About eighteen years before Jesus Christ visited the American continent, Lachoneus, governor of the Nephites, received a letter from Giddianhi, the leader of the Gadianton robbers. Part of the letter said, “It seemeth a pity unto me, most noble Lachoneus, that ye should be so foolish and vain as to suppose that ye can stand against so many brave men who are at my command, who … await with great anxiety for the word—Go down upon the Nephites and destroy them.”
Giddianhi went on to say that if the Nephites didn’t join the robbers in their evil doings, the robbers would completely destroy them.
As Lachoneus read the epistle, he was astonished. Why is Giddianhi threatening such terrible things? he wondered.
Lachoneus directed his people to pray to the Lord for strength. He also sent a proclamation among them, telling them to gather their flocks and herds and families into one place. He commanded that a fort be built to enclose them, with guards posted for its protection. Next he appointed chief captains over the armies; the “chiefest” among them was Gidgiddoni.
Gidgiddoni was a righteous man who had the spirit of revelation and prophecy. Upon his taking command of the armies, the people begged him to ask the Lord if instead of waiting for the Gadianton robbers to strike them, they might attack the robbers first.
But Gidgiddoni told them, “The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; … we will gather all our armies together, … but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands.”
The people obeyed Gidgiddoni, and many thousands of them came with their possessions and herds and flocks to the center of the land, which was the land between Zarahemla and Bountiful. They repented of their sins and called upon the Lord to help them. And they obeyed Gidgiddoni’s orders to make armor, shields, bucklers, and every kind of weapon of war for their defense.
When the robbers came to do battle, they discovered that the Nephites had gathered all their crops and animals—enough to last for seven years—inside the fort.
Giddianhi, the Gadianton leader, knew that his army could not live long without provisions and that they would have to wage one great battle rather than many small attacks. His robbers girded themselves with lambskins about their loins, dyed themselves with blood, shaved their heads, put on headplates, and went to battle against the Nephites.
When the Nephites saw this fearsome army coming, they fell to the earth and cried unto the Lord to spare them. Believing that the Nephites had fallen with fear, Giddianhi’s army attacked. But the Nephites, led by Gidgiddoni, fought ferociously to protect their families and their homes, and with God’s help they won.
As Giddianhi and his robbers began to flee, Gidgiddoni commanded his Nephite armies to pursue them as far as the borders of the wilderness and to kill them. Giddianhi was overtaken in the retreat and slain.
Two years later the robbers appointed another leader, Zemnarihah. He also stirred up the robbers to lay siege against the Nephites, who were still gathered together and led by the prophet Gidgiddoni. Once again, because of the scantiness of their provisions, the robbers could inflict little damage on the Nephites. And Gidgiddoni kept sending out part of his army to cut off the robbers’ army, thus causing great destruction among them. Finally, because his army had become so weak, Zemnarihah commanded his people to withdraw from their siege and to march into the farthermost parts of the land.
Gidgiddoni was aware of the robbers’ plans, and he did not want them to return to their lands and build up their armies and come back to fight them. So he sent out his armies in the nighttime to block the robbers’ retreat. The next morning when the robbers began their march, they found the Nephite armies both in front of and behind them.
Thousands of the robbers gave themselves up and became prisoners. The ones who would not surrender were killed. Zemnarihah was taken and hanged upon a tree, and after he was dead, the tree was cut down. As the tree fell, the Nephites cried, “May the Lord preserve his people in righteousness and in holiness of heart, that they may cause to be felled to the earth all who shall seek to slay them because of power and secret combinations, even as this man hath been felled to the earth.”
Then they began to sing and to praise God for all that He had done for them.