Genealogytrails Harrison County, Missouri
Mormon Wars

In the year 1846 occurred what is known by the early settlers as the "Mormon War"  After the Mormon settlement at Nauvoo, Illinois was broken up, and Joseph Smith, their leader and prophet was killed, Brigham Young came forward as the successor of Joseph Smith and assumed the leardership as such prophet, and with the greater portion of the adherents of the strange doctrine, started out west to seek a country beyond civilization- some lone and pleasant dell, some valley in the West- where free from toil and pain the weary Mormons might rest and live according to their doctrines, without molestation by civil authorities.

The Mormons traveled westward through the southern portion of Iowa.  This portion of that state was not settled at that time and as the Mormons swarmed along the border many of them stopped in what is now Decatur County, Iowa, and commenced improving land at a place they called Mount Pisgah, and also at Garden Grove.

All sorts of rumors were in circulation in reference to the intentions and designs of the Mormons. Many thought they intended to return to Missouri and buy up their old possessions and those they could not buy out they would in some way force out, and this would lead to disturbances and perhaps break up the settlements and bring great trouble to the settlers.

It was thought they were waiting upon the borders for other Mormons to arrive and as soon as they received sufficient force they would make a raid upon Missouri.  These reports greatly excited the settlers, as they were weak in numbers and would be the first to be over run by the Mormons from the north as there were only a few settlers north of Bethany.

The militia had been drilled but little and had no experience in the field save that of the "Killyan War," but still had the same gallant colonel (C.L. Jennings)  to look to and lead them to victory.  In consequence of the alleged prepartions of the Mormons and rumored threats, the settlers thought it best to carry the war into the enemy's country and to attack them while they were yet unprepared.

Accordingly war was determined upon and colonel Jennings called his regiment together and they struck north on the line of march with banners flying and guns shining in the blazing sun, determined to give the muchly married men one trial at least.  The colonel never felt prouder than he did on that day as he reviewed the regiment of about fifty valiant warriors, each of whom could knock out a squirrels eye at 100 yards, who had never been defeated.

After a two days march the colonel and his army came upon the Mormon settlement when the colonel demanded the whereabouts of Brigham Young.  The Mormons appeared to be very much excited and were not at all prepared for war, only bent on peaceful pursuits and waiting for other stragglers to join them.  In the surprise and alarm of seeing an armed force in their front some concluded that it was the Illinois troops intercepting their westward journey.  The women retreated to their tents, the children huddled together in herds and the men stood around in groups as if expecting to be taken prisoners.

The colonel ordered his men to remain in line and on no account to break ranks.  Presently the Mormons ran up a white flag.  As Brigham Young did not appear for some time, the colonel sent a guard for him and in a few minutes Brigham came out bowing and scraping as politely as a French dancing master and asked: "What is wanting, Sir?  What do you want with me?"  The colonel rose in his stirrups to his full stature and said: "We want to know what in thunder you are doing here"  Brigham said very meekly: "We are simply traveling peaceably toward the west."  The colonel spoke out, very bodly and said to him, "Our people in Missouri, including my regiment, became uneasy at your appearnce and maneuvers here and supposed you were intending to move on Missouri, and have come to see about it."  Brigham smiled and said very obsequiously, "You need give yourselves no uneasiness, gentlemen.  We have been driven from our homes in Illinois by the wicked Gentiles and some of our people are so poor they had to stop and raise something to live on and will then move ahead."  The colonel therupon entered into a treaty of peace with Brigham that he was not to enter Missouri except for trade and commercial purposes.

The war having met with this favorable conclusion, the gallant colonel with his conquering army returned home without the loss of a man.  They reported the Mount Pisgah treaty to the inhabitants of Bethany and all seemed satisfied with the result of the expedition.  After that the settlers enjoyed a lucrative trade with the Mormon travelers.

These were the only wars in which the militia of ther territory engaged.  They served at their own expense without the hope of fee or reward.  It is said that they never recived any bounty, back pay, warrant, pensions or bonus.  The gallant colonel resided in the county many years, respected as a veteran by all the early settlers, and in 1887 was a dairyman at St. Joseph.

Source: History of Harrison County, Missouri, Geo. W. Wanamaker, 1921



Back to Index

Copyright © Genealogy Trails All Rights Reserved with Full Rights Reserved for Original Contributor