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The Prophet Joseph in Richmond Jail

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 03, 2013

From William A. Morton, From Plowboy to Prophet: Being a Short History of Joseph Smith, for Children. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1912.

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The Prophet Joseph in Richmond Jail

Soon after the terrible massacre at Haun’s Mill, a large army of mob militia gathered at Richmond. From here they marched to within a short distance of Far West, where they camped. One morning, a few days later, men carrying a white flag were seen approaching the city of Far West. They were members of the militia. The white flag was a sign of peace.

Colonel Hinkle went out to meet the men. He went back with them to their camp, and here he entered into an agreement with the enemies of the Saints to deliver the Prophet Joseph and a number of the leading brethren into their hands. The name of this traitor may well be linked with that of Judas Iscariot.

He returned to Far West and told the Prophet that the officers in charge of the militia desired him and other leading men to come to their camp that night. They wished, he said, to have the difficulties settled. Joseph asked Hinkle for the names of the other brethren, and he said they were Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, and George W. Robinson. Hinkle assured the Prophet that no harm would come to him or his brethren.

Hinkle accompanied Joseph and his brethren to the camp of the militia, and there the true character of the traitor was revealed. Addressing General Lucas he said, “These are the prisoners I agreed to deliver up.” The whole camp yelled with delight, and General Lucas brandished his sword as if he had gained a great victory.

The Prophet and his companions were immediately placed in charge of strong guards. They had to lie upon the wet ground. They were kept awake all night with the mockings, curses and threats of the vile wretches in charge of them. The next morning Hyrum Smith and Amasa M. Lyman were dragged from their families in Far West, and brought into the camp.

It was decided to send the prisoners to Independence. The Saints at Far West were told by the mob that they need never expect to see their leaders again, for their doom was sealed. However, while Joseph and his companions were camped at night on Crooked River the word of the Lord came to the Prophet assuring him that their lives would be spared.

The next morning Joseph spoke to his fellow-prisoners in a low, cheerful tone, saying: “Be of good cheer, my brethren, the word of the Lord came to me last night that our lives should be given us, and that whatever else we might have to suffer during this captivity, not one of us should die.”

The prisoners were taken to Independence. A few days later General Clark gave orders for them to be taken to Richmond and placed in jail there. On the way the guards got drunk. It would have been easy for Joseph and his brethren to have made their escape. They knew, however, that they had not broken any law. If they were to run away people would say they were guilty. All they wanted was a fair trial. They knew they could prove their innocence. The Prophet and his companions took charge of the guard’s guns and horses, and returned them to the guards when the latter became sober.

On arriving in Richmond the brethren were taken to the jail, and there they were bound with chains and placed in charge of as vile wretches as ever lived. They had to lie upon the bare floor, without any covering.

The Prophet and his friends suffered terribly, not only in body but also in spirit. Night after night they had to listen to the vulgar songs and stories, the curses and laughter of those who kept guard over them.

One night the wretches were telling with great glee of the way in which they had treated some of the Saints. They boasted of the awful crimes they had committed upon mothers and daughters, and that they had even killed little children.

Suddenly the Prophet sprang to his feet, and in a voice that almost shook the prison he rebuked the inhuman monsters. “Silence!” said he, “ye fiends of the infernal pit! In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die this instant!”

He ceased speaking. he stood erect in terrible majesty. Chained, and without a weapon, calm, unruffled and dignified as an angel, he looked down upon the quailing guards, whose knees smote together, and who, shrinking into a corner, or crouching at his feet, begged his pardon, and remained quiet until change of guards.

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