The Nephite Women Who Broke Out of Prison

Now the Lamanites had taken many women and children, and there was not a woman nor a child among all the prisoners of Moroni, or the prisoners whom Moroni had taken; therefore Moroni resolved upon a stratagem to obtain as many prisoners of the Nephites from the Lamanites as it were possible.

. . . And Moroni had prepared his men with weapons of war; and he went to the city Gid, while the Lamanites were in a deep sleep and drunken, and cast in weapons of war unto the prisoners, insomuch that they were all armed; Yea, even to their women, and all those of their children, as many as were able to use a weapon of war, when Moroni had armed all those prisoners; and all those things were done in a profound silence.  - Alma 54:3; 55:16–17



During the course of Moroni’s war with Amalickiah, the Lamanites captured many Nephite cities. Those who were lucky enough to escape fled to the next Nephite city for protection until that city was also captured and they were forced to flee to the next city. In a very short time, the Lamanites had taken possession of seven Nephite cities—Moroni, Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, and Mulek147—and taken many prisoners. But unlike the Nephites, who took only men captive, the Lamanites took men, women, and children as prisoners.


Toward the end of the war, Moroni, who was worried about having enough food for his people and the men in his army, wrote a letter to Ammoron, the brother of Amalickiah, offering to exchange prisoners. He called Ammoron a “child of hell” (Moroni was a great commander but apparently not such a good diplomat) and told him that he would release one Lamanite in exchange for one Nephite man along with his wife and his children. Moroni threatened that if Ammoron did not agree to his terms, he would come against him with his armies and would “arm my women and my children . . . and it shall be blood for blood, yea, life for life . . . until ye are destroyed from off the face of the earth” (Alma 54:12).


Ammoron was also worried about food, and when he received Moroni’s letter, he agreed to exchange prisoners so that he would have more food for his soldiers. If the Lamanite army was running low on food, it probably means that they weren’t feeding their prisoners very well and that these women and children may have been malnourished or starving. Historically, prisoners of war are rarely treated well or fairly, and we have no reason to suppose that the Lamanites showed these women and children more clemency than they would have male prisoners.



Despite Ammoron’s willingness to exchange women and children for Lamanite soldiers, Moroni refused to go through with the deal. Moroni had demanded that, in addition to exchanging prisoners, Ammoron would “withdraw his purpose” (Alma 55:2) and stop fighting. When Ammoron made it clear that he would continue to “avenge the wrongs” (Alma 54:24) of the Lamanite people, Moroni came up with a new plan. He knew the Lamanites were holding the Nephite prisoners in the city of Gid and decided to attack it—from the inside.


Moroni sent a man named Laman, who was a Lamanite by birth, with a small group of men to the city of Gid. Laman and his men pretended to be Lamanite soldiers who had escaped from the Nephites and—conveniently—stolen some of their wine. This wine had been specially prepared by the Nephites to be exceptionally potent so that when the Lamanite soldiers drank it, they quickly became drunk. (You’d think the Lamanites would stop falling for the same old wine trick!)


With the Lamanite soldiers in a deep, drunken sleep, Moroni had his men sneak weapons over the wall and into the city. True to his promise, Moroni armed not only the male prisoners but also the females and all the children who “were able to use a weapon of war” (vs. 17). This must have been an awesome sight: Nephite women heavily armed and ready to fight their way out of prison.


I love that Moroni did not treat these women as damsels in distress simply waiting to be rescued. Instead, he empowered the women with the tools they needed to fight their own battles. He trusted that the women would know how to use weapons and that they would be an asset and not a liability. His confidence in women is just one more reason to love Captain Moroni—in case you needed another one.


I also love that these Nephite women fought alongside their husbands. Elder Quentin L. Cook said, “Marriage requires a full partnership where wives and husbands work side by side to meet the needs of the family."148 It is wonderful that one of the most miraculous victories in Moroni’s war was accomplished through a joint male/female effort. I can only imagine how powerful these Nephite men and women would have looked standing side by side, weapons drawn, ready to deliver their families from bondage.


It is no wonder then that when the Lamanite soldiers awoke from their drunken stupor and saw that their prisoners were armed on the inside of the city, and Moroni and his men circled the outside of the city, that they surrendered without a fight. The Lamanite captains were forced to throw their weapons down at the Nephites’ feet and beg for mercy for their lives. How humiliating it must have been for the Lamanites to beg mercy from women, and how wonderful it must have felt for the women to have granted it!


After this amazing victory, Moroni liberated the city, freeing all the Nephite prisoners and taking the Lamanite soldiers captive. 


Moroni put the prisoners to work fortifying cities, and soon, after what had been many months of defeats, the Nephites “began again to be victorious and to reclaim their rights and their privileges” (Alma 55:28). I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the Nephites’ newly found success began after this victory at Gid, when men and women stood together and fought for their freedom. When men and women are unified, they can do powerful things!


The following was taken from the book Walking with the Women of the Book of Mormon currently available at!