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The letter from the governor was read and considered. The Prophet said, “There is no mercy-no mercy here.” Hyrum Smith said, “No; just as sure as we fall into their hands we are dead men.” The Prophet, turning to Hyrum asked him what could be done. Hyrum replied, “I don't know.” Then the countenance of the Prophet brightened and he said: “The way is open. It is clear to my mind what to do. All they want is Hyrum and myself; then tell everybody to go about their business, and not collect in groups, but to scatter about. There is no doubt they will come here and search for us. Let them search; they will not harm you in person or property, and not even a hair of your head. We will cross the river tonight, and go away to the West.” That same day he wrote to Stephen Markham and said if he and Hyrum were ever taken again they would be massacred or he was not a prophet of God. “I want Hyrum to live to avenge my blood but he is determined not to leave me.” (1)

“Saturday, June 22, 1844, about 9 p.m. Hyrum came out of the Mansion and gave his hands to Reynolds Cahoon, at the same time saying, ‘A company of men are seeking to kill my brother Joseph, and the Lord has warned him to flee to the Rocky Mountains to save his life. Good-by, Brother Cahoon, we shall see you again.’ In a few minutes afterwards Joseph came from his family. His tears were flowing fast. He held a handkerchief to his face, and followed after Brother Hyrum without uttering a word.”(2)
That night these brethren assembled on the river bank and about midnight Joseph, Hyrum and Willard Richards were taken across the river by Orrin P. Rockwell, the latter returning with instructions to obtain horses and pass them over the river the next night and be ready for the start for the Rocky Mountains.

At ten o’clock on the morning of the 23rd, the governor’s posse arrived in Nauvoo to arrest the Prophet, but they did not find him and returned, leaving one of their number there to watch for him. This posse said if Joseph and Hyrum Smith were not given up the governor was determined to send his troops into the city and guard it till they were found, if it took three years.

At one p.m. Emma Smith [at the Mansion, on the 23rd] sent Orrin P. Rockwell to entreat the Prophet to return. Reynolds Cahoon accompanied Rockwell with a letter to the same effect. Reynolds Cahoon, Lorenzo D. Wasson and Hiram Kimball accused the Prophet of cowardice for wishing to leave the people. These men and a few others declared that Joseph Smith, like in the fable, was fleeing from the sheep when the wolves arrived, and their property in Nauvoo would be destroyed if the brethren did not return.

This [page 194] accusation cut the Prophet to the heart. It was bad enough to be accused by enemies, but when those supposed to be his friends and the person nearest to him, felt that

(1) Joseph Smith, Documentary History of the Church, 6:546
(2) Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Six 1843-44, p.377 (emphasis mine)

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