The Battle to Retake the City of Gid (Alma 55)
The Lamanites had captured the fortified Nephite city of Gid. This is where the Lamanites decided to keep the Nephite prisoners of war (POWs). The Lamanites offered to exchange POWs, but Captain Moroni refused. Because there were a lot more Lamanite POWs, such an exchange would give the Lamanite’s a strategic advantage.
Instead, Captain Moroni devised a strategy to retake the city of Gid and free the Nephite POW’s.
Moroni searched for, and found, a disgruntled servant of the former Lamanite king who had been murdered. A small band of Nephites escorted the Lamanite servant near the city of Gid.
The Lamanite servant approached the city at night. He told the Lamanite guards that he had just escaped from the Nephites. He explained, while he escaped he had stolen Nephite wine – “the good stuff.” The Lamanite guards welcomed the servant, and his wine, into the city.
When the guards anxiously asked to drink the wine the servant played coy. He said they should keep the wine safe until after their upcoming battle with the Nephites. The guards begged. They whined that they were weary. They insisted that the wine would give them the courage and strength they needed for battle.
Finally, after all the whining and complaining, the servant “reluctantly” agreed to let them drink the wine. The wine had been “spiked” and it was “extra strong.” The Lamanite guards soon got drunk.
When the guards passed out, the small Nephite band threw weapons over the city wall to the prisoners inside. Captain Moroni then surrounded the city with his army.
The Lamanites awakened with heavy hangovers. They were startled to discover that the Nephite army had completely surrounded the city. They were even more shocked to learn that all of the Nephite POWs were armed. In a classic Book of Mormon understatement, the surrounded Lamanites “found that it was not expedient that they should fight.”
The Battle to Retake Manti (Alma 58)
The Lamanites had also captured the strategic fortified Nephite city of Manti. Helaman decided to retake the city. Helaman split off two groups from his army and hid them in the bushes and trees on the left and right flanks of the city. The Lamanite scouts reported that a small Nephite army was within striking distance. The Lamanite commanders in Manti hastily decided to charge from the city and launch an attack.
When the Lamanites started to attack Helaman’s army, he retreated. The Lamanites gave chase. The two hidden flanking Nephite regiments killed the Lamanite scouts and re-took the lightly protected city of Manti.
Helaman’s army raced toward Zarahemla, a Nephite stronghold. When the Lamanites realized where Helaman was headed, they broke off the pursuit and headed back to protect Manti.
The Lamanites had no reason to rush back to Manti. So, that night the exhausted Lamanite warriors slept under the stars. Meanwhile, Helaman’s army snuck around them. The Helaman marched throughout the night without rest. They arrived back at Manti before the home-bound Lamanites discovered that Manti was once again a Nephite fortress. The Lamanites fled into the wilderness.
We should not conclude from the war chapters of the Book of Mormon that the Lamanite warriors were a just bunch of lazy stupid losers. They were courageous fierce fighters. But since the history of war is written by the winners, we get the Nephite point of view. Ultimately, the Lamanites prevailed, and they fought the Nephites to extinction.
Lamanite Blitz (Helaman 1)
Decades after the last battles we discussed, the Lamanites launched a very bold blitzkrieg.
By this time, Moronihah, son of Captain Moroni, had become the Nephite commander. Coriantumr had become the chieftain of the Lamanites.
Under Moronihah, the Nephites fortified every city bordering on Lamanite territory. They created an impregnable line. This was like the “invincible” French Maginot line of concrete bunkers in World War II.
While the Nephites were incapacitated by internal political disorder, the Lamanites launched a massive attack. In WW II the Nazi’s simply bypassed, and went around the Maginot Line. Likewise, the Lamanites avoided, and went around, the fortified border cities. Instead they attacked the capital city of Zarahemla in the heart of the Nephite nation.
Previously, the Lamanites had always attacked the border cities. When the Lamanites attacked the interior heartland, the Nephites were totally unprepared. The Lamanites were victorious, and they continued their massive invasion.
Reacting swiftly, Moronihah ordered Lehi’s army to head off the larger Lamanite army. The objective of Lehi’s army was to slow down the Lamanites, stall for time, and prevent them from reaching the city of Bountiful.
This gave Moronihah enough time to assemble his army and attack the Lamanites from the other side. Though the Lamanites demonstrated unprecedented daring and strategy, they lacked “forehand thought about problems to be solved in the future.” (Che Guevara, Guerilla Warfare, p. 7)
The Lamanites did not anticipate and plan for a possible retreat. Now, they were in the heart of Nephite territory with nowhere to go. They had gotten themselves surrounded.
Once again, the Nephites had to repair what they could have prevented by national unity.
In his abridgment, General Mormon, concluded: “And now, behold, the Lamanites could not retreat either way, neither on the north, nor on the south, nor on the east, nor on the west, for they were surrounded on every hand by the Nephites. And thus Coriantumr plunged the Lamanites into the midst of the Nephites, insomuch that they were in the power of the Nephites, and he himself was slain, and the Lamanites did yield themselves into the hands of the Nephites.” (Hel. 1:32-33)
The Lamanites were fatally unaware of the proverb, “Know yourself and your adversary, and you will be able to fight a hundred battles without a single defeat.” (Che Guevara, Guerilla Warfare, p. 99.)
Summary: War Chapters: Battles, Strategies, Tactics
The Lamanites were the ultimate military victors in the Book of Mormon. The Nephite people forgot the oft repeated promise of the Lord: “Inasmuch as they shall keep my commandments they shall prosper in the land. But remember, inasmuch as they will not keep the commandments, they shall be cut off.” (Al. 50: 20)
The Book of Mormon war chapters, with their military tactics and strategies, apply to our spiritual wars. We should know our adversary. We should prepare in advance to counter his tactics and strategies. We should put on the whole armor of God. We should build impregnable defenses with high walls and deep ditches. We should out think and out flank the enemy. We should gather together and assemble armies of righteousness.
Once again, the tactics and strategies in the war chapters of the Book of Mormon are realistic, creative, and intriguing. They were obviously written by someone trained and experienced in warfare.
It is unreasonable to believe that Joseph Smith invented these military accounts. He did not have any military education, training, or experience. Plus, he orally dictated the 500-page translation without notes, without outlines, without charts, without re-reads, without re-writes, all in about 60+ days.
The only reasonable conclusion is that the Book of Mormon is not a work of fiction. It is too overwhelming complex. It is too internally consistent. It is too realistic. It is too interesting. It is too profoundly inspiring. In sum, no one authored the Book of Mormon in 1830, let alone the uneducated Joseph Smith.
Number 7 of 27 Articles.