The wars in defense of liberty
abridged ca. 373 ad from the record of alma
And now I return to an account of the wars between the Nephites
and the Lamanites, in the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges.
For behold, it came to pass that the Zoramites became Lamanites. Therefore, in the commencement of the eighteenth year the people of the Nephites saw that the Lamanites were coming upon them. Therefore they made preparations for war. Yea, they gathered together their armies in the land of Jershon. And it came to pass that the Lamanites came with their thousands. And they came into the land of Antionum, which is the land of the Zoramites: and a man by the name of Zerahemnah was their leader. And now, as the Amalekites were of a more wicked and murderous disposition than the Lamanites were, in and of themselves, therefore, Zerahemnah appointed chief captains over the Lamanites, and they were all Amalekites and Zoramites. Now this he did that he might preserve their hatred towards the Nephites, that he might bring them into subjection to the accomplishment of his designs. For behold, his designs were to stir up the Lamanites to anger against the Nephites. This he did that he might usurp great power over them, and also that he might gain power over the Nephites by bringing them into bondage.
And now the design of the Nephites was to support their lands, and their houses, and their wives, and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies. And also that they might preserve their rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty; that they might worship God according to their desires. For they knew that if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites, that whosoever should worship God in spirit and in truth, the true and the living God, the Lamanites would destroy. Yea, and they also knew the extreme hatred of the Lamanites towards their brethren, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, who were called the people of Ammon — and they would not take up arms, yea, they had entered into a covenant and they would not break it — therefore, if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites they would be destroyed. And the Nephites would not suffer that they should be destroyed. Therefore they gave them lands for their inheritance.
And the people of Ammon did give unto the Nephites a large portion of their substance to support their armies. And thus the Nephites were compelled, alone, to withstand against the Lamanites, who were a compound of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, and all those who had dissented from the Nephites, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah. Now those descendants were as numerous, nearly, as were the Nephites. And thus the Nephites were obliged to contend with their brethren, even unto bloodshed.
And it came to pass as the armies of the Lamanites had gathered together in the land of Antionum, behold, the armies of the Nephites were prepared to meet them in the land of Jershon. Now, the leader of the Nephites, or the man who had been appointed to be the chief captain over the Nephites — now the chief captain took the command of all the armies of the Nephites — and his name was Moroni. And Moroni took all the command, and the government of their wars. And he was only twenty and five years old when he was appointed chief captain over the armies of the Nephites. And it came to pass that he met the Lamanites in the borders of Jershon, and his people were armed with swords, and with scimitars, and all manner of weapons of war. And when the armies of the Lamanites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni, had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing — now the army of Zerahemnah was not prepared with any such thing. They had only their swords and their scimitars, their bows and their arrows, their stones and their slings. And they were naked, save it were a skin which was girded about their loins. Yea, all were naked, save it were the Zoramites and the Amalekites. But they were not armed with breastplates, nor shields. Therefore, they were exceedingly afraid of the armies of the Nephites because of their armor, notwithstanding their number being so much greater than the Nephites.
Behold, now it came to pass that they durst not come against the Nephites in the borders of Jershon. Therefore they departed out of the land of Antionum into the wilderness, and took their journey round about in the wilderness, away by the head of the river Sidon, that they might come into the land of Manti and take possession of the land. For they did not suppose that the armies of Moroni would know whither they had gone. But it came to pass, as soon as they had departed into the wilderness Moroni sent spies into the wilderness to watch their camp. And Moroni, also, knowing of the prophecies of Alma, sent certain men unto him, desiring him that he should inquire of the Lord whither the armies of the Nephites should go to defend themselves against the Lamanites.
And it came to pass that the word of the Lord came unto Alma, and Alma informed the messengers of Moroni, that the armies of the Lamanites were marching round about in the wilderness, that they might come over into the land of Manti, that they might commence an attack upon the weaker part of the people. And those messengers went and delivered the message unto Moroni. Now Moroni, leaving a part of his army in the land of Jershon, lest by any means a part of the Lamanites should come into that land and take possession of the city, took the remaining part of his army and marched over into the land of Manti. And he caused that all the people in that quarter of the land should gather themselves together to battle against the Lamanites, to defend their lands and their country, their rights and their liberties. Therefore they were prepared against the time of the coming of the Lamanites.
And it came to pass that Moroni caused that his army should be secreted in the valley which was near the bank of the river Sidon, which was on the west of the river Sidon in the wilderness. And Moroni placed spies round about, that he might know when the camp of the Lamanites should come. And now, as Moroni knew the intention of the Lamanites, that it was their intention to destroy their brethren, or to subject them and bring them into bondage that they might establish a kingdom unto themselves over all the land. And he also knowing that it was the only desire of the Nephites to preserve their lands, and their liberty, and their church, therefore he thought it no sin that he should defend them by stratagem. Therefore, he found by his spies which course the Lamanites were to take. Therefore, he divided his army and brought a part over into the valley, and concealed them on the east, and on the south of the hill Riplah. And the remainder he concealed in the west valley, on the west of the river Sidon, and so down into the borders of the land Manti. And thus having placed his army according to his desire, he was prepared to meet them.
And it came to pass that the Lamanites came up on the north of the hill, where a part of the army of Moroni was concealed. And as the Lamanites had passed the hill Riplah, and came into the valley, and began to cross the river Sidon, the army which was concealed on the south of the hill, which was led by a man whose name was Lehi, and he led his army forth and encircled the Lamanites about on the east in their rear. And it came to pass that the Lamanites, when they saw the Nephites coming upon them in their rear, turned them about and began to contend with the army of Lehi. And the work of death commenced on both sides, but it was more dreadful on the part of the Lamanites, for their nakedness was exposed to the heavy blows of the Nephites with their swords and their scimitars, which brought death almost at every stroke. While on the other hand, there was now and then a man fell among the Nephites, by their swords and the loss of blood, they being shielded from the more vital parts of the body, or the more vital parts of the body being shielded from the strokes of the Lamanites, by their breastplates, and their armshields, and their head-plates. And thus the Nephites did carry on the work of death among the Lamanites.
And it came to pass that the Lamanites became frightened, because of the great destruction among them, even until they began to flee towards the river Sidon. And they were pursued by Lehi and his men. And they were driven by Lehi into the waters of Sidon, and they crossed the waters of Sidon. And Lehi retained his armies upon the bank of the river Sidon that they should not cross. And it came to pass that Moroni and his army met the Lamanites in the valley, on the other side of the river Sidon, and began to fall upon them and to slay them. And the Lamanites did flee again before them, towards the land of Manti. And they were met again by the armies of Moroni.
Now in this case the Lamanites did fight exceedingly. Yea, never had the Lamanites been known to fight with such exceedingly great strength and courage, no, not even from the beginning. And they were inspired by the Zoramites and the Amalekites, who were their chief captains and leaders, and by Zerahemnah, who was their chief captain, or their chief leader and commander. Yea, they did fight like dragons, and many of the Nephites were slain by their hands, yea, for they did smite in two many of their head-plates, and they did pierce many of their breastplates, and they did smite off many of their arms. And thus the Lamanites did smite in their fierce anger.
Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church. And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their god. For the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that:
Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense,
Neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain
By the hands of your enemies.
And again, the Lord has said that ye shall defend your families, even unto bloodshed.
Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion. And it came to pass that when the men of Moroni saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites, they were about to shrink and flee from them. And Moroni, perceiving their intent, sent forth and inspired their hearts with these thoughts — yea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yea, their freedom from bondage. And it came to pass that they turned upon the Lamanites, and they cried with one voice unto the Lord their god, for their liberty and their freedom from bondage. And they began to stand against the Lamanites with power! And in that selfsame hour that they cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began to flee before them, and they fled even to the waters of Sidon.
Now, the Lamanites were more numerous, yea, by more than double the number of the Nephites. Nevertheless, they were driven insomuch that they were gathered together in one body in the valley, upon the bank by the river Sidon. Therefore the armies of Moroni encircled them about, yea, even on both sides of the river, for behold, on the east were the men of Lehi. Therefore when Zerahemnah saw the men of Lehi on the east of the river Sidon, and the armies of Moroni on the west of the river Sidon, that they were encircled about by the Nephites, they were struck with terror. Now Moroni, when he saw their terror, commanded his men that they should stop shedding their blood. And it came to pass that they did stop and withdrew a pace from them. And Moroni said unto Zerahemnah:
That we do not desire to be men of blood.
Ye know that ye are in our hands, yet we do not desire to slay you.
Behold, we have not come out to battle against you
That we might shed your blood for power,
Neither do we desire to bring any one to the yoke of bondage.
But this is the very cause for which ye have come against us!
Yea, and ye are angry with us because of our religion.
But now, ye behold that the Lord is with us
And ye behold that he has delivered you into our hands.
And now I would that ye should understand that this is done
Unto us because of our religion and our faith in Christ.
And now ye see that ye cannot destroy this our faith.
Now ye see that this is the true faith of God,
Yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us,
So long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith,
And our religion, and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed
Except we should fall into transgression and deny our faith.
And now, Zerahemnah, I command you,
In the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms
That we have gained power over you, by our faith,
By our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church,
And by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children,
By that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country
Yea, and also by the maintenance of the sacred word
Of God, to which we owe all our happiness, and by all that is
Most dear unto us.
Yea, and this is not all. I command you by all the desires which ye have
For life, that ye deliver up your weapons of war unto us,
And we will seek not your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will
Go your way and come not again to war against us.
And now, if ye do not this, behold, ye are in our hands, and I will
Command my men that they shall fall upon you, and inflict the wounds of
Death in your bodies, that ye may become extinct.
And then we will see who shall have power over this people!
Yea, we will see who shall be brought into bondage.
And now it came to pass that when Zerahemnah had heard these sayings he came forth and delivered up his sword and his scimitar, and his bow into the hands of Moroni, and said unto him:
Behold, here are our weapons of war!
We will deliver them up unto you,
But we will not suffer ourselves to take an oath unto you,
Which we know that we shall break,
And also our children, but take our weapons of war,
And suffer that we may depart into the wilderness.
Otherwise we will retain our swords, and we will perish or conquer.
Behold, we are not of your faith!
We do not believe that it is God that has delivered us into your hands.
But we believe that it is your cunning that has preserved you from
Our swords. Behold, it is your breastplates
And your shields that have preserved you.
And now when Zerahemnah had made an end of speaking these words, Moroni returned the sword and the weapons of war, which he had received, unto Zerahemnah, saying:
Behold, we will end the conflict.
Now I cannot recall the words which I have spoken. Therefore
As the Lord liveth, ye shall not depart except ye depart
With an oath that ye will not return again against us to war.
Now as ye are in our hands we will spill your blood
Upon the ground, or ye shall submit to the
Conditions which I have proposed.
And now when Moroni had said these words, Zerahemnah retained his sword, and he was angry with Moroni, and he rushed forward that he might slay Moroni! But as he raised his sword, behold, one of Moroni’s soldiers smote it even to the earth, and it broke by the hilt.
And he also smote Zerahemnah that he took off his scalp and it fell to the earth! And Zerahemnah withdrew from before them into the midst of his soldiers. And it came to pass that the soldier who stood by, who smote off the scalp of Zerahemnah, took up the scalp from off the ground by the hair, and laid it upon the point of his sword, and stretched it forth unto them, saying unto them with a loud voice:
Even as this scalp has fallen to the earth,
Which is the scalp of your chief,
So shall ye fall to the earth!
Except ye will deliver up your weapons of war
And depart with a covenant of peace.
Now there were many, when they heard these words and saw the scalp which was upon the sword, that were struck with fear; and many came forth and threw down their weapons of war at the feet of Moroni, and entered into a covenant of peace. And as many as entered into a covenant they suffered to depart into the wilderness.
Now it came to pass that Zerahemnah was exceedingly wroth, and he did stir up the remainder of his soldiers to anger, to contend more powerfully against the Nephites. And now Moroni was angry, because of the stubbornness of the Lamanites. Therefore he commanded his people that they should fall upon them and slay them. And it came to pass that they began to slay them. Yea, and the Lamanites did contend with their swords and their might. But behold, their naked skins and their bare heads were exposed to the sharp swords of the Nephites. Yea, behold they were pierced and smitten, yea, and did fall exceedingly fast before the swords of the Nephites. And they began to be swept down, even as the soldier of Moroni had prophesied.
Now Zerahemnah, when he saw that they were all about to be destroyed, cried mightily unto Moroni, promising that he would covenant and also his people with them, if they would spare the remainder of their lives, that they never would come to war again against them.
And it came to pass that Moroni caused that the work of death should cease again among the people. And he took the weapons of war from the Lamanites. And after they had entered into a covenant with him of peace they were suffered to depart into the wilderness. Now the number of their dead was not numbered because of the greatness of the number! Yea, the number of their dead was exceedingly great, both on the Nephites and on the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did cast their dead into the waters of Sidon, and they have gone forth and are buried in the depths of the sea. And the armies of the Nephites, or of Moroni, returned and came to their houses and their lands. And thus ended the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.
And thus ended the Record of Alma, which was written upon the Plates of Nephi. Behold, now it came to pass that the people of Nephi were exceedingly rejoiced because the Lord had again delivered them out of the hands of their enemies. Therefore they gave thanks unto the Lord their god. Yea, and they did fast much and pray much, and they did worship God with exceedingly great joy.