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War and the Book of Mormon

Why is there so much of war in the Book of Mormon? After all, isn't it mainly a record with spiritual and eternal purposes? Wasn't the space on the Book of Mormon plates limited? Didn't the prophet Mormon and the other Book of Mormon prophet authors have to pick and choose in order to provide us with the most precious and vital information available to them? Judging from the volume of material on war and the politics of war found in the Book of Mormon, it is obvious that wars were important to the Book of Mormon peoples. The Nephites did not separate matters of church and state as we do today, and it would seem that God's will was often manifest through the ordeal and outcome of battles. God scourged and punished his people by the ravages of war, or he blessed his people by leading them in battle and giving them victory over their enemies. To the Nephites, wars were all-important religious affairs. For this summary of the wars of the Book of Mormon, I will rely heavily upon the book Warfare in the Book of Mormon (Deseret Book Company and FARMS, edited by Stephen D. Ricks and William J. Hamblin, 1990).

Most of us students of the Book of Mormon tend to regard the separate wars in the book as simply reruns of the same basic conflict between Nephites and Lamanites. This is a mistake. An example from the past few centuries will illustrate the error of this thinking. Consider wars such as the Seven Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Franco-Prussian War, World War I, and World War II. One might argue that these were all primarily wars in which the French fought the Germans, yet seeing them as simply replays of one another would be a serious mistake. Similarly, each war in the Book of Mormon was different and distinct and has a character of its own. When we come to know them all as distinct, then the pages of the Book of Mormon will become more alive to us.

Dr. John W. Welch has identified the seventeen most important wars in the Book of Mormon and has described the salient features of each (Ibid., 6-15). I will reproduce his summary of the wars with some embellishment:

1. The Early Tribal Wars. These were fought between 600 BC and 200 BC in the land of Nephi. The account of them is found in Jacob 1:10; Jacob 1:14; Enos-Omni. They consisted of repeated tribal conflicts and seemed to be fueled by the hatred and resentment which the Lamanites held for the Nephites. Finally, the Lamanites dominated, and the Nephites left the land of Nephi and migrated to the Sidon River Valley where they established the land and city of Zarahemla.

2. The Wars of King Laman's Son. These are recorded in Mosiah 9-10, Omni 1:14; Omni 1:24, and Words of Mormon 1:13-14. In about 160-150 BC the Nephites were divided into two groups. The main body of Nephites lived in Zarahemla under the leadership of King Benjamin. The smaller group lived in the land of Nephi where they were led by Zeniff and later by King Noah. The Lamanites seemed to fear the growing Nephite strength. Also, a Lamanite tradition was prevalent which grew out of a belief that Nephi had wronged his elder brothers. Led by the son of King Laman, the Lamanites attacked the two Nephite capitals. In Zarahemla, the Lamanites were defeated by Benjamin's forces. This victory seemed to unify Zarahemla and establish it as sovereign Nephite territory. In the land of Nephi, the Lamanites were victorious over King Noah's people, thus establishing that land as Lamanite territory. Following these wars, only two independent kings remained.

3. The War of Amlici. An account of this war is recorded in Alma 2-3. In the beginning of the fifth year of the reign of judges (87 BC), an enemy of the church arose who attracted many followers. This was the Nephite dissenter Amlici, a follower of Nehor and a wicked and cunning man whose supporters decided that he should be king over the land. The issue before the people was whether the Nephite judges would rule the land of Zarahemla, or whether the king-men followers of Nehor would rule. A vote was taken in the land, and Amlici and the king-men were defeated. Still, Amlici's own followers consecrated him to be their king. Amlici then commanded the "Amlicites" to take up arms against the Nephites in order to subject them to Amlici's rule. A civil war ensued upon the hill Amnihu, east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla. Alma led his own forces against the Amlicites, and in defeating them, slaughtered some 12,502, in contrast to the only 6,562 dead among his own army. In the latter stages of the battle, Amlici fled with his troops, and Alma's army gave chase. When Alma's people could not pursue any longer, they camped in the valley of Gideon. Alma then sent a group of men to keep watch on the camp of the Amlicites. The next day these men returned very frightened, for they had seen that the Amlicites had joined with a massive force of Lamanites and together they had routed the Nephites out of the land Minon. The displaced Nephites were fleeing toward Zarahemla with the Lamanites and Amlicites in pursuit. Alma's forces hurriedly returned home and engaged the Lamanite-Amlicite army in battle near the river Sidon. Alma killed Amlici in hand to hand combat with his sword, and Alma's forces were strengthened by the Lord. In spite of being vastly outnumbered, they were victorious and slaughtered many of the enemy and then chased the remnant into the wilderness called Hermounts, where many of them were killed by wild beasts which inhabited the land. The Amlicites were thereafter identified because they placed a red mark on their foreheads.

4. The Destruction of Ammonihah. This event is recorded in Alma 16:1-11; Alma 25:1-2. It occurred at the time of the mission of the sons of Mosiah to the Lamanites in the land of Nephi. Some of the converted Lamanites, the so-called Anti-Nephi-Lehies, took an oath never to take up arms again against their brethren. The non-converted Lamanites came against them and slaughtered many before they were sickened at the killing of their defenseless brethren. By their warped sense of reason, the Lamanites blamed the Nephites for the deaths of their fellow Lamanites. They were angered that the Nephites had "caused" them to kill their brethren. Accordingly they staged a raid on the city of Ammonihah and killed or captured every person in the city. The abominations committed by the people of Ammonihah had readied that city for destruction. The city had been largely inhabited by people of the order of the Nehors. The ravaged site of Ammonihah became known as the "desolation of Nehors" and subsequently the Nehorites were virtually eliminated as a political force.

5. The war of Ammonite secession. The account of this battle is found in Alma 28, and it occurred in about 77 BC. Soon after the Anti-Nephi-Lehies or the people of Ammon were brought to Zarahemla, they were established in the land of Jershon. Soon thereafter, the Lamanite armies, which had followed their converted brethren into the wilderness, arrived, and a tremendous battle ensued between the Lamanites and the Nephite armies protecting the people of Ammon. Apparently the Lamanites wanted to force the Ammonites back to the land of Nephi. "Tens of thousands" of the Lamanites were slain and scattered. Also many Nephites were killed, and there was much mourning among the families of the slain Nephites. Subsequently the people of Ammon were established in the land of Jershon. It is interesting to note that this is the last battle begun strictly by Lamanite initiative until the final Nephite battles in the fourth century AD. The remaining wars will be fueled by Zoramite or Gadianton impetus.

6. The Zoramite war. We read in Alma 43-44 of a war occurring in 74 BC. Shortly after the death of the antichrist Korihor, Alma learned that a Nephite dissenter Zoram was leading a group of Nephites into unbelief, sin, and even idol worship. The Zoramites had separated themselves from the main body of Nephites and lived in a land called Antionum, "east of Zarahemla, nearly bordering the seashore, south of the land of Jershon and bordering upon the wilderness south," which was full of Lamanites. The Nephites began to fear that the Zoramites might enter into a pact with the neighbor Lamanites. Alma decided to teach them the gospel, and thereby he hoped to get them to change their wicked ways. He, therefore, gathered together Amulek, Zeezrom, two of his own sons, Shiblon and Corianton and three of the four sons of Mosiah II and traveled to the land of the Zoramites. This missionary excursion was successful, and many Zoramites were converted.

The converted Zoramites were later cast out of the land of the Zoramites and went over to the city of Jershon where lived the people of Ammon, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. The Zoramite ruler, who was exceedingly wicked, requested that the people of Ammon cast the converted Zoramites out of their city. The people of Ammon, of course, refused and even fed and clothed the poor Zoramites and gave them land on which to live. This angered the Zoramite ruler, and he began to stir up the Zoramites and neighboring Lamanites to anger against the people of Ammon and against the Nephites. And thus the Zoramites joined the Lamanites, and together they prepared themselves for war.

The people of Ammon moved from Jershon to the city of Melek, so as to allow the Nephite armies to establish themselves in Jershon and from there, battle the Lamanite and Zoramite armies. The converted Zoramites remained in Jershon on their newly acquired lands and readied themselves to defend their land and their families.

The Lamanites were led by Zerahemnah and the Nephites by the capable twenty-five year old chief captain Moroni. Moroni's army met that of the Lamanites on the border of the city of Jershon. The Nephites were outnumbered, but much better equipped with breast plates, shields, arm plates, and helmets, while the Lamanites were naked except for loin cloths. Seeing the superior protective clothing of the Nephites, the Lamanites refused to fight, but instead fled into the wilderness to circle around the Nephite army and attack the city of Manti, which they figured to be unprotected. Moroni, however, sent spies into the wilderness to watch the Lamanite movements, and he also sent messengers to Alma asking him to inquire of the Lord as to the intentions of the Lamanites. Alma did so, and informed the messengers of the Lamanite plans. Moroni eventually trapped the Lamanites at the river Sidon near the hill Riplah. After a bitter battle, in which the Lamanites fought with great fierceness and for a time even threatened to defeat the Nephites, the Lamanites were surrounded and struck with terror at the hopelessness of their situation. Moroni, seeing their terror, commanded his men to stop shedding their blood. Moroni then made an offer to Zerahemnah: that he would spare the lives of the remaining Lamanites if they would surrender their weapons and make a covenant never to attack the Nephites again. Zerahemnah came forward and surrendered his weapons, but refused to make the covenant of peace, so Moroni returned his weapons to him, that the battle might be fought to completion. When Moroni refused his offer of surrender, Zerahemnah became angry and rushed forward to slay Moroni. As he did so, one of Moroni's soldiers struck Zerahemnah's sword, breaking it in half, then smote Zerahemnah himself and took off his scalp. Seeing this, many of the Lamanites threw down their weapons and entered into a covenant of peace. This made Zerahemnah profoundly angry and the battle commenced. Many more Lamanites were slaughtered, and when they were all about to be destroyed, Zerahemnah cried out that he would surrender and enter into the covenant of peace. His offer was accepted and the remaining Lamanites were allowed to depart into the wilderness. The great numbers of bodies were cast into the river Sidon and were thus swept down to the sea.

7. The first Amalickiahite war. This war is recorded in Alma 46 through Alma 50:1. It occurred in 72 BC.

At the time when Helaman went out to build up the church among the Nephites, many of the Nephites would not heed the words of Helaman and became proud and lifted up. Some of these unbelieving Nephites banded together under the leadership of a large and strong and wicked man named Amalickiah. He was a Nephite dissenter, a Zoramite living in Zarahemla. Many of his followers were the lower judges of the land who were seeking for power. Amalickiah desired to become a king, and he promised his followers that if they would establish him as king he would make them rulers over the people. This group of dissenters sought to tear down the church of God. When Moroni heard of his dissension, he became angry with Amalickiah. Moroni feared that this wickedness among his people might result in their being destroyed and their liberty being taken away. He therefore made a flag, by tearing his coat. On the flag, which he called the "title of liberty," he wrote, "in memory of our God, our religion and freedom, our peace, our wives, and our children." He fastened the flag onto a pole and went out among the Nephites, urging them to covenant with God to keep his commandments that their freedoms might be preserved. Many of the Nephites make this covenant and rent their own clothing as a token of this covenant. Moroni also urged the people to take a stand against the dissenting Amalickiah and the Amalickiahites.

When Amalickiah saw that the people of Moroni outnumbered his own followers, he took his people and departed, traveling to the Lamanite city of Nephi. Fearing that the arrival of the Amalickiahites in the city of Nephi would only stir up the Lamanites again to war, Moroni took his army and intercepted the dissenters on their journey to the city of Nephi. Amalickiah and a small group of his men escaped, but the remainder were captured and returned to the city of Zarahemla. Moroni put to death a few of the dissenters who would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom and maintain a free government. Moroni caused that the "title of liberty" should become the flag of the land, and he flew it on every tower in the land possessed by the Nephites.

Meanwhile, Amalickiah and the small band who escaped with him made their way to the city of Nephi and succeeded in stirring up the anger of the Lamanite king against the Nephites to the extent that he sent out a proclamation ordering his people to gather themselves together and to prepare to go to battle against the Nephites. Some of the Lamanites obeyed but the better part of the Lamanites were afraid to battle with the Nephites and refused to obey the king's order. The king was thus angry and gave Amalickiah command over that part of his army which was obedient and ordered him to go forth and compel the others to arms. Amalickiah then developed and succeeded in a diabolic scheme to overthrow the king and install himself as ruler. He eventually took control of the entire Lamanite kingdom and was acknowledged king throughout the land. He then began to stir up the Lamanites to go to war against the Nephites in order to accomplish his evil design to become king over all of the Lamanites and Nephites. He thus raised a huge army and appointed Zoramites to be his chief captains.

Meanwhile, Moroni had been building and strengthening the armies of the Nephites, by building fortification walls around the cities and around the borders of the land.

Late in the year 72 BC, the armies of the Lamanites approached the city of Ammonihah, which had been rebuilt. The Lamanite armies were armed with thick garments of skins, breastplates, and shields. They had anticipated that because of their great numbers they would easily overthrow the city. To their astonishment, they found the city heavily and effectively fortified with high dirt walls and an army to protect it. The Lamanites therefore retreated into the wilderness and made their way into the city of Noah and took an oath to destroy that city. They found that Noah was just as heavily fortified as was Ammonihah, and they were distressed to find that the army protecting the city of Noah was commanded by Lehi, a capable Nephite captain whom they had come to fear. Because they had taken an oath to destroy the city, the Zoramite captains brought their Lamanite soldiers against the city. "An immense slaughter" of the Lamanites ensued with more than one thousand being killed, including all of their chief captains. Remarkably, not one of the Nephites was killed, and only fifty were wounded. The remaining Lamanites fled back to the city of Nephi, where they informed Amalickiah of their defeat. Amalickiah was exceedingly angry and cursed God and Moroni and swore an oath that he would drink the blood of Moroni. There followed a period of peace during which the church prospered.

8. The second Amalickiahite war. This is called the seven-years' war and occurred between 67 and 61 BC. The account of this war is found in Alma 51 through 62.

In 67 BC, Amalickiah again gathered a huge Lamanite army and prepared to attack the Nephites. Amalickiah's adherents in Zarahemla, the "king-men," learned of this planned invasion, and because of their resentment of the people of liberty, the freemen, they sided in their hearts with the Lamanites and refused to take up arms to defend their country. Moroni was naturally exasperated by this refusal to bear arms and he was granted, by the majority of the Nephites, a mandate to force the king-men to help defend their country. Moroni led his army against the king-men, forcing them to fight for their lives. Moroni's army killed four thousand of the dissenters, put those of their leaders who survived in prison, and compelled many of the dissenters to yield to the standard of liberty and take up arms in defense of their country. Thus Moroni put an end to the king-men in Zarahemla.

While Moroni's army was engaged in fighting the king-men, Amalickiah had led his army into the land of the Nephites and, finding many of the cities poorly defended, he took possession of them after driving out and killing many Nephites. Thus Amalickiah gained a strong foothold. He then proceeded northward by the seashore where he planned to take control of the city of Bountiful. He was intercepted by a Nephite army led by Teancum. Teancum's army was very strong and skillful and outfought the Lamanites, killing many. The night after the first major battle, Teancum stole into the enemies' camp, located the tent of Amalickiah, and put a javelin through his heart. He accomplished this so silently, that the Lamanite king's servants were not awakened. Teancum then returned to his troops and awakened them and had them stand in readiness for the moment when the Lamanites learned that their king had been killed. When the Lamanites awakened and found their leader dead and the Nephites ready to do battle, they became frightened, and they retreated. Amalickiah's brother Ammoron was appointed king over the Lamanites and he commanded that they should maintain by force those cities of which they already had taken control.

The next few years were a period of constant war. The most prominent Nephite leaders of this period were Moroni, Teancum, Lehi, Helaman and his two-thousand stripling warriors, and Pahoran, the chief judge in Zarahemla. The Lamanite leaders were king Ammoron and the chief captain Jacob. The protracted period of bloodshed finally ended with the death of the Lamanite king Ammoron at the hands of Teancum who himself was killed in the process.

9. Rebellion of Paanchi. This event is described in Helaman 1:1-13. No actual fighting was involved in this event.

Early in 52 BC, in the city of Zarahemla, the chief judge Pahoran died, and three of his sons Paanchi, Pacumeni, and Pahoran began to contend for their father's judgment seat. Each of the three sons gathered support among the Nephites, and thus the Nephite peoples divided into three groups, each supporting one of the contending sons. The contentions thus spread among the people. Eventually Pahoran was elected to the office of chief judge. Pacumeni gave his support to Pahoran but Paanchi and his contingent were angry and attempted to stir the people up to rebellion against the new chief judge. Consequently, Paanchi was arrested, tried, condemned to death, and executed. Paanchi's rebellious supporters were angry, and one of them, named Kishkumen, disguised himself and murdered Pahoran as he sat on the judgment seat. Kishkumen fled back to the rebellious band of Paanchi's supporters who covenanted that they would deep Kishkumen's identity a secret. Any member of this secret group who could be identified was condemned to death, but many could not be found as they mingled in among the people.

10. The War of Tubaloth. We read of this event in Helaman 1:14-34.

In 51 BC the Lamanite king Tubaloth, a son of Ammoron, stirred up the Lamanites against the Nephites and gave a descendant of Zarahemla (a Mulekite)-a large and mighty man named Coriantumr-command of the very large and well-armed Lamanite army. Coriantumr, who possibly had designs to establish himself as king, led them in a direct attack on the city of Zarahemla. Due to the disorganization of the Nephites, resulting from the contentions in government, Coriantumr was easily able to take control of the city, killing everyone who opposed him including the chief judge Pacumeni. Coriantumr then took his army and marched through the very center of the Nephite land northward to capture the city of Bountiful. Moronihah, Moroni's son and the commander of the Nephite armies, had Lehi, his chief captain, and Lehi's army intercept them and engage them in battle. A bitter and bloody battle ensued and the Lamanites began to retreat toward Zarahemla. Moronihah and his army then intercepted them in their retreat and the Lamanites were thus caught between two Nephite armies. Coriantumr and many of his men were killed in the battle which followed and the Lamanites were defeated. Moronihah then regained control of the city of Zarahemla. This was apparently the last time a Mulekite tried to regain control of Zarahemla. Throughout the remainder of the Book of Mormon text, we will read little of the descendants of Zarahemla. Zarahemla was obviously vulnerable and unstable at this time. This political unrest was probably largely responsible for the rise of the Gadianton robbers and the migrations of Nephites into the lands northward that followed this war.

11. The War of Moronihah. Please see the account of this incident in Helaman 4.

Between 38 and 35 BC contentions again occurred among the Nephites, and rebellious Nephite groups, after being cast out of their own land, entered the Lamanite lands and stirred them up to war. Lamanite armies attacked the Nephites in 35 and 34 BC and were successful in taking control of the city of Zarahemla and many other Nephite cities. The Nephites and their armies, led by Moronihah, were driven back into the city of Bountiful and they fortified the entire southern border of that section of the land from the east to the west coast. The length of this line of fortification was a single days journey. Realizing that these military setbacks were due to the Nephites' wickedness, Moronihah, Nephi, and Lehi began to preach repentance among their people. Nephi resigned his judgment seat to devote full time to preaching the word of God. Many did repent, and in 33 and 32 BC the Nephite armies were able to regain control of about half of their captured cities from the Lamanites. The remainder of the cities could not be recaptured as the Lamanites had become too powerful and numerous, and the Nephite armies became fully engaged in maintaining those cities which they had retaken.

12. The War of Gadianton and Kishkumen. Helaman 6:15 through 11:20 contains a description of this affair.

In 26 BC Gadianton and his secret combination with their secret signs and oaths again emerged and murdered the chief judge Cezoram, and later they killed Cezoram's son who was picked to fill his judgment seat. Satan's influence quickly spread among the Nephite peoples and the majority of them turned from the church to materialism, immorality, and other forms of wickedness. The Lamanites meanwhile, continued in righteousness and were blessed of the Lord. By 24 BC Gadianton's secret combination had gained control over the government of the Nephites and filled all of the judgment seats. The prophet Nephi warned the Nephites that unless they repented they would be smitten with famine, pestilence and destruction. They did not heed his warning, and even sought to destroy him. Serious wars and contentions broke out among the Nephites, and Gadianton's band carried on their works of wickedness (20 and 19 BC).

Thus, Nephi prayed that the Lord might send a great drought and famine to remind the people of their wickedness, and the Lord did so (18-17 BC), thus ending the war. This drought was beneficial in that most of the Nephites repented and began to seek out and destroy the Gadianton robbers among them. Thus Nephi prayed again, and the Lord sent rain which resulted in a rich harvest (16 BC).

13. The War of Giddianhi and Zemnarihah. See 3 Nephi 2:1 through 4:28.

In the year AD 1 the miraculous signs of the birth of the Savior were witnessed by many of the Book of Mormon peoples. The immediate affect of these miraculous signs was the conversion of the majority of the Nephites and a brief period of relative peace occurred. By AD 5 many of the Nephite and Lamanite peoples had forgotten the signs; their faith began to dwindle; and many "waxed strong in iniquity." The Gadianton robbers also became active, and from their secret strongholds in the mountains they carried out many atrocities and led away many dissenting Nephites and Lamanites who joined with them. Finally, a desperate war broke out between Gadianton's band on one side and the Lamanites and Nephites who united in battle against the secret combination on the other (AD 13-15). The curse of dark skin was removed from those Lamanites who fought alongside the Nephites, insomuch that no distinction remained between the two groups, and the entire group were called Nephites.

In AD 15 the Nephite chief judge Lachoneus received a letter from Giddianhi, the governor of the secret society of Gadianton, threatening the people with utter destruction lest they surrender. Preparations for Giddianhi's attack began immediately. Lachoneus appointed Gidgiddoni to be chief captain as well as other chief captains to command the Nephite army. Lachoneus proclaimed that all Nephites, with their families, flocks, and possessions should gather in the cities of Zarahemla and Bountiful. Consequently, thousands of Nephites gathered together and fortified themselves with armor and weapons. At the urging of both Lachoneus and Gidgiddoni, the Nephite peoples repented of their sins lest they be destroyed.

In AD 18 Giddianhi's band came down out of their mountain strongholds and took possession of those cities which the Nephites had abandoned. These acquisitions did not profit them much, however, because the Nephites had taken with them all food and necessary provisions and had left their cities desolate. Finally in the sixth month of AD 19, Giddianhi led his forces against the Nephites in battle. The Gadianton warriors wore lambskins about their loins, were dyed in blood, had shaved their heads, and wore headplates. On seeing this frightening army approach, the Nephites fell to the earth and prayed that the Lord might deliver them out of the hands of their enemies. Mistaking this attitude of supplication for terror, Giddianhi's army were delighted and rushed forth to slay the Nephites. An unparalleled slaughter ensued. Gidgiddoni's army was victorious and drove the remaining Gadianton robbers out of the land. Giddianhi himself was killed in the battle.

Giddianhi was succeeded by Zemnarihah who in AD 21 laid siege to the Nephite cities by surrounding them and preventing the people from coming outside to obtain food and supplies. This plan backfired, however, as the Nephites were self-sufficient within the cities, having stored sufficient supplies to last them seven years. In fact, Zemnarihah's armies had trouble finding food for themselves, as wild game was scarce in the wilderness, and they became weakened for lack of food. Gidgiddoni took advantage of this opportunity and killed thousands of them by conducting short raids upon them by day and by night. Zemnarihah therefore marched his army northward to regroup and presumably develop alternate plans of attack. Gidgiddoni anticipated this march and the Nephite army cut them off and destroyed the large part of them, taking captive the remainder. Their leader Zemnarihah was hanged from a tree until he was dead. The Nephites were thus humbled by the Lord's allowing them this victory, and they repented of their sins.

14. Rebellion of Jacob. See 3 Nephi 6:14 through 7:14.

Between AD 26 and 30, the Nephites enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity. By AD 29 this prosperity resulted in materialism, class distinction, and wickedness. In AD 30 Lachoneus was succeeded as governor by his son also named Lachoneus. Those Nephites who were the most wicked were the lawyers, high priests, and chief judges. At this time many prophets came into the city of Zarahemla prophesying the resurrection of Christ. The lawyers, high priests, and chief judges arrested and put to death many of those righteous men. These executions were done illegally since the law required that the governor and chief judge of the land approve all death penalties before they could be carried out. Accordingly, these judges were brought before Lachoneus to be tried for murder. However, before these trials could occur, Lachoneus was himself murdered by the secret combination of judges, high priests, and lawyers who wanted to overthrow the government and establish a king over the land. This murder destroyed the government and threw the country into a state of anarchy. The reign of judges came to a final end. The government of the people degenerated into a tribal society. The people divided into tribes according to families and groups of friends, and a chief was appointed over each tribe.

The secret combination appointed one of their own number, Jacob, to be their king. Since they were not large enough to contend with most of the other tribes, Jacob led his secret band to the "northern most part of the land to live until they become more numerous and stronger." Thus no battle actually resulted.

15. The final Nephite Wars, phase 1. See Mormon 1:6 through 2:9.

In AD 322 a war began between the Nephites and the Lamanites near Zarahemla by the river Sidon. The Nephites had gathered a large army in excess of 30,000 men and were able to defeat the Lamanites in several battles. Four years thus ensued when there was no further bloodshed, but wickedness ran rampant to the point where the three beloved apostles were even taken out of the land by the Lord. Among the Lamanite peoples the Gadianton robbers infested the land with their "sorceries, witchcraft, and magics." In AD 327 war again began, and Mormon, who had reached the age of 15 (in spite of his youth, he was "of sober mind" and "large in stature"), was given command of the Nephite armies. The Lamanite army attacked with "exceeding great power" and frightened the Nephite army who refused to fight but rather retreated into the north countries. When the Nephite army reached the City of Angola they took possession of it and fortified it against attack. Notwithstanding these fortifications the Lamanite army drove them out of the city. The Nephites were also driven out of the city of David to the city of Joshua which was on the west coast. In that land the Nephites continued to suffer defeats because of their wicked state. Mormon was victorious in one battle when his army of 42,000 defeated a Lamanite army of 44,000 led by the Lamanite king named Aaron.

16. The final Nephite Wars, phase 2. See Mormon 2:16 through 3:1.

In spite of Mormon's leadership, the Nephites remained unrepentant and continued to suffer military defeats at the hands of the Lamanites. In AD 345 the Nephites were routed out of their land on the west coast and fled eastward being pursued by the Lamanite army. They retreated to the city of Jashon which was near where Ammaron had deposited the sacred records. From there they fled northward to a city called Shem. There, at Mormon's urging, they made a firm stand, and with an army of 30,000 they defeated the Lamanite army of 50,000. They then continued on to reclaim their lands from the Lamanites. In AD 350 they made a treaty with the Lamanites whereby the Nephites took possession of the land from the "narrow neck of the land" northward, and the Lamanites obtained all the land southward.

17. The final Nephite Wars, phase 3. See Mormon 3:4 through 6:15.

In AD 360 the Lamanite army attacked the Nephites who made a stand at the city of Desolation near their southern border. The Nephites were successful in defeating the Lamanites during this battle and again during a similar battle two years later. This success led the Nephites to begin to boast of their own strength, and they swore vengeance on the Lamanites and began to be the aggressors. This wickedness so disgusted Mormon that he resigned as their military commander and became an "idle witness" who continued to record the events of his people.

In AD 363 the Nephites attacked the Lamanites in their own land from the city of Desolation. The Nephites were soundly defeated and the Lamanite army even pursued them and took possession of the city Desolation. The Nephite army retreated to the nearby city of Teancum and there successfully made a stand and were even able to retake the city of Desolation. For the next few years the battle raged near the border with thousands of men being killed on both sides. Mormon graphically records on this period: "It is impossible for the tongue to describe . . . a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people." "Every heart was hardened so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually." "There had never been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi . . . as was among this people." During this period Nephite women and children were offered as sacrifices by the Lamanites to their gods.

Finally, in AD 375 the Lamanites with their exceedingly numerous forces came against the Nephites and from this time forth the Nephites would never again gain an advantage over the Lamanites. The Nephites were routed out of Desolation and the nearby city of Boaz. Mormon eventually relented and again accepted the command of the Nephite armies, but the Nephite cause was hopeless. After holding their own for a time in the city of Jordan, they were routed out of that stronghold (AD 380) and began to retreat before the Lamanites who slaughtered every Nephite they caught up with. In a letter to his son, Moroni, Mormon gave an account of his discouraging attempts to lead his army of Nephites against the Lamanites. His own peoples' hopeless unrighteousness had so depraved them that they had lost their fear of death. They had no love for one another. They thirsted after blood and revenge continually. A man named Amoron reported to Mormon horrible atrocities committed by the Lamanites. For example, the Lamanites conquered and took many Nephite men, women and children prisoners from a place called the Tower of Sherrizah. They killed all the men and fed their flesh to the women and children. The Nephites also were guilty of atrocities. For example, the Nephites in a city called Moriantum had taken many young Lamanite girls prisoner. After raping and torturing them, they were murdered in a cruel manner and the Nephite soldiers then ate their flesh as a sign of their bravery.

Finally in AD 385 after retreating great distances, Mormon wrote a letter to the Lamanite king asking the king if he would grant the Nephites the opportunity to gather all of their remaining 230,000 people together at the land of Cumorah by a hill called Cumorah to do final battle. The Lamanites king allowed them time to so gather. Twenty-three Nephite captains were each given command over 10,000 of the Nephites. By this time, Mormon was old and he knew this would be the final battle of his people. Finally, the Lamanites attacked and the Nephites were struck with "that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked." The Lamanites fell upon the Nephites and slaughtered every one save for twenty-four souls who fought in the battle. Among the survivors were Mormon, who was wounded, and his son Moroni. Following the carnage of this terrible battle, those few Nephites who escaped into the country southward were hunted down by the Lamanites until they were all destroyed. Mormon also was slain and Moroni in AD 400 described his plight as the last remaining Nephite (except for the three Nephite apostles who ministered to Mormon before his death and to Moroni) saying, "I even remain all alone to write the sad tale . . . whether they will slay me, I know not."

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