Source:Rediscovering the Book of Mormon:Ch:22:5:Warfare in Book of Mormon:Logistics

Ancient aspects of Book of Mormon warfare: Logistics

Ancient aspects of Book of Mormon warfare: Logistics

Warfare, of course, did not involve only combat. In order for armies to compete, ancient societies needed basic resources. They had to obtain food to support the soldiers, cloth and leather for uniforms and armor, stone or metals to make weapons and armor, stone and lumber to build fortifications, and timber and other products to construct ships. They needed gold, silver, and other forms of wealth to purchase these supplies and to ensure officer and troop loyalty. Recruiting, equipping, training, supplying, and moving large groups of soldiers, servants, and animals were major undertakings anciently. As the story of Moroni and Pahoran illustrates, the costs of war put terrible social and economic pressure on Nephite society (see Alma 58-61). Plundering was used to supply many ancient armies, and the Book of Mormon mentions it often.

Warriors were generally organized into kinship or community units. The soldiers served under leaders who fought in battle and whom they knew personally. Units tended to be organized by tens, hundreds, and thousands, a fact reflected throughout the Book of Mormon. Premodern warfare also tended to rely on aristocratic officers. When gunpowder enabled commoners with only limited training to kill the most highly trained aristocrat, leadership shifted from the royalty. On the other hand, governments in Joseph Smith's time (1820s) drafted all men. Soldiers were organized into large administrative units, not just into communal or local formations. Unit size varied greatly and was not based on multiples of a basic number. Noblemen as officers had also become outdated.

The Book of Mormon armies follow the ancient pattern of armies organized along kinship, tribal, and community lines and with its hereditary leadership. The following features in the book also parallel ancient logistics: loyalty based on community, social and economic problems affecting warfare, problems of supply, the importance of plunder, and the lack of use of animals for movement and supply.[1]


  1. William J. Hamblin, "Warfare in the Book of Mormon," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), Chapter 22.
[[[Category:Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Warfare|Warfare]]