“Silence, Ye Fiends of the Infernal Pit!”: Joseph Smith’s Incarceration in Richmond, Missouri, November 1838


Joseph Smith, Early Church History, Mormon Studies, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith Incarceration


On October 27, 1838, after nearly three months of hostilities between Mormon and Missouri settlers in Daviess, Carroll, Ray, and Caldwell Counties, Missouri, Governor Lilburn W. Boggs signed an executive order authorizing the state militia to subdue the Mormon populace and force their surrender, and ordered them to evacuate the state.1 The order was carried out by Samuel D. Lucas, a major general in the state militia and the commander of the troops from Jackson and Lafayette Counties. The day before issuing the “Extermination Order,” Boggs relieved Major General David R. Atchison of his command of the state militia in the Northern District.2 Atchison’s release probably stemmed from the fact that he had served as legal counsel to Joseph Smith and was at least partially sympathetic of the Mormons. Boggs replaced Atchison with John B. Clark of Howard County. However, since Clark was not on the scene to take charge, Lucas assumed command.

Original Publication Citation

“‘Silence, Ye Fiends of the Infernal Pit’: Joseph Smith’s Incarceration in Richmond, Missouri, November 1838,” Mormon Historical Studies 13, nos. 1–2 (Spring/Fall 2012): 135–59.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

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Mormon Historical Studies




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor