Fragments of Experience
SIXTH BOOK OF THE
Designed for the Instruction and Encouragement of
Young Latter-day Saints.
JUVENILE INSTRUCTOR OFFICE.
Salt Lake City,
George Q. Cannon, Fragments of Experience, p.49 - p.50
Major Seymour Brunson directed Brother A. P. Rockwood and myself to take our horses and go out two miles north of Far West and patrol the country every night. If we saw a man, or company of men coming towards Far West, we were ordered to hail them and demand the countersign. If necessary, to make this demand the second time, when, if not given, we were to fire on them. When we arrived on the ground where we were to perform our duties, Brother Rockwood and I separated, taking different directions. It was a moonlight night. I was on the edge of a prairie with my eye along the road, when I discovered a company of mounted men coming over a swell of the prairie. I retired into the timber and took a station behind the trunk of a large tree, under the shadow of its branches, and twenty or thirty yards from the road. As the company came opposite to me, I demanded the countersign twice, as I had been ordered to do. As they paid no attention to me, I made ready to fire, intending to shoot the leader, when a strong and sudden impression came over me to hail again. I did so, and ordered them to halt. This time the leader recognized my voice, and, turning towards me, asked: "Is that you, Brother Lorenzo?" I also recognized the man as Brother Lyman Wight, and, as I answered in the affirmative, rode up to his side. We were glad to meet each other, and I was very thankful that I had not obeyed orders. He was on his way from Diamond to Far West, with a company of men to assist the Saints there.
Soon after this occurrence, I returned to Far West. I told Sister Young that I hoped to get one good night's sleep. For three weeks I had not had my clothes off to lay down, and I felt much worn.
Perhaps I had slept two hours, when I was awakened by the bass drum sounding an alarm on the public square. I was soon out to see what was the matter. There were five men on the square, of whom I inquired the cause of the alarm. They informed me that, two of the brethren had been taken prisoners by the mob on Crooked River, tried by a court martial that day, and condemned to be shot the coming morning at eight o'clock. A company of men was wanted to go and rescue them.
Preparations were soon made, and in a short time, about 40 mounted men, under the command of David W. Patten, were ready to start. We kept the road to a ford on Crooked River, twenty miles distant, where we expected to find the mob. Just as the day was breaking we dismounted, about a mile from the ford, tied our horses, and left Brother Isaac Decker to watch them.
We marched down the road some distance, when we heard the crack of a rifle. Brother Obanion, who was one step in advance of me fell. I assisted brother John P. Green, who was the captain of the platoon I belonged to, to carry him to the side of the road. We asked the Lord to preserve his life, laid him down, ran on and took our places again.
The man who shot Brother Obanion was a picket guard of the mob, who was secreted in ambush by the roadside. Captain Patten was ahead of the company.
As we neared the river the firing was somewhat lively. Captain Patten turned to the left off the road, with a part of the command; Captain Green and others turned to the right.
We were ordered to charge, which we did, to the bank of the river, when the enemy broke and fled.
I snapped my gun twice at a man in a white blanket coat. While engaged in repriming my gun, he got out of range.
A tall, powerful, Missourian sprang from under the bank of the river, and, with a heavy sword in hand, rushed towards one of the brethren, crying out, "Run, you devils, or die!"
The man he was making for was also armed with a sword, but was small and poorly calculated to withstand the heavy blows of the Missourian. He, however, succeeded in defending himself until I ran to his aid, and leveled my gun within two feet of his enemy, but it missed fire.
The Missourian turned on me. With nothing but the muzzle end of my rifle to parry his rapid blows, my situation was perilous. The man whom I had relieved, for some reason, did not come to the rescue. I succeeded in parrying the blows of my enemy until he backed me to the bank of the river. I could back no farther without going off the perpendicular bank, eight or ten feet above the water. In a moment I realized that my chances were very desperate. At this juncture the Missourian raised his sword, apparently throwing all his strength and energy into the act, as if intending to crush me with one desperate blow.
As his arm extended I saw a hand pass down the back of his head and between his shoulders. There was no other person visible, and I have always believed that I saw the hand of the angel of the Lord interposed for my deliverance. The arm of my enemy was paralyzed, and I had time to extricate myself from the perilous situation I was in.
As soon as I had time to think, I felt that the inspiration of my mother's promise had been again verified. The appearance of the hand, to me, was real. I do not see how I could have been saved in the way I was, without a providential interference.
As soon as I was out of danger, my attention was drawn to brother David W. Patten, who lay on the ground a short distance from me, mortally wounded. We hitched a pair of horses to a wagon, put brother Patten and six other wounded men into it, and started for Far West.
A few miles from the battle ground we met the Prophet Joseph, with a carriage and a company of horsemen. The wounded were taken to their homes, and such care given them as circumstances would allow.
Soon after our return to Far West, General Clark's army arrived before that city. In the evening after Joseph and Hyrum Smith and others had been taken prisoners, Hyrum Smith had the privilege of coming into Far West to see his family. From the spirit of General Clark and his army, he believed that, if they succeeded in taking the brethren who were in the Crooked River battle, they would be tried by a court martial and shot. He and Brother Brigham, and myself met on the public square. After counseling over the matter, it was decided that I, and others in the same situation, should start that night into the wilderness north, for the Des Moines River, in Iowa Territory. My brother, Phineas, being a good woodsman, was selected to pilot us.
The Saints in Far West had been so plundered by their enemies, that they had but little surplus to eat or wear.
I had on a very thin pair of pants. My wife took a sheet from the bed, and, with the assistance of some of the neighbors, hastily made me a pair of drawers. These I afterwards gave to my brother Phineas, as he seemed to suffer more with the cold than I did. Our bedding was as scanty as our clothing.
We left Far West that night, and took no food with us. We arrived about sunrise in the morning, at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, twenty-two miles from Far West. We needed some breakfast, and stopped in a clump of hazel brush, and sent one of the party to the house of Brother Gardiner Snow, to tell him our situation. He said he had not much to eat, but would do the best he could. He brought us a very good supply of stewed Missouri pumpkin and milk. Our keen appetites made this seem a very good breakfast.
There we obtained fifty pounds of chopped corn. With this meagre supply of food we continued on our journey. From the first, it was evident that we must be very saving of our food supply. We rationed on eight ounces of this meal, per man, each day. It was mixed with water, without any salt, baked in a cake before the fire, and carefully divided out.
The second day, as night was approaching, we struck the edge of a prairie, which was about four miles across. As our horses were weary, we stopped a short time to rest, when one Irvine Hodge overtook us. He informed us that General Clark, having learned of our departure, had sent a troop of sixty cavalrymen in pursuit; that they were only a few miles behind, and on our trail. Their orders were to bring us dead or alive. We had thought of camping on the spot, but concluded to cross the prairie at once. This we accomplished, and camped in the timber. In the night, snow commenced falling. It appeared to come down in sheets instead of flakes. In the morning it was about a foot and a half deep. Some of the company, at first, regretted this, but others saw and felt that the hand of the Lord was in it. My brother, Phineas, at once declared that it was the means of our deliverance. We started on and the wind began to blow. Our tracks were completely covered soon after they were made.
We afterwards learned that our pursuers camped on the opposite side of the prairie from us, where we had rested. In the morning they tried to find our trail, but finding it impossible to do so, gave up pursuit.
Thus we were saved from our enemies by a friendly interposition of the elements in our behalf.
We were fifteen days on our journey from Far West to the Des Moines River. The last three days we were without food. After the snow fell, our horses had to subsist on what they could find above it.
The brush had soon made my thin pants unavailable for covering my legs in the neighborhood of the knees. The fragments were tied up with small hickory withes. When we arrived near a house, on the Des Moines, I remained in the woods while one of my companions went to the house and obtained a pair of pants, that I might be presentable.
On this trip it seemed as though both men and animals had a wonderful power of enduring cold, hunger and fatigue. I am constrained, after more than forty years have passed away, to acknowledge a special providence in our deliverance.
I have drawn on my memory for the facts of this narrative, and think that they are correct; but there may be some errors in dates, and in the succession of events.