He struck partly on his right shoulder and back, his neck and head reaching the ground a little before his feet. He rolled instantly on his face. From this position he was taken by a young man, who sprang to him from the other side of the fence, who held a pewter fife in his hand, was barefoot and bare-headed, having on no coat, with his pants rolled above his knees and shirt-sleeves above his elbows. He set President Smith against the south side of the well-curb, that was situated a few feet from the jail. While doing this, the savage muttered aloud : "This is Old Jo ; I know him. I know you, Old Jo. Damn you, you are the man that had my daddy shot." **** When President Smith had been set against the curb, and began to recover from the effects of the fall, Col. Williams ordered four men to shoot him. Accordingly, four men took an eastern direction, about eight feet from the curb, Col. Williams standing partly at their rear, and made ready to execute the order. While they were making preparations, and the muskets were raised to their faces, President Smith's eyes rested upon them with a calm and quiet resignation. He betrayed no agitated feelings and the expression upon his countenance seemed to betoken his only prayer to be : "O, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." The fire was simultaneous. A slight cringe of the body was all the indication of pain that he betrayed when the balls struck him. He fell upon his face. One ball had entered the back part of his body. This is the ball that many people have supposed struck him about the time he was in the window. But this is a mistake. I was close by him, and I know he was not hit with a ball until after he was seated by the well-curb.**** The ruffian, of whom I have spoken, who set him against the well-curb, now secured a bowie knife for the purpose of severing his head from his body. He raised the knife and was in the attitude of striking, when a light, so sudden and powerful, burst from the heavens upon the bloody scene, (passing its vivid chain between Joseph and his murderers.) that they were struck with terrified awe and filled with consternation. This light, in its appearance and potency, baffles all powers of description. The arm of the ruffian, that held the knife, fell powerless; the muskets of the four, who fired, fell to the ground, and they all stood like marble statues, not having power to move a single limb of their bodies.
Beloved brethren, we say to you all, as we say to the saints here, be still and know that God reigns. This is one of those fiery trials that is to try the saints in the last days. * * * These servants of God have gone to heaven by fire—the fire of an ungodly mob. Like the Prophets of ancient days they lived as long as the world would receive them; and this is one furnace in which the saints were to be tried, to have their leaders cut off from their midst, and not be permitted to avenge their blood.
God has said, "Vengeance is mine ; I have not called mine elders to fight their battles; I will fight their battle for them;" and we know, assuredly, that he will do it in his own due time, and we have only to wait in patience and pray for the fulfilment of the promise. This event is one of the most foul and damnable that ever disgraced the earth, having no parallel in time. Innocent men imprisoned without law, without justice, and murdered in cold blood in the enlightened nineteenth century, in an enlightened country in open daylight. It will call down the wrath and indignation of all nations upon the perpetrators of the horrid deed, and will prove the truth of the saying, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." They died for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. God has not left his church without witnesses; as in former days, so shall it be in the latter days, when one falls another will arise to occupy a similar station. Our heavenly Father always has had a leader to his people, always will have, and the gates of hell can never prevail against the chosen of heaven. The murder of Joseph will not stop the work ; it will not stop the Temple; it will not stop the gathering; it will not stop the honest-in-heart from believing the truth and obeying it; but it is a proof of the revelations we have received from heaven through him. He has sealed his testimony with his blood. He was willing to die, and desired only to live for the sake of the brethren.