The Latter-day Saints were gathering to Missouri to establish Zion there in the 1830's. The Missourians were uncomfortable about both the number of saints, and their beliefs. There were some scuffles, and threats, but then the Missourians, driven to anger and blood lust by Satan, formed a mob and began to persecute the church with theft, beatings, and threats of murder. In 1838, Governer Boggs gave the infamous extermination order that said that the "Mormons" should be exterminated or driven from the state. Many Missourians saw this as an opportunity to murder the saints and get away with it. This became a turning point the the history of mormonism.
In Haun's Mill, where 75 families lived, they received word from the prophet Joseph Smith to head to Far West and to get away from Haun's Mill. Before that however, those settling at Haun's Mill talked with the mob and made a truce with them. They did not heed the prophet's warning and decided to stay.
Several days later however, (historians deduced that the mob did not know of the Governor's order of extermination but was purely coincidence) 240 men marched to Haun's Mill. The leader of the community of Haun's Mill waved his hat and called for peace, while women and children ran into the woods and most of the men ran into the blacksmith shop when they saw the militia. The militia attacked, receiving orders to give no quarter (take no prisoners) and they fired many shots between the log spaces in the shop. The men in the militia enjoyed the killing, and brutally mutilated some of the bodies and took clothes from the deceased, robbed the homes, stole wagons and tents, drove off the animals and they abused the women and children. Any saints who surrendered were shot. Some of the militia entered the shop after filling it with bullets. One of the men, William Reynolds, found a ten-year-old boy hiding under the bellows. He put his musket against the boy's head, and blew it away. He would later comment, "Nits will make lice, and if he had lived he would have become a Mormon." Another one of the militia named Jacob Rogers, who entered the shop found a seventy-eight year old man named Thomas McBride. Thomas surrendered his musket to Jacob, who then shot Thomas and hacked his body apart with a knife.
The saints suffered many casualties. The saints suffered 19 dead, and 10 wounded, while the militia only suffered three wounded. Joseph Smith would later say, "Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who abode by my counsel." Then he recorded that innocent lives could have been saved at Haun's Mill had his counsel been followed.