Monday, June 27, 2011

Joseph Fielding on the Death of Joseph Smith

Two days ago I presented an anti-Mormon account of the death of Joseph Smith. It seems only fair that today we should hear from an early LDS account of the same, especially as today marks the 167th anniversary of the event itself. This account of the death of Joseph Smith is excerpted from the journal of Joseph Fielding. I give very slight repunctuation here and there. The account may be read in Andrew F. Ehat, ed., "'They Might Have Known That He Was Not a Fallen Prophet' - The Nauvoo Journal of Joseph Fielding", BYU Studies 19/2 (1979): 10-11. I thoroughly recommend examining Ehat's excellent piece.

...on Thursday [27 June 1844] the Governor left them and with a company of men came to Nauvoo having left a guard at the jail, but of the Carthage Greys who had just before been in a state of mutiny, yet as all the troops had pledged themselves to the Governor to abide by the laws, these were entrusted with the care of the prisoners. It seems that a party of the mob had come to Golding's Point on their way to Nauvoo, and that messengers were sent to them to order them to disperse. At this their leader, Colonel Williams, ordered all who were not willing to go to Carthage and kill the Smiths to lay down their arms, and the rest to step out together, saying "Now is the time, or never". This was soon done, and the murderers disguised themselves by blacking their faces and started on their way to shed blood, and came to the place about 5 o'clock in the evening of the 27th.

A young man named Daniels who had given up his gun went with them, as he said, to see what they would do, and was an eyewitness to all that passed, heard Wills say he had shot Hyrum. This Wills was one of the company of Saints (an Irish man) who came with me from England with his wife and two children. He was an elder in the Church. It is understood that he received a wound in the arm from a bullet by Bro. Joseph; it took his wrist and ran up by the bone, of which wound he soon after died.

A ball passed through the door and entered Brother Hyrum on one side of his nose just below his eye when he exclaimed "I am a dead man" and fell, at which Joseph cried out to Hyrum; as he lay another entered under his chin. Bro. John Taylor attempted to get out at a back window, but a ball met him which it seems threw him back into the room owing to its taking his watch, which beat in the watch thereby giving the exact time at which it occurred he had received four balls before he was taken by Brother Willard Richards and put under the bed. He suffered much but survived, a living martyr.

Joseph too endeavored to escape by the same window but the mob quickly met him there. He fell from the window, and was taken by the mob and was set against the well curb and four men shot him in the upper part of his body. Williams then said, "Take his head off," but at this moment, as Daniels states, a light shone between Joseph and the mob which so affected them that they had no power to touch him, and the four men dropped their arms and had to be carried off by their companions.

The whole then ran off, leaving their victims weltering in their blood. Thus the earth was once more stained with the blood of the Saints, even the anointed servants of God; and their blood echoes the cry of former Saints for vengeance to be taken on the wicked, that the earth may be cleansed from the blood of the righteous. Their bodies were washed from blood and put into boxes and the next day were conveyed in two wagons under a guard to Nauvoo. This was the most solemn sight that my eyes ever beheld.

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