The city of Desolation was a northern Nephite city noted for its strategic location and significant role in the latter stages of Nephite-Lamanite warfare. Situated on the borders of the land known as Desolation, it stood “by the narrow pass which led into the land southward” (Mormon 3:5-7). Its geographic position made it a focal point for military engagement, serving as a gateway between the lands northward and southward.
The city and the surrounding area of Desolation were characterized by a tumultuous history of conflict, particularly during the fourth century A.D. The Nephites and Lamanites contended fiercely for control of the city due to its importance as a military stronghold and its proximity to the narrow pass. Throughout this period, the city of Desolation changed hands multiple times between the two nations (Mormon 3:7; 4:2-3, 8, 13, 19). Each shift in control was typically accompanied by great battles and considerable loss of life, underscoring the city’s significance in the protracted war.
Mormon, the Nephite leader and record keeper, reflected on this era with sorrow, lamenting the exceptional degree of vice and violence that plagued the people of Lehi and the house of Israel during these times of war (Mormon 4:10-12). The desolation heralded by the city’s namesake was realized in the grim accounts of battles that transpired within its parameters. Ultimately, the struggle for the city of Desolation contributed to the tragic decline of the Nephite civilization.