Episode 7 - Death of the Prophet Joseph Smith
On the last episode of the podcast, Joseph Smith arrived in Carthage, Illinois at night. Escorted there by Governor Ford’s posse. Joseph was met outside his hotel by the angry Carthage Grey’s, Carthage’s local militia. In an effort to calm them down, Governor Ford – also staying at the same hotel – told the men they would officially be introduced to Joseph Smith in the morning.
I am Stephen Dethloff, and this is the Strangers & Pilgrim’s podcast telling of the Death of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
In the morning, as promised, Governor Ford lines up the Carthage militia to be introduced to Joseph Smith.
He walks Joseph and Hyrum down military lines. John Taylor and other non-Nauvoo Legion leaders follow behind. It is a really formal event – kind of like a formal introduction by the Governor of one military leader to other state militias.
However, the Carthage Militia are not allowing themselves to be introduced to Joseph and Hyrum officially. Instead they’re screaming and shouting like they were the night before.
One of the men, after being introduced to General Joseph Smith, shouts, “I will introduce myself in a different style.” He throws off his hat, pulls out his sword and sticks it right in Joseph’s face.
Other men are shouting, “No introduction for us. Down with all impostors.”
The Governor is probably becoming frustrated at this point. He has come all the way out to Carthage to try and broker peace, but is finding it difficult. He tells the Carthage Grays, which again is the name of the local carthage militia, “Would you please not act so rudely. Please. Look at him. Is there anything in this man’s appearance that leads you to believe him a desperate character?”
One of the men responds. He says, “No sir.” And, then turning to Joseph says, “But we cannot see what is in your heart. Neither can we tell your intentions.”
Joseph then responds. He says, “Very true, gentlemen. You cannot see into my heart, but I can see into yours. I can see that you thirst for my blood, and nothing but my blood will satisfy you.”
If the Governor was frustrated with the local Militia’s reaction to Joseph, Joseph’s reaction to them also probably frustrated him. He did not have control over either side of this conflict.
Later, commenting on this moment that Governor Ford introduced Joseph to the local militia, one of the militia’s leaders said that he, “had no more command over [his men] than [he] would have had over a pack of wild Indians.”
And, so, what the Governor had started to fear – what he had wrote about in his letter to Joseph urging him to come to Carthage – was already happening – the militia was beginning to be, “beyond legal control.” And, in fact, we saw in the last episode, when the Governor sent men out to Warsaw to confiscate the weapons of the Warsaw militia, and disband them, that some of the men refused the orders – they kept their weapons. So, the citizens of Hancock County have already started to ignore their government. Meanwhile, the Latter-day Saints are relying on their government for safety.
Joseph Smith’s day in court is very short. The prosecution requests an adjournment. They tell the judge they need more time to collect their witnesses in the case against Joseph Smith for the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor. Even though William Law, and Francis Higbee, and all their business partners are already in town, there are apparently some other important witnesses who are not yet there. It’s Tuesday, so the Judge gives the prosecution until the upcoming Saturday to get all their witnesses together. In the meantime, Joseph Smith and the other defendants will be forced to stay in jail or pay the $500 per person bail.
This is a lot of money. But, Joseph and his friends do not want to stay in jail overnight out of fear for their life. So, Joseph’s bodyguard, Stephen Markham – that day – sells his house in Nauvoo. He sells his house and puts up the money for Joseph Smith to pay for bail. So that Joseph can leave the city and return to the safety of Nauvoo.
When Stephen eventually returns to Nauvoo he will move his family out of their house and into a tent. This is how much Stephen Markham loved the prophet Joseph Smith. And, this is an amazing moment to me, and an important contrast between the men and women that left Joseph Smith, left the church, and began to attack him, and those that stayed loyal and faithful to him. Joseph had a lot of enemies, but he also had a lot of friends.
Back at the Hamilton House Joseph is saying goodbye to some of the men who traveled out to Carthage with him from Nauvoo. Joseph is looking to get a meeting with Governor Ford before he and Hyrum head back to Nauvoo as well.
While they’re standing in the hotel the Constable who issued their first arrest warrant for the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor two weeks earlier appears. He has another arrest warrant. Hyrum and Joseph tell him they’re not going to go to jail, because they just got out on bail. The constable tells them, no, this is for a new charge – a charge of treason. And, this charge will be different than the charge for inciting a riot and destroying the Nauvoo Expositor, because there is no bail for treason without appearing before a circuit judge – and the closest circuit judge was a full days horse ride away from Carthage. So, at the very least, Joseph and Hyrum will have to stay in jail, in Carthage, for two more days.
John Taylor, who is standing nearby, hears this and runs upstairs to Governor Ford’s room in the hotel. He tells the governor that Joseph is being charged with treason, and that he is going to jail. The Governor acts unsurprised. He tells John that he cannot do anything to help Joseph as that is in the judicial branch of the government and he is only the executive. He cannot interfere with the judiciary.
Governor Ford, in the history of Illinois he would write, suggested that Joseph Smith was put in jail for treason because he declared martial law in Nauvoo. And, that martial law would be treasonous in the scenario where it prevented a posse from the county sheriff entering Nauvoo and arresting Joseph. However, that was a hypothetical situation which never happened. And, the Governor, acknowledges that the charge of treason would never actually stick unless they could have found an instance, after the fact, where an arresting party was prevented from entering the city to carry out a warrant.
But, the charge of treason was never intended to actually stick.
It looks like the charge of treason was a back-up plan to make sure Joseph stayed in Carthage after he got there. Because, after Joseph was released on bail for the charge of causing a riot, two men went to the judge and both filed treason charges to ensure Joseph stayed in town.
At this point, a large mob of angry men has collected outside the Hamilton Hotel. In the time that Joseph left court for the charges of destroying the Nauvoo expositor press, got to the hotel, and was getting ready to speak with Governor Ford, a mob has got up.
And, in the middle of that mob is this constable with the new arrest warrant, and his posse.
So, now Joseph must travel from the Hamilton Hotel to Carthage Jail. So, Joseph and Hyrum are pushed through the angry mob to go to jail. Some of the men in the arresting party form a protective circle around Joseph, and Joseph’s friends who are still in Carthage form another circle around him to push back the mob as they walk through the city streets.
Joseph Smith’s bodyguard, Stephen Markham, and another loyal friend to Joseph Smith named named Dan Jones – kind of float in the bubble made between these two protective circles of men. And, Stephen has his knotted hickory cane that he called “the rascal beater”. As the mob pushes up against the men forming these rings of protection they poke through their bayonets to try and stab Joseph. They rush to get at him. Occasionally a few of the men will break through that first line of defense, and Stephen Markham will beat them with his cane. On the other side of the circle, Dan Jones also fights off the men that break through. He beats them away with his own cane.
Stephen Markham’s cane, by the way, is also in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s Church History museum in Salt Lake City – along with a lot of the other items that we’ve talked about in this story – and will talk about. If you ever make it out there and are interested in seeing some of the items involved in this story you should.
And, to me, here is a quick plug for that museum. It’s one thing to go to the Church History museum and see parts of Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo Legion outfit, and to see Stephen Markham’s cane. But, it’s another thing to go and see those artifacts as they fit into the context of a larger story. It really helps me appreciate them more.
So, the men make it to Carthage Jail. Only Joseph and Hyrum are arrested for treason, but there are about 10 of them there in jail, total. These are friends of the Prophet who followed him out from Nauvoo and are not going to leave his side. They’ve been allowed to stay in the jail with the prophet.
The Carthage Jail is two stories. The bottom floor is house of the Jailor and his family. The upper floor is where prisoners are held.
The prisoners first get put in the jail cell. But, the jailor comes up and sees the two prisoners, and the eight other men who have joined them in there, and he tells them it isn’t any place for them. So, he puts them in the debtor’s room which is downstairs – back down the stairs. It has no furniture or anything – it’s just a bare room.
All night men with guns will regularly come up and look through the window, at the prisoners and their friends who sleep on the floor using their boots and arms as pillows.
Joseph and Hyrum end up pushing themselves up against the wall right below the window to protect themselves from anyone that might decide to shoot through the window while they sleep.
The next morning Joseph wakes up and has a meeting with the Jailor. The jailor feeds him a nice breakfast. The jailor is actually sympathetic to Joseph and the Latter-day Saints. His housekeeper is a Latter-day Saint. His housekeeper is the little sister of one of the Church leaders and a convert that had immigrated to Illinois from England.
And, so he has a different perspective of who the Latter-day Saints are as he knows them. And what they’re about. Having lived with one for so long.
Joseph and his friends are then moved from the debtors room downstairs to the sitting room upstairs. This was a nice room adjacent to the jail cell they were briefly in the night before. It had a small bed, and a desk, and fireplace. And it is right at the top of the stairs.
Later in the day Governor Ford comes to visit with Joseph and Hyrum. Now, I’ll quote some of the conversation here. But, this conversation wasn’t written until 3 years after it took place. It was written by John Taylor, who was in the room at the time. So, I’m quoting what John Taylor remembering Governor Ford and Joseph Smith as saying.
The conversation starts out with Governor Ford telling Joseph Smith he should not have destroyed the Nauvoo Expositor. And, that it makes Joseph look like he is “turbulent and defiant of the laws and institutions of the country.” And, the Governor tells him that instance of destroying the press is, “the principle cause of this difficulty.”
Joseph acknowledges that men “may differ somewhat in their opinions,” about the legality of the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor. He then goes on to explain, again, to the Governor their reasoning, and their belief that their actions were legal. He, again, reminds the Governor that he and his people have been persecuted and endured “every conceivable indignity and lawless outrage perpetrated . . . since our settlement here.”
He also turns the conversation to why they’re actually in jail – the charge of treason, which is predicated on Joseph declaring martial law. Joseph says, “Who ordered out the Nauvoo Legion? I did, under your direction. For what purpose? To suppress insurrectionary movements.” He tries to explain to the Governor that it was completely legal.
The Governor, however, still disagrees with Joseph’s use of martial law – which, again, years later in his history, the Governor would say would’ve been treasonous had it inhibited a posse issuing an arrest warrant. Which, again, was only hypothetical, as the martial law never prevented such a thing.
The conversation shifts, and the Governor talks to Joseph Smith about wanting to go to speak in Nauvoo the following day to the Latter-day Saints living there. He’s not sure if he’ll go yet, but he is thinking about it. Joseph asks the Governor if he could go with him. Back to Nauvoo. To help ease the minds of his people. The Governor tells Joseph that won’t be necessary, and that if he goes he’ll go by himself.
The conversation is, essentially, the same disagreements they’ve been having for the last month. I think, to the Governor, he ends up leaving with maybe a little bit of discouragement. Seeing the conversation just going in circles – the conversation they’ve been having through letters for the last month.
So, on his way out of the jail, when they’ve gotten outside and the door has been closed, the Governor turns to one of the Colonel’s of the militia who had gone up stairs to visit Joseph Smith with him, and says, “Oh, it is all nonsense! You will have to drive these Mormons out yet!”
And, it looks to me, here, like the Governor has finally broke. He had originally come to Carthage to try and broker peace between the Latter-day Saints and their enemies. He has come to decide that the only solution he can see to prevent a war is to allow one side to drive the other side out of the state. Prevent a war by causing an exodus
That evening at the Hamilton Hotel there was a meeting regarding Joseph Smith. In the meeting, men decide that they will kill the prophet on the following day. At the same time, in Warsaw, another meeting of men determine the same thing – they propose that on the following day 20 men will go to Carthage to kill the prophet.
Later in the night, one of the members of the mob, a newspaperman, sends a letter to his paper for publication. In his letter, he writes, “You need not be at all surprised to hear at any time of the destruction of the two Smiths by the populace. The Governor has placed a guard of fifty men to protect the jail in which they are confined from attack and destruction. But judging from what I hear and see I entertain but little hope of success of this effort.”
Now, this guard of fifty men who were placed to protect the prophet Joseph from the mobs – they’re the same men who met Joseph outside the Hamilton House when he arrived in Carthage a few days earlier. They’re the men threatening his life, and screaming, and throwing their weapons.
The next morning is June 27th0. It is the morning of the day that Joseph Smith will be murdered. Thomas Sharp, not in Carthge, but still back in Warsaw, goes down to the railroad shanties that have been built outside the city to house the men working on the railroads.
Thomas Sharp shouts to the men in the shanties, “The Time has come to do something to stop the Mormon Prophet. Who will come to help us?”
The men there are worried. They’re uncertain. They know that the Governor a militia, the Carthage Grays, guarding Joseph Smith in the jail. They probably, however, don’t know how much the Carthage Gray’s hate the prophet. And, they probably don’t know that just a day earlier one of their commanders felt that, “he had no more command over [his men] than [he] would have had over a pack of wild Indians.”
But, Thomas and the men in Warsaw are not going to let any perceived obstacles stop them any more. Thomas is tired of Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints. He doesn’t have the patience for them, or the Governor. Thomas says, “If the Governor tries to stop me, I’ll take his head from off his shoulders.”
He then tells the men at the shanties on the need to go right now, this instant, to murder the two men. He says, “We must hasten to Carthage and murder the Smiths while the governor is absent at Nauvoo . . . The news [of Joseph’s death] will so enrage the Mormons, that they will fall upon and murder Tom Ford, and we shall then be ride of the damned little Governor and the Mormons, too.”
Thomas Sharp has been trying now to kill Joseph Smith for years. And, the Governor has been nothing but a hindrance to him. Insisting that the law be kept. Insisting that due process be followed. Insisting that the Latter-day Saints be given an opportunity.
Now, again, Thomas Sharp does not know that the winds have started to shift in Carthage. He doesn’t know that, yesterday, upon leaving the jail, the Governor remarked, “Oh, it is all nonsense! You will have to drive these Mormons out yet!”
So, as the Governor begins to kowtow to some of these populist rages in Hancock County, Thomas Sharp, hoping to kill two birds with one stone – hoping to kill Joseph Smith and then have the Latter-day Saints kill the Governor, marches off to Carthage with a small group of people to assassinate the prophet.
As Thomas Sharp marches to Carthage one of the men in jail with Joseph, Dan Jones, goes downstairs to ask one of the guards outside about some shots they had heard fired in the middle of the night. The Captain of the guards tells him, “You know, we have had too much trouble bringing Joe smith here to ever let him escape alive. Unless you want to die with him, you’d better leave before sundown.”
Dan, scared for the prophet’s life, runs to town to tell the Governor. And, there had started to be a lot of talk in town. Just the night before at the Hamilton Hotel, Dan heard two of the leaders of the mob talking about murdering Joseph Smith. They had said almost the exact same thing as the captain of the guards downstairs. They had said it had been too much work to get Joseph to Carthage, and that they couldn’t let him make it back to Nauvoo alive. One of them pulled out his pistol and said, “The balls are in there that will decide his case.”
So, Dan runs and tells the Governor about this new threat – now coming from the captain of the guards that are watching Joseph! The Governor tells him that he is being “unnecessarily alarmed for the safety of [his] friends.” He tells him that the people are not that cruel, and that they are not going to try and kill Joseph Smith.
Dan Jones goes back to the jail and tells Joseph what has happened. Joseph gives Dan a letter to give his wife. In the letter he says, “Dear Emma, I am very much resigned to my lot, knowing I am justified, and have done the best that could be done. Give my love to the children and all my friends.”
It’s interesting that Dan was asked to carry this letter from the prophet to his wife. Dan, who was 34 years old at the time, had actually only been a member of the restored Church of Jesus Christ for a little over a year. Dan was a steamboat Captain who had first learned about the church through Thomas Sharp’s “anti-Mormon” paper the Warsaw Signal. Just from reading the Warsaw Signal he had decided that Thomas Sharp’s claims against the Latter-day Saints couldn’t be true because of how contradictory they were and how overzealous they were. But, even though he didn’t believe what was coming out of the Warsaw Signal, he had not gotten an interest in the Church’s truth claims until, somehow, he found part of a letter that Joseph had given to Emma when he was in Liberty Jail – back in Missouri.
Somehow this letter, that Emma was supposed to deliver to another woman in the church, had found its way to Dan on his steamboat. And, he was impressed with the writing. He was impressed with its religious teachings, and its attitude towards persecution. It encouraged this woman to, “rejoic[e] in the midst of her tribulations at being worthy to suffer all that for a testimony of Jesus and the gospel.” Dan was so impressed with Joseph Smith’s letter that it led him to investigate the Church and he was soon baptized. Three months after getting baptized, Dan met the Prophet and they became fast friends.
And now, the prophet, once again in jail, once again experiencing persecution, was sending out a letter of consolation. And this time Dan was the messenger.
While Joseph has been in Nauvoo Emma was doing writing of her own. Remember, when Joseph was in Nauvoo, helping the Nauvoo Legion turn in their muskets to the state government, Joseph had snuck back home three times to try and get Emma to go Carthage with him. And, she told Joseph she couldn’t. And, then she asked Joseph for a blessing, and he told her he didn’t have time, but had her write it out, and told her he’d sign it when he got back.
Emma, with her own pen and paper, wrote out that blessing as “these desires of my heart”. I won’t read the whole thing, but I’ll read to you three sections.
She starts the blessing with, “First of all that I would crave as the richest of heaven’s blessings would be wisdom from my Heavenly Father bestowed daily, so that whatever I might do or say, I could not look back at the close of day with regret.”
In the middle she says, “I particularly desire wisdom to bring up all the children that are, or may be committed to my charge, in such a matter that they will be useful ornaments in the Kingdom of God, and in a coming day arise up and call me blessed.”
She closes her blessing with, “I desire that whatever may be my lot through life I may be enabled to acknowledge the hand of God in all things.”
So Dan Jones goes back to Nauvoo with this letter for Emma. A letter which says the prophet is resigned to his lot, and has done the best he could.
The other of Joseph’s guests in the jail, as they come and go from the jail throughout the day, are driven off by mobs – chased and attacked. Others, when they leave once, are simply not allowed back inside the jail.
By the time evening rolls around, of the eight people that were in the jail along with Joseph and Hyrum, and of the numerous guests who had come in and out of the jail during the day, the two brothers are only joined by two others: John Taylor and Willard Richards. The two twelve apostles who stayed back in Nauvoo and didn’t go out to electioneer for Joseph’s presidential campaign.
As news and rumors continue to grow outside concerning an imminent attack on the mob the jailor comes upstairs and tells Joseph there could be trouble later in the day. He tells that Joseph and his friends better leave the sitting room and lock themselves in the jail cell where they’ll be safer.
Joseph tells the jailor, thank you, and that they will probably go into the jail cell in the evening after dinner. As the jailor leaves Joseph is standing there in the hallway, looking into the jail cell with Willard, and he asks him, “If we go into the cell, will you go in with us?” Because, remember, it is still only Joseph and Hyrum who are arrested.
Willard says to Joseph, “Brother Joseph, you did not ask me to cross the river with you” (that’s the Mississippi River into Iowa). . . he says, “Brother Joseph, you did not ask me to cross the river with you, you did not ask me to come to Carthage, you did not ask me to come to jail with you, and do you think I would forsake you now? But I will tell you what I will do; if you are condemned to be hung for treason, I will be hung in your stead, and you shall go free.’ Joseph said, ‘you cannot,’ but Willard replied, “I will.”
This moment reminds me of the great sacrifice Stephen Markham made of selling his house to pay the prophet’s bail. Willard tells the Prophet he would die for him. And, again, even now, even though for the last 14 years of his life Joseph had been betrayed and left by a countless number of friends and associates, he still had men and women who loved him and cared for him and would give everything they could for him.
Back in Missouri, when Joseph was in Liberty Jail for treason, and was feeling low, and down. The Latter-day Saints were being driven across the winter countryside as refugees. All their property had been stolen. Their land had been taken. As Joseph was sitting in jail with the other 5 leaders of the Church, and leader’s of the local militia, Joseph felt the Lord tell him, “Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.”
Joseph, who had lost a lot of friends. Still had a lot of friends. Who fought for him and loved him.
Well, with all these people coming in and out of the jail to talk with Joseph and help him, throughout the day one of Joseph’s visitors, a man named Cyrus Wheelock, had snuck him in two pistols. One was a little pepperbox pistol and the other was a single barrel pistol. Well, as the rumors get more intense and the threat of violence grows Joseph approaches Hyrum and gives him the single barrel. Hyrum looks at the gun and is kind of put off. He says, “I hate to use such things – or see them used.” Joseph agrees, but then tells Hyrum they may have to use them. So, Hyrum puts the gun in his coat pocket. Joseph hides his in the small desk there in the room.
Now, while Joseph and Hyrum feel their enemies closing in on them Governor Ford has traveled to Nauvoo.
Emma has made breakfast, and then lunch, for Governor Ford and 40 of his fellow travelers from Carthage. And, Governor Ford and the men traveling with him are using Joseph’s upstairs office in his house as their own while they’re in town.
And, after this, Governor Ford addresses the men and women of Nauvoo. He gives a speech to the citizens there. He is speaking to them from the parade grounds. Right across from Joseph’s house. Delivering his speech on top of the same building that Joseph Smith delivered his speech when he declared martial law.
Governor Ford tells the people gathered, “You must understand the amount of hatred and prejudice which prevails against you everywhere. . . your neighbors believe you are going to overthrow the entire establishment of our country.” He blames the Latter-day Saints there for their own persecution. And, he tells them that they must change their behavior and change their attitudes in order to stop the persecution against them.
Meanwhile, back in Carthage a mob of men have assembled in the woods. They are frustrated with the Government’s slow response to Joseph. They want to kill him now.
The group of men paint their faces black with gunpowder to hide their identities. And they start marching through the woods towards Carthage Jail. The mob is composed of the three main groups of enemies of Joseph Smith. They have all, over the last few weeks and months, met up, become acquainted with one another, and organized their efforts to a degree. The first group of men in this mob is the former Latter-day Saints, now excommunicated, led by William Law. The second group is the natives of Illinois led by the spokesman for the Anti-Mormon party Thomas Sharp. And, the third group of men are those who are concerned with Joseph and his political aspirations. Of his trying to establish the Kingdom of Daniel that we talked about.
Now, even though William Law was the leader of the excommunicated Latter-day Saints, he was not there in the mob. William had actually left Carthage earlier that morning to go to Iowa to meet with Secretary of State Calhoun’s sons. The same sons that Joseph met with the night he briefly escaped into Iowa.
It’s my opinion that William Law left to meet with them because he was scared that Joseph Smith had told them something negative about himself in his meeting, and William wanted to do damage control.
One night earlier in the year, a few men from Missouri had crossed over the Mississippi River into Nauvoo with weapons. And, they were there to assassinate Joseph Smith. They could’ve hated the prophet, or they could’ve just been bounty hunters. At the time there was a bounty out for Joseph’s head.
The assassins ended up finding William Law in Nauvoo who snuck the men over to Joseph’s house in the middle of the night. Pretending that he was still a friend of the Prophet, William tried to get Joseph Smith to come outside so that the men could kill him. But, Joseph – seeing the two men, and being protected by his bodyguards outside the gate to his house – would not leave. And, so the half-hearted assassination attempt failed.
But, everyone in Nauvoo knew what William had done. That he had led these Missouri assassins to Joseph’s house in the middle of the night.
William Law, after the fact, realized how bad this made him look and he writes a big apology letter that was published. He said that he was sorry for the way he acted – directing murderers to Joseph’s home in the middle of the night. And that he would kind of shape up. And act better.
So, I think, in the last few months of Joseph’s life, William was in this weird balancing act of, trying to direct this secret organization to destroy Joseph Smith all the while keeping up the image of this prophet of a new reformation religion and being an upstanding citizen.
Other writers and historians have written suggesting that William’s meeting with Calhoun’s sons is proof of some sort of national conspiracy to kill the prophet of which the Secretary of State was a part. TBut, I don’t believe that necessarily.
And, one of the reasons is that, when William left earlier in the morning, his friends and business partners were upset with him. They wanted him to stay. They wanted him to finish off the job. When William Law left Carthage he said that because Joseph was in jail they couldn’t do anything to get him anyway – so he might as well go to Iowa and come back on Saturday for the trial. His friends, though, were insistent. They told him that they would do what the law could not do. But, he left. And his friends and allies remained.
Back to the mob of men in the forest, their faces painted black with gunpowder.
As the mob gets closer to the jail they split into two groups. At the front of one of the groups is Charles Foster. He is an excommunicated Latter-day Saint. A member of William’s new religion and his secret society. One of the owners of the Nauvoo Expositor. And he is leading the march up to the door of the jail.
The second mob group is marching up to the window of the sitting room where Joseph Smith is staying. They’re marching up towards the second story window. Directly outside the window, below it on the ground, is a water well. At the front of this group is Thomas Sharp and his group of militia men from Warsaw. And, so, again, you see each of these three groups of men who are trying to kill the prophet have joined together -- they’re marching on Carthage Jail.
Upstairs, inside their room, John Taylor and Willard Richards are looking out the window for trouble. And, they see the men marching out of the window coming up towards the well.
John Taylor shouts out, “They are coming.” And the men all run to get weapons to defend themselves with. Hyrum and Joseph get their guns. John Taylor grab’s Stephen Markham’s rascal beating cane and gives Willard Richards his own cane.
Gunshots are heard below. Four shots. They are from the guard’s guns who are protecting Joseph Smith inside the jail from the mob. The guns, however, were filled with blank rounds. The attempt at stopping the mob from storming the jail was only for show.
At the sound of gunfire Willard and Hyrum run up to the door of the sitting room and slam it shut. They brace it with their shoulders. The door THUDS as men from the other side attempt to open it.
A bullet flies through the closed door. Scared, Willard and Hyrum step back from where they were bracing the door, and step back towards the far wall. Hyrum is fumbling with his pistol when the door swings open. Hyrum is shot in the face.
He says, “I am a dead man.” Another bullet shatters the window behind him and hits him in the back. He falls to the floor.
The door to the small room is now open and muskets and bayonets poke through the entry. None of the mob, however, is entering the room. They all simply stop at the open door way, fire and retreat, to allow other men to come up and fill their place.
As the ceiling becomes pock marked with holes from the musket balls Joseph, on his hands and knees, crawls over to his brother. He kneels above him and cries, “Oh! My poor, dear brother, Hyrum!”
With bullets coming in through the window, and bullets coming in through the door, but no one actually entering the room, Joseph, Willard, and John all run to the wall right next to the door. Joseph Smith pulls out his pistol and pulls the trigger six times through the door. Three of the shots misfire. Three of the shots go into the crowd.
John Taylor, with Stephen Markham’s cane, is knocking the muskets away as they poke in through the door, causing more bullets to get fired into the ceiling.
Joseph says, “That’s right, Brother Taylor. Parry them off as best you can.”
John with his back against the wall right next to the door, looks across the room at the open window.
He looks at the window as his only way to get out alive, and so he makes a run for it. All the way across the room. As he reaches the window he is hit by a bullet in his leg. He falls forward and slams into the window. The force of the fall stops his pocket watch – preserving the exact time of the mob’s attack.
He crumples to the ground and sees the small twin bed in the room. He rolls underneath it where he is shot three more times. One of the bullets rips a chunk of flesh out of his leg the size of his hand.
Joseph looks at John Taylor getting shot. He looks at Willard who has now shifted over and is hitting away muskets that poke through the door with his cane. Joseph decides that he must run for the window, too.
He drops his gun and marches to the window. He sticks his leg out as if to jump and shouts, “Oh Lord, My God!”
Immediately he is hit by two bullets in the back. As he falls out of the second story window he is hit in the air by another bullet in the chest. He lands on the ground. Slowly, he picks himself up and crawls over to the nearby well.
Using his last bit of strength he sits up against the well, stretches out one of his legs, and brings the other up towards him. He closes his eyes and dies.
Willard runs over to the window to see Joseph laying outside up against the well. He gets down on the floor and drags John Taylor out from underneath the bed. He tells John, they have killed Joseph.
NEXT WEEK ON THE PODCAST
The bodies of Joseph and Hyrum are brought back to Nauvoo.