We must remember that in verse 1 of Alma 3 we have the army returning to their homes. Secondly, we have the Lamanite army discovered early, where the discovery of the first army appears almost accidental in the description. These events suggest that the people of Zarahemla, while they had returned to their homes, had remained on high alert, with spies watching the main pass into their land. This early warning supplied enough time to reorganize the army and to meet the Lamanites in the land – not the city of Zarahemla.
In this engagement, Alma does not personally lead the troops as he had previously, due to a wound from the first battle. This further strengthens the assumptions that the leader of the people should lead them in battle, as it was important to note.
Textual: Notice that this description of the battle is much more abbreviated than the last one. It is unlikely that the battle was quite so quick or easy as Mormon makes it appear here. Once again, this is because Mormon’s real interest in these battles is not the wars, but the social and religious events that were swirling around them, and which erupted into wars. The theme is not war, but the general dissolution of the righteous society which will lead to the type of culture that will persecute the believers in just a few short years.