When the Lamanites arrive to attack the city of Ammonihah, they are appalled to discover that the Nephites have built some kind of wall of earth around the entire city. The Lamanites have no way of getting past the wall other than targeting the gates, which would create a choke point and lead to their slaughter. So they withdraw and advance on the city of Noah, which, to their "uttermost astonishment," is even more ably secured. Upon learning that Lehi is in command of the defense of the city of Noah, the Lamanites vow to destroy him and do their damnedest to follow through. Instead, they get their asses kicked until they scurry back to their homeland to lick their wounds.
Captain Moroni had apparently made sure that every single Nephite city had a huge wall around it (verse 13) so that there could be no weak points in the entire nation. But that brings up the problem of where those cities' resources come from. If the Lamanites were really as ruthless and barbaric as they are so frequently depicted, I'm sure they would have thought of laying siege to a city and cutting off its supplies. The only reason this wouldn't have worked is if everything the city needed was inside the defenses. That means that Moroni had walls erected around all the fields for crops and all the pastures for the livestock. Which is totally unrealistic.
If Nephite civilization was spread out the way civilizations tend to spread out, the Lamanites should have been able to find some kind of weakness. Whether it was laying siege to the city of Noah or burning crops and scattering animals, there should have been something the Lamanites could have done to deal the hurt. The population distribution of the Book of Mormon appears to be a set of large polka dots. Nowhere is a Nephite or a Lamanite depicted as living off on his own. There's no mention of any farmers. But there are abundant references to cities—cities whose populations are dense enough and whose borders are clearly defined enough to have walls encircling them. None of this seems indicative of a society that may have actually existed.
THANK MORONI, I mean God
Once the Lamanite forces finally withdraw with their tails between their legs, "the people of Nephi did thank the Lord their God, because of his matchless power in delivering them from the hands of their enemies." Seems like they're showing gratitude to the wrong person.
The Nephite defenses and strategies haven't been attributed to God in any way until now. For example, in verse 8, it explains that "they were prepared for the Lamanites, to battle after the manner of the instructions of Moroni." There was no miraculous event that derailed a probable Lamanite victory. There was no timely deus ex machina to pluck the Nephites from a horrible fate. There was no mention of Moroni's strategy being the result of any kind of prayer or divine inspiration. He outsmarted the bad guys all on his own and it was pretty much over before it started.
That Crap Worked on Corianton?
But perhaps the most depressing part of this chapter is the final verse:
Yea, and there was continual peace among them, and exceedingly great prosperity in the church because of their heed and diligence which they gave unto the word of God, which was declared unto them by Helaman, and Shiblon, and Corianton, and Ammon and his brethren, yea, and by all those who had been ordained by the holy order of God, being baptized unto repentance and sent forth to preach among the people.Corianton is now a missionary and a leader in the church. How disappointing. After sitting through four chapters of self-righteous, irrelevant, and disingenuous blathering from his dad, he actually decided to come back to the church. Corianton, buddy...what were you thinking? All that weird rambling about resurrection and eternal punishment actually convinced you?
I definitely feel bad for that guy, getting sucked back into the cult because of familial pressure.