An Account of the Martyrdom

Doctrine and Covenants 135:1–2

1 To seal the testimony of this book and the Book of Mormon, we announce the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and Hyrum Smith the Patriarch. They were shot in Carthage jail, on the 27th of June, 1844, about five o’clock p.m., by an armed mob—painted black—of from 150 to 200 persons. Hyrum was shot first and fell calmly, exclaiming: I am a dead man! Joseph leaped from the window, and was shot dead in the attempt, exclaiming: O Lord my God! They were both shot after they were dead, in a brutal manner, and both received four balls.
2 John Taylor and Willard Richards, two of the Twelve, were the only persons in the room at the time; the former was wounded in a savage manner with four balls, but has since recovered; the latter, through the providence of God, escaped, without even a hole in his robe.

President Willard Richards wrote:

“A shower of musket balls were thrown up the stairway against the door of the prison in the second story, followed by many rapid footsteps. . . .

“. . . A ball was sent through the door, which passed between us, and showed that our enemies were desperadoes. . . .

“. . . Joseph Smith, Mr. Taylor and myself sprang back to the front part of the room, and . . . Hyrum Smith retreated two-thirds across the chamber directly in front of and facing the door.

“A ball was sent through the door which hit Hyrum on the side of his nose, when he fell backwards, extended at length, without moving his feet.

“From the holes in his [clothing], it appears evident that a ball must have been thrown from without, through the window, which entered his back on the right side, and passing through, lodged against his watch. . . . At the same instant the ball from the door entered his nose.

“As he struck the floor he exclaimed emphatically, ‘I am a dead man.’ Joseph looked towards him and responded, ‘Oh, dear brother Hyrum!’ and opening the door two or three inches with his left hand, discharged one barrel of a six shooter (pistol) at random in the entry. . . . A ball [from the musket of one of the mob] grazed Hyrum’s breast, and entering his throat passed into his head, while other muskets were aimed at him and some balls hit him.

“Joseph continued snapping his revolver round the casing of the door into the space as before . . . , while Mr. Taylor with a walking stick stood by his side and knocked down the bayonets and muskets which were constantly discharging through the doorway. . . .

“When the revolver failed, we had no more firearms, and expected an immediate rush of the mob, and the doorway full of muskets, half way in the room, and no hope but instant death from within.

“Mr. Taylor rushed into the window, which is some fifteen or twenty feet from the ground. When his body was nearly on a balance, a ball from the door within entered his leg, and a ball from without struck his watch . . . in his vest pocket near the left breast, . . . the force of which ball threw him back on the floor, and he rolled under the bed which stood by his side. . . .

“Joseph attempted, as the last resort, to leap [from] the same window from whence Mr. Taylor fell, when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without, and he fell outward, exclaiming, ‘Oh Lord, my God!’ . . . He fell on his left side a dead man.”

(History of the Church, 6:619–20.)