Date: May 19, 2017 01:34AM
In another thread, an obviously irritated poster emphatically and disdainfully declares that Joseph Smith didn't kill anyone at Carthage--and maybe didn't even shoot anyone, either:
“I think there is very little evidence that he [Joseph Smith] killed anyone personally.
“That c--p about him killing people at Carthage jail comes only from a Mormon source trying to paint him as a hero. I do think the fact that he had a gun and that he tried to shoot his way out is credible (although I am not positive it happened, either), but if he killed two people where are the bodies? Where were the funerals? No one was reported as missing? No bodies at the scene? Sounds like if he did manage to hit anyone, they survived.”
(“I think there is very little evidence that he killed anyone personally,” posted by “Steve,” on “Recovery from Mormonism” bulletin board, 30 July 2011, 10:54 p.m.)
Hold yer fire there, Steve. Just because you and I happen to share the same first name doesn't mean we necessarily harbor similar views on this murderous matter.
Below are some arguments (sourced from a variety of research-rich books in my personal library), concerning reports of who Joseph Smith may have shot and/or killed at Carthage, and how he may have done it.
--Versions of Joseph Smith's Assassination at Carthage, Where He Reportedly Only Wounded Some of His Attackers
*Mormon Author Donna Hill, in “Joseph Smith, the First Mormon”:
“Balls were fired into the room, lodging in the walls and ceiling. Swearing and shouting, more men crowded up the stairway and pushed against the door. When Hyrum stood back to aim his pistol, a shot through the door struck the left side of his nose and he fell moaning, 'I am a dead man.'
“Joseph leaned over his brother and cried, 'Oh, dear brother Hyrum!' Seeing that he was dead, Joseph Smith jumped up, threw open the door and emptied his six-shooter into the passageway. The gun missed fire once or twice but reports had it that Joseph wounded three or four men and that he slipped his fist through the door and punched a young man from Warsaw in the neck.
“An account written for the 'Atlantic Monthly' some years later comment upon Joseph's courage, saying that he stood by the jamb of the door and fired four shots, bring his man down every time. According to that report, he shot an Irishman named Wills in the arm; a southerner from the Mississippi bottom named Gallagher (spelled Gallaher on the indictment) in the face; a gawky youth from Bear Creek named Voorhees (spelled Voras on the indictment) in the shoulder; and another man whom the reporter did not care to name because he was six feet two in moccasins (identified as Allen on the indictment). It was, said that account, a 'handsome fight.'”
(Donna Hill, “Joseph Smith, the First Mormon: The Definitive Story of a Complex and Charismatic Man and the People Who Knew Him,” Chapter 15, “Martyrdom” [Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1977], p. 416)
*Excommunicated Mormon Author Fawn Brodie, in “No Man Knows My History”:
“Joseph had a six-shooter and Hyrum a single-barrel pistol, which had been smuggled in by friends the previous day. The other two men [Willard Richards and John Taylor] had nothing to defend themselves with save two hickory canes. All four sprang against the door but retreated when the first ball penetrated the thick panel.
“As the door was forced open, . . . Hyrum was caught by fire from one of the half-dozen muzzles pointing evilly toward the doorway. . . .
“Joseph now discharged all six barrels down the passageway. Three of them missed fire but the other three found marks. One of the wounded rushed back down the stairs, his arm a mass of blood and mangled flesh. 'Are you badly hurt?' someone shouted.
“'Yes, my arm is all shot to pieces by Old Joe,' he screamed, 'but I don't care; I've got revenge; I shot Hyrum!' . . ,
“Most of the balls coming in through the window were striking harmlessly against the ceiling, while the men in the hallway who had not been hit or frightened back by Joseph's shooting were trying to fix their aim upon him.
“When his pistol was empty, Joseph flung it on the floor crying, 'There, defend yourselves as well as you can,' and sprang to the window.”
(Fawn Brodie, “No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet,” 2nd ed., Chapter XXVII, “Carthage” [New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983], p. 393)
*Excommunicated Mormon Author D. Michael Quinn, in “The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power”:
“. . . Three prisoners were trying to secure the upper room's door with bare hands and wooden canes against a cursing mob shooting randomly inside. Joseph Smith fired back with a six-shooter at the attackers in the doorway, wounding three of them.”
(D, Michael Quinn, “The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power” [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1994], p. 141)
*Non-Mormon Author Richard Abanes, in “One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church”:
“[Joseph Smith], who had been smuggled a six-shooter, fired all of his rounds at the door, severely wounding the man who had just killed his brother. . . .
“. . . Joseph retreated, throwing his gun at the assailants and lunging for the second-story window in a vain attempt to escape.”
(Richard Abanes, “One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church” [New York, New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002], pp. 199, 201)
*Non-Mormon Author Jon Krakauer, in “Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of a Violent Faith”:
“ . . . [F]riendly visitors were given unrestricted access to the Smith brothers [in Carthage Jail]. By this means, two guns were smuggled in to theSmith brothers--a six-shooter pepperbox revolver and a single-shot pistol. . . .
“The [Warsaw Dragoons] swarmed upstairs and tried to force their way into the bedroom where the prisoners were quartered. Joseph and Hyrum brandished their smuggled weapons while Taylor and Richards each grabbed a walking stick, positioned themselves on either side of the doorway and began whacking furiously at the mob's muskets as the barrels were poked through the partially-opened door.
“Two bullets ripped through the door panel; the second one smashed into Hyrum's neck, severing his spinal cord, and he dropped to the floor dead, where four more balls immediately struck his body. Joseph responded by reaching around the doorjamb and blindly firing all six rounds of his revolver, wounding at least one of the Warsaw Dragoons.”
(Jon Krakauer, “Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of a Violent Faith,” Chapter Twelve, “Carthage” [New York, New York: Doubleday, a Division of Random House, 2003], pp. 131-32)
--Versions of Joseph Smith's Assassination at Carthage, Where Some of Those Whom He Reportedly Shot Died as a Result
*Mormon Authors Dallin H. Oaks (eventual Mormon Church Apostle) and Marvin S . Hill (Associate Professor of History, Brigham Young University), in "Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assasins of Joseph Smith":
“Upon hearing the guns firing below, Joseph and Hyrum seized their pistols and ran to the door to hold it shut against the attackers. Some of the mob fired shots through the wooden door, hitting Hyrum in the face. . . .
"Joseph, seeing his fallen brother at his feet, stepped up beside the door and began firing his pistol at the men in the hallway. After attempting to fire all six barrels (three misfired) he ran to the window . . . as bullets struck him from behind. . . . An examination of his body showed that he had been hit four times, once in the right collar bone, once in the breast and twice in the back. . . .
“Very little is known about four of the men who were indicted [in Joseph Smith's death]. . . . Wills, Voras and Gallaher were probably named in the indictment because of their wounds, which testimony showed were received at the jail, [and] were irrefutable evidence that they had participated in the mob. . . . A contemporary witness reported these three as saying that they were the first men at the jail, that one of them shot through the door killing Hyrum, that Joseph wounded all three with his pistol and that Gallaher shot Joseph as he ran to the window. According to Hay, Wills--whom the Mormon prophet had shot in the arm--was an Irishman who joined the mob from 'his congenital love of a brawl.' Gallaher was a young man from Mississippi who was shot in the face. Hay described Voras (Voorhees} as a 'half-grown hobbledehoy from Bear Creek' whom Joseph shot in the shoulder. . . .
“ . . . William M. Daniels, the prosecution's key witness before the grand jury [had] [t]wo weeks before the trial . . . published a 24-page booklet containing 'the names and proceedings of the principal murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. . . .
“The Daniels booklet . . . adds one unfamiliar detail [about what took place as the mob ran up the stairway and fired thorough the wooden door into the prisoners' chamber]: that the pistol Joseph fired at the mob 'wounded three of them--two mortally.' . . .
“Daniels [in court testimony] told . . . how . . .. [h]e saw three wounded men after the shooting. Daniels was acquainted with one of them, a man named Wills, whose 'arm was shot all to pieces.' This man said in Daniels' presence that 'Joe Smith shot him, that he was the first [attacker] shot through the door.' A man named Voras had blood on his shoulder but appeared to be only slightly wounded. A third man was wounded in the face. When the call came to go around to the window, the man who was wounded in the shoulder ran around that side of the jail. There, Daniels said, 'I saw him shoot Smith,' holding the gun in both hands. Daniels said he had not seen any of the wounded men since that day at the jail.” . . .
“Immediately following Daniels' testimony about the wounds received by the three men, [counsel for the accused murderers of Joseph Smith] asked about the truthfulness of the pamphlet's statement that Joseph Smith had mortally wounded two of his assailants. Daniels replied: 'I told you I did not write that book--[Lyman O.] Littlefield wrote it.'”
(Dallin Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, “Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith,” Chapter 2, 'Murder . . . by a Respectable Set of Men;” Chapter 4, “Elections and Indictments;” Chapter 6, “The Courtroom and the Contestants;” and Chapter 8, “Quiet Perjury to Screen a Murder” [Urbana, Chicago, London: University of Illinois Press, 1976], pp. 21, 52-53, 87, 131-32)
*Excommunicated Mormon Authors Jerald and Sandra Tanner, in “The Changing World of Mormonism” and in “Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?”:
“Most Mormons believe that Joseph Smith died without putting up a struggle but the actual truth is that he died in a gunfight. In the 'History of the Church,' the following account is given concerning Joseph Smith's death:
“'Immediately there was a little rustling at the outer door of the jail and a cry of surrender, and also a discharge of three or four firearms followed instantly. . . . Joseph sprang to his coat for his six-shooter, Hyrum for his single barrel. . . .
“'When Hyrum fell, Joseph exclaimed, 'Oh dear, brother Hyrum!' and opening the door a few inches he discharged his six-shooter in the stairway . . . two or three barrels of which missed fire.
“'Joseph, seeing there was no safety in the room and no doubt thinking that it would save the lives of his brethren in the room if he could get out, turned calmly from the door, dropped his pistol on the floor and sprang into the window . . . and he fell outward into the hands of his murderers . . . .' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 6, pp. 617-18)
“In the introduction to Volume 6 of the 'History of the Church,' p. xli, Joseph Smith is praised for his part in the gunfight:
“'. . . [T]he Prophet turned from the prostrate form of his murdered brother to face-death dealing guns and bravely returned the fire of his assailants, 'bringing his man down every time' and compelling even John Hay, who but reluctantly accords the Prophet any quality of virtue, to confess that he “made a handsome fight.” . . .'
“John Taylor, who became the third president of the [Mormon] Church, testified concerning the death of Joseph Smith:
“'He [Joseph Smith], however, instantly arose and with a firm quick step and a determined expression of countenance, approached the door and pulling the six-shooter left by Brother Wheelock from his pocket, opened the door slightly and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed, died.' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 7, pp. 102-03)
“From the preceding information it can be seen that the death of Joseph Smith can in no way be compared to the death of Jesus. Jesus did go like a 'lamb to the slaughter' but Joseph Smith died like a raging lion.”
(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, “The Changing World of Mormonism: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Changes in Mormon Doctrine and Practice” [Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1980-81], pp. 465-66)
“It is claimed that before Joseph Smith was murdered in the Carthage jail he made this statement: 'I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; . . . ' ('Doctrine and Covenants' 135: 4). . . .
“John Taylor, who became the third president of the Mormon Church, made these statements concerning the death of Joseph Smith:
“'Elder Cyrus B . Wheelock came to see us and when he was ab out leaving drew a small pistol--a six-shooter--from his pocket, remarking at the same time, 'Would any of you like to have this?' Brother Joseph immediately replied, “Yes, give it to me,” whereupon he took the pistol and put it in his pantaloons pocket. . . . I was sitting at one of the front windows of the jail when I saw a number of men, with painted faces, coming around the corner of the jail and aiming towards the stairs. . . .
“'I shall never forget the deep feeling of sympathy and regard manifested in the countenance of Brother Joseph as he drew nigh to Hyrum and, leaning over him, exclaimed, “Oh! My poor, dear brother Hyrum!” He, however, instantly arose and with a firm, quick step and a determined expression on his countenance, approached the door and pulling the six-shooter left by Brother Wheelock from his pocket, opened the door slightly and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges. Two of whom, I am informed, died.' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 7, pp. 100, 102-03)”
(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, “Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?,” 5th ed., Chapter 19, “Joseph Smith: Like a Lamb?” (Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987), p. 259)
--Versions of Joseph Smith's Assassination at Carthage Jail, Where the Ultimate Fate (Death or Survival) of Those Reportedly Shot by Joseph Smith Is Not Mentioned
*Non-Mormon Author Ernest H. Taves, in “Trouble Enough: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon”:
“John Fullmer smuggled a single-barrel pistol into the jail. Cyrus Wheelock brought in a six-shooter in a raincoat pocket. . . .
“ . . . [S]ome of the mob stormed the stairway, pushed against the door and began firing. Others below were firing through the windows.
“The men inside sprang to their weapons: Joseph to the six-shooter, Hyrum to the pistol. A shot came through the door and struck Hyrum near the nose. At the same moment another ball came through the window and struck Hyrum in the back. . . . Joseph emptied the six-shooter down the stairs; some shots misfired, some connected. Balls were whistling through the air all over the room. . . .
“Joseph flung the six-shooter to the floor and tried to get through the window. He was struck twice from the door, once from below. “
(Ernest H. Taves, “Trouble Enough: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon,” Chapter 21, “Assassination” [Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1984], p. 213)
--Conclusion: Did Joseph Smith Shoot and/or Kill Any of His Attackers at Carthage? Give It Your Best Shot
I don't think the case has been conclusively made either way as to whether Joseph Smith actually killed anyone he shot at Carthage. (Please note that I said "anyone he shot at Carthage." We'll get to that point in a moment).
In the meantime, we do have an eventual Mormon apostle, Dallin H. Oaks, along with two noteworthy excommunicated Mormon authors, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, putting up evidence per the argument that Joseph Smith killed members of the Carthage mob.
Oaks cites a witness' claim (examined during the court trial of Joseph Smith's eventually-exonerated assassins) that Joseph Smith had, in fact, mortally wounded some of his Carthage attackers. (That said, Oaks does not clearly indicate whether he views this claim to be true, although he appears inclined toward doubt).
On the other hand, noted ex-Mormon critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner, quoting the view of third president of the Mormon Church John Taylor, argue that Joseph Smith most likely did shoot back at and kill some of his Carthage attackers.
As noted above, I think the jury is perhaps still out on that question.
However, based on the available evidence, it seems beyond reasonable doubt that Joseph Smith did indeed shoot some of his jailhouse assailants with a gun that had been smuggled into him by a sympathizer. The indictments read out against members of the mob who murdered Joseph Smith noted that those on trial for Smith's murder who were wounded were wounded by gunfire. It was, as Oaks observes, the bullet wounds which they received that likely served as compelling physical proof directly tying them to the mob responsible for murdering Joseph Smith. The rounds that inflicted their injuries would have had to have come from Joseph Smith's six-shot revolver since the only other armed cellmate with him at the time of his death--his brother Hyrum--was shot and killed before he (Hyrum) could get off a round from his single-barrel weapon.
That only leaves Joseph Smith who could have wounded the men in question (and--who knows?--maybe killed some, too).