This organization was in existence when the mobs commenced their most violent attempts upon the citizens of the before-mentioned counties; and from this association arose all the horror afterwards expressed by the mob at some secret clan known as Danites.
[History of the Church, Vol.3, Appendix, p.454]
AVARD ORGANIZED THE DANITES
In these proceedings he stated that he had the sanction of the heads of the Church
for what he was about to do; and by his smiles and flattery, persuaded them to believe it, and proceeded to administer to the few under his control, an oath, binding them to everlasting secrecy to everything which should be communicated to them by himself. Thus Avard initiated members into his band , firmly binding them, by all that was sacred, in the protecting of each other in all things that were lawful; and was careful to picture out a great glory that was then hovering over the Church, and would soon burst upon the Saints as a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, and would soon unveil the slumbering mysteries of heaven, which would gladden the hearts and arouse the stupid spirits of the Saints of the latter-day, and fill their hearts with that love which is unspeakable and full of glory, and arm them with power, that the gates of hell could not prevail against them; and would often affirm to his company that the principal men of the Church had put him forward as a spokesman, and a leader of this band, which he named Danites. [History of the Church, Vol.3, Ch.13, p.179]
AVARD SET UP COMPANIES
And here let it be distinctly understood, that these companies of tens and fifties got up by Avard, were altogether separate and distinct from those companies of tens and fifties organized by the brethren for self defense, in case of an attack from the mob. This latter organization was called into existence more particularly that in this time of alarm no family or person might be neglected; therefore, one company would be engaged in drawing wood, another in cutting it, another in gathering corn, another in grinding another in butchering, another in distributing meat, etc., etc., so that all should be employed in turn, and no one lack the necessaries of life. Therefore, let no one hereafter, by mistake or design, confound this organization of the Church for good and righteous purposes, with the organization of the "Danites," of the apostate Avard, which died almost before it had existed. [History of the Church, Vol.3, Ch.13, p.181]
AVARD'S TESTIMONY FALSE
The testimony of Dr. Avard concerning a council held at James Sloan's was false. Your petitioners do solemnly declare, that there was no such council; that your petitioners were with the prisoner, and there was no such vote or conversation as Dr. Avard swore to. That Dr. Avard also swore falsely concerning a constitution, as he said was introduced among the Danites; that the prisoner had nothing to do with burning in Daviess county; that the prisoner made public proclamation against such things; that the prisoner did oppose Dr. Avard and George M. Hinkle against vile measures with the mob, but was threatened by them if he did not let them alone. That the prisoner did not have anything to do with what is called Bogart's battle, for he knew nothing of it until it was over; that he was at home, in the bosom of his own family, during the time of that whole transaction. [History of the Church, Vol.3, Ch.19, p.280]
THOMAS B. MARSH TESTIMONY ~ HISTORY OF THE CHURCH
The chief points in the affidavit of Thomas B. Marsh, referred to in the text, are as follows:
"They have among them a company, considered true Mormons, called the Danites, who have taken an oath to support the heads of the Church in all things that they say or do, whether right or wrong. Many, however, of this band are much dissatisfied with this oath, as being against moral and religious principles. On Saturday last, I am informed by the Mormons, that they had a meeting at Far West, at which they appointed a company of twelve, by the name of the 'Destruction Company,' for the purpose of burning and destroying, and that if the people of Buncombe came to do mischief upon the people of Caldwell, and committed depredations upon the Mormons, they were to burn Buncombe; and if the people of Clay and Ray made any movement against them, this destroying company were to burn Liberty and Richmond. * * * * The Prophet inculcates the notion, and it is believed by every true Mormon, that Smith's prophecies are superior to the laws of the land. I have heard the Prophet say that he would yet tread down his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies; and if he was not let alone, he would be a second Mohammed to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic ocean; that like Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was, 'the Alcoran or the Sword.' So should it be eventually with us, 'Joseph Smith of the Sword.' These last statements were made during the last summer. The number of armed men at Adam-ondi-Ahman was between three and four hundred. [History of the Church, Vol.3, p.167, Footnotes]
"THOMAS B. MARSH
"Sworn to and subscribed before me, the day herein written.
"J. P. Ray county, Missouri.
"Richmond, Missouri, October 24, 1838."
"AFFIDAVIT OF ORSON HYDE.
"The most of the statements in the foregoing disclosure I know to be true; the remainder I believe to be true.
"Richmond, October 24, 1838.
"Sworn to and subscribed before me, on the day above written.
"HENRY JACOBS, J. P."
Of this testimony and the action of Marsh and Hyde the late President Taylor in his discourse on Succession in the Presidency, makes these pertinent remarks:
" Testimonies from these sources are not always reliable , and it is to be hoped, for the sake of the two brethren, that some things were added by our enemies that they did not assert, but enough was said to make this default and apostasy very terrible.
I will here state that I was in Far West at the time these affidavits were made, and was mixed up with all prominent Church affairs. I was there when Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde left there; and there are others present who were there at the same time. And I know that these things, referred to in the affidavits, are not true.
I have heard a good deal about Danites, but I never heard of them among the Latter-day Saints. If there was such an organization, I never was made acquainted with it * * * * * * Thomas B. Marsh was unquestionably instigated by the devil when he made this statement, which has been read in your hearing [the foregoing affidavit].
THOMAS MARSH CUT OFF FROM THE CHURCH
The consequence was, he was cut off from the Church. * * * * * * It would be here proper to state, however, that Orson Hyde had been sick with a violent fever for some time, and had not yet fully recovered therefrom, which, with the circumstances with which we were surrounded, and the influence of Thomas B. Marsh, may be offered as a slight palliation for his default. * * * * * *
It may be proper here again to say a few words with regard to Brother Orson Hyde, whose endorsement of the terrible charges made by Thomas B. Marsh in his affidavit, has already been read. Suffice it to say, in addition to what has previously been stated, he was cut off from the Church, and of course lost his apostleship; and when he subsequently returned, and made all the satisfaction that was within his power, he as forgiven by the authorities and the people and was again re-instated in the quorum."
Schuyler Colfax, vice-president of the United States, in his discussion with the late President John Taylor on the "Mormon Question," quoted this Marsh-Hyde affidavit, and Elder Taylor in reply said: "I am sorry to say that Thomas B. Marsh did make that affidavit, and that Orson Hyde stated that he knew part of it and believed the other; and it would be disingenuous to me to deny it; but it is not true that these things existed, for I was there and knew to the contrary; and so did the people of Missouri, and so did the governor of Missouri.
How do you account for their acts? Only on the score of the weakness of our common humanity. We were living in troublous times, and all men's nerves are not proof against such shocks as we then had to endure."
GENERAL DAVID R. ATCHISON
It is to be regretted that General David R. Atchison joined with General Lucas in signing the above communication. Up to this time Major General Atchison had apparently exercised his influence counseling moderation in dealing with the "Mormons." j
He as a resident of Clay county when the Saints were driven into that county from Jackson. He, with General Doniphan and Amos Rees, had acted as counsel for the exiles, and had seen the doors of the temple of justice closed in their faces by mob violence, and all redress denied them.
He was acquainted with the circumstances which led to their removal from Clay county, to the unsettled prairies of what afterwards became Caldwell county. He knew how deep and unreasonable the prejudices were against the Saints.
Can it be possible that he did not know how utterly unjustifiable the present movement against them was? whether he was blinded by the false reports about Millport and Gallatin and Crooked river, or whether his courage faltered, and he became afraid longer to defend a people against whom every man's hand was raised, I cannot now determine, but one or the other must have been the case.
General Atchison, however, was afterwards "dismounted," to use a word of General Doniphan's in relating the incident, and sent back to Liberty in Clay county by special order of Governor Boggs, on the ground that he was inclined to be too merciful to the "Mormons," so that he was not active in the operations about Far West.
But how he could consent to join with Lucas in sending such an untruthful and infamous report to the governor about the situation in Upper Missouri, is difficult to determine. The Saints had not set the laws at defiance, nor were they in open rebellion.
But when all the officers of the law refused to hear their complaints, and both civil and military authority delivered them into the hands of merciless mobs to be plundered and outraged at their brutal pleasure, and all petitions for protection at the hands of the governor had been answered with: "It is a quarrel between the Mormons and the mob, and they must fight it out," what was left for them to do but to arm themselves and stand in defense of their homes and families?
The movement on Gallatin by Captain Patten and that on Millport by Colonel Wight was ordered by General Parks, who called upon Colonel Wight to take command of his company of men, when the militia under Parks' command mutinied, and dispersed all mobs wherever he found them. Gallatin was not burned, nor were the records of the county court, if they were destroyed at all, destroyed by the Saints.
What houses were burned in Millport had been set on fire by the mob. The expedition to Crooked river was ordered by Judge Higbee, the first judge in Caldwell county and the highest civil authority in Far West, and was undertaken for the purpose of dispersing a mob which had entered the house of a peaceable citizen--one Pinkham--and carried off three people prisoners, four horses and other property, and who had threatened to "give Far West hell before noon the next day." So that in their operations the acts of the Saints had been strictly within the law, and only in self defense.
Elder Parley P. Pratt in his Autobiography referring to this betrayal of the brethren on the part of Hinkle and their reception and treatment by the mob, says: "Colonel George M. Hinkle, who was at that time the highest officer of the militia assembled for the defense of Far West, waited on Messrs. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Lyman wight, George W. Robinson and myself, with a request from General Lucas that we would repair to his camp, with the assurance that as soon as peaceable arrangements could be entered into we should be released.
We had no confidence in the word of a murderer and robber, but there was no alternative but to put ourselves into the hands of such monsters, or to have the city attacked, and men, women and children massacred. We, therefore, commended ourselves to the Lord, and voluntarily surrendered as sheep into the hands of wolves.
As we approached the camp of the enemy General Lucas rode out to meet us with a guard of several hundred men. The haughty general rode up, and, without speaking to us, instantly ordered his guards to surround us. They did so very abruptly, and we were marched into camp surrounded by thousands of savage looking beings, many of whom were dressed and painted like Indian warriors.
These all set up a constant yell, like so many bloodhounds let loose upon their prey, as if they had achieved one of the most miraculous victories that ever graced the annals of the world. If the vision of the infernal regions could suddenly open to the mind, with thousands of malicious fiends, all clamoring, exulting, deriding, blaspheming, mocking, railing, raging and foaming like a troubled sea, then could some idea be formed of the hell which we had entered. [History of the Church, Vol.3, p.189, Footnotes]
In camp we were placed under a strong guard, and were without shelter during the night, lying on the ground in the open air, in the midst of a great rain. The guards during the whole night kept up a constant tirade of mockery, and the most obscene blackguardism and abuse. They blasphemed God; mocked Jesus Christ; swore the most dreadful oaths; taunted Brother Joseph and others; demanded miracles; wanted signs, such as 'Come, Mr. Smith, show us an angel.' 'Give us one of your revelations.' 'Show us a miracle.' 'Come, there is one of your brethren here in camp whom we took prisoner yesterday in his own house, and knocked his brains out with his own rifle, which we found hanging over his fireplace; he lays speechless and dying; speak the word and heal him, and then we will all believe' 'Or, if you are Apostles or men of God, deliver yourselves, and then we will be Mormons"
Next would be a volley of oaths and blasphemies; then a tumultuous tirade of lewd boastings of having defiled virgins and wives by force, etc., much of which I dare not write; and, indeed, language would fail me to attempt more than a faint description. Thus passed this dreadful night, and before morning several other captives were added to our number, among whom was Brother Amasa Lyman."--Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 203-205.
[The following is the excerpt from the Times and Seasons alluded to in the foot note at page 71:]
JOHN C. BENNETT
In the state of Missouri we had our Hinckle, our Avard, Marsh, McLellin, and others who were the first to flee in time of danger--the first to tell of things that they never knew, and swear to things that they never before had heard of. They were more violent in their persecutions, more relentless and sanguinary in their proceedings, and sought with greater fury the destruction and overthrow of the Saints of God who had never injured them, but whose virtue made them blush for their crimes. [History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.4, p.78]
All that were there remember that they were the stoutest and the loudest in proclaiming against oppression; they protested vehemently against mob and misrule, but were the first in robbing, spoiling, and plundering their brethren. Such things we have always expected; we know that the "net will gather together of every kind, good and bad," that "the wheat and tares must grow together until the harvest," and that even at the last there will be five foolish as well as five wise virgins, Daniel, in referring to the last days says, in speaking concerning the "Holy Covenant," that many shall have indignation against it, and shall obtain information from those that forsake the Holy Covenant, "and the robbers of thy people shall seek to exalt themselves, but they shall fall."
This we have fully proven--we have seen them try to exalt themselves, and we have seen their fall. He goes on further to state, that "many shall cleave unto them by flatteries." Such was Dr. Avard, and John C. Bennett--with the latter we have to do at the present time, and in many of the foregoing statements and prophecies we shall see his character and conduct exemplified. He professed she greatest fidelity, and eternal friendship, yet was he an adder in the path, and a viper in the bosom. He professed to be virtuous and chaste, yet did he pierce the heart of the innocent, introduce misery and infamy into families, reveled in voluptuousness and crime, and led the youth that he had influence over to tread in his unhallowed steps; he professed to fear God, yet did he desecrate His name, and prostitute his authority to the most unhallowed and diabolical purposes; even to the seduction of the virtuous, and the defiling of his neighbor's bed. He professed indignation against Missouri, saying, "My hand shall avenge the blood of the innocent;" yet now he calls upon Missouri to come out against the Saints, and he "will lead them on to glory and to victory."
History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.4, p.79
It may asked why it was that we would countenance him so long after being apprised of his iniquities, and why he was not dealt with long ago. To this we would answer, that he has been dealt with from time to time; when he would acknowledge his iniquity, ask and pray for forgiveness, beg that he might not be exposed, on account of his mother, and other reasons, saying, he should be ruined and undone. He frequently wept like a child, and begged like a culprit for forgiveness, at the same time promising before God and angels to amend his life, if he could be forgiven. He was in this way borne with from time to time, until forbearance was no longer a virtue, and then the First Presidency, the Twelve, and the Bishops withdrew their fellowship from him, as published in the 16th number of this paper. The Church afterwards publicly withdrew their fellowship from him, and his character was published in the 17th number of this paper; since that time he has Published that the conduct of the Saints was bad--that Joseph Smith and many others were adulterers, murderers, etc., that there was a secret band of men that would kill people, etc., called Danites--that he was in duress when he gave his affidavit, and testified that Joseph Smith was a virtuous man--that we believed in and practiced polygamy, that we believed in secret murders, and aimed to destroy the government, etc., etc. As he has made his statements very public, and industriously circulated them through the country, we shall content ourselves with answering his base falsehoods and misrepresentations, without giving publicity to them, as the public is generally acquainted with them already." [History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.4, p.80]