Scriptural Giants: Teancum, Fighter for Freedom


The Nephite people loved their liberty and knew that without it they would not be able to worship as they pleased. They wanted to serve the Lord rather than a king or some other kind of ruler.

This did not please one ambitious man named Amalickiah. He wanted to be king. With the help of some wicked judges, he urged the people to rebel against the government of judges that had been established. So persuasive was he that many of the people followed him.

Amalickiah and his supporters went to the land of the Lamanites, where he persuaded the Lamanite king to go to war against the Nephites. Amalickiah connived first to become captain of the Lamanite armies; then he conspired to kill the Lamanite king and marry the queen, making himself king. Thus armed with the power he craved, he determined to destroy his former people, the Nephites.

One courageous Nephite leader, Teancum, stood up against Amalickiah. An officer in General Moroni’s army, Teancum had already defeated another Nephite dissenter named Morianton, who had tried to claim the land of Lehi from its inhabitants.

Now Teancum prepared to defend the Nephites’ freedom from Amalickiah. He fought Amalickiah’s forces in a battle that lasted an entire day. That night, while both armies rested, Teancum slipped into the Lamanite camp. Entering Amalickiah’s tent quietly so as to not disturb the sleeping guards, Teancum killed the Lamanite king. Without their leader, the Lamanites withdrew.

The fighting had not ended, however. Ammoron, the brother of Amalickiah, was named king of the Lamanites, and he vowed to continue the war.

Although Moroni had strengthened the defenses of the city of Mulek, the Lamanite armies captured it and increased the fortifications even more. Moroni enlisted Teancum’s help in recapturing the city. Because of the new fortifications, Teancum knew that they could never take the city by direct attack. His men would easily be killed by the Lamanites protected behind the city walls.

Leading his army back to Bountiful, Teancum waited for the arrival of Moroni with his soldiers. Together, Moroni, Teancum, and many of the Nephite chief captains conceived a plan to lure the Lamanites out of the city. Teancum would take a small part of his troops and march past the city toward the seashore, making sure that the Lamanites saw them. Then, when the Lamanites followed Teancum, Moroni and some of his men marched into the city and took possession of it. The remainder of Moroni’s men marched after the Lamanites.

Teancum’s men were joined by Lehi, another Nephite general, and his army. Together they faced their enemy, who then fled back toward the city, not knowing that it had been captured. Teancum and Lehi waited until the Lamanites were caught between their army and Moroni’s before they attacked. After much bloodshed, many Lamanites chose to lay down their weapons and surrender. The rest were either killed in battle or taken prisoner.

Despite this victory, the fighting between the Nephites and the Lamanites continued. Only scanty reinforcements and provisions were sent to Teancum, Lehi, and Moroni, because some Nephite dissenters had driven out Pahoran, the chief judge, and had made an alliance with Ammoron. Moroni took part of his army and went to help Pahoran. As soon as the dissenters were defeated, Moroni sent six thousand men and provisions to Lehi and Teancum. The Nephite armies routed the Lamanite armies until they were all trapped in the land of Moroni.

Teancum believed that if Ammoron were killed, the other Lamanites might give up the war, so after everyone was asleep, Teancum, using a long rope, climbed to the top of the city wall. After lowering himself inside the Lamanite camp, he searched until he found the king’s tent.

Teancum threw a javelin at Ammoron, striking him in the chest. But Ammoron did not die immediately; he cried out, arousing his guards, who pursued and killed Teancum before he could escape.

Moroni, Lehi, and their armies were very sad when they learned of Teancum’s death. He had risked his life many times in preserving the liberty of his country.

Knowing that the enemy would be easier to defeat without the leadership of their king, Moroni and Lehi decided to use the advantage Teancum had given them. They ordered their men to attack the Lamanites the next morning. So totally were the Lamanites defeated that they did not wage war again against the Nephites for many years.

Teancum lived and died bravely, defending his people and their liberty.

[illustration] Illustrated by Jerry Thompson