Trial Report, , Hancock Co., IL, [8–26 July 1843], Extradition of JS for Treason (Nauvoo, IL, Municipal Court 1843); “Municipal Court of the City of Nauvoo, Illinois” and “Trial of Joseph Smith,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 12 July 1843, –; 19 July 1843, ; 26 July 1843, –.
“Trial of Joseph Smith,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 19 July 1843, .
TRIAL OF JOSEPH SMITH.
sworn. Says that he fully concurs in the testimony of the preceding , so far as he is acquainted with the same, and that Joseph Smith has not been known as Joseph Smith Junior, for the time stated by . He was an eye-witness of most of the scenes testified to by said , during the persecutions of our people in . That during the latter part of summer and fall of the year 1838, there were large bodies of the mob assembled in various places, for the avowed object of killing, driving, robbing, plundering and exterminating the Mormons, and actually committed many murders and other depredations, as related by the preceding . The was frequently petitioned, as also the other authorities, for redress and protection. At length , the Judge of the Circuit Court of the Fifth Judicial District, ordered out somewhere near a thousand men for the avowed purpose of quelling the mob and protecting the Mormons. These being under arms for several weeks, did, in some measure, prevent the mob’s proceedings for some time, after which, withdrew the force, refusing to put the to further expense, for our protection, without orders from the . The mobs then again collected in great numbers in Carroll, , and counties, and expressed their determination to drive the Mormons from the or kill them. They did actually drive them from , firing upon some, and taking others prisoners. They turned a man by the name of and family out of doors, when sick, and plundered his house and burned it before his eyes. They also plundered the citizens generally, taking their lands, houses and property. Those whose lives were spared, precipitately fled to in the utmost distress and consternation. Some of them actually died on the way, through exposure, suffering and destitution. Other parties of the mob were plundering and burning houses in ; and another party of the mob were ravaging the south part of , in a similar manner. The was again and again petitioned for redress and protection, but utterly refused to render us any assistance whatever. Under these painful and distressing circumstances, we had the advice of Generals , and , to call out the Militia of and counties, which was mostly composed of Mormons, and to make a general defence. The presiding Judge of , , gave orders to the of said to call out the Militia. They were called out under the command of , who held a commission from the , and was the highest military officer in the . This force effectually dispersed the mob in several places, and a portion of them were so organized in the city of , that they could assemble themselves upon the shortest notice, and were frequently ordered to assemble in the public square of said , in cases of emergency. These proceedings against the mob being misrepresented by designing men, both to the and other authorities and people of the , caused great excitement against the Mormons. Many tried to have it understood that the Mormons were in open rebellion, and making war upon the . With these pretences, issued the following exterminating order:
HEAD QUARTERS OF THE MILITIA,)
City of ,)
October 27th, 1838.
Since the order of the morning to you, directing you to come with four hundred mounted men, to be raised within your Division, I have received, by , Esq, and Wiley C. Williams, Esq., one of my aids, information of the most appalling character, which changes entirely the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an avowed defiance of the Laws, and of having made war upon the people of the . Your orders are therefore, to hasten your operations and endeavor to reach in , with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated, or driven from the , if necessary for the public peace.
Their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so, to any extent you may think necessary. I have just issued orders to Major General Wollock of Marion county, to raise five hundred men and to march them to the northern part of and there to unite with of —who has been ordered with five hundred men to proceed to the same point for the purpose of intercepting the retreat of the Mormons to the north. They have been directed to communicate with you by express. You can also communicate with them if you find it necessary. Instead therefore, of proceeding as at first directed, to re instate the citizens of in their houses, you wil[l] proceed immediately to , and there operate ag[a]inst the Mormons. of , has b[e]en ordered to have four hundred of his Brigade in readiness to join you at . The whole force will be plac[e]d under your command.
Governor and Commander-in-Chief.
In the mean time, , and , both of , (who had, five years previously, assisted in driving about twelve hundred Mormon citizens from that , besides burning two hundred and three houses, and assisting in murdering several, and plundering the rest,) raised forces to the amount of several thousand men, and appeared before the city of in battle array. A few of the Militia then paraded in front of the , which caused the cowardly assailants to come to a halt at about a mile distant, in full view of the . A messenger arrived from them and demanded three persons before they massacred the rest and laid the in ashes. The names of the persons demanded were , and his wife. They gave no information who this army were, nor by what authority they came; neither had we at that time any knowledge of the ’s order, nor any of these movements, the mail having been designedly stopped by our enemies, for three weeks previously. We had supposed on their first appearance, that they were friendly troops, sent for our protection; but on receiving this alarming information of their wicked intentions, we were much surprised, and sent a with a white flag to enquire of them who they were, and what they wanted of us, and by whose authority they came. This flag was fired upon by , the Methodist priest, who afterwards told me the same with his own mouth. After several attempts, however, we got an interview, by which we learned who they were, and that they pretended to have been sent by the to exterminate our people. Upon learning this fact, no resistance was offered to their will or wishes. They demanded the arms of the Militia, and forcibly took them away. They requested that Mr. Joseph Smith and other leaders of the Church should come into their camp for consultation, giving them a sacred promise of protection and safe return. Accordingly Messrs Joseph Smith, , , and myself, started in company with , to their camp. when we were soon abruptly met by with several hundreds of his soldiers, in a hostile manner, who immediately surrounded us, and set up the most hideous yells that might have been supposed to have proceeded from the mouths of demons, and marched us, as prisoners, to their lines. There we were detained for two days and nights, and had to sleep on the ground in the cold month of November, in the midst of rain and mud—were continually surrounded with a strong guard, whose mouths were filled with cursing and bitterness, blackguardism and blasphemy; who offered us every abuse and insult in their power, both by night and day; and many individuals of the army cocked their rifles & taking deadly aim at our heads. swore they would shoot us. While under these circumstances, our ears were continually shocked with the relation of the horrid deeds they had committed, and which they boasted of.— They related the circumstance in detail of having, the previous day, disarmed a certain man in his own house, and took him prisoner, and afterwards beat out his brains with his own gun! in presence of their officers. They told of other individuals laying here and there in the brush, whom they had shot down without resistance, and who were laying, unburied, for the hogs to feed upon. They also named one or two individual females of our society, whom they had forcibly bound, and twenty or thirty, one after another, committed rape upon. One of these females was a daughter of a respectable family, with whom I have been long acquained, and with whom I have since conversed, and learned that it was truly the case. Delicacy at present forbids my mentioning the names. I also heard several of the soldiers acknowledge and boast of having stolen money in one place, clothing and bedding in another, and horses in another, whilst corn, pork, and beef, were taken by the whole army to support the men and horses; and in many cases cattle, hogs and sheep were shot down, and only a small portion of them used, [t]he rest left to waste. Of these crimes, of which the soldiers boasted, the general officers freely conversed, and corroborated the same. And even , who professed to be opposed to such proceedings, acknowledged the truth of them; and gave us several particulars in detail. I believe the name of the man whose brains they knocked out, was Carey; and another individual who had his chest broken open and several hundred dollars in specie taken out. was the same whose house the mob burned at .
After the Mormons were all disarmed, gave them a compulsory order for men, women and children, to leave the forthwith, without any exceptions—counting it a mercy to spare their lives on these conditions. Whilst these things were proceeding, instead of releasing us from confinement, and were forcibly added to our number, as prisoners, and under a large military escort, commanded by , before mentioned, we were all marched to , a distance of between fifty and sixty miles, leaving our families and our friends at their mercy, in a destitute condition, to prepare for a journey of more than two hundred miles, at the approach of winter, without our protection, and every moment exposed to robbery, ravishment, and other insult—their property robbed and their houses and lands already wrested from them.
We were exhibited like a caravan of wild animals on the way and in the streets of , and were also kept prisoners for a show for several days. In the mean time, a had been sent by , with an additional force of six thousand men, from the lower country, to join in his operations against the Mormons. He soon arrived before with his army, and confirmed all had done, and highly commended them for their virtue, forbearance and other deeds in bringing about so peaceable and amicable an adjustment of affairs. He kept up the same scene of ravage, plunder, ravishment and depredation, for the support and enrichment of his army—even burning the houses and fences for fuel. He also insisted that every man, woman and child of the Mormon society should leave the , except such as he detained as prisoners; stating that the had sent him to exterminate them, but that he would, as a mercy, spare their lives, and give them until the first of April following, to get out of the . He also compelled them, at the point of the bayonet, to sign a deed of trust of all their real estate, to defray the expenses of what he called “The Mormon War.” After arranging all these matters to his satisfaction, he returned to , thirty miles distant, taking about sixty heads of families with him, and marching them through a severe snow storm, on foot, as prisoners, leaving their families in a perishing condition.
Having established his head-quarters at , Ray county, he sent to and demanded us to be given up to him. We were accordingly transported some thirty or forty miles, delivered over to him, and put in close confinement, in chains, under a strong guard. A[t] length we obtained an interview with him, an[d] enquired why we were detained as prisoners[.] I said to him, Sir, we have now been prisone[rs] under the most aggravating circumstances [for] two or three weeks, during which time we ha[v]e received no information as to why we are pr[is]oners, or for what object, as no writ has been se[rv]ed upon us. We are not detained by the civi[l la]w. and as ministers of the gospel in times of [p]eace, who never bear arms, we cannot be consid[ere]d prisoners of war, especially as there has [be]en no war. And from present appearances, [w]e can hardly be considered prisoners of hop[e.] Why then these bonds? Said he, You were [t]aken to be tried. Tried by what authority? sa[id] I. By court martial, replied he. By court martial? said I. Yes, said he.— How, says I, can men, who are not military men, but ministers of the gospel, be tried by court martial, in this country where every man has a right to be tried by a jury? He replied it was according to the treaty with , on the part of the State of , and , the commanding officer of the Fortress of , on the part of the Mormons, and in accordance with the ’s order. And, said he, I approve of all that has done, and am determined to see it fulfilled. Said I, was but a Colonel of the militia, and commissioned by the , and the Mormons had no Fortress; but were, in common with others, citizens of , and therefore we recognise no authority in , to sell our liberties or make treaties for us.
Several days afterwards, again entered our prison and said he had concluded to deliver us over to the civil authorities. Accordingly we were soon brought before Judge of the Fifth circuit, where an examination was commenced, and witnesses sworn at the point of the bayonet, and threatened on pain of death if they did not swear to that which would suit the court. During this examination, I heard ask one of the witnesses, who was a Mormon, if he and his friends intended to live on their lands any longer than April, and to plant crops? Witness replied, why not? The replied, If you once think to plant crops or to occupy your lands any longer than the first of April, the citizens will be upon you; they will kill you every one, men, women and children, and leave you to manure the ground without a burial. They have been mercifully withheld from doing this on the present occasion, but will not be restrained for the future. On examining a Mormon witness for the purpose of substantiating the charge of Treason against Mr. Smith. He questioned him concerning our religious faith:
First. Do the Mormons send missionaries to foreign nations? The witness answered in the affirmative.
Secondly. Do the Mormons believe a certain passage in the Book of Daniel? naming the passage, which reads as follows: ‘And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him’ Dan. vii: 27. On being answered in the affirmative, the ordered the scribe to put it down as a strong point for treason; but this was too much for even a lawyer to bear; he remonstrated against such a course of proceedure, but in vain. Said he, you had better make the bible treason. After an examination of this kind, for many days, some were set at liberty, others admitted out on bail, and themselves and bail expelled from the forthwith, with the rest of the Mormon citizens. And Joseph Smith, , , , and others were committed to the jail for further trial. Two or three others, and myself, were put into the jail at , for the same purpose.
The Mormon people now began to leave the , agreeably to the extermina[t]ing order of . Ten or twelve thousand left the during the winter, and fled to the state of . A small number of widows, and the poor, together with my family and some of the friends of the other prisoners, still lingered in , when a small band of armed men entered the and committed many depredations and threatened life; and swore if my and children, and others whom they named were not out of the , in so many days, they would kill them; as the time now drew near for the completion of the exterminating order of . Accordingly, my and children, and others, left the as best they could; wandered to the state of , there to get a living among strangers, without a husband, father, or protector. Myself and party still remained in prison, after all the other Mormons had left the ; and even Mr Smith and his party, had escaped to bring up the rear. In June, by change of venue, we were removed from , to Columbia, , upwards of one hundred miles towards the state of ; and by our reques[t ]a special court was called, for final trial; but notwithstanding we were removed more than one hundred miles from the scenes of their depredations, yet such was the fact, that neither our friends or witnesses dared come into that to attend our trial, as they had been banished from the by the ’s order of extermination; executed to the very letter, b[y] the principal officers of the , civil and military. On these grounds, and having had all these opportunities to know, I testify that neither Mr. Smith, nor any other Mormon has the least prospect for justice, or to receive a fair and impartial trial in the state of . If tried at all, they must be tried by authorities who have trampled all law under their feet, and who have assisted in committing murder, robbery, treason, , rape, and felony; and who have made a law of banishment, contrary to the laws of all nations; and executed this barbarous law with the utmost rigor and severity. Therefore, Mr. Smith, and the Mormons generally, have suffered the end of the law, of which they had no choice, and therefore, the state of has no further claims, whatever, upon any of them.
I furthermore testify that the authorities of other states, who would assist , to wreak further vengeance upon any individua[l] of the persecuted Mormons, are either ignorantly or wilfully aiding and abetting in all these crimes.
Cross examined. He states that he was very intimate with Mr. Smith all the time he resided in the state of , and was with him almost daily, and that he knows positively that Mr. Smith held no office, either civil or military, either real or pretended, in that ; and that he never bore arms, or did military duty, not even in self defence; but that he was a peaceable, law-abiding, and faithful citizen, and a preacher of the gospel, and exhorted al[l] the citizens to be peaceable, long suffering and slow to act, even in self defence. He further stated that there was no fortress in , but a temporary fence, made of rails, house logs, floor planks, wagons, carts, &c., hastily thrown together, after being told by that they were to be massacred the fo[l]lowing morning, and the burnt to ashes, without giving any information by what authority. And he further states that he only escaped himself from that by walking out of the jail when the door was open to put in food, and came out in obedience to the ’s order of banishment, and to fulfil the same.