A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon/Teancum
TEANCUM. One of the bravest, most disinterested and most illustrious soldiers who served the Nephite Commonwealth. Of his life we are told nothing until he is presented to us as one of Moroni's lieutenants.
Teancum appears to have had command of the Nephite army of the north, and to have had committed to him the defense of the Land Bountiful and the Isthmus of Panama. His first exploit to which our attention is drawn was the defeat of the dissatisfied people of the hot-headed Morianton, who, having unjustly quarreled with their neighbors, the people of the City of Lehi, and being apparently aware of the unrighteousness of their cause, determined to migrate to the land northward, and there establish an independent government. Such a movement being evidently dangerous to the peace and stability of the Republic, Moroni determined to prevent the accomplishment of their scheme. He dispatched Teancum at the head of a body of troops to head them off. This the gallant officer succeeded in doing, but not until they had reached the Isthmus, where a stubbornly-fought battle ensued, in which Teancum slew Morianton with his own hand, and compelled the surrender of his followers. (B. C, 68.) The prisoners were brought back, the grievances of the two peoples were investigated, a union between them brought about, and both were restored to their own lands.
In the following year (B. C. 67), Amalickiah, the apostate Nephite who reigned over the Lamanites, commenced his 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 along the coast, until toward the close of the year, he reached the borders of the land Bountiful, driving the forces of the Republic before him. At this point he was met by Teancum and a corps of veterans renowned for their courage, skill and discipline. The Lamanite leader endeavored to force his way to the Isthmus with the intention of occupying the northern continent. In this he was foiled, for the trained valor of Teancum's warriors was too much for that of Amalickiah's half-savage hordes. All day the fight lasted, and at night the worn-out soldiery camped in close proximity, the Lamanites on the sea beach, and the Nephites on the borders of the land Bountiful.
When night had closed and all was still, Teancum, accompanied by one soldier, stole out of his own camp into that of the enemy. He sought the tent of Amalickiah, and when he found it he slew the Lamanite king with his javelin, then quickly returning, he aroused his troops and kept them on the alert all night, fearing that when the foe found they had lost their chief they would make a sudden attack on the Nephites; but it did not so happen. Amalickiah's death was not discovered until the morning, and then his followers hastily retreated to Mulek, where they shut themselves up. Each commander now felt only sufficiently strong to act on the defensive, and Teancum employed his soldiery in vigorously strengthening the fortifications of the land Bountiful and the Isthmus which formed the natural northern boundary of that land. Moroni likewise desired him to harrass and scourge the enemy whenever opportunity offered, but they kept too closely within their fortifications for much to be done in that way. This state of mutual watching, without any aggressive movements, continued for some time. Once Teancum, by Moroni's direction, made reconnoissance in force towards Mulek, but he found it too strongly fortified to warrant an attempt to capture it by assault. He therefore retired to Bountiful and awaited Moroni's arrival, that officer being now conducting operations in the southwest, Moroni did not rejoin Teancum until the end of the year B. C. 65.
At the commencement of the next year a grand council of war was held at the Nephite headquarters. Efforts had been made to induce the Lamanites to come out and fight on the open plains between Mulek and Bountiful, but their leaders very prudently declined. It was therefore decided to make an effort to draw them out by stratagem. The Nephite army was divided into three divisions, commanded by Moroni, Lehi and Teancum respectively. Teancum advanced with a small body of men near to the walls of Mulek. The Lamanites, noticing his weakness, sallied forth to capture him. He retreated rapidly northward along the sea beach, in well-feigned trepidation. The enemy followed in hot pursuit. When they neared Bountiful, Lehi and his men marched out, covered the retreat, and confronted the now fatigued legions of Laman. Jacob, their leader, ordered a retreat to Mulek; Lehi leisurely advanced, till they reached the place where Moroni's command blockaded the road, then both Nephite commanders met the Lamanites in the shock of battle, front and rear. The Lamanites were disastrously defeated, Jacob was killed and Mulek fell into the hands of the Nephites. This was the turning point in the war, for from this time the patriots gradually regained their lost cities.
We have no details of the services of Teancum in the brilliant campaign that followed, during which the tide of victory rolled resistlessly down the Atlantic shore. We will therefore simply say that at last the soldiers of Ammoron were driven out of every Nephite city on the Atlantic seaboard, except the outlying one, called Moroni, where the whole of the invading host was massed for a final desperate stand, and around which Moroni, with hurried and lengthened marches, had concentrated his warriors.
It was the night before an expected decisive battle, and the Nephite officers and soldiery were too worn out to either devise stratagems or execute them. Teancum alone was in a condition of unrest. He remembered with intense bitterness all the bloodshed, woes, hardships, famine, etc., that had been brought about in this great and lasting war between the two races, which he rightly attributed to the infamous ambition of Amalickiah and Ammoron. In his anger he stole forth into the enemy's camp, let himself over the walls of the city, sought out the king's tent, and when he had found the object of his search, he cast a javelin at him, which pierced him near the heart; but, unlike Amalickiah, Ammoron's death was not instantaneous, he had time to awaken his servant before he expired. The alarm was given, the guards started in pursuit, Teancum was overtaken, caught and slain. On the morrow, Moroni attacked the Lamanites, defeated them with great slaughter, captured the city, and drove them entirely out of Nephite territory. (B. C. 61.)