Helaman’s account* tells of four cities the Lamanites had taken over in the region where they were posted: Antiparah, Cumeni, Manti, and Zeezrom. We have the accounts of the campaigns to retake three of those cities.
This campaign, the second of which we have a record, shows that those with conviction in their cause have a great advantage over those that do not, even when many other factors would put those with conviction at a seeming disadvantage. Soon after the victory at Antiparah, (see part two) more Nephite forces arrived – six thousand men as well as sixty more stripling warriors who joined Helaman’s army. It was decided that the strategy of retaking Cumeni would be a siege. They surrounded the city and cut off any supplies that were sent to maintain the Lamanite army. While this plan worked at first, it put the Nephite forces in a very precarious position. Helaman says: “And it came to pass that not many days had passed away before the Lamanites began to lose all hopes of succor; therefore they yielded up the city unto our hands; and thus we had accomplished our designs in obtaining the city Cumeni. But it came to pass that our prisoners were so numerous that, notwithstanding the enormity of our numbers, we were obliged to employ all our force to keep them, or to put them to death. For behold, they would break out in great numbers, and would fight with stones, and with clubs, or whatsoever thing they could get into their hands, insomuch that we did slay upwards of two thousand of them after they had surrendered themselves prisoners of war.” They decided to send the prisoners to the capital city of Zarahemla, so they selected some of their men to escort the prisoners.
The day after, a Lamanite army attacked the main force that remained. Those that were sent to guard the prisoners on their way to Zarahemla, despite the long journey, returned in time to join the battle. Helaman reports: “But behold, my little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately; yea, they were firm before the Lamanites, and did administer death unto all those who opposed them. And as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted. Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.” Once the Lamanites were driven to retreat, Helaman had his men who were wounded retrieved from among the dead. He found that among his two thousand and sixty men, two hundred fainted from the loss of blood but none died. He says: “And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.”
When that battle ended, Gid, the chief captain who was escorting the prisoners to Zarahemla, reported that his prisoners overheard a report from the Nephite spies of the impending attack on the Lamanites. Hearing this, they found their courage and they fought Gid and his men. The prisoners being unarmed, were for the most part killed in this attempt except for a few that fled. Then, Gid returned in time to fight.
While I am not a war strategist, it seems that this could have easily been a Lamanite victory had they not given in to the siege so quickly. If the Lamanite reinforcements had arrived while the main Lamanite army still occupied Cumeni, it could have been a great defeat for the Nephites. Because the Lamanites lacked conviction, their seemingly superior position was worthless.
In part four, Helaman’s forces must deal with the consequences of internal dissensions in the Nephite government while attempting to retake the city of Manti. Coming soon!