03 August 2012

Joseph: Jailed and Killed

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, 2003, Excerpts

Ten of the Mormons in custody posted bail and were allowed to go free, but Joseph and Hyrum, who had been charged with treason in addition to the less serious crimes charged to the other defendants, were incarcerated in the Carthage jail, a two-story structure with yard-thick walls built from red limestone cut from a local quarry.

Late on the afternoon of June 27, 1844, while Joseph and Hyrum were being visited in their quarters by Apostles John Taylor and Willard Richards, approximately 125 militiamen from the virulently anti-Mormon town of Warsaw assembled outside the jail in the damp summer heat. The militiamen swarmed upstairs and tried to force their way into the bedroom where the prisoners were quartered. The attackers had succeeded in forcing the door open and a lethal rain of bullets now sprayed into the room.

Seeing no alternative, Joseph tried to spring from the window, but as he crouched above the sill in silhouette, two shots from inside the room pierced his back and a third bullet, fired from a musket on the ground outside, exploded into his chest. The prophet dropped twenty feet, slammed into the earth with a dull thud, and lay motionless, twisted on his left side.

Then Richards noticed John Taylor lying on the floor, awash in his own blood but still breathing. Taylor’s watch, struck by the bullet that would otherwise have ended his life, had stopped at sixteen minutes and twenty-six seconds past five o’clock on June 27, 1844. Mormons the world over have committed this time and date to memory, marking the death of their great and beloved prophet. Joseph Smith was thirty-eight years old.

Tribute to Joseph and Hyrum, Carthage Jail, IL

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