Nauvoo After the Mormons - 1846
Hawk Eye – September 24, 1846
DEAR HAWK. -- My powers of description are totally inadequate
to give your readers any just conception of the "scenes" that now present
themselves on every hand in this vicinity. On either shore of the Mississippi
may be seen a long line of tents, wagons, cattle, &c. with numberless wretched
specimens of humanity. Since the armistice or "treaty" the Mormons are crossing
in almost breathless haste. Three or four "flats" are running constantly, both
day and night. This morning' Saturday, l9th, at the solicitation of Capt.
Vrooman, of the Fort Madison Guards, I crossed the river from Montrose, to take
a peep at this city of Desolation We proceeded to the Mansion House, where we
met with a small detachment of soldiers and a number of strangers. From thence
we went to the Temple. On entering the vestibule of this renowned edifice, a
singular spectacle presented itself. The seats of the High Priests of the
"Twelve" and of the "Seventy" were occupied by a grim visaged soldiery. Some lay
sleeping on their "arms," and others lay rolled up in their blankets. On every
hand lay scattered about in beautiful confusion, muskets, swords, cannon balls,
and terrible missiles of death. Verily thought I, how are the holy places
desecrated! I thought of old Oliver Cromwell, when he drove the horses of his
army through the "cloisters" of the Worcester Cathedral, and appropriated the
Baptismal fount as a manger.
I am penning this scrawl to you in the upper seat of the Sanctuary. Over my head there is a large inscription in gold letters "The Lord is our sacrifice;" on my right lie three soldiers asleep, resting on their arms -- my feet are resting on a pile of chain shot -- and a keg of powder, just discovered, lies at my elbow.
I left the Temple "solitary and alone," to perambulate the desolate city. All was stilled and hushed as the charnel house. Not a human being was seen. Houses appeared suddenly deserted, as though the inmates had precipitately fed from a pestilence or the burning of a volcano. Some had windows open and the flowers blooming on the casements, but no fair hand was there, and no breath was heard, save the rustling zephyrs of heaven. It appeared as if the vengeance of the Almighty rested upon this doomed city.
I roamed over the vast Parade Ground where, four years ago, I beheld the soi disant "Prophet" review his Legion of 3000 strong, in all the "pride and circumstance" of military glory. Where now is the Prophet? Let the plains of Carthage answer. And where the multitudes that shouted hozannas to his name?
Verily thought I, "truth is stranger than fiction." I returned again through the desolate streets to the Mansion House. One solitary being, with a child in her arms, stood at the corner of a street, and saluted me with an imploring and almost frantic look.
"Pray, sir, are you one of the committee?" said she.
When I replied that I was a stranger, her eyes filled with tears. She related her history. 'Tis soon told, and is the history of hundreds.
"We came from Yorkshire, England. My husband died eighteen months after our arrival. He gave all his money to the church."
"Where are your friends?" said I.
"I have none -- not one. The soldiers say I must leave in two hours. This child is sick and my other is a cripple." She had flour enough for but one dinner!
On the Montrose side of the Mississippi, many of the scenes were heartrending. I stopped at the door of one tent, arrested by the subdued sobs of a young mother, whose heart was broken with grief. By her side lay her infant, a corpse. She had neither friend or relative to bury her child, nor a mouthful of food to eat.
I was informed that Gen. Brockman, to his honor be it spoken, conducted with marked discretion and humanity; and the night the army took possession of the city, not a rail was disturbed or a particle of property molested. Although they encamped adjoining an extensive orchard of choice fruit, not a hand was laid upon it. The boat is leaving for Montrose and I must drop my pen. Perhaps more anon from your fair chronicler.
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