There had been much warring between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Finally, General Moroni and his Nephite legions won an important victory and took possession of the city of Mulek, a stronghold of their enemies.
Moroni and his people spent the next few months repairing their fortifications and providing food for their families. During this time of preparation, and because the Nephites’ attention was on other things, the Lamanites were able to capture some of the Nephite cities in the south by the sea. Then while the Nephites began to argue and scheme among themselves, the Lamanites became more bold and prepared to attack the larger cities of the Nephites.
Seeing the desperate situation their protectors were facing, the people of Ammon (Ammonites)—those converted to the Lord by Ammon and his brethren—wanted to help their Nephite friends fight against the Lamanite armies. The prophet Helaman was grateful for their offer to fight, but he persuaded them that they must keep the oath they had made with the Lord to never again shed men’s blood.
However, there were many righteous and courageous sons of the Ammonites who were not bound by the oath their fathers had taken: “And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they would never give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.”
Besides being young and anxious to serve the Lord and the people, these “striplings” (youths) were honorable and “… true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.”
Altogether there were 2,000 of these valiant sons, and they asked Helaman if he would lead them in battle, to which he agreed. And in spite of their youth and inexperience in combat, the Ammonites proved to be good soldiers. Under the leadership of Helaman, whom they called “Father,” the striplings were successful again and again, and proved to be a great strength to the Nephite armies who had become weary with fighting.
Throughout the battles in which the Ammonites fought, many of their number were wounded, but not one of them was ever killed because, although “they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.”