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.
The last campaign that we have a record for is that of Helaman retaking the city of Manti. After they had retaken Cumeni, months passed with very little support from the Nephite government. The Lamanites that occupied Manti, however, were receiving a steady supply of men and provisions. The Nephites needed to act fast but did not have the men or provisions to do so.
Pleading with God
It was in these circumstances that Helaman and the other Nephites pled with God. From his account: “Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people. Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him. And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty.” The Nephites knew it was time to face the forces of Manti.
Leap of Faith
The Nephites moved their armies close to Manti near the wilderness. Helaman sent two of his captains, Gid and Teomner each with some men into the wilderness; one went to the left and the other to the right. The next morning, the Lamanites, fearing that the Nephites would cut off their supplies, and seeing the small number of their forces, came out of the city to defeat them. The Nephites, feigning retreat, marched into the wilderness right between Gid’s party and Teomner’s. The Lamanites passed right between them and remained unaware. As soon as that happened, Gid and Teomner cut off the Lamanites spies, took out the few remaining guards in Manti and retook the city. In the meantime, Helaman and the main body of troops were still running from the Lamanites. They were heading toward the capital city of Zarahemla. As soon as the Lamanites realized where they were headed, they feared a trap. They turned and retreated toward Manti. They did not complete their trip before nightfall though and made camp for the night. Helaman and his forces, however, did not. They continued their march also back toward Manti but took a different path circumventing the Lamanite army. I believe this may be where the stripling warriors’ youth was an advantage. They did not have the battle experience of seasoned veterans, but they had strong bodies that could endure long marches in the day followed by long marches into the night. When the Lamanites returned the next morning, they found they had lost the city and fled out of that part of the Nephites’ territory. It was not the end of the war, but Helaman and his stripling warriors succeeded in reclaiming their lost territories. Helaman records: “And those cities which had been taken by the Lamanites, all of them are at this period of time in our possession; and our fathers and our women and our children are returning to their homes, all save it be those who have been taken prisoners and carried off by the Lamanites. But behold, our armies are small to maintain so great a number of cities and so great possessions. But behold, we trust in our God who has given us victory over those lands, insomuch that we have obtained those cities and those lands, which were our own.”
The Book of Mormon is an abridged record of a people in the ancient Americas so some things were left out. We never find out how the Nephites reclaimed Zeezrom. What we do have though, I love. I love the faith of Helaman. I love that the sons of the Ammonites went to fight a war to keep their fathers from breaking their oath never to shed blood. I love the record of God’s miracles. I love the story of what happens to the evil Amalickiah who started this war in the first place (Alma 51.) If you have never read from the Book of Mormon, you are missing out. The stories, the sermons, the first-hand accounts of God’s interactions with His children will bring you closer to God. It can help you become a better disciple of Jesus Christ.