The Lord directed Joseph Smith to lead a group of faithful Saints to aid Church members "scattered on the land of Zion"1 as a result of mob violence in Jackson County, Missouri. A company of about 200 volunteers known as Zion's Camp departed Kirtland, Ohio, in May 1834 on this rescue mission.
On June, 19 the company arrived between the east and west forks of the Fishing River just north of Jackson County. A large mob intent on destroying Zion's Camp gathered on the other side of the river. The attack was prevented when a fierce storm swept the area and the river quickly rose more than 30 feet, turning the mob away. Joseph declared, "God is in this storm."2
Several days later, the Prophet received a revelation at the Fishing River, wherein the Lord declared that the time for redeeming Zion had not arrived. He explained that Zion's Camp had been "brought thus far for a trial of their faith."3 The company was formally discharged on July 3, 1834.
Future apostles and prophets, including Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff, participated in Zion's Camp. Joseph observed that these leaders "had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham."4 The experience also helped prepare those who eventually directed the 1847 exodus to Salt Lake City.
1. D&C 103:1.
2. History of the Church, 2:104.
3. D&C 105:19.
4. Quoted in Joseph Young Sr., History of the Organization of the Seventies (1878), 14.
Learn more about Joseph Smith as a leader.
Click here to learn about the leadership structure of the Church.
Learn more about other sacred sites of the Restoration.
Learn about additional church history sites in Missouri.