The next morning, we were all moved to the room above the jailer’s house; in the afternoon the Sheriff came to take them to the Court, but the jailer refused to let them out until one or two of the leaders of the mobs agreed to walk arm in arm with the prisoners; for he considered that a stronger escort than the “Carthage Greys,” and the whole lot; and in this way they went about half a mile towards the Court House amid such shouts and threats from the drunkards, and the curses of those who were thirsting for their blood, until I imagined it was not unlike that bloody scene on Calvary, and I heard words quite similar to those used there to taunt, such as, “Now, old Joe,” said some to his face, “if you are a prophet, how did you come into custody like this?” Another answered, “Oh, if Joe were a prophet, he would soon call for a host of angels, kill us all, and escape.” Yes it was inane remarks like these that filled his ears along the way to the Court House, where their professed enemy again sat in judgment on them, with his hostile partners as witnesses, and lawyers against them. Only with earnest pleading from the prisoners’ lawyers, Messrs Reid from Fort Madison, and Woods from Burlington, was a postponement of the trial to the next day obtained, so that the witnesses, who lived about twenty miles away, could be brought there. At last this was permitted, and the prisoners were taken back to the jail. The magistrate shied away from signing the subpoenas to fetch the witnesses for the defense, although he knew no one else there could do so, until he thought it was too late. The jail was watched by eight or ten of Captain Dunn’s retinue, who were the least prejudiced of all; and thanks to the efforts of the prisoners and the rest of us preaching to them, they believed our testimony to the point of admitting that the accusations brought by the rioters were lies with the express purpose of revenge on J. Smith. Not infrequently they were heard persuading each other to return to their homes, and that they would not join the mobs to persecute any more. After that, other guards would come, to whom we would preach in the same manner, although the occasional one would be so vengeful that he would not let Joseph Smith speak, while at the same time they would listen to the others.
About twelve o’clock that night, we lay down to sleep; we expected nothing less than an attack on us nearly every hour; even so, the only defense we could provide was to set a chair across the door in such a way that it would fall if the door was opened. I had not yet fallen into a deep sleep when I heard a sound like the heavy tread of an army approaching us. I got up, and I looked through the window, when I could see, by the light of the stars, an army already opposite the door! I listened to what they were saying; but they were whispering so secretly that I could scarcely hear anything but this, “What number shall go in?” When I heard this, I awoke my brethren; but there was no need to tell them why, for the sound of their feet rushing up to our door already signalled that it was time to beware. We stood by the door to attack the first one who opened it, and we could clearly hear them breathing outside. It was as quiet as the grave for a minute or two, as we expected a shower of bullets perhaps in our midst; and then J. Smith asked bravely and loudly who was there, and what they wanted. At that they stole down quietly; and from then till daylight they were conferring opposite our windows about what they should do. Sometimes they decided to rush in on us; but before they reached the door, perhaps another faction would restrain them; and so they continued until the assassin’s terror, daylight, dispersed them all except for about eight of the “Carthage Greys,” who stayed there as guards. In the morning I went, at the request of J. Smith, to the lower door to inquire who and what were behind that disturbance in the night. I addressed my questions to the officer of the guards, who answered me with horrible curses, that the prisoners could never come out alive; that I should see before night that he was a better prophet than Joe Smith; that I was not a jot better than he, nor was anyone else who supported him. At this I reminded the gentleman who and what he was, that Governor Ford had under the oath of the state promised protection to the prisoners, and had put their lives in his hands, and that I would inform the governor of his threats, which greatly enraged him. I went to the Hamilton House and revealed all to Governor Ford, and I reminded him of his promise to protect the prisoners, requesting him to put others to guard them instead of the “Carthage Greys,” who were thirsting for their blood; but it was in vain; he suggested there was no danger whatsoever. After that I went into the midst of a large crowd of the rioters, and heard their publicly proclaimed decision to make a pretense of leaving until Governor Ford left, and then they would return, and were determined to kill “Joe Smith,” even if they had to tear down the jail. Having heard such a sentence being sealed on the innocent with three cheers from everyone, I returned, and related everything to Governor Ford; but again he did not consider it worth his notice! I hurried to inform the prisoners of these things, but those evil “guards” would not let me back in. The prisoners earnestly beseeched them to let me in, saying that the governor had permitted that (which he had promised when he visited the prison the day before); but all in vain. I returned a third time to the governor, describing the danger they were in, and I requested a pass from him to go in; he refused this too, even though I followed him until he was on his horse setting off with the escort towards Nauvoo; but he did order General Deming to give me a pass for Willard Richards, as secretary to the prisoners, but to no one else.
The governor left about eleven o’clock, leaving eight of the Carthage Greys to guard the jail, and about sixty others in the town to keep a lookout with them. And then their aims became clear; the people would come back to the town in hosts howling and threatening; and not only threatening, but preparing for the bloody slaughter. I myself was the only Mormon in their midst, and great were their threats to me; they gathered around me in droves; and not infrequently they aimed stones at me, because I dared to defend the prisoners, and dared them to allow them to have a trial the next day by the law of their land, as is the right of every man; and I reproached them with the fact that they had given themselves up to them on that understanding, and they were now in their power, and if they could prove them guilty, I would agree with the verdict with all my heart, &c. While I was pleading like this, one of their chief rioters admitted, “that nothing could be proven to convict them, and that the law of the land could not reach them, but powder and balls will.” At this one of the guards came to inform me that “Joe Smith” was asking for me, and although the guards would not allow me to go into the jail, nor J. Smith to come out, yet they allowed Willard Richards to come, whom I informed about everything I understood of the intentions of the mobs to kill them before nightfall. He told me that I was in greater danger outside, and he put a letter in my hand, with Joseph Smith’s request to take it to Quincy (about sixty miles away), and to return as fast as I could. News of the letter went through the mobs like the wings of the breeze, and some claimed it was orders to the “Nauvoo Legion” to come there to save the prisoners; and others claimed some other things. When I was asking for my horse to be made ready, some swore that I should not go from there alive unless I gave them the letter; but they could not agree on this, which was just as well for me, for I had decided to die rather than release it from my hand. Then they split into two or three groups; one wanted to chase me out of there immediately, letter and all; another group threatened that I would not reach Nauvoo alive; and at this I saw several with their guns in their hands, running across the fields to the nearby woods, through which the road to Nauvoo passed, and although I understood their intention, yet I could not see how I should be saved, yet salvation would come somehow, I doubted not a bit. While they were quarreling amongst themselves, and my horse was ready nearby, I saw my chance, and it was no time after I reached the saddle before the horse and I were out of their sight in the middle of a cloud of dust, with the bullets whistling through the air everywhere except where they wanted. Before I had time to think about the road that lay ahead of me, which was almost completely unfamiliar to me, I found myself in the prairie hurrying towards Warsaw, instead of on the road to Nauvoo; I realized my mistake after having a look at the surrounding countryside, and I crossed the prairies to the right road. Later I found out that my life had been saved, through the horse’s mistake, from those who were watching me in the woods; and also from the other side, I understood that I was as it were between two fires, because if I had gone a mile further without turning from the Warsaw road, I would doubtless have been killed by about 300 of the cruelest of the mobs, who were coming along that road to Carthage, and who killed the prisoners soon afterwards! But I proceeded on my way, leaving Governor Ford and his escort; I arrived at Nauvoo before sunset. While I was waiting here, the Governor arrived, and I heard his speech to a large crowd of people; and its content was not directed at, nor worthy of, anyone but the rioters. He told with relish the unfounded tales of the mobs, as though he believed them to be true, and then he said in the hearing of the wives, children, and dear friends of those godly men, who were being cruelly murdered at that very moment, and he threatened loudly, “a severe atonement must be made.” The governor’s officials were heard urging him to hasten from there, assuring him that the deed (that is the assassination) was sure to have been accomplished by that time. Towards the middle of the night, a steamboat came down the river, and I went on it towards Quincy; and the boat called in Warsaw on its way before daylight, and great was the excitement there! It was reported with great joy that “Joe Smith, and his brother Hyrum had been killed in Carthage Jail;” and Oh, how sweet was the news to their lips! That “Sharp” fellow again had published an extra with great haste, accusing the Mormons of having gone to Carthage to save the prisoners, and saying that the guard in the fulfillment of their duty had shot J. and H. Smith lest they escape, when, in fact, I was the last Mormon to be in Carthage, and was driven out at bayonet point, as it were! Yes, when in fact it was this very “Sharp” himself who was leading the ones who had killed them, and boasting, “that he had put one bullet through old Joe;” and while his fingers were still dripping with innocent blood, he invited everyone from everywhere to gather to defend Warsaw, announcing, completely contrary to the truth—that the Mormons had already burned Carthage to ashes, and killed its inhabitants, General Ford and all, and that they expected them to burn Warsaw at any minute! Yes, he published this in his paper, and sent messengers to the other Counties to call the militia to defend them, when in fact he knew that he was in no danger at all from the Saints. And I heard, when I was there, his party admitting and praising “Sharp’s” trick to get people there; and that “to attack the city of Nauvoo, and kill or exile the d-m-d Mormons was their objective.” This incorrect account of the killing of J. and H. Smith flew across the world; and we do not believe that the truth has yet caught up with it. This is an example of all the accusations of this Sharp and his party against the Saints. I was rash enough to contradict him there on the bank, from what I knew; and if the boat had not been at my side for me to jump into, they would have killed me too for that. After reaching Quincy, I could see that Sharp’s messengers had arrived and had stirred up the whole city, to the point that they were expecting the Mormons there to kill them too; and the militia were busy preparing to go to save Warsaw, as they thought. As soon as I had the opportunity, with the people gathered together, I opposed those lying messengers to their faces; and then the people saw that they were in no danger, and that none of the Mormons had even raised a hand to any of them, or was about to, and everyone returned to his business, and I went with another steamboat towards Nauvoo, which I reached by eight o’clock the next morning.
Oh! what a mournful sight was seen in Nauvoo that day! There never was, and there never will be, its like; everyone sad in the streets, all the shops closed, and all business forgotten. Onward I quickened my steps, until I reached the house of the late Joseph Smith. I pushed through the grieving crowd, until I reached the room where his body and his brother’s had been placed (for they had been brought from Carthage the previous day); there they lay in their coffins, side by side—noble men, as they had suffered, side by side, from one prison to another for years, and had worked together, shoulder to shoulder, to build the kingdom of the Immanuel; eternal love had bound them steadfastly to each other and to their God until death; and now my eyes beheld the blood of the two godly martyrs mingling in one pool in the middle of the floor—their old mother, pious and sorrowful, on her knees in the middle of it between the two, with a hand on each of her sons who lay in blood—her heart almost breaking with excruciating agonies and indescribable grief. At the head of the deceased sat the dear wife of each one, and around their father stood four of Joseph’s little children, and six of Hyrum’s children, crying out from time to time, “My dear father,” “And my dear father, too,” said the others, with no reply but the echo from the walls, “Oh my father,” and from the hearts of the mothers, “My husband killed,” and the old mother groaning sadly, “Oh my sons, my sons.”
Eagerly and sorrowfully the thousands pushed forward in turn, to have a last look at their dear brethren, whose profound counsels, and heavenly teaching, had been music to their ears, a light to their paths, and a joy to their hearts many times. In the streets round about, there reigned almost the stillness of the grave; but all, rich and poor, had crystal tears streaming down their cheeks. Even the sun and the elements had become still as if in surprise, and all of nature looked at the man’s fury towards the finest on earth in every age and part of it. I shall always remember my feelings at the time. Now I saw the two men of greatest virtue and wisdom on earth without doubt, whom I saw just now it seemed preaching tenderly, from between the iron bars of their prison, the gospel of peace to those who sought to kill them; the two stood like two reeds in the midst of storms as witnesses to Jesus, despite the jealous rage of the press, the pulpits, and the mobs of the age, straightening like the reed with its head up after each breeze by despising profit and worldly fame, they held steadfastly to their aim until they finished their work, and like their elder brothers, and their Leader before them, they did not love their lives unto death, they did not refuse to face knowingly the slaughter; but leapt on the bloody altar which they saw awaiting them in Carthage, “that they might have a better resurrection.” But what pen can describe that scene and the feelings of the thousands of mourners? The only comfort which sustained them from sinking under the oppression and the loss was that a day of swift reckoning on this was coming soon, that he who has the just scales in his hand perceives it all and will——, but I shall restrain myself. It is easier for the reader to imagine this scene and its consequences than it is for me to describe them.
The two were buried secretly together, for rewards of several thousand dollars were already being offered by their enemies for their heads!! But to return to Carthage and the story, from whence I escaped about three o’clock in the afternoon, on the 27th. The following picture will show the attack on the jail, and the situation of the place, clearly; it was written by one of the four who were there at the time, namely Dr. Willard Richards.
“TWO MINUTES IN THE JAIL.
“Possibly the following took three minutes to be accomplished, although I do not think it was more than two; and I wrote it at the request of, and as an explanation to my friends.
Carthage, June 27th, 1844.
“A shower of bullets was shot up the stairway to the door of our prison in the second story, and we heard the sound of many footsteps rushing up. We closed the door, and stood inside against it, to keep it closed, there being no lock or latch on it that was usable. The door is of thin pine; as soon as the sound of footsteps reached the top of the stairs, they fired through the door, and the first ball passed between us, and showed that they were assassins. At this we changed our attitude. Mr. Joseph Smith, Mr. Taylor, and myself sprang back to the other side of the room, and Mr. Hyrum Smith retreated two-thirds across the chamber opposite, facing the door, when a ball was fired from the door, which went through his head; then he fell backwards extended at length, without moving his feet. From the holes in his clothes and subsequently his body, it appears that another ball shot him through the window at the time, which entered his back, passed through his body, lodging in his watch, which was in the right pocket of his waistcoat, shattering it into pieces. The two balls must have hit him at the same instant. When he fell, he said clearly, “I’m a dead man.” Joseph looked at him, and then said, “Oh! my dear brother Hyrum!” Then, opening the door a few inches with his left hand, he discharged a six shooter at random into the entry, from whence at that moment came a ball, which tore open Hyrum’s breast, and entered his head under his jaw, and went out through the top of his head, while other muskets were aimed at him simultaneously, and some other balls went through him from the door. Joseph continued to fire his revolver in their faces, standing to one side, and reaching his hand around the casing of the door, but three barrels missed fire. Mr. Taylor stood by his side with a stick in his hand, with which he hit the points of the bayonets and the muzzles of the guns that were pushed in the door. By his side I stood with another stick, but I could not come within striking distance without being in the muzzle of the guns. After the revolver failed, we had no means to defend ourselves; and as we expected a rush of the mob into the room at any minute, and the door was already half full of muskets, pushing forward into the room, and with no hope from anywhere of saving our lives, Mr. Taylor rushed to the window, which is some 12 or 15 feet above the ground outside. When he was about to jump out, a ball from within was shot into his thigh, and at the same instant another ball from without was fired, which hit his watch, which was in the left pocket of his waistcoat, shattering it into pieces, and leaving the hands standing at 5 o’clock, 16 minutes, and 26 seconds. The force of this shot threw him back into the room, and he fell to the floor, and rolled under the bed which stood by his side, where he lay as though dead. Nevertheless some at the door continued to fire upon him, and tore away a piece of flesh from his thigh bigger than a man’s hand, although I tried my best to save him by hitting and knocking down their guns with my stick. As a last resort, Joseph ventured to the window from which Taylor had fallen; but almost before he reached it, two balls pierced him from the door, and another from outside through the window which entered near his heart; and he fell outward, where bayonet points received him, and he cried out clearly, ‘O LORD MY GOD.’
“No sooner had his feet gone out of the window than my head went in, the balls whistling all around. At this the cry was raised, ‘He’s leaped the window,’ and those who were near the door, and on the stairs, ran out. I withdrew from the window when I saw it would be of no use to follow him, and leap on over a hundred bayonets, which had by now gathered around Joseph Smithʼs body. Still unwilling to leave him, I again reached my head out, and watched carefully for a while to see if there were any signs of life in him; regardless of my own safety, I made up my mind that I would see the end of him I loved as myself. Being satisfied that he was already dead, with over a hundred of the rioters rushing towards him, and more coming from the other side of the jail; and as I expected every second that they would return to the jail, I ran to the iron door of the cell which was next to the door of our room, and where they still stood shooting, to see if it was locked. When I was near it, Mr. Taylor shouted to me, “Take me with you;” and having seen that that door was open, I returned, and carried Mr. Taylor there, that is to the inner prison, and stretched him on the floor, and covered him with a mattress, so that he would not be noticed, for I expected the mob to come in any second. I remarked to Mr. Taylor,—’This is rather a hard bed, but if your wounds are not fatal, I hope you can live to tell the story.’ I expected to be shot every instant, and I stood in the door ready for whatever might come. “WILLARD RICHARDS.”
These rioters had come mostly from Warsaw, and were led by “Thomas Sharp,” and other Press owners. They were about 300 in number, and had colored their faces black, red, and yellow, so that they would not be recognized. The following describes the scene in Carthage at the time.
“12 o’clock at night, Hamilton Inn, Carthage.
“To Mrs. Emma Smith, and Maj. Gen. Dunham, &c.
“Governor Ford has just arrived; he promises to look into everything and make matters straight.
“I say to the citizens of Nauvoo,—My dear brethren, be prudent; recognize that the ‘Lord reigns.’ Do not rush out of the city; do not gather together in Carthage; stay at home, and prepare for an attack on you from Missouri. The Governor promises all the help he can give: he has already sent for soldiers. Joseph and Hyrum have been killed, but not by citizens of Carthage, from what I understand.
“We shall prepare the bodies to be brought home as soon as we can.
“The people of the area are very frightened, and fear that the Mormons will come here seeking vengeance. I have given my word for the Mormons, that they will stay home peacefully as soon as they can be informed; and that no one is in danger from them. And again I beseech my brethren in Nauvoo, in the name of the Lord our God, be prudent, patient, and forebearing, in this again, as you have always been; let only a few of our friends who choose come here to see the bodies and to help to take them home. Mr. Taylor’s wounds have been treated, and they are not fatal. I am in good health.
“SAMUEL H. SMITH.”
“N. B. Defend yourselves until I can send assistance to you, June 27th, 1844.
“Thomas Ford, Governor of the State.”
The following quote from the speech of Governor Ford to the people of the State of Illinois shows that he had opened his eyes to understand who was at fault for this commotion:—
“I desire to give a brief but true description of the disgraceful affair which took place in Carthage, in regard to the Smiths, as far as my knowledge extends. The Smiths, Joseph and Hyrum, have been assassinated in jail; I do not know by whom, but I will know. I had pledged myself that they would receive protection, and on that basis they surrendered as prisoners. The Mormons surrendered all the arms in their possession, and the Nauvoo Legion submitted to the command of Capt. Singleton of Brown County, willingly and obediently. And I had sent him there for that purpose. The rioters required all this to prove that the Mormons were peaceably disposed; but it appears that every obedience and submission on the part of the Mormons proved ineffective in bringing them [the rioters] to peace. It was not I alone that gave the pledge of security to the Smiths, but my officers and men assured me that they would assist me in protecting them. If this deed was committed by these people, they have added treachery to murder, and have done all they could to disgrace the state, and sully the ‘public honor.’ On the morning of the day the deed was committed, we had proposed to march the entire army to Nauvoo; but I discovered clearly that the army would not be satisfied with less than the utter destruction of the city; and that once we arrived there, pretexts would not be wanting for commencing hostilities. The Mormons had already complied with everything required of them, and had submitted to much more than should have been asked of them. * * *
“Thomas Ford, “Governor, and Commander-in-Chief.”
When Governor Ford saw that the foregoing speech was ineffective in forestalling the aims of the rioters, he published the following announcement:—
“Sir,—I do not think the Mormons will cause any disturbance, or that there is any reason for the opposition to fear anything. I regret to learn that the rioters are still telling and publishing a thousand tales and false accusations completely without foundation, for the purpose of getting people together, without my authority, hoping, having got them to Warsaw, that they will join in their treacherous and rapacious councils to attack Nauvoo. This is a fraud upon the country, and it must not be endured.
“I am afraid that the rioters of Hancock County are fast losing the trust and sympathy of their fellowmen, not only there, but throughout the world. I strictly order you that you do not permit them to attack Nauvoo, or any of its inhabitants from now on, without my authority. I think it would be better to disband your forces too, unless you think it necessary to retain some to repel and disperse the rioters; you must be the judge of that.
“I desire you to order away immediately the people who came over from Missouri and from Iowa.
“I order you to hold under warrant anyone who supports the gathering to attack Nauvoo, or any other disturbance; and that you use every means to prevent the disgraceful, and previously successful, practice of publishing all sorts of false accusations and untruthful tales, which is done deliberately to excite the public against the Mormons.
THOMAS FORD, “Commander-in-chief.
“To Brig. Gen. Deming, Carthage, Ill.”
Now, we shall end this true account, and we exhort the reader to believe that Joseph and Hyrum Smith were servants of God—to obey their divine message, and we testify that God will prove to him through his Spirit, as he has done to me, that it is true. This is and will continue to be the prayer of your well-wisher,