The two major divisions of Zion's Camp — one led by Joseph Smith, the other by his brother, Hyrum — merged at the Allred Settlement in Monroe County, Mo., on June 8, 1834. A few days later, they continued their march as a unified body.

On June 14, they set up camp almost 6 miles west of Huntsville, Randolph County, at a site known as Dark Creek. It was not thought to be a safe place because they were bivouacked in a ravine from which it was difficult to see enemies approaching. They were particularly sensitive to this because it was near here that two members of the camp had been pursued by a number of men who were antagonistic to the whole notion of Zion's Camp coming to Missouri.

However, this site was one where the men and women of the camp could get much needed water, so they were essentially compelled to stay there.