A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview

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The Battle Of Nauvoo


Leaving the main body of the Saints traveling westward, in this chapter I wish to tell you about what happened to those who remained in Nauvoo; and by the way, this is the last chapter of this little history in which mobs will play an important part.

In the summer of 1846 there were about six hundred Saints in Nauvoo, most of whom had been unable to get away. Many were poor, some were sick, and there were many old people and children. Many non-"Mormons" had bought property from the Saints who had left, and had moved into the city. The mob called these friendly citizens "Jack Mormons."

Naturally, one would think that these few Saints would be left to get ready to move in peace; but not so. If there is any doubt of the brutal character of the mob, what they now did will remove that doubt forever.

On July 11, eight brethren were engaged in cutting grain in a field twelve miles from Nauvoo. A mob surrounded them, and then taking them one by one, whipped them severely. Two of these mobbers were afterwards arrested, and to get even for this, the mob carried away five other brethren who were abused by the mobbers for twelve days before they were released.

The next move of the mob was to get writs of arrest for many persons in Nauvoo. A John Carlin was unlawfully appointed a constable to serve these writs, that is, make the arrests, and he raised a large body of men to help him; but behind all this, the real object was to drive the remaining "Mormons" from the city.

Governor Ford was now notified of the actions of these mobbers, and he sent Major Parker to Nauvoo, who was to raise volunteers and defend the city. Four companies of troops were organized by the governor's order; but instead of treating the invaders as they truly were, a mob, Major Parker made a treaty with their leader in which it was agreed that the "Mormons" would leave the state within sixty days. The mob leader thought this fair enough, but the mobbers did not. At this, their leader resigned and a man by the name of Brockman took command of the crowd. He gave the order to march towards Nauvoo, which they gladly did.

On the morning of September 10th, 1846, the watchman in the tower of the temple gave notice that the enemy were coming 1,000 or 1,500 strong. They had cannon, plenty of ammunition, and came like an army ready for battle. Many of the new citizens fled, and the little band of defenders numbered only one hundred and twenty-three men.

Meanwhile, a committee had come from Quincy to try to settle the troubles without bloodshed. Although with them were Major Flood, sent by the governor, and Mr. Wood, mayor of Quincy, the mob paid no attention to them, and so they could do nothing.

There seemed no prospect but that the citizens would have to defend themselves as best they could. Benjamin Clifford took command of the volunteers, and Captain William Anderson organized a small body of sharpshooters called the Spartan Band. As cannon were badly needed, the brethren got two hollow steamboat shafts, cut them in two, plugged up one end, and thus made some cannon. They had no cannon balls, but they used scraps of iron and lead tied up into bags.On Friday, the 11th, the mob drew up to the city and began firing. They were met by the "Mormon" troops with their home-made cannon, which surprised the mobbers very much, and they were compelled to stop their advance.

On Saturday, the 12th, a flag of truce was brought into the city, and with it a note to the commander at Nauvoo, stating that if they did not surrender they would have to take the consequences. Major Clifford replied that he had been sent by the governor to uphold the laws and that he was going to do it, advising Brockman to disband his men.

The Nauvoo citizens had held their position during the night and had thrown up some breastworks. The next day the battle waged fiercer than ever, but the Nauvoo boys held their ground and the mob could not get in. Twelve mobbers were wounded. The first one killed among the defenders was Augustus Anderson, a "Mormon" boy fourteen years old. He left his mother that morning saying he would fight for her, and went along with his father, Captain William Anderson. Augustus was struck by a cannon ball, and died in a few minutes. Shortly after Captain Anderson was also hit.

"I am wounded," he cried. "Take my gun and shoot on."

David Norris was also killed, and a number of other brethren wounded.

For six days that little band of brave defenders kept the mob at bay; and even when it was seen to be useless to keep the fight up longer, many were in favor of doing so.

On the 16th a treaty was made. The city was to surrender. The citizens were not to be molested, and the sick and helpless were to be protected. The "Mormons" were to leave as soon as possible.

The mob forces entered the city on the 17th; but it was the same old story. They thought no more of promises or of the treaty. Bands of men went through the city, stealing, insulting, and in every way abusing the people. A gang went through the temple and up to the tower where they rang the bell, yelled and shouted. A preacher who was in the mob went up to the top of the tower and cried in a loud voice:

"Peace! peace! peace! to the inhabitants of the earth, now the 'Mormons' are driven!"

The poor Saints had to get away as fast as they could. Some went north, some south, but most of them crossed the river and camped on the low bottoms of the Mississippi in Iowa. I shall not attempt to tell you of the sufferings of these poor people; weak, sick hungry, cold, and wet. It would make your heart ache to see the picture, one of the saddest in all our history.

At this time, when it seemed as though these people would starve to death, a strange thing happened. Great flocks of quail came flying into camp. They flew against the wagons with such force that they were killed or stunned, so that they could be picked up. They also alighted all over the camp and were so tame that they could be taken by the hand. Thus the Lord sent food to his hungry children.

If you wish to read a very interesting account of this removal from Nauvoo, read Colonel Kane's lecture, found in many of our larger histories. [Note: Jensen's Historical Record, page 838. Whitney's History of Utah. Vol. I, page 274.]

Topics.1. Nauvoo after the main body of Saints had left. 2. The Battle of Nauvoo. 3. The remnant driven out.

Questions and Review.1. About how many Saints were left in Nauvoo? 2. Who were the "Jack Mormons?" 3. Tell of the mob's doings. 4. Who was John Carlin? 5. What did he do? 6. Who was Major Parker? 7. What did he have orders to do? 8. Describe the mobbing party. 9. Tell about the Nauvoo volunteers. 10. Who were William and Augustus Anderson? 11. How long did the defenders hold out? 12. What was agreed upon in the treaty of peace? 13. Describe the actions of the mob in Nauvoo. 14. To where were the Saints driven? 15. What was their condition? 16. How were they fed? 17. Who wrote an interesting account of this exodus?