From William A. Morton, From Plowboy to Prophet: Being a Short History of Joseph Smith, for Children. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1912.
How the Lord Protected His People
The members of Zion’s Camp were in great danger. They were surrounded by wicked men who had made up their minds to murder them. And they would, no doubt, have done so, if the Lord had not prevented them.
On the night of June 19, 1834, Joseph and his party passed safely through the town of Richmond. They camped between two branches of fishing River. They were getting ready to lie down to rest when five rough men, with loaded guns, appeared before them. “You shall not live to see morning,” they said. “Sixty men are coming from Richmond, and seventy more from Clay County, to utterly destroy you.”
How easy it is for the Lord to overthrow the plans of wicked men. You remember reading in the bible how He saved the children of Israel from the Egyptians. Well, in much the same way He waved the members of Zion’s Camp.
That night a terrible storm arose. The lightning flashed, the thunder rolled, and rain came down in torrents. Some of the mob said afterwards that Little Fishing River rose thirty feet in thirty minutes. The awful storm filled the enemies of the Saints with fear. They fled in all directions, trying to find shelter. One of their number was struck by lightning and killed.
Where were the members of Zion’s Camp all this time? They were safe and dry in a schoolhouse. How grateful they all felt! From the heart of each one there went up a prayer of Thanksgiving to the Lord for His protecting care.
Two days later, three leading men of Ray county came to see the Prophet. He received them kindly. One of them said, “We see that there is an Almighty power that protects this people.” He told Joseph that he was leading an armed mob against him and his party when the storm burst upon them and drove them back.
The Prophet told them the mission of Zion’s Camp. He said they were carrying food and clothing to their poor brethren and sisters who had been driven from their homes in Independence. They had no thought of doing harm to anyone.
Before Joseph had finished speaking the three men were shedding tears. They offered the Prophet their hands, and told him they would do all in their power to stop the cruel work of the enemies of the Saints.
Soon after this, Zion’s Camp was disbanded. Taking a few faithful brethren with him, Joseph went to Independence. He felt very sorrowful as he looked upon the lands from which his people had been driven. They were then in the hands of their enemies. But he was made glad on remembering what the Lord had told him in a revelation a short time before – that the day would come when Zion would be redeemed, and the Saints would again possess the land.
After visiting several days among the members of the Church, Joseph returned to Kirtland.