Who Started It?

The  Mormon Wars:

The war in heaven never ended. It just changed battlefields, and in these last days, it has once more become a pitched battle for the souls of men. Sooner or later, all men and women will be required to declare their allegiance…

The history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is replete with tales of sacrifice and suffering, tragedy and triumph. Now members of the Church can gain a deeper understanding of many of the significant trials faced by early Saints with Mormon Wars, a groundbreaking volume that masterfully presents historical accounts of pioneer perseverance. From violent mob persecutions to armed troops in the Utah territory to the war against polygamy, understanding the events that refined the early Saints will fortify your faith in the face of continuing modern-day battles. – Deseret  Books 


Suffer the Children  Prologue

Testimony may be a formal written or spoken statement, especially one given in a court of law. 19th Century Mormons kept journals for a reason. Joseph Smith told them to. There shall be a record kept among you.

“There is one subject I wish to speak upon and that is the keeping of a journal with respect to the dealings of God with us. … When the Prophet Joseph organized the Quorum of the Twelve, he counseled them to keep a history of their lives, and gave his reasons why they should do so.

I have had this spirit and calling upon me since I first entered this church. I made a record from the first sermon I heard, and from that day until now I have kept a daily journal. Whenever I heard Joseph Smith preach, teach, or prophesy, I always felt it my duty to write it; I felt uneasy and could not eat, drink, or sleep until I did write.” – Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors

Careful and complete records served as a protection against opponents of the Church. In instructions to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1835, Joseph Smith urged them to note down the procedures of meetings held, for “the time will come, when, if you neglect to do this thing, you will fall by the hands of unrighteous men…. If you will be careful to keep minutes of these things…it will be one of the most important records ever seen” (History of the Church 2:198-99).

Mormon Settlement
Haun’s Mill, Missouri
October 30, 1838

“A body of the militia under the command of Colonel Ashley, said to have been between two and three hundred men, began the savage work at Haun’s Mills, on Shoal Creek, in the eastern part of Carroll county. This body of men was under the immediate command of Captain Nehemiah Comstock, who had given assurances the previous day that the Mormons there would be protected from the attacks of the mob that were threatening to destroy their property.

The banks of Shoal Creek on either side teemed with children sporting and playing while their mothers were engaged with domestic employment and their fathers employed in guarding the mills and other property, while others were engaged gathering in their crops for their consumption.

[Joseph Young] “It was about four o’clock, while sitting in my cabin, with my babe in my arms, and my wife standing by my side, the door being open. I cast my eyes on the opposite bank of Shoal Creek, and saw a large company of armed men on horses directing their course towards the mills with all possible speed. As they advanced through the scattering trees that stood on the side of the prairie, they seemed to form themselves into a three-square position, forming a vanguard in front. At this moment. David Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers (there being two hundred and forty of them, according to their own account), swung his hat and cried for peace.

Their leader, Mr. Nehemiah Comstock, fired a gun, which was followed by a solemn pause of ten or twelve seconds, when all at once they discharged about one hundred rifles, aiming at a blacksmith’s shop into which our friends had fled for safety; and charged up to the shop, the cracks of which between the logs were sufficiently large to enable them to aim directly at the bodies of those who had there fled for refuge from the fire of their murderers. There were several families tented in rear of the shop, whose lives were exposed, and amidst a shower of bullets fled to the woods in different directions.

After daylight appeared, some four or five men, with myself, who had escaped with our lives from the horrid massacre, repaired as soon as possible to the mills to learn the condition of our friends, whose fate we had but too truly anticipated. When we arrived at the house of Mr. Haun, we found Mr. Merrick’s body lying in rear of the house, Mr. McBride’s in front, literally mangled from head to foot.

We were informed by Miss Rebecca Judd, who was an eye-witness, that he was shot with his own gun after he had given it up, and then cut to pieces with a corn-cutter by a Mr. Rogers, of Davies county, who keeps a ferry on Grand River, and who has since repeatedly boasted of this act of savage brutality.

Mr. York’s body we found in the house, and after viewing these corpses, we immediately went to the blacksmith’s shop, where we found nine of our friends, eight of whom were already dead; the other, Mr. Cox, of Indiana, was struggling in the agonies of death, and soon expired.

We immediately prepared, and carried them to the place of interment. This last office of kindness due to the relics of the departed was not attended with the customary ceremonies or decency, for we were in jeopardy, every moment expecting to be fired upon by the mob, who we supposed to be lying in ambush waiting for the first opportunity to despatch the remaining few who were providentially preserved from the slaughter of the preceding day.

The place of burying was a vault in the ground, formerly intended for a well, into which we threw the bodies of our friends promiscuously.

Among those slain I will mention Sardius Smith, son of Warren Smith, about nine years old, who through fear had crawled under the bellows in the shop, where he remained till the massacre was over, when he was discovered by a Mr. Glaze, of Carroll county, who presented his rifle near the boy’s head and literally blowed off the upper part of it. Mr. Stanley, of Carroll county, told me afterwards that Glaze boasted of his fiend-like murder and heroic deed all over the country.

To finish this work of destruction, this band of murderers, composed of men from Davies, Livingston, Ray, Carroll, and Chariton counties, led by some of the principal men of that section of the upper country. . . . proceeded to rob the houses, wagons, and tents of bedding and clothing; drove off horses and wagons, leaving widows and orphans destitute of the necessaries of life, and even stripped the clothing from the bodies of the slain.

According to their own account, they fired seven rounds in this awful butchery, making upwards of sixteen hundred shots at a little company of men about thirty in number ”- Stenhouse, Thomas B. H. . The Rocky Mountain Saints [1887]”


September 1857 Mountain Meadows

In a forlorn move hoping to appeal to the humanity of their enemies, the emigrants dressed two little girls in “spotless white” and sent them with a bucket toward the stream.  Both were shot dead in an instant.

The children in the first wagon huddled together. One year old Sarah Dunlap was shot in the elbow, sending all the children into a frenzy.

John Calvin Miller, six, was among the children, and with him were his sister Mary, four, and his one-year-old brother James. John was the only one of them who would talk, but he could not remember their last name, only that he was there when their mother and father and two other brothers were murdered, and that he saw the men who shot them. Georgia Ann Dunlap was eighteen months old. Her parents and seven sisters and brothers had just been executed in front of her eyes, and she was alone with her five-year-old sister, Prudence Angelina, who could not stop sobbing.

Emberson Tackitt, four, had watched his mother hacked to death, while his father,  two older brothers, an aunt, and three cousins were being shot and their throats cut a few yards away. Like John Miller, Emberson had also seen many of the murders clearly enough to identify them, but he knew to keep silent just then. His younger brother, nineteen-month0old William Henry, who was in his mother’s arms when the attack began, lay dazed and whimpering in one of the wagons.

Gushing blood from a gunshot wound that had mangled her ear, Sarah Frances Baker, three, her five-year-old sister Mary Elizabeth, the youngest of the surviving infants, nine-month-old William, had just watched the slaughter of their parents and a seven-year-old sister. Felix Marion Jones was eighteen months old. Within a few minutes his family had been wiped out, and he would not be able to remember anything about his murdered father, mother and sister.

Christopher, “Kit Carson” Fancher, five, along with his twenty-two-month-old sister Triphenia, has seen their wounded father shot in his litter and their mother murdered with an ax, while six brothers and sisters under the age of nineteen were being killed nearby. Nancy Sophrona Huff, at four, was the sole survivor of a family of six annihilated in the same way.

One child died as they arrived at Hamblin’s ranch. Another one, one-year-old Sarah Dunlap, had her left arm severed by a musket ball. Cling frantically to her, their dresses soaked in blood, were her sisters Rebecca, six, and Louisa, four. They had all seen the slaughter of their seven brothers and sisters, as well as both parents, and Rebecca had pried her baby sister from the arms of their dead mother. – Sally Denton, American Massacre, The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, September 1857


Suffer the Children

May 25, 1861

 While on a trip to the southern settlements with Brigham Young, we visited the Mountain Meadow Monument put up at the burial place of 120 persons killed by Indians in 1857. The pile of stone was about 12 feet high, but beginning to tumble down.

 A wooden cross was placed on top with the following words: Vengeance is mine and I will repay saith the Lord. President Young said it should be Vengeance is mine and I have taken a little.

 “Five days later the church president spoke to a congregation filled with many of the participants in the massacre.

Pres. Young said that the company that was used up at Mountain Meadows were the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and connections of those that murdered the prophets; they merited their fate, and the only thing that ever troubled him was the lives of the women and children, but that under the circumstances this could not be avoided.”- Journal of Wilford Woodruff.

Author: Arthur Ruger

Married and in a wonderful relationship. Retired Social Worker, Veteran, writer, author, blogger, musician,. Lives in Coeur D' Alene, Idaho

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