In Carthage, Illinois, on the 27th of June, 1844, just after five o’clock in the evening, an armed mob—faces painted black—numbering from 150 to 200 persons, rushed the jail where Joseph and Hyrum were being held, climbed the stairs to the second story landing, and began to fire their guns through the door. Hyrum was shot first and fell calmly, exclaiming: “I am a dead man!” (D&C 135: 1) John Taylor was the next to be shot, receiving four brutal wounds; and yet was miraculously spared by the hand of God to live through the massacre. Willard Richards, the only other person in the room, escaped the shower of gunfire virtually unscathed, literally fulfilling a prophecy made by Joseph over a year previously—that the time would come when gunfire would fly around Brother Richards like hail, and he should see his friends fall on the right and on the left, but he should not receive so much as even a hole in his garment (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 619). The Prophet Joseph, seeing there was no safety in the room, and no doubt thinking that it would save the lives of his brethren if he could get out, turned calmly and attempted to leap from the window. Two shots pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from outside. He fell out of the window exclaiming, “Oh Lord, my God!” He landed on his left side a dead man (Ibid., vol. 6, pp. 617-19).

News arrived in Nauvoo at daylight the next morning. Around two-thirty in the afternoon, two wagons carrying the martyrs came into town, and nearly all of the citizens of Nauvoo gathered together to follow them to the Mansion House.