Book of Mormon Final Battles — Rich Kelsey

The Hill Cumorah in New York, where the Book of Mormon final battles took place. Photograph of the Hill Cumorah by George Edward Anderson, 1907
The Hill Cumorah, where the Book of Mormon final battles supposedly took place.

Book of Mormon Final Battles:

“I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle. And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired.” (Mormon, 6:2-3)

● Mormon desired to have all of his people, every single Nephite in America, (men, women, and children) fight, in what becomes one of the final battles mentioned in the Book of Mormon. His request brought about the annihilation of the entire Nephite nation. If this story were true, Mormon’s call to battle would be one of the greatest military blunders of all time.[1] 

● It’s hard to imagine how the Nephites, who had migrated throughout America, could be summoned to battle: How would all the Nephites get the message?

● Logistically, it would seem impossible for every Nephite family in America to battle the Lamanites around the hill Cumorah in New York. If the Nephite and the Lamanites were as numerous as the Book of Mormon claims they were, they could not have fit in that small section of New York.

● There is the story itself: The Nephite nation being destroyed in a final battle. The Book of Mormon provides readers with an answer as to why the primitive dark-skinned Lamanites (American Indians) were found in America when Columbus set foot on the American Continent. Yet this narrative raises more questions than it answers:

Envision an American family living about 1,625 years ago in what is now called the State of California. They have a large farm including fields of wheat, corn and much livestock. The wife had just given birth to a baby girl a few days earlier when a representative of the prophet Mormon approaches her and her husband explaining that they, along with their extended family, are needed by Mormon to fight in a battle he was arranging to take place a few years from now some 2,950 miles away.

Envision the husband asking Mormon’s representative if his wife and their newborn baby could stay behind, and if her elderly parents could also stay and maintain the farm, while he and all the able-bodied men go to battle, only to hear Mormon’s representative reply:

“No, Mormon needs all the

“… people, with their wives and their children.’”[2]

The husband responds:

“But my wife just had a baby and I’m concerned that she, her child and her parents, may be too frail to survive the journey.” 

Even if the husband were sympathetic to the idea of forsaking the crops, abandoning the livestock, and having every member of the family, young and old, set out on a trek across the nation, how would Mormon’s representative explain how to get to Cumorah?

Back in the day, people could not drive down the Interstate and follow the signs. And the mountains and desert terrains were formidable. 

Also, let’s consider the hardship the family would face traveling during the winter months. And, since every single Nephite[3] in America was supposedly involved in the battle, we could paint a similar picture of families all across America forsaking everything upon hearing Mormon’s request; but is this a realistic picture:

“Finally, they became so utterly wicked, so fully ripened for destruction, that one branch of the nation, called the Nephites, gathered their entire people around the hill Cumorah, in the State of New York, in Ontario County; and the Lamanites, the opposite army, gathered by millions in the same region. The two nations were four years in gathering their forces, during which no fighting took place; but at the end of that time, having marshalled all their hosts, the fighting commenced, the Lamanites coming upon the Nephites, and destroying all of them, except a very few, who had previously deserted over to the Lamanites.” (Apostle Orson Pratt, April 6, 1874 Journal of Discourses Vol. 17, p. 24)

Two Final Battles on the Same Hill:

The Book of Mormon maintains that the entire population of America was gathered, not once, but twice to the same hill in New York:

“And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah; and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred.” (Ether 15:11)

On this subject LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said,

“… both the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it), which hill is located between Palmyra and Manchester in the western part of the state of New York. It was here that Moroni hid up the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 175)

In the earlier battle, the Jaredite nation consisting of the people of Coriantumr and the people of Shiz, were utterly destroyed:

“Millions of the Jaredites are slain in battle—Shiz and Coriantumr assemble all the people to mortal combat—The Spirit of the Lord ceases to strive with them—The Jaredite nation is utterly destroyed—Only Coriantumr remains.” (Introduction to Ether 15)

Once again, gathering millions[4] of Americans from every corner of the American continent would seem impossible. Obviously 2,600 years ago, people couldn’t turn on the nightly news and learn about the call to go to war. There were no televisions; phones, or any other type of device that could have provided long distance communication.

Because horses weren’t present[5] in America until Cortes brought them over in 1519 A.D., messengers would have needed to traverse the American continent on foot in order to,

“… get all who were upon the face of the land.”[6]

Again, why would every family in America decide to go on such a laborious journey? 

Also, the supposed influence the monarchs, Coriantumr and Shiz, had upon everyone seems far-fetched.

Furthermore, there’s the food and supplies people would have needed for the trip. Imagine every family in North America walking to New York, carrying with them extra clothes, cooking implements, food, and possibly weapons, for the great battle they were summoned to:

“And it came to pass that when they were all gathered together, every one to the army which he would, with their wives and their children—both men, women and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breastplates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war—they did march forth one against another to battle; and they fought all that day, and conquered not.” (Ether 15:15)

The Timing of the Battle Was Crucial:

During the four years it supposedly took to gather everyone to combat, what if Coriantumr and Shiz accidently started the battle a week or two, too early, leaving thousands of families still on the way. As far as the story goes, the timing of the battle was crucial. 

Why would families that showed up years, or even months early, wait around? Didn’t they have anything better to do?

Then, there is the battle itself, which would have been a bloodbath, seeing that millions were supposedly slaughtered on and around a small hill. It seems hard to believe that no one, seeing that huge bloody mess, didn’t make the decision to turn around and go home. Instead, every one of the people decided to fight to the death.

If the gathering of every person in America is not too difficult to believe, what also seems farfetched is that out of the millions of people who died on the battlefield, only Coriantumr and Shiz, the two monarchs who summoned the people to battle in the first place, were left standing. Until Coriantumr cut off the head of Shiz.

There is also a complete lack of archeological evidence to verify that either of these final battles took place.

Part Two:

■ Book of Mormon Archeological Evidence? — Rich Kelsey


[1] “The Nephites gather to the land of Cumorah for the final battles—Mormon hides the sacred records in the hill Cumorah—The Lamanites are victorious, and the Nephite nation is destroyed—Hundreds of thousands are slain with the sword. [A.D. 385]” (Introduction to Words of Mormon, Chapter 6)

[2] “And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them.” (Mormon, 6:7)

[3] “And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.

And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them. 

And it came to pass that they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers.

And it came to pass that they did fall upon my people with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war.” (Mormon 6:6-9)

[4] “He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.” (Ether 15:2)

[5] Some Mormon apologists speculate that horses mentioned in the Book of Mormon may have actually been the Central American Tapir, or possibly deer:  (Alma 18: 9, Alma 18: 12, Alma 20: 6, 3 Ne. 3: 22)

[6] “Wherefore, they were for the space of four years gathering together the people, that they might get all who were upon the face of the land, and that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they could receive.” (Ether 15:14)