Brighams Destroying Angel
Chapter II conclusion
In the fall and winter of 1846 there was much uneasiness amongst the people. They concluded to go West, and worked all winter making wagons, harness, and a general outfitting. The majority left, I think, in March, having organized previously in companies. I started with them in what was known as the Artillery Company. Colonel John Scott had that company in charge. We had four pieces of artillery, and some five hundred stands of small arms. Scott had four companies in his division, I being first captain. After a hard and lasting journey, we arrived at Council Bluffs, where United States officers came to our camp and made a call for five hundred volunteers, which were raised and joined the United States army, then fighting Mexicans. I was sick and not able to go, from the effects of measles. I stayed at Council Bluffs until I was able to travel, then went back to Nauvoo to bring on the family and assist others. When I reached Nauvoo I heard that a mob had taken Phineas Young and his son, and they could not he found; but were heard of, sometimes in one place and then in another. We raised a company and ransacked the country for some ten days before we got them. They had not been mistreated, only by threats and exposure, having been kept in the woods. Immediately after this. those ramparts of Illinois swore the Mormons should all leave forthwith. Nauvoo had at this time a majority of what was called new citizens, most of whom did not want the Mormons to leave until they could sell their property. Those had purchased property of the Mormons who had previously left. The mob commenced gathering southeast of the town, on what was known as Hunters farm. There was a committee of twelve men then in the city, sent by the governor to investigate and see what was wrong. Satisfaction was given them on the part of the people of the city, and a party was sent to the governor. They did not return at the appointed time, and the balance went and did not return. The mob kept gathering, and the Mormons and New Citizens (Gentiles) gathered and resolved to withstand them. There were about two hundred in all that we could muster. Then skirmishing commenced on both sides. I should think that some six or seven hundred had gathered on the Hunter farm. We kept our guards out, and one day our picket was chased into the city near where our forces were. We enquired how many there were after them, and learned about eight. Captain William Cutler then made a selection of four men, all mounted the best of horses, and went in pursuit. I was one of the party. We could not catch them, but chased them into camp, stopping out of gunshot distance. We stood up in our saddles and gave them as big a blackguarding as our tongues could utter: but no move was made for us. We were there some fifteen or twenty minutes between two sod fences-no show to cross, either-when we looked down the road and saw them getting on the fence behind us. We had to pass them or surrender. I began to think we had stayed a little too long. We started at full speed. and they mounted the fence as thick as blackbirds, I thought crying: Halt! halt!! But no halt; we went through in a rain of bullets and no one hurtone horse wounded. I had three cuts on my clothes.
The next day they moved around on what was known as Laws farm, where they would have a fair sweep at the city, and commenced cannonading. The scattering families who then lived in the east part of the town moved to the fiat on the river. We had no cannon, but cut into a steamboats shaft, plugged it up, fixed it up on wagon-wheels, hammered out balls of pig lead, which was plenty, and responded to the cannon-balls. This was the same size as their guns. They had three pieces, and we had two, which shot equally as strong as theirs, but not so accurate. This cannonading was kept up for several days, while their party continued to increase, and ours to decrease. Men left when they pleased, and came when they pleased. We had blockaded some of the streets which we expected them to come in on. I belonged to a picket company, thirty of us under Captain Anderson. They started for the city, and we were placed on the north, expecting them come that way; but they swung to the south of our breast-works. Captain Anderson took his company just far enough in town to be under cover, and then marched us in front of not less than eight hundred men, who were keeping up a constant fire. But here let me say that while making this swing we passed one of our cannons where one man lay dead, with his head almost shot off. A New Citizen, a Methodist preacher, had the charge of it. He loaded behind a brick house, and would then roll it out and fire. He had just got it out when we reached his stand. The good old Christian prayed God that it might take the desired effect. I could not keep from laughing to hear such a prayer from such a man under such circumstances. Our company made breast-works of a brick house, log barn, and some large corn shacks, all close together, without being seen. When the enemy got within one hundred and fifty yards of us, we opened fire on them, which called them to a halt - but didnt the balls come thick! We thirty had about three hundred shots in repeating rifles, which we handled lively. Our captain was shot and fell dead at the commencement of the fight. At this time the other companies were playing on their right. About the time we had emptied all our shots and were ready to give way, the mob commenced a retreat, which was quite acceptable. We remained under cover, and reloaded as fast as possible. About that time we saw them coming again. They were halted as before and soon left, again going to their quarters. How many were killed I never learned. I had been anxious from a boy to be in a battle, but I assure you this fight took a great deal of starch out of me. My appetite for such fun has never been so craving since.
Hickman in Prison at Nauvoo-Kills his Jailer and escapes. Page 45.
We saw our forces weakening, and knew eventually we should have to surrender; so we sent a flag of truce with committee to settle in some way the existing war. Terms were agreed upon, which was that the Mormons must forthwith leave; that they must all come in town the next day, unmolested, and have any and all persons delivered up to them they wanted, some dozen or so - among the lot was myself. This was the first time I began to be known. We thought we would cross the river that night and go westward; but the wind rose, and it was impossible. The others concluded to hide up another day, and then leave. I did not want to take chances in being found, so dressed myself in a number one suit of black broadcloth, fine boots, and kid gloves - a perfect disguise - and went to the ferry-boat, but just as I was leaving the shore I was recognized by one of their party. I was arrested, of course, and taken to prison to await the settling of other affairs, and then they would look into my case. I had six feet of log-chain put on my leg, with a fifteen-pound ball on the end of it, and was locked in behind two doors. I stayed a few days, and when the jailer came in one afternoon, I knocked him down, took his bowie-knife and cut the chain off my leg, took his pistols and left, and have not been back since, which was about twenty-five years ago. This was the only time I was ever in prison. I went west on Grand River, in the southern part of Iowa. I had lost almost all my property, so I went to work, raised a good crop, made a horse-race or two, and by the next fail was able to go on to Council Bluffs. Brigham Young had been to Salt Lake with a pioneering party, and returned to what was known then as winter quarters, now Florence, some eight miles from Council Bluffs, across the river. I met him and party who had come on our side of the river for the purpose of holding the Fall Conference. I had a pair of beautiful ponies, and Young wanted one of them for his son Joseph. I gave it to him, keeping my running one, which had made me several dollars before coming to that place. I made a race with a Potowatamie trader, for three yoke of oxen a side. It was opposed by my friends so strongly that I withdrew the stakes soon after. Brigham Young then sent for me; I soon learned he wanted my little race animal for his other son, Brigham, Jr. This went against the grain, I knowing he had no use for such an animal - that one worth one-fourth as much would do him as well, and I told him so. But, said he, if you keep her you will do wrong with her; you will be racing, and I want her. I could not refuse, believing, as I did, that he stood between God and His people, and could invoke blessings or cursings at pleasure.
The spring of 1848 rolled in. Young, Hyde, and others had some bitter enemies. One half-breed Indian from some of the tribes south, well-educated, had been to Nauvoo, joined the Church, gone home and had come to Council Bluffs to see Brigham Young. Brigham had made him very mad, and he was swearing vengeance. He said he was well acquainted with the tribes west, and would be out ahead of him, collect them together, and scalp Brigham Young before he reached Fort Laramiethat he would have a war-dance over his scalp in less than three months. Brigham Youngs boys in winter quarters had got after him, but could not catch him, and he came on our side of the river. Brigham sent me word to look out for him. I found him, used him up, scalped him, and took his scalp to Brigham Young, saying Here is the scalp of the man who was going to have a war-dance over your scalp; you may now have one over his, if you wish. He took it and thanked me very much. He said in all probability I had saved his life, and that some day he would make me a great man in the kingdom. This was my first act of violence under the rule of Brigham Young. Soon after this, I was called upon to go for a notorious horse-thief, who had sworn to take the life of Orson Hyde. I socked him away, and made my report, which was very satisfactory. Hyde was well pleased, and said he knew I had saved his life.
In the spring of 48, Brighams company started for Salt Lake, with their families. I, in company with a number of others, crossed the Missouri River and went thirty miles to Elkhorn River, to bid Brigham and party a good-bye. Brigham told me he wanted me to stop that year with Orson Hyde, as there were those around who might kill him. He wanted me to look out for him, and see that nobody hurt him. This was very satisfactory to Hyde. In about a month, Amasa Lyman, one of the Twelve, followed Brigham Young with another large company for Salt Lake. I had in the winter just previous to leaving Nauvoo taken me a second wife, whose father was going with this company, and she wanted to go with them. I sent her along, and when I reached Salt Lake next year was not surprised to find she had helped herself to a youngster a few days old. Believing her virtue to be easy long before this let me off. I never had any children by her. When bidding Brigham Young good-bye, in the spring of 48, he said to Orson Hyde: If Brother William wants to take him another wife, you attend to the marriage ceremonies.
In the fall of 48, Orson Hyde got after a gang of counterfeiters, and put me on the track to ferret it out, if possible. Some of them were Mormons, some Gentiles, and some apostate Mormons, eight or ten altogether. They were making dollars and half-dollars; had dies and a screw-press and were making what was called a good article of bogus money. About this time, Orson Hyde started a paper called the Frontier Guardian, and was giving these fellows a tremendous blowing up. They threatened his life, some of them being of the desperate kind. They also threatened to burn his printing office. Here was another job for me - to watch the printing office. I would go into it after dark, at the back door, well armed. A party came one very dark night, and burst the front door open; I fired two shots at random, but hit no one. This caused an abandonment of that project, but they were more enraged at him than ever. I threw myself in their company, and heard their threats, upon which I told them if they hurt a hair of his head, I would kill the last counterfeiter in the country, and to pitch in as soon as they liked, and I would turn loose upon the first one I heard make a threat. This caused them to be quiet, and soon they began to be discountenanced by the people. I found a portion of their press, which was destroyed. This broke them up, and gave my friend, Orson Hyde, much relief of mind, he not having the nerve that a military general should have. He said I had again saved his life, which thing he often spoke of, and sometimes would preach it to his congregation. But when Brigham Young says the word, all the dogs howl, and this Hyde has not ventured to speak to me for a long time.
During the summer of 48 some Omaha Indians were crossing the river, and driving off the stock belonging to the people. They took the last animal belonging to several. We would go in search, but would find where they had crossed the river, which always ended pursuit. A boy in the town came in and told me he had seen two Indians in the brush about a mile off. I took my pistol and knife, telling the boy not to tell anyone else, and went in search, crawling through the brush with all the quietness of a cat after a mouse. My object in telling the boy not to tell anyone else was to keep the people from making a rush, as they would frighten the Indians, and they would get away as before. After watching about an hour, I saw three Indians with ropes and bridles, and armed with bows and arrows. I took deliberate aim, having two in range; one fell, and one ran towards me, the third ran the other way. The one that ran towards me fell about three rods off. The ball had cut the back of his head, and made him crazy; but I was to him as he rose, and shot him dead. I took their bows, arrows, ropes, and bridles, and put them in a pile, went to town, told a few of my friends, who were well pleased, but thought we had best say nothing about it, as there might be some exceptions taken to it by United States agents. The Indians were left until night, and then buried. I worked hard that summer, building houses in the town known then as Kanesville.
The next winter a Government contractor took about one thousand head of oxen forty miles north of us to winter on the rush bottoms of the Missouri River. Early in the spring this agent said a gang of thieves were stealing his cattle, and scattering them over the country, altering the U. S. brand on them, and killing some. He came to Kanesville, got a writ, deputized a man and posse of four to go and arrest them. They returned whipped out, and no prisoners, upon which this agent went to see Orson Hyde, and asked him if he had not men who could and would arrest this party. I was sent for, and introduced to this agent, who I found to be a clever man and a gentleman. He filled my pocket with money, saying: Go it, my man, and fetch the rascals, and I will see that you get many a dollar for it.
Next morning I started with my one man, a good one, too. We were well armed. I got within a few miles of their place, stayed that night, and next morning we were upon them early. There were four guns drawn on us with the word to stand. I looked in their eyes, and did not see a shoot in them. It was all bluff. We drew up our guns and ordered an immediate surrender, or we would turn loose on them. They came to time, and we arrested four. We went to another place, and got two. One of them had strong indications of shooting. I tied his hands behind him, summoned another man, and returned with the six prisoners amid shouts. I assisted this man in getting his scattered and stolen stock, for which he paid me roundly, which enabled me to have a good and sufficient outfit for Salt Lake, where I was intending to go that spring. I commenced getting ready; gathered up, and crossed the river in company with a few other families, to await the starting of the first Mormon train, not forgetting the liberty given to me by Brigham Young to get another wife, which I did. She was a good, industrious woman, kind-hearted and agreeable: her mother was dead, and her father and only brother were in the Mexican War. I brought her across the plains, and found her father and brother in Salt Lake, glad to meet her.
While laying on the west side of the river, Orson Hyde sent for me. I got to Kanesville in the afternoon, and found a horse saddled, and four men waiting for me with horses also. I learned that twelve or fifteen Indians were then in the brush some five miles off. Orson Hyde gave us our instructions, and told us to be sure they did not all get back across the river. We struck out, following our guide, learned where the Indians were, and made a descent on them. The Indian I went for turned two arrows loose at me. I shot him down, and made a dash for another, shot him down, whirled to see what the other boys were doing, and found them whipping two Indians. They had not fired a shot. I concluded I had done my part, and stopped. Our report was all satisfactory. I started before day to our camp across the Missouri River, and that day got word from Orson Hyde to roll out with some California train at once, for h-ll was popping about those Indians that were killed on a United States reserve. We rolled out that evening twelve miles, and fell in with Colonel Cornwalls train, bound for the California gold-mines, from Illinois, who willingly accepted our company. I found him a gentleman; we had a good time on the plains, and a big dance with the Mormon girls when we reached Salt Lake. He was an old Indian-fighter; had commanded an expedition against the well-known warrior Black Hawk, in 32, and had slain many of them. The Colonel went on to California that fall. We got into Salt Lake August 20, 49. The Colonel has made several trips across the plains since, taking stock to California. He always called and spent a few days with me, and we never failed to have a good time.
"I turned my old yauger loose and he fell." Page 54.
We found plenty of game on the plains, such as buffalo and antelope. I was appointed one of the hunters for the company, which thing I enjoyed very much. I got laughed at one day for giving a jack-rabbit a chase, thinking it was a young antelope, it having started out from a hand of them. It was the first one I had ever seen, and I thought it very strange that the young ones could outrun the grown ones.
Some few days after this, another hunter and myself left the train for a hunt, and were to meet it at night. We traveled ten or fifteen miles before we found any buffalo. We killed one, a fine fat cow, took on our horses about one hundred pounds each, and started for camp. We had not traveled more than three miles when we saw some forty or fifty Indians, to all appearances trying to get in ahead of us. We guessed their intention, cut our meat loose, and lit out for camp, at least fifteen miles off. We were far back in the sand-hills, a dreary- looking place. The Indians all held up but six, who put their ponies down to their best. We outran them for awhile, and then held our own for awhile, when my friends horse, although a good one, was failing. I had a nail-driver, very swift, and no end to his bottom. I fell back as though my horse had failed. Five of the six halted their gait, and one came at full speed for me. I waited until the Indian was within two hundred yards of me, ran my horse around a mound and dismounted. I was not more than ready for him when he came in sight, not more than fifty steps off. I turned my old yauger loose, and he fell, holding his horse by the bridle. I mounted, rode out and saw the other Indians were in a short distance. I wanted the pony (he was pretty, and speckled as a bird), but was in too much of a hurry to get him. I started for my comrade, who was by this time a mile ahead. My horse carried me off at almost lightning speed. I kept a good lookout behind, but they came no farther than where I shot the Indian. This was a caution for us not to be caught so far from home, which caution we accepted of for the balance of the trip.
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