A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon/Moroni
MORONI. One of the greatest Nephite prophets and military commanders. He was born in Zarahemla, about the year B. C. 100. At the age of twenty-five he had risen to the supreme command of the forces of the commonwealth. At that time an army of the Lamanites, commanded by a man named Zerahemnah (B. C. 75) was threatening the land of Jershon, having, by the invitation of the apostate Zoramites, occupied the land of Antionum. Moroni sent to Alma, the High Priest and President of the Church, to inquire the mind and will of the Lord, and having received that word, carried it into effect. The Lamanites, having found Moroni too well prepared for them, retreated southward towards the land of Manti. Moroni left a portion of his forces to protect Jershon, and with the rest proceeded towards Manti by the most direct route. The opposing armies met near the river Sidon; one of the most obstinately contested battles in Nephite history was fought, and Zerahemnah was disastrously defeated. After this battle there was a short period of peace, but soon internal dissensions, caused by the intrigues of royalists and apostates, led by one Amalickiah, convulsed the Nephite community. Moroni rose to greatness with the peril of the hour. By his patriotic appeal he roused the whole Nephite nation. He tore off a portion of his coat, and naming it the Title of Liberty, sent it far and wide through the cities of his countrymen, that they might see the appeal he had inscribed thereon. It read: "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children."
The call was not in vain: the hosts of the patriots rallied to his standard. Amalickiah, hearing the news of this great awakening, faltered in his purpose, his followers lost heart, and retreat was deemed the fittest show of wisdom, and discretion the better part of valor. By Moroni's vigilance their retreat was cut off, the rebels surrendered, Amalickiah fled for safety to the Lamanites, and the “Title of Liberty" continued to float uninterruptedly from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, as far as Nephi's children ruled or Nephite homes were found.
Amalickiah retired to the court of the king of the Lamanites, and with the cunning and ingenuity of a demon, worked himself on to that throne, while at the same time he was plotting an invasion of the Nephite country. Moroni, in the meanwhile was not idle; he reorganized the Nephite armies, compelled more stringent discipline, introduced new tactics, inaugurated a greatly superior system of fortification, built towers and citadels, and altogether placed the defensive powers of the Commonwealth on a new and stronger footing. The Lamanites, who appear to have developed no capacity for originating, but were apt in copying, also, in course of time, adopted defensive armor, and when they captured a weak Nephite city they frequently made it a stronghold by surrounding it with ditches and walls, after the system introduced and put into execution by Moroni.
The foundation of Moroni's system of fortifications was earthworks encircling the place to be defended. The earth was dug from the outside, by which means a ditch was formed. Sometimes walls of stone were erected. On the top of the earthworks strong defenses of wood, sometimes breastworks, in some cases to the full height of a man, were raised; and above these a stockade of strong pickets was built to arrest the flight of the stones and arrows of the attacking forces. Behind these walls, towers were raised at various convenient points, from which observations of the movements of the enemy were taken, and wherein corps of archers and slingers were stationed during the actual continuance of the battle. From their elevated and commanding position these bodies of soldiers could do great injury to the attacking force.
In B. C. 73, Amalickiah commenced active hostilities. He raised an immense army, and, placing it under the direction of Zoramite commanders, ordered its advance into the western possessions of the Nephites, in which region stood the cities of Noah and Ammonihah. When the invaders reached the last named city they found it too strongly fortified to be taken by assault; they therefore retired to Noah, originally a very weak place, but now, through Moroni's foresight and energy, made stronger than Ammonihah. The Zoramite officers well knew that to return home without having attempted something would be most disastrous, they therefore, though with little hope, made an assault upon Noah. This step resulted in throwing away a thousand lives outside its walls, while its well-protected defenders had but fifty men wounded. After this disastrous attempt, the Lamanites marched home. Great was the anger of Amalickiah at the miscarriage of his schemes; he cursed God and swore he would yet drink the blood of Moroni.
During the next year the armies of Moroni drove the Lamanites out of that portion of the east wilderness bordering on the land of Zarahemla into their own lands. The northern line or boundary of the latter ran in a straight course from the sea east to the west. The Lamanites having been driven out of those portions of the wilderness north of the dividing line, colonies of Nephites were sent to occupy the country and build cities on their southern border, even to the Atlantic coast. To protect the new settlers, Moroni placed troops all along this line, and caused them to erect fortifications for the better defense of the frontier. This fortified line ran from the west sea (the Pacific Ocean) by the head of the river Sidon (the Magdalena) eastward along the northern edge of the wilderness.
In the following year (B. C. 67), Amalickiah commenced a devastating invasion of the Atlantic provinces of the Nephites. Commencing at Moroni, on the extreme southeast, he gradually advanced northward, capturing and garrisoning all the Nephite cities until he reached the land Bountiful. There a stop was put to his progress by the forces of the Commonwealth, and he himself was slain by Teancum. His advance corps then retired a short distance to the south and garrisoned the neighboring city of Mulek. In this condition matters remained for some time, but in B. C. 64, Moroni, with the assistance of his lieutenants, defeated the Lamanites commanded by Jacob, and recaptured the city of Mulek, which victory was slowly followed by the reconquest of all the lands and cities on the Atlantic seaboard.
In the southwest, matters had also gone disastrously for the Nephites, and the forces of the republic in that region were greatly hampered for lack of provisions, and the non-arrival of expedled reinforcements. Affairs were greatly complicated at this time by a royalist rising in the city of Zarahemla, under a leader named Pachus. Pahoran, the chief judge, was driven out of the capital, and communication opened with the Lamanites. At the request of Pahoran, Moroni, with a portion of his forces, went to the aid of the government at the earliest possible moment, leaving the armies in the northeast under the command of Lehi and Teancum. As he advanced he rallied the people on his line of march to the defense of the liberties of the republic, and was so successful that, after having joined Pahoran, he succeeded in overthrowing the "king-men," killing their leader, Pachus, and completely crushing the rebellion. This being accomplished, he sent 6,000 men, with the necessary provisions, to reinforce Helaman in the southwest (B. C. 61).
The campaign during this year, along the Atlantic coast, was a decisive one. At last the Lamanites were driven out of Omner, Morianton, Gid, Lehi, Nephihah, Moroni, and every other Nephite city on that sea-board, and the lands of the Nephites were free from the foot of the foe. A long-continued peace followed, for both nations were exhausted.
In (B. C. 56) the valiant Moroni, one of the greatest and most virtuous of God's sons, passed away from this state of mortality to the glories of eternity, at the early age of forty-three years. Some time before his death he had given the chief command of the armies of the Nephites to his son, Moronihah, who, from the history of later years, we judge to have been a worthy son of so illustrious a sire.