The Book of Mormon scene is laid in America, North and South—a different story in each one. We have here the perennial Latin American history, which has been what, of South and Central America? It has been the rich, the arrogant, the landlords, the hacienderos attempting to take and hold by force what they think is their own. They are always staging coups, and they have to. There’s always this conflict, you notice, in Latin American history. These people are claiming superior birth, constantly attempting to hold their position by force, and usually succeeding. They stage coup after coup if necessary against the great majority who live as poor outcasts in the land most of the time—the campesinos, the paisanos, etc. Always between these two, it is still here.
In North America you don’t have that, you notice. You have another contest. You have pioneers grabbing all they can take, everything up for grabs. Not all of them are idealists. Then you have a very truculent white father in Washington. [George] Washington was the most benevolent of all toward the Indians, but since then the policy has been very truculent. So we have the other two. We have the warlords against the primitives or the nature people. They live the closest to nature and depend on nature. As you will see in that great work published by the Smithsonian on the subject, almost eighty percent of the Indians at the time of Columbus were cultivators. They weren’t hunters at all. They were farmers all up and down the Mississippi, all over the Southwest, and all over New England. They raised corn, watermelons, pumpkins, and things like that. It’s understandable why when Washington [the U.S. government] has interfered in Central America, we have nearly always taken the side of the warlords. The two cultures on the lower scale, the warlords and the primitives, are engaged in the same contest as the two upper ones—Babylon versus the brethren.
The Book of Mormon scenario seems to support the final conclusion of Liddell Hart, whom we mentioned last time; namely, that the real driving force in the struggle lies with the abilities and ambitions of certain outstanding individuals. That’s certainly the case here. We are told again and again that the two armies have no quarrel with each other, anymore than we did with the Germans and the Japanese. Our quarrel was with Hitler, and a personal feud between Hitler and Churchill. In this case Amalickiah has the well-known desire to be cosmocrator. He wanted to rule. He wanted to be king of everything. It didn’t make any difference whether it was Nephites, Lamanites, or anything else. He had his plans to take it all in, and he went step by step. He had it all planned out, and he worked it out very carefully, very skillfully. Now he is commanding a huge army, but he is no longer commanding the Nephites because of this abrupt setback they had at the point we reached where they couldn’t take one town. That made all the difference in the world. The Book of Mormon is telling it like it is, even to this day then. That’s why it behooves us to pay attention here. I think I’d better follow along here to save time. I’ve never done this before, but I’ll follow the handbook [the Book of Mormon] here. We got down to [Alma 49:23] where they couldn’t take this one place. The chief captains were all slain, and more than a thousand of the Lamanites were slain. There wasn’t a single soul of the Nephites that was slain. Well, that was a great disappointment. Why should they give up there? They were way ahead, but the campaign completely collapsed.
Campaigns do collapse. Churchill’s great Italian campaign completely collapsed. After tremendous expenditure and great superiority it went to nothing. It was the same thing with the Market Garden thing into the Netherlands—Monty’s dagger thrust at the heart of Germany. After the tremendous expenditure of arms and everything else, it went to nothing. We just had to fall back and nothing came of it. These things can happen after one rebuff. Just because they couldn’t take Arnhem, back they went. The whole thing collapsed. We had army divisions in there, paratroopers, and everything else, but it didn’t work at all. It was the same thing here. They couldn’t take this one city, the city of Noah, so the whole thing collapsed. The Lamanites all went back home. When they saw that their chief captains were all slain and they had no more leaders, they fled into the wilderness. They went back to inform their king, Amalickiah, what had happened. Notice, here in verse 25, “Amalickiah, who was a Nephite by birth.” His army is Lamanite now. He has this huge Lamanite army behind him.
Using Lamanites for a career is perfectly normal. Who were the Swiss guards of the pope? No Catholic can be in the pope’s Swiss guard. They all have to be Protestant because that means they can be trusted just for pay and pay alone. They’re not interested in politics or anything else. We use the Contras to do fighting down [in Nicaragua]. We are not getting in there at all. And the Varangian guards were the backbone of the defense of the Byzantine Empire. The Varangian guards were recruited from the Russians and the Goths. They were a mixture of barbarians, and they were paid. They ran the country and put emperors in and out, just like the Praetorians did in Rome. And the Mamelukes ruled for centuries in Egypt. They were nothing but slaves who had been liberated when they became Moslems and trained as soldiers. They couldn’t be Egyptians. They were the palace guard, but then they ruled the country until 1811 when Muhammad Ali in one night had a massacre, and they were all slaughtered. That ended the rule of the Mamelukes, but they ruled until that happened. It very often happens that a person rules by an army that isn’t his own people. That’s the only kind he can trust. They will accept pay and reward and nothing else. Nothing else holds them.
When Amalickiah found that the whole thing had flopped, he took that as a personal affront and got angry. He blew his top. He screamed and ranted and had a tantrum, as only a general can. Verse 27: “Yea, he was exceedingly wroth, and he did curse God, and also Moroni, swearing with an oath that he would drink his blood.” See, it’s this personal rivalry between the two. But he fell back. They had to lick their wounds for a while. There was a period of peace and prosperity that only lasted five years. Then in chapter 50 things were too good to be true. Moroni knew that, so he went right on preparing. After all, this was not a real stop. The army was still intact, and Amalickiah was still determined to use it. Moroni went on fortifying things and commenced the standard fortifications —the ditches, the palisades, the top of the timbers the height of a man, the pickets, the lookout towers, and the places of security—all these things in the first part of chapter 50.
Then there is this salient. It’s impossible to draw a map of this, except that you know that there was a main line running from east to west. There was a salient out here in the east. There was a sea here and a sea here. That’s as much as we will dare to say. He had to straighten this out and did it very nicely. This is very nicely expressed in technical terms here in verses 7–8. First of all it was necessary to move a dangerous salient over on the east coast. The area was cleared of Lamanites. Notice, they drove all the Lamanites who were in the east wilderness into their own lands. They were soldiers, and they had just settled there. They drove them out because they were going to straighten the line here, which made it easier to hold and much easier to defend. You can’t have flanking or anything like that. Then he settled his own people there and colonists from Zarahemla. Verse 9: . . . he caused that the inhabitants who were in the land of Zarahemla and in the land round about should go forth into the east wilderness . . . and possess the land.” The reason was, as it says verse 8, “And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west,” a much easier line to defend. But he was no fool. He wasn’t going to have a Maginot Line there, so he straightened it out. You can see that would be a very dangerous salient otherwise.
Then he went on with his fortifications, “fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites,, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon.” (If that’s the head of the river, I suppose it’s the source of the river. Well, it may be the head of the river where it empties. Sidon goes the other way, I think.) The Nephites possessed all the land northward of the land Bountiful. South was the Lamanite country at this time. Bountiful was the one strong place that the Lamanites almost never could take. They [the Nephites] held onto that to the bitter end. Moroni’s confidence was building up, his armies increased daily, and he began the foundations of a city. This is his building in depth, you notice. He founded cities everywhere. Can you found cities so quickly and easily? Verse 14: “And they also began a foundation for a city between the city of Moroni and the city of Aaron, joining the borders of Aaron and Moroni [notice, they joined the borders together]; and they called the name of the city, or the land, Nephihah [a very interesting ending there]. And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north . . .”
Well, if you know the Hopi record and the Zuni, that’s exactly what they do. It’s hard to believe. You go to Moenkopi and it looks just exactly like Walpi, but Walpi has been there for a thousand years and Moenkopi was only founded in 1906. They move them all around. Awatovi was destroyed in the sixteenth century. They rebuild them and move all over; they are constantly moving. They move up to Pima. The claim of the Navajos is that they had all the Anasazi territory at one time. They were all over the Southwest, and they kept moving their settlements. They talk about the mystery of why you can find something like Chaco Canyon. Why did they leave it? Well, they would just get up and leave and go from one place to another when things [became difficult]. It could have been weather or something like that. The point is that they were very ready to move and resettle. They are very stable because they build towns. They are the Pueblo, the city people. But they do move and resettle, and they do like to spread out and form different settlements, sometimes large and sometimes small. That’s what he [Moroni] is doing. A city is anything with walls around it, anything defensive.
Verse 15: “And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north . . .” So it went. The Lord prospered them extremely. They were blessed with a post-war boom in verse 18, “and they became exceedingly rich.” Again, isn’t that too sudden? No, after every war people become very rich all of a sudden. You can see why. Because there is increased supply and demand after everything has been destroyed. There is lower population and less population pressure. Everybody can profit a lot. There are lots of deals around after a war. But we never learn this [lesson] in verses 19 and 20. Back to the old lesson. How often is this repeated in the Book of Mormon? “And thus we see how merciful and just are all the dealings of the Lord, to the fulfilling of all his words unto the children of men. . . . Blessed art thou and thy children; and they shall be blessed, inasmuch as they shall keep my commandments they shall proper in the land. But remember, inasmuch as they will not keep my commandments they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.”
Of course, now there had to be a land squabble. This always happens. You can’t hold them to that. Then here’s a comment on the enemy. Don’t blame the enemy. Don’t blame Hitler. In 1927 I was on a mission in Ludwigshafen. That was a great ammunition center, and it was all very secret. They were working like crazy there. The arrogance of the French was unspeakable. The French soldiers would insult people and do things they didn’t need to. It was very silly. President Tadje used to tell the missionaries all the time, “I’m expecting to see you all in uniform before long.” Hitler wasn’t even heard of then. He wasn’t the one who pushed us into it. It was all building up to that because of the injustice of the Versailles settlement. This is what happens always, and here [verse 26] the quarrel had to be, naturally, about a boundary. We are always quarreling about boundaries.
And here in verse 22 is a very interesting racial thing. We talk about [the people] being either Nephites or Lamanites. “And those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times . . .” That’s a wonderful thing to know. The others were fated to go into bondage or “to perish by the sword, or to dwindle in unbelief, and mingle with the Lamanites.” Large numbers dwindle in unbelief and become Lamanites. When you see a Lamanite, there is as much Nephite blood as anything there; it’s all over the place. They are all descendants of Lehi.
This is a surprising thing just one year after they’ve had the big war: “But behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi . . .” in these great days of insecurity. When were the greatest days of Athens? When the city was all locked up; when they were having the plague; when they had to have the long walls between the harbor and the city because nothing was safe outside; when all Greece was united against them under the leadership of Sparta; when they were losing their shirt. They had lost their empire because of their overweening ambition and wickedness toward cities like Miletus, etc. This was their greatest and happiest period. There’s something crazy about this. They are living high, so to speak. This [peace among the Nephites] was to last for only four years. They were living in dangerous times. Amalickiah was working hard all this time to build up his forces back there, just as Hitler took lots of time. But it worked fast just the same.
Here’s an episode. In the twenty-fourth year came a land dispute about boundaries. These are common. The big one has been going on ever since the boundaries were made. They have been changing all the time between the Hopis, the Zunis, and the Navajos. They are fighting about their boundaries, as the Indians are [today]. The tribal territories are very touchy matters. If you are in the wrong territory, you can be killed on sight. In the twenty-fourth year there was this contention concerning the land of Lehi and the land of Morianton. Here is the standard scenario: “. . . the people who possessed the land of Morianton did claim a part of the land of Lehi; therefore there began to be a warm contention between them . . .”
My friend Paul Springer was a city commissioner in San Francisco and lawyer. A big oil company was going to build a building in San Francisco. They found that the building next to their lot extended out an inch beyond the property line. They said, “You must pay for that inch, and we will charge a million dollars.” Well, that was a lot of money at that time. They said, “No, we won’t. We’ll just shave the inch off.” But they didn’t shave it off; they shaved two inches off. So Richfield couldn’t go on and make a building without going all the way, so they had to buy that other inch. They didn’t shave one inch off so they wouldn’t have to pay for the land they trespassed on, but they shaved two inches off so that the others, in order to build at all, would have to trespass and move over here. The buildings had to be together. They charged them two million dollars for that and collected without any trouble, though it was a dirty trick. There is so much dirty work that goes on about lands. We all know that; we’ve all seen westerns.
The people who were in the land of Lehi fled to the camp of Moroni and asked for his assistance, and he cut them [Morianton’s people] off. Again it’s back to the personality of the person. It’s this Morianton. Notice in verse 35 that he spoke to them with flattering words. These men are always skillful speakers and good salesmen. That was Morianton. He told them they should flee to the land which was northward, but Moroni cut him off, and Morianton couldn’t get away with it. When they found that the people of Lehi had fled to the camp of Moroni, they were exceeding fearful that Moroni would chase him. He decided, we’ll move out—we’ll move up north to the land of waters. Maybe it was the central valley of Mexico, which was full of water at that time. Moroni was able to find out about that because of a maid servant of Morianton whom he had beaten—a nice character reflection on his hot temper. He fell upon his maid and beat her much. A horrible man, this Morianton, but a very capable man. She fled to the camp of Moroni and told everything. Moroni said it was time to cut him off, so he headed him off at the borders of the land Desolation. He didn’t do it but he sent Teancum, who was really gung-ho. He was a great one; he was terrific for small operations like this. But he was too hot headed and ferocious for most [encounters]. The people had been led by flattering words. Teancum slew Morianton and defeated his army and that was that. They all went back.
Verse 36: “And thus were the people of Morianton brought back.” A happy ending. They made a covenant. That means they had a ceremony by which they received them back again. “. . . they were restored to the land of Morianton, and a union took place between them and the people of Lehi; and they were also restored to their lands.” Notice, the leader makes the difference. Once Morianton was removed things were taken care of.
Here’s a puzzling thing in verse 38. Here was a very righteous judge. Nephihah had served in perfect uprightness before God, but he refused to let Alma take possession of the records. Why would he do that? Well, because Alma had given them to his son Helaman six years before. His son was head of the church. Alma had a different calling. Alma had laid down his commission to become a missionary. The point is why would he refuse to let Alma the great take possession of the records? Alma was an important government official, but if we go back to Alma 37:2 it tells us how Alma had conferred the whole thing upon his son Helaman six years before. There’s no mystery there. You might think you find catches in the Book of Mormon and say, Joseph Smith must have slipped up here. Why would a great judge refuse the records to a great man like Alma who was responsible for them? Because Alma had passed them on. That was legal now.
The son of Nephihah filled the judgment seat with an oath and ordinance. His name was Pahoran, and he’s a famous man here. So we get to Alma 51. We waltz along here. Soon Moroni had to face the most dangerous coalition of all, for the king-men had united again with those of high birth and all the others who sought power and authority over the people. They wanted to make some change in the laws, and Pahoran wouldn’t change them. They wanted to change them in their favor, so they decided to make a coup. Verse 5: “. . . those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous . . . to establish a king over the land.” They staged an election instead, and the king-men lost. There was nothing wrong with their having an election and challenging the government at all. They could do that. The thing is when they lost the election they took to arms. They wouldn’t accept the majority verdict. If you look back at Alma 45:24 these are the same people, and Amalickiah is the same old character. “. . . because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to their words, to walk uprightly before God.”
They didn’t just form another party. They wanted to run the government, which is exactly what Amalickiah wanted to do. He wanted to be everything. They were “gathered together against their brethren . . . And now behold, they were exceedingly wroth, insomuch that they were determined to slay them.” (Alma 46:1–2.) It was going to be all out; it wasn’t just going to be an election. Here [in Alma 51:7] an election was forced on them but went against them. “. . . the voice of the people came in favor of the freemen . . . Now those who were in favor of kings were those of high birth [here we are again], and they sought to be kings [everybody thought he was in the royal line because they were all related to the king]; and they were supported by those who sought power and authority over the people.” A coup is what they were after.
Amalickiah had again stirred up the Lamanites. Amalickiah wasn’t here. These people were among the Nephites. Amalickiah was on the other side, but he had his Lamanite army and he was stirring them up again. He “gathered together a wonderfully great army.” The best interest for these people once they had lost the election would be join with Amalickiah. So they plot with him, and from this time on they are plotting against the country. Verse 12: “Yea, even Amalickiah himself did himself come down at the head of the Lamanites.” This time he did. Notice, it no longer says, “Amalickiah, the Nephite, who is leading the Lamanites.” Now Amalickiah is the leader of a Lamanite army. He has identified himself completely with the Lamanites, and he is leading them. It’s his personal army again, like the Mamelukes, or the Varangians, or the Praetorians. The king-men were glad. They were aware of what Amalickiah was doing, and they wanted to give him support. Now that it was time to arm again—Moroni had been getting ready for them all the time—they [the king-men] refused to cooperate. They wouldn’t have anything to do with it. Seeing everything “going to pot” here, Moroni was exceedingly wroth. He had a hot temper too, you know. “His soul was filled with anger against them.” These people, what are they doing here? When Moroni saw all his work threatened by the same elements with whom he had been forced to deal before, it was almost more he could stand; “yea, he was exceedingly wroth; his soul was filled with anger against them.” He knew that the people were solidly behind him and by popular vote received a special power to go against those king-men and pull down their pride and nobility.
In the meantime they had armed. They were arming to support the Lamanites and went on the attack. This passage has been misunderstood. Verse 17: “And it came to pass that Moroni commanded that his army should go against those king-men, to pull down their pride and their nobility [his army marched against their army; it was going to be a pitched battle] . . . the armies did march forth against them; and they did pull down their pride and their nobility, insomuch that as they did lift their weapons of war to fight against the men of Moroni they were hewn down and leveled to the earth.” Only when they were fighting in the field; that’s all. They were not executing them because they were the wrong party or something. “As they did lift their weapons of war to fight against the men of Moroni they were hewn down,” but those that didn’t were taken prisoner and held in the prisons. They weren’t shot. They were held in prison because there was no time to try them. The emergency was too great to have trials at that time. There were four thousand of those who were hewn down. You would expect the leaders to be eliminated, but they weren’t. They were cast into prison. There was no time for their trials at that time. They were not killed. This was a military not a political contest. The prisoners of war were not killed.
Verse 20: “And the remainder of those dissenters, rather than be smitten down to the earth by the sword, yielded to the standard of liberty, and were compelled to hoist the title of liberty upon their towers.” That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? They were compelled to be free. They were compelled to have liberty. No, the point is here that it must be one flag or another. They had chosen decision by arms and they had lost. Well, the winning side hoists its flag. They were supposed to have been Nephites. These were the ones who had agreed and given up. This was the policy Moroni always followed. They had gone back to being supposedly good Nephites. How reliable, I don’t know. Their officers were kept under guard. Those that were slain were all slain in battle as they raised their arms to fight. So the victor’s flag goes up, of course. “And thus Moroni put an end to those king-men . . . and thus he put an end to the stubbornness and the pride of those people who professed the blood of nobility; but they were brought down to humble themselves like unto their brethren, and to fight valiantly for their freedom from bondage.” They joined in after that. This has happened before too.
While they were having all this trouble just among themselves, Amalickiah was building up a tremendous army. Now the Lamanites came into the land, caught them completely by surprise, and overran everything. Well, where is Moroni’s skill? Where are his preparations? They overran city after city here. They were small and hadn’t been completely built yet. Notice, this is what happened: Amalickiah took possession first of the city of Moroni and drove them slaying many. They fled from one city to the next and threw everything into confusion. The army would come along and take possession. It was a real blitzkrieg. Verse 24: “And those who fled out of the city of Moroni came to the city of Nephihah.” It was like check dams up the canyon. They think they will hold back the flood, but they are a bad thing because they are weak dams. The one that breaks first doubles the force of water. It comes down and easily breaks the second and then breaks the third. They have stopped check dams in California, which used to be a policy, because they just made flooding worse. One of the little dams is bound to break, and that just doubles the mass of water behind it. Then it goes down. “. . . the city of Nephihah; and also the people of the city of Lehi gathered themselves together, and made preparations and were ready to receive the Lamanites to battle. . . . Amalickiah would not suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle, but kept them down by the seashore . . .”
Notice, he had to hold back some in reserve. You have to have a reserve. This reminds me so much of the night of December 16, 1944. I was in charge of the intelligence. The 101st had gone into a rest area at a place called Mourmelon, just behind the Belgian lines there. I had to keep up on the situation. Everybody was resting. It was all over. Nobody thought it was serious, but it was very serious. I could see it coming for several weeks. That night all of a sudden the Germans were at Malmedy, VisŽ, and all these places. They were here and here. Well, how did they get there? The general and everybody were absolutely amazed. I wasn’t amazed. I had been telling them that for weeks. I knew how it had built up. In the Battle of the Bulge they achieved complete surprise. They had twelve panzer divisions and twenty-nine normal divisions all break through at once. We didn’t even know they were there; they kept such secrecy. The signals were there all the time, and we wouldn’t take them. This is the way it happened. They had Mannteufel’s Fifth Army, and he was something. They had Sep Dietrich’s Sixth Army. These were the last fighting force that Hitler had, and he was going to throw them into one place on the line where we had four divisions spread out. We had them spread out at an average of twenty-eight miles to the division front. Well, the normal division front should be four to five miles at most. We had each division holding twenty-eight miles because we said, “Nothing is going to happen there. This is the Ardennes; they can’t come through the Ardennes, these woods, etc. Everybody felt perfectly secure. I didn’t—I felt very nervous. I told the general, and he always complimented me about that afterward, “Well, you certainly called your shots that time.” But it didn’t do any good then.
About two o’clock in the morning a captain staggered in with his face all muddy and his uniform torn and black. His whole company had just broken and scattered. There was nothing left of them at all. That was the first we heard of them [the Germans]. The next morning they had to go out and get all the men into these big gondola trucks and haul them out to hold Bastogne. That was one of the great epics of the war, the holding of Bastogne against all these German divisions. It caught them by complete surprise for no reason at all. Of course, there was beautiful security. They had everything, and they moved by night with bicycles.
The day before we got nervous [and thought] they are not sending us any reports. There hasn’t been any reconnaissance here. They haven’t sent any scouts out or anything else. So we went down to the Seventh Corps. They said, “Well, don’t bother us; we are going to move tomorrow. We are packing our maps and things.”
“Well, what about the 109th Division, the line here? They just moved in. They were holding the main line that Runstedt was going to break through. They had only been in Europe for two weeks. They had never seen any action at all. They were a brand new division that had just been formed. The general was a fat little redheaded guy with great arrogance. They were there because it was a rest area. They put them there and said, “This is the quietest area on the front. We won’t have to do anything. We are going to fall back in a week. We are just here to rest, because this is a place where they won’t have any action. They have no experience; therefore, this is the best place for them. Of course, it was the place to which the Germans were going to direct the whole attack. It was wild. [Brother Nibley put an illustration of the fortifications on the board.] They would move just by night, and all night long they moved in wagons and bicycles and pushed baby buggies—everything that wouldn’t make a noise. We had scouts and people would come over and tell us, “They are moving this way by night, and they are moving this way by night. Where are they moving to? Here they put up fortifications. Well, obviously they were going to come through here and protect their flanks. This was where they were ganging up all their force. It was very obvious.
As Hitler was hip on astronomy, a favorite date of his was December 17 when other things had happened in his life. So I predicted that on December 17 there would be the big breakthrough there. Because of reports we had a pretty good roster of the units that had gotten together there. They were going to drive through with all this army to Antwerp and cut off twenty to thirty American divisions, because they would completely run out of gas there. They were throwing in twenty divisions plus twelve panzer divisions. It should have worked, but it didn’t work because everybody blundered on both sides. This always happens. But our generals did show great skill after the fighting began. They were no fools. I think they outwitted the Germans actually. They should have known better than to try to go with tanks through those muddy paths in the Ardennes. They were narrow roads in hilly country with woods. They were bound to stall anyway. But the way they met and caught off was rather skillfully done.
This is what happens here. Why would he catch the great Moroni by surprise? Well, he didn’t. He came in with this force and he just bowled over one city after another. Verse 26 says, “And thus, he went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid [you can imagine how the panic would spread among the Nephites], and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore [that’s the place where they tried to strengthen it]. And thus had the Lamanites obtained, by the cunning of Amalickiah [who was a darn good general], so many cities, by their numberless hosts, all of which were strongly fortified after the manner of the fortifications of Moroni; all of which afforded strongholds for the Lamanites.” They were their forts now. All that work had been done just for the benefit of Amalickiah. He had all these strong places, which would serve him very well. The Nephites were going to have an awful time trying to take them back now. That was one of their main things. After all, how were they equipped for siege operations? Moroni had fixed it perfectly so the cities couldn’t be taken, though they were taken. Now he had to take them again.
Verse 28: “. . . they marched to the borders of the land Bountiful, driving the Nephites before them and slaying many.” It’s quite a scene with the people fleeing from one city to another and coming in in droves. You see this all the time with everybody hiding in the same place. This Teancum, who had slain Morianton, was great. Verse 31: “But behold he met with a disappointment by being repulsed by Teancum and his men, for they were great warriors [Teancum has a very crack force here]; for every man of Teancum did exceed the Lamanites in their strength and in their skill of war [man for man they were very experienced], insomuch that they did gain advantage over the Lamanites.” But, of course, they couldn’t fight a pitched battle, so very cleverly he started Indian warfare, avoiding pitched battles. That’s one advantage of an airborne. You can’t form here; you scatter all over the place. That gives you a great advantage. The Germans resented it very much. They’d say, “You don’t fight fair; you fight from behind trees.” They were very bitter against the 101st. It wasn’t healthy to be picked up.
Verse 32: “. . . they did harass them, insomuch that they did slay them even until it was dark.” They worked in the night. They fought Indian fashion and avoided a pitched battle. They pitched their tents in the borders by Bountiful, and Amalickiah pitched in the borders by the land Bountiful. That’s the Nephite strong point on the east coast there. If they can take that everything is theirs. “. . . when the night had come, Teancum and his servant stole forth and went out by night, and went into the camp of Amalickiah.” This is reconnaissance, scouting, and patrolling. This has happened. Sometimes a high officer wants to go out himself and look things over, and then something happens. They were sleeping, overcome by the heat of the day. At the beginning of the next chapter we read that it was the new year, which means they were in the tropics. On New Year’s Day they were overwhelmed by the heat. We have seen several references to that already. Teancum put a javelin into [Amalickiah’s] heart and returned again. You hear a lot of stories like this. Several weeks before they entered Rome, Mark Clark drove all over downtown Rome as an officer in his uniform in broad daylight. Nobody recognized him. He inspected the city and drove out again. In the same way the New York Times put a test to our security. They had three or four fellows dress up as German submarine officers in their uniforms. They talked nothing but German and rode the subways all day. They walked around New York loudly talking German in Nazi uniforms with swastikas and everything. New York being what it is, nobody paid any attention to them. They thought it was some gag or something. Security is really a joke when you come right down to it. It can be so easily broken, especially with these bombs in tape recorders and things like that.
They had lost their commander now. When the Lamanites woke up they were completely shaken up. They had to readjust because the commander had been killed. It was the first morning of the first month, so it was in the wintertime and yet it was hot. It was subtropical at least. Teancum was ready to give them battle. So they not only found their commander gone, but they found Teancum all ready to attack. What would they do? Well, they were scared. They didn’t surrender because there were too many of them. They could put up quite a fight. Teancum didn’t intend to attack them. There was no time to readjust, so they fell back on the city of Mulek. I suppose that was a sensible thing to do. The city of Mulek was one of the most strongly defended cities, we learn. The brother of Amalickiah took over. He was just as ferocious as Amalickiah, and he was filled with desire for revenge too. This is the reason Teancum didn’t do more in verse 5: “. . . seeing the enormity of their number, Teancum thought it was not expedient that he should attempt to attack them in their forts.” These are dangerous circumstances. You notice this is very bad here. Teancum strengthened his own positions. He dug in and awaited reinforcements from Moroni. That was the best thing for him to do, because he had a small force but a very good force. Moroni was pinned down on the west coast and could offer no assistance. The Nephites with their inferior numbers were being forced to fight the war that all commanders dread, a war on two fronts. Moroni was on the west coast and Teancum was on the east coast, so he couldn’t help him because both of them had their hands full. That’s the thing the German war college said you must always avoid no matter what happens.
[Ammoron] made the most of his advantage by sending a strong diversionary force to occupy Moroni and, if possible, split the Nephite forces even more. He was going to pin Moroni down while harassing them everywhere and keeping them off balance. [Ammoron] made sallies and infiltrations from numerous Nephite strong places held by the Lamanites. So they had the advantage all over the place here. It says in [verse 14] that things were looking very serious for Moroni: “And thus were the Nephites in those dangerous circumstances in the ending of the twenty and sixth year of the reign of the judges,” just after they had celebrated a victory five years before. So what are they going to do here? Well, this was a real challenge for Moroni, and he was equal to it. He was very shrewd in how he operated here. First he ordered Teancum to sit tight (remember, he was on the east coast and had a good position anyway) on his sector while harassing the Lamanites as much as possible. That’s what he was good at. And keeping a sharp lookout for any chance opportunity opening to do them real damage. That’s the order he gave them in verse 10. Seek every opportunity to damage them as much as you can. This is one of those underground [operations] like the Maquis, like the Underground, and like the Resistance in France and other occupied countries. [He was told] that he should be faithful in maintaining what he had, but at the same time not miss any opportunity to damage. We have already seen that Teancum liked to operate at night when he could be more effective with his mobile, highly trained force.
Here’s a neatly authentic touch here: At the same time he was instructed to take and keep as many prisoners of war as possible with a view to future exchange of prisoners with the Lamanites. The addition of one man to the Nephite forces meant a lot more than one man did to the Lamanites. They would exchange them on a man-to-man basis, as it says in verse 8. He followed up these instructions with “orders to make an attack on the city of Mulek and retake it if it were possible.” And this is a very authentic touch that Teancum decided it wasn’t possible, so he didn’t obey the order. He was allowed some discretion; he said, “if it were possible.” (verses 16–17). Teancum made all the preparations to make an attack on the city of Mulek, but what did he find out on scouting and patrolling? He saw that it was impossible and gave up the enterprise.
Then Moroni came with an army to the land Bountiful in the latter end of the twenty-seventh year, and they had a council of war. The chiefs came together then. Bountiful is far enough away from the Lamanite forces to be safe, so they went there and held a top level council of war to study the situation. It was agreed that the first thing on the agenda was for the united forces of Teancum and Moroni to take Mulek, which was the eastern anchor of the main defense line (verses 18–19). But how could they take this major city? It was the most strongly fortified. It was the object they all wanted. Well, the first step was a logical one. They used the ancient custom of warfare, which was allowed. You challenge them to come out and meet you on a fair field. I treated that at some length in an article in the Western Political Quarterly, this coming out to challenge, etc. The Nephite commanders issued such an invitation to the comfortably ensconced Lamanites who refused to come. Of course, they would have been silly to do it, so they naturally refused.
During the ninth crusade of St. Louis XI of France, they were in Morocco. All his knights in armor faced the city all dressed up in full armor all ready to go. They formally challenged the Moslems to come out and fight as they looked down from the walls. The Moslems were the originators of chivalry, so to speak, because they always used those methods. That was part of their tradition too. They were very bloodthirsty but chivalrous. Naturally they refused because the hot African sun was beating down in the desert there. Here the army of St. Louis was all lined up in heavy armor in the hot sun. First one person would fall from a horse, and then another, and then another. The whole army was wiped out by the sun. They didn’t have to lift a finger. Of course, they wouldn’t come out and fight under those circumstances. Very sensible. (What did I do with the water? I’m working on another project these days, and I can’t remember my own name. The other project is going very well. That’s no comfort.)
They wouldn’t come out, so what was he going to do now? Well, he tried something else. He tried to decoy them out. Our very mobile and able Teancum allowed the Lamanites to discover a task force of his moving along the coast right in full view of the city. They gave it chase, of course. When they were out chasing [Teancum’s force], Moroni slipped in behind them into the city and overpowered the defenders. Since it was Moroni he characteristically spared them all. He didn’t put any to death who yielded up their weapons (verses 22–25). Then having settled the city with the people on his side, he immediately started out chasing the Lamanites along the beach. They took the coast route on the heels of the Lamanites. The Lamanites were chasing Teancum and his small force. So we have Teancum being chased by the Lamanites, and the Lamanites being chased by Moroni. You see what’s going to happen now. This is what made the difference now. As a secondary division, a small Nephite force under the terrible Lehi had issued out of the main base in Bountiful and met them head on. They were confused by the new development, and they decided to go back to Mulek where they would be safe. Naturally, they turned around and came back and found [Moroni] coming up behind them. It occurred to them with shock that by dashing forth from that city they had left it lightly defended. They had better get back to Mulek before it was too late (verses 27–28). So bent only on reaching home base in safety the exhausted Lamanites with Lehi hot behind them ran smack into Moroni’s army. That was enough; they all surrendered. That was the last straw (verses 28–32). They fled in much confusion. They could not obtain the city of Mulek, and Lehi’s men could overtake them because they were fresh.
Verse 30: “Now Lehi was not desirous to overtake them till they should meet Moroni and his army. . . . And Moroni commanded his men that they should fall upon them until they had given up their weapons of war. And it came to pass that Jacob, being their leader, being also a Zoramite, and having an unconquerable spirit, he led the Lamanites forth to battle with exceeding fury against Moroni. . . . [he] cut his way through to the city of Mulek.” But it was already occupied by Moroni’s men, so he couldn’t get in there. A furious melee followed.
“. . . Moroni was wounded and Jacob was killed. And Lehi pressed upon their rear with such fury with his strong men, that the Lamanites in the rear delivered up their weapons of war.”
Here’s Moroni with his usual magnanimity: “Now Moroni seeing their confusion, he said unto them: If ye will bring forth your weapons of war and deliver them up, behold we will forbear shedding your blood.” So they threw down their weapons, but there were many who would not. They were taken and bound and compelled to march to the land Bountiful, where they were building up a huge stalag. They were getting a lot of prisoners of war, and they need them so they can exchange them for their own people and get the Nephites back.
I didn’t realize the time. We are not getting very far with these laborious campaigns, are we? We’ll get to another subject still.