Missouri State Archives: Finding Aid 5.1

Mormon War Papers, 1837-1841

[ Full-text transcription of: Letter from General John B. Clark, 1st Division of Missouri Militia in Richmond, MO to Governor Boggs, Jefferson City, MO ]
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                                                            Jno B Clark

                                                            to

                                                            Governor

                                                            Nov 10 1838

                                                                        Copied


                                                Head Quarters of the Militia

                                                Employed against the Mormons

                                                Richmond Novr 10th. 1838.

His Excellency L. W. Boggs,

                                                Sir, a day or two before I

received your first Order, I had upon information

from a letter from Mr. Rees and Col Williams on their

way to you, issued an order to have raised in my

Division one thousand men ready to march on Monday

the 29th. day of October last all of Which I communicated

to you by express, the one however conveying my

communication met one from your Excellency & returned.

            On the 29th. according to my order the first

Brigade rendezvous at Fayette proposed to march

and did on that evening take up the line of march

and reached Chariton on that evening.

            At Chariton I recd. an express from Messrs Atchison

and Lucas to you, which I forwarded and then I

dispatched an Order to Genls. Atchison & Lucas

with a copy of your several Orders to me, all of which

you have been informed of by me.  The next day

October 30th, we reached Keytsville where we met the

2nd Brigade, Commanded by Genl. Robt. Wilson, who

had been ordered to join me at that place


The next morning October 31st. I organized the two

Brigades into a Division Officered the Same and took

up the line of march for Richmond, we made force

marches until we reached Richmond; on the

day we reached Carrollton Novr. 2rd. I heard a

report that Genl. Lucas had invested Far West,

and effected a capitulation, the arms of which

I sent you from here on my way out, I then

sent another express to Genl Lucas to hold fast to

all he had (supposing he had the prisoners and

arms) until I arrived, to make no final capitu

=lation or treaty, until I did arrive , when I would

communicate to him my plans for settling the

difficulty, and also requesting him to report to me

forthwith his acts Strength &c  The express was

directed to bring back to me at Richmond

any communication the Genl. might desire to make.

            The next day I reached Crooked River in the

neighborhood of Richmond, at this place I learned

that Genl. Lucas, had disbanded his forces,

and marched the prisoners to Independence,

I immediately Sent an express to intercept

him, with orders to march the prisoners and

arms back to Richmond for the reasons


contained in my letter to you; from Richmond

I continued my march to Far West where I

arrived on Sunday the 4th.  When I reached there I

encamped in the vicinity of Town.  At night I went

into town, with all my Field Officers & commenced

ferreting out the guilty amongst the mormons who

were there; this business employed my time for two

days and nights.  After I had Obtained all the

information I could by disclosures from the dissenters

from Jo. the Prophet (and there are not a few at this

time) I caused the whole of the Mormons to be

paraded, and took out of their ranks Such of those

I conceived guilty as could be found, and put them

into a room.  A deep snow falling on this evening,

and there being no chance to Obtain fuel or provinder,

I was compelled to march back to Richmond

with the prisoners forty six in number.  I however

the day before I left Far West dispatched Lt Col.

Price from the Second Brigade to Richmond with

two companies to receive the prisoners and arms,

but on his arrival not finding them there, he went

to Genl Lucas at Independence and informed

him of his mission.  The Genl. then sent them and

they reached here on last evening, and they


are now here under a guard—.  On the day I

left far West, I ordered Gen’l. Wilson, with his

Brigade (except the two companies with Col. Price)

to Adam Ondo Ahmon, a town in Davies, which

had a few days since surrendered and given up

their arms, with instructions to take possession

of the town, and disarm all the Mormons, and

act in that quarter in accordance to your instruc=

=tions to me, a copy of which was furnished him.

            He was also instructed to take out from the

mass of mormons such as probably could be

convicted of crime, and have them committed

and then carry them to Keytsville, and have them

placed in Jail and guarded, but he was instructed

not to leave that quarter until he had reinstated

the Citizens in their property and homes as far as

practicable, and if necessary leave a small force

there to protect the citizens.  I also ordered Capt.

Comstock with his company in Livingston to continue

there, disarming the mormons where=ever [sic] found, and

report to Genl. Wilson at Diamon. for further orders.

            This being done I proposed to march back

to Richmond.  The morning before I left Far West

I called the whole of the Mormons together about

five hundred (a great number having run away


between the Surrender, and my arrival) and informed

them that the prisoners I had together with those taken

by Genl. Lucas would be taken to Richmond, tried

and punished if found guilty.—That they must

comply with the terms of capitulation with Genl. Lucas

            The situation of their women and children, and

the inclemency of the weather induced me to modify

the terms, and not require them to remove forthwith.

            That they could remain until their convenience

suited them in the spring.  That no military guard

would go with them, but I would pledge the honor of

the State, they should not be hurt, and that their

armes should be given up to them whenever they left

the State, and not before.  This they readily agreed

to, so far as I coul Judge from their expressions.

            This being done, I took up the line of march

with the prisoners, and got here on Yesterday.  On my

arrival here I discharged the whole of the first

Brigade.  I will here state that on my way to Far

West while at Richmond I wrote to Genl. Grant

and ordered him to countermarch, and discharge his

forces, the same order I sent to Genl. Willock

from Far West, also Genl. Crowther,s Division

was discharged at Richmond on their way


except the Boonville guards, who were taken on to Far

West, and discharged here this morning.

            Genl. White learning of the State of affairs,

left his men at the River near Lexington, and came

on to meet me with his Staff, at Far West, I then

ordered him to counter march his Brigade except

the Cavalry commanded by Capt Parsons, which

Company is now here guarding the prisoners.

            All the forces in this quarter are now

discharged, except two companies commanded

by Capt. Parsons and Capt Bogard, I detained

Lieut. Col. Price to superintend the guard of the prisoners,

and I also detained Genl. White, and his field officers

here a day or two, for the purpose of holding a Court

Martial if necessary.—I this day made out

charges against the prisoners, and called on Judge

King to try them as a committing Court, and I am

now busily engaged in procuring witnesses, and

submitting facts.—There being no Civil Officers in

in Caldwell, I have to use the Military to get

witnesses from there which I do without reserve

            Genl. Wilson’s Brigade is Still in Service

in Daviess County, under the instructions above

stated.  They will be discharged as fast as possible.


The most of the prisoners here, I consider guilty of

Treason, and I believe will be convicted, and the

only difficulty in law is, can they be tried in any

county but Caldwell, if not they cannot be there

indicted, until a change of Population, in the event

the latter view is taken by the Civil Courts, I suggest

the propriety of trying Jo. Smith and those leaders

taken by Genl. Lucas, by a Court Martial for

mutiny.  This I am in favor of only as a derrier

resort.  I would have taken this course with Smith

at any rate, but it being doubtful whether a Court

Martial has jurisdiction or not in the present case,

that is whether these people are to be treated as in time of war.

and the mutineers as having mutinied in time of war,  & I

would here ask you to forward to me the Attorney

General’s opinion on this point.  My whole object

is to obey your orders, & settle this matter, so as to have

the best effect upon the people, & at the same time not com:

:promit the character of the State.  But it will not do to allow

these leaders to return to their treasonable work again, on

account of their not being indicted in Caldwell.  I find

that by inquiry that with all the enormities we have

heard charged against these people, many of which charges

we looked upon as the offspring of prejudice on the

part of our citizens, the half has not yet been


been told.  There is no crime from treason down to the

most petty larceny, but those people, or a majority

of them, have been guilty of, all too under the counsel

of Joseph Smith jr, the prophet—They have committed

treason, murder, arson, burglary, robbery and larceny

and perjury—They have societies formed under the most

binding covenants in form, & the most horrid oaths to Cir:

:cumvent the laws & put them at defiance, & to plunder

and burn & murder & divide the spoils for the use of

the Church—This is what they call the Danite Club

or Society—These facts I gather from some persons I

have who have disclosed—Under this horrid system

many of the Citizens of Daviess County who went to that

frontier poor, and who by their industry & economy had

acquired a good living have been robbed of every article

of property they have—their houses burnt before

their eyes, & them & their wives & children driven

out of the County without any kind of shelter

In one instance I have been informed that a

family was ordered off and their houses burnt in

their sight, & a woman driven out while it was snowing

with a child only four days old—In another case

I was informed a family was driven away &

the woman was compelled to ask protection

in a few miles, where she was delivered of


of a child, in a short time after she was thus

treated—These, sir, are some of the offences of

these people—I do not wonder at the prejudices

against them in their vicinity—I send you enclosed

a copy of a Constitution of one of their societies from

which you can gather some information.  I design

to continue my head Quarters here, until the

investigation of the cases of the prisoners are closed.

You shall be informed from time to time of the prog:

:ress, as also of the movements in Daviess.  Those facts

I now communicate to you, supposing they would

be useful to you before the meeting of the Legislature

Your communication of the 6th was received today by

Mr. Maupin—its contents were duly noted & shall

be attended to—I have this evening informed the

prisoners of what is charged against them and

ordered the leaders to be bound, so as to be sure

to save them—

                        I am, Sir, your obtd: Servt:

                                    John B. Clark

                                                Maj Genl:

                                                            Commg—