Battle of Crooked River

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In the Battle of Crooked River, citizens of Missouri confronted the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On 6 August 1838, a mob of 100 people at the election polls in Gallatin, Daviess County, would not let the Saints vote. A brawl followed and several people were injured. When Governor Lilburn W. Boggs heard of this brawl along with other mob activity, he ordered in the state militia to keep the peace. One of the militia officers was Captain Samuel W. Bogart, who led 75 men and was closely associated with the mob. He had been forcibly disarming Latter-day Saints and ordering them to leave their homes. He decided to promote conflict by kidnapping three Latter-day Saints, Nathan Pinkham, Jr., William Seely, and Addison Green. He held them hostage in his camp near Crooked River in Ray County, Missouri. By the time the Latter-day Saints learned of their kidnapping, the story had been exaggerated, and they were told that the mob intended to execute the three men. A group of about 75 Latter-day Saint militiamen led by Apostle David W. Patten, were armed and sent to rescue them.

They arrived at the Crooked River camp on October 25, 1838 during the night. As they approached the camp a voice yelled out “who goes there?” This was immediately followed by gunshots, and one of the younger men of the Latter-day Saint militia, Pat O’Banion, fell with mortal wounds. David W. Patten ordered the Latter-day Saints militia to charge and fire a round. With this attack the state militia began to run. They left all of their animals and equipment behind and ran in so many directions that many of them falsely reported that the Latter-day Saints militia had killed all of the men and that the person giving the report was the sole survivor. The Latter-day Saints militiamen were able to free the three kidnapped men, but numerous Latter-day Saints militiamen were wounded, and three died from the wounds received at the Battle of Crooked River, including David W. Patten.

Although the actions of Samuel Bogart and his men were malicious in trying to stir up contention, Governor Lilburn W. Boggs used the Battle of Crooked River as an example of why the “extermination order” should be put into effect. Unfortunately, Governor Boggs wrote the order only knowing exaggerated accounts of the battle which reported that the Latter-day Saints militia had killed half of Bogart’s men. The truth was that only one was killed. The order was issued on October 27, 1838. The main theme of the order can be found in a few lines that state, “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary, for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description.” Militia officers of the state were appointed to carry out the order.