Over at Joseph's Journal (my other project) the HC selections now find Joseph and those with him in the Zion's Camp group hundreds of miles from Kirtland, Ohio (which they left on May 5, 1834) on their journey towards western Missouri, where they will arrive in mid-June. The whole Zion's Camp episode (a private religious army marching halfway across America!) should have been a wake-up call that the Mormons were more than just another Christian splinter group like hundreds of others in antebellum America. The material I'm reading in Mormon Enigma tonight covers this Zion's Camp period. Here are some interesting highlights.
The men missed their families (Joseph wrote some rather touching letters) and spirits sagged as conditions worsened. "Forty days of muddy roads, poor food, sporadic military discipline, fatigue, and petty bickering eroded their morale and shortened tempers" (p. 51). Once in Missouri, only a few minor skirmishes ensued and little was accomplished. Cholera was the real killer--fourteen Mormons died as it swept through the militia. "Some two weeks earlier [Joseph] had called the camp together and told them that, because of disobedience, God had decreed that sickness should come upon the camp, and that if they did not humble themselves they should die like sheep with the rot" (p. 52). Die they did. Joseph disbanded the camp and told the men to make their way back to Kirtland.
Little accurate news reached Kirtland. A false rumor circulated that Joseph had been wounded in battle, lost a leg, and died three days afterwards. Until Joseph arrived in Kirtland two weeks later, Emma might have feared him dead. That's a long time for a young wife to labor under the anxiety of having lost a husband.