Moroni's military genius

Accounts of various wars comprise about one-third of the Book of Mormon. As bitter battles raged between the Nephites and the Lamanites, "Moroni took all the command, and the government of their [the Nephites'] wars. And he was only twenty and five years old when he was appointed chief captain over the arms of the Nephites." (Alma 32:17.)

In Since Cumorah: The Book of Mormon in the Modern World, Hugh Nibley noted that Moroni was "a military genius if there ever was one."Brother Nibley, a professor at Brigham Young University who is a renowned scholar, described some of Moroni's military acumen: He introduced improvements in armor to make his people far more than a match, man for man, for the enemy. (Alma 43:19-21.)

He arranged the Jershon defense zone. (Alma 43:22.) Being on the defensive and greatly outnumbered, he was particularly diligent in keeping a sharp lookout on all enemy movements.

At the same time he inquired of the prophet Alma (patterned after what is now known to have been an ancient custom in Israel) regarding the enemy's plan of battle, "whither the armies of the Nephites should go to defend themselves against the Lamanites." (Alma 43:23.).

Brother Nibley noted that the Lamanite campaign was directed by Amalekite and Zoramite officers, whose knowledge of the Nephite military secrets and methods would have given them an enormous advantage over any commander except Moroni.

"Right at the outset his foresight had robbed them of their first and logical objective - the bigger land of Jershon," Brother Nibley wrote. "He had taken up his main defensive position there, but when the messengers returned from consulting the prophet he learned that the Lamanites were planning a surprise by directing their push against the more inaccessible but weaker land of Manti, where they would not be expected. (Alma 43:24.) Immediately Moroni moved his main army into Manti and put the people there in a state of preparedness. (Alma 25-26.)"

Military strategy - often devised under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord - was vital to the success of the Nephites in their battles with the Lamanites. In the latter chapters of the book of Alma are several references to such strategy:

"And Moroni also sent unto him [Teancum] that he should retain all the prisoners who fell into his hands; . . . as a ransom for those whom the Lamanites had taken.

"And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side.

"And Moroni also sent unto him, desiring him that he would be faithful in maintaining that quarter of the land, and that he would seek every opportunity to scourge the Lamanites in that quarter, as much as was in his power, that perhaps he might take again by stratagem or some other way those cities which had been taken out of their hands; and that he also would fortify and strengthen the cities round about, which had not fallen into the hands of the Lamanites. . . .

"And it came to pass that Moroni, having no hopes of meeting them upon fair grounds, therefore, he resolved upon a plan that he might decoy the Lamanites out of their strongholds." (Alma 52:8-10, 21.)

"Therefore Moroni resolved upon a stratagem to obtain as many prisoners of the Nephites from the Lamanites as it were possible." (Alma 54:3.)

"Now when he saw that the Lamanites began to grow uneasy on this wise, we were desirous to bring a stratagem into effect upon them. . . ." (Alma 56:30.)

"And thus it came to pass, that by this stratagem we did take possession of the city of Manti without the shedding of blood." (Alma 58:28.)

It is evident by these and other references that the Lord not only strengthened the Nephites physically to help them overcome their enemies, but He also quickened their intellects as they devised military strategy.

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