Why the Missouri Mormon War Started and How It Ended

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The Missouri War Mormon (also known as the Mormon War or Missouri War) was an armed conflict between Latter-day Saints and other citizens of northern Missouri in the fall of 1838.

Caldwell and Davies counties originate from Ray County as a compromise law. The idea was to isolate Mormons from other Missourians while providing some compensation to Mormons evicted from Jackson and Clay counties. Coincidentally, the economic collapse of the Mormon Church in Kirkland, Ohio, simultaneously provoked a western migration of Mormons.

Although Gallatin was the county seat of Davies, it was only a frontier town of a few hundred with few buildings. In just a few months, Far West has grown to several thousand residents with hundreds of buildings. All indicated that a similar growth would take place in Adam-Ondi-Ahman. So not only did the Mormons’ highly structured and highly diverse social and economic community frighten non-Mormons, but so did their burst of growth.

Mormon Consensus Takes First Step to War

On July 4, 1838, Sidney Rigdon gave a speech in which he openly declared a Mormon consensus that they would no longer tolerate the action of outside anti-Mormons.

In return, the Mormons organized on October 18 to loot and burn Millport. Some reports claim Gallatin was also burned, though others claim the Mormons did not cross south of the Grand River. Non-Mormons in Daviess County quickly called for help.

Mormons Seen as a Threat

On October 26, 1838, Governor Lilburn Boggs convened the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, and 12th divisions of the Missouri militia (about 2,200 to 3,000 men) to “wipe out” the Mormon threat from the state. On October 30, approximately 200 non-Mormons attacked Haun’s Mill in Caldwell County, killing 17 Mormons. On November 1, the militias gathered at Far West, which surrendered.

General Clark ordered Brigadier General Robert Wilson to go to Adam-Ondi-Ahman on November 8, 1838. The church report states that all Mormons brought in for the trial have been acquitted. The Mormons continued. Some went to Lamoni, Iowa, others to Nauvoo, IL. Public zeal waned as the legal process continued.

In the summer and fall of 1838, hostility broke out between Mormons and their neighbors in western Missouri in an armed conflict known as the Mormon War. The conflict lasted until early November, when Mormons surrendered and agreed to leave the state.

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