“Their Wives and Their Children Did Now Behold the Armies of the Lamanites Marching Towards Them”

Bryan Richards

Mormon doesn’t explicitly state that the 10,000 under his immediate command were all men. In this last ditch effort, it seems that the women and children were recruited into the army—for they were there, watching the oncoming Lamanite armies. This helps us to understand Mormon’s language when he laments their loss, O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen! (v. 19, italics added). This also explains why the army was so much larger for this last campaign. In previous battles, the Nephite army had been between 30,000 and 42,000 men (Mormon 1:11; 2:9,25). By the time they had gathered to Cumorah, they suddenly had an army of 230,000. Most likely, these weren’t 230,000 hardened, experienced soldiers, but the entire Nephite nation—men, women and children, awaiting their own death with that awful fear.

“The account of the gathering of all the Nephite people in the lands around Cumorah, and the way Mormon refers to his women and children, men, and people, somewhat interchangeably, introduces some ambiguity into his account. Could it have been that in their last-ditch effort at survival, preparing as they were for a prearranged great battle, Mormon and the 22 other leaders divided the whole Nephite people, rather than just the armies, into contingents of ten thousand each? If so, the victims of the slaughter at Cumorah were 230,000 men, women, and children, all of the Nephites who had gathered around Cumorah.”(FARMS: Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 6, no. 1, 1994, pp.2-3)

Gordon B. Hinckley

“In the eventual terrible slaughter which occurred between the Lamanites and the Nephites, he watched the destruction of 230,000 Nephite warriors, including his own ten thousand. He was a witness to that awful carnage when the Nephite men, with their wives and children, saw ’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).” (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, p. 197)