The Battle of Nauvoo is said to be the final, sad chapter of the early Latter-day Saint experience in western Illinois.
While thousands of Church members headed West in 1846 — searching for a peaceful spot to worship and start new lives — several hundred stayed behind. Their lingering presence was not embraced by many of the Hancock County neighbors.
In the fall of 1846, a 500-man militia from nearby Carthage invaded Nauvoo to force the expulsion of the remaining Mormons. They were led by Thomas S. Brockman, a Campbellite preacher and avowed enemy of the Church.
Fiercely outnumbered and outgunned, a small army of Nauvoo men and boys held off Brockman's militia for a few days in the battle for Nauvoo. A few men died, others were injured. In the end, Brockman's forces proved too strong. The last remnant of the Church in Nauvoo surrendered and soon evacuated a city once renowned as a center of industry and faith.
Almost 160 years have passed since the Battle of Nauvoo and Thomas S. Brockman's presence is again being felt.
Leslie Richie, a Brockman descendent, recently donated the sword his ancestor wielded during the battle to the Museum of Church History and Art.
The steel military-style sabre is in good condition, remains sheathed in its original scabbard and is expected to be displayed at the museum, said museum employee Mark Staker, who participated in the relic's acquisition.
The sword is something of a reconciliation gesture from a Brockman descendant to the Church.
Mr. Richie, who lives in Oregon, told the Church News that the sword had been passed down through several generations. It was not a beloved heirloom
"It was mostly kept in the closet and never brought out," Mr. Richie said. "It wasn't something to be proud of."
Mr. Richie is pleased the sword now has a new home.
"I decided it should go somewhere where someone would be interested in it," he added.
Source about the Battle of Nauvoo: Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, A People of Promise, Glen M. Leonard.
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