What's new: 'Tragedy and Truth: What Happened at Hawn's Mill' from the 'History of the Saints'

By Emily Cottam

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Jan. 6 2014 5:00 a.m. MST

"TRAGEDY AND TRUTH: What Happened at Hawn's Mill," History of the Saints, Covenant Communications, $14.99, 65 minutes

The fall of 1838 contained perhaps one of the most tragic, as well as most misunderstood, conflicts in Mormon history. Tensions between Mormons and their Missouri neighbors were quickly rising.

In late October, a militia of non-Mormons attacked the settlement of Hawn’s Mill, home to many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who had been driven from their own homes earlier in the month. In the course of an hour, more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition were fired, mostly into a small blacksmith building where the men and boys of the Hawn’s Mill community had barricaded themselves in an attempt to draw fire away from the women and children escaping into the woods. A total of 30 men and boys were killed or wounded.

How this event unfolded, the source of the animosity, what happened in ensuingt days when the militia members returned and what the Prophet Joseph Smith had asked them to do are part of a 65-minute, in-depth documentary produced by Covenant Communications. The film, titled "Truth and Tragedy: What Happened at Hawn's Mill," is not a re-enactment of the event, but a vivid documentary intended for ages 12 and older that includes vibrant paintings, drawings and photos from both survivors and historians.

The visual materials are never violent or overly graphic, but still convey the gravity of the events and tensions between faiths in the Missouri community. The production also integrates journal entries of survivors in a very professional and respectful way, helping those interested in LDS Church history feel a more personal connection with the people involved.

Their stories are faith-filled and emotional, leaving a both a lasting impression and a better understanding of the events of the Missouri Mormon War. This DVD would be an excellent addition to the personal library of anyone interested in early Mormon history.

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