Saints move into Winter Quarters

Sunday, Sept. 20, 1846:

The Saints at Cutler's Park met together to hear Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young speak. Elder Kimball announced plans to build Winter Quarters at a better spot, closer to the Missouri River. President Young stated that he did not feel much like preaching because there were so many sick brethren who needed to be administered to. He expressed deep sorrow for the suffering that the Saints had been called to endure for their religion.In the afternoon, a site for a flour mill powered by stream water was discussed. Assignments were made to begin building a mill.

Monday, Sept. 21:

At 9 p.m., as the camp was retiring for the night, an alarm was sounded. A message was spread throughout the camp that the mob was on the way to camp. All the brethren were instructed to quickly assemble in the square with their guns. The scene was one of great confusion as the men tried to calm their anxious families and went off to receive instructions.

President Young informed the brethren of reports that U.S. marshals were on the way from Missouri to arrest the Twelve. News had also been received that they were coming with a large force, hoping to catch the camp by surprise. All of those assembled were asked to clean their guns and have ammunition ready. They were asked to pray with their families for safety. Two men were sent to the north and two to the south to collect information regarding this potential threat to the camp. The meeting concluded and the men were told to retire with their guns in their hands.

Back at Nauvoo, the mob grabbed every Mormon they could find left in the city, took them down to the river and threw them in.

Tuesday, Sept. 22:

All of the brethren in the camp met in the morning to organize the Nauvoo Legion. Brigham Young explained that the purpose of this organization was to "take care of ourselves in this savage country and prepare for going over the mountains." Officers were called out to lead 16 companies of 25 men, 400 in all. Brigham Young was voted in as the commander-in-chief. President Young discussed plans to immediately move to the Winter Quarters site which would provide better protection for the camp.

Wednesday, Sept. 23:

The Saints began to roll into Winter Quarters, their home for the cold months that lay ahead. They set up camps on their assigned lots, on which they looked forward to soon building winter homes. Nebraska's first city was laid out into blocks of 380 by 660 feet consisting of 20 lots of 72 feet by 165 feet. Wilford Woodruff was assigned to one of these blocks for his company of 40 families. He placed two families to each lot.

Thursday, Sept. 24:

Many more companies arrived at Winter Quarters. Additional lots were surveyed. Hosea Stout described seeing the city for the first time, "The City, for so it was laid out, was situated on a level flat on the second bluff from the river, and about 50 or 60 feet above the water and was quite narrow at the North End of the city. . . . The city is one mile from South to North & bounded at each end by two brooks of good running watter. The North brook is calculated to have a mill built on it with some 20 feet or more fall. . . . This was a most beautiful and delightful situation for a City & I was well pleased with this, my first view of it."

Friday, Sept. 25:

Members of the Twelve and others met with Daniel H. Wells and William Cutler, who had recently arrived from Nauvoo in a one-horse buggy. They reported the sad news about the battle of Nauvoo and the death of three brethren. After hearing about the brave defense of the city against overwhelming forces, William Clayton wrote, "Truly, the Lord fights the battles of his saints."

Saturday, Sept. 26:

Brigham Young and other brethren examined a site for the proposed Winter Quarters mill. He also chose a location for the artillery, north of the city on the other side of the creek.

Wilford Woodruff rode up and down the river exploring and searching for cattle. He wrote, "I also got wet feet to day hauling several cattle out of the mud to save life. . . . In the evening a drove of wolves caught a calf that bauled at a dreadful rate untill he was dead. It was heard over the encampment."

Sources: Manuscript History of Brigham Young, pp. 390-95; Wilford Woodruff's Journal 3:85-6; William Clayton's Journal, p. 63; Journal of Henry Standage in The March of the Mormon Battalion, pp. 166-67; John Doyle Lee, p. 100; A Ram in the Thicket: The Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War, pp. 148-56; Our Pioneer Heritage 8:236; Zadoc Judd Autobiography, p. 26; History of Utah, 1:275-78; The Diary of Hosea Stout, pp. 196-202; Journal of Thomas Dunn, Typescript, 7; Thomas L. Kane, "The Mormons," pp. 9-11.