Thursday, October 15, 2009

Extirpative War Contrasting with the Book of Mormon

Seeking evidence for The Book of Mormon through parallels is a double edged sword.[1]In the search for tighter methodological controls a third variable is needed. Instead of A is similar to B, as most comparisons go, we need A is more similar to B than C.

In seeking this additional variable John Grenier's First Way of War is incredibly useful.[2] In this book he describes a way of war beyond the normal conventions. In fact he uses the term Petite Guerre which acts as a synonym for irregular warfare. This included extirpative war making, which Grenier describes as warfare "centered often on individual action, focused primarily on...fields, food supplies, and civilian populations."[3] This way of war specifically avoided what we could call standard battles.

We can then take this way of war and compare it to the militarized periods of Smith's life that I have previously discussed.[4] In the Mormon War we find an example of these extirpative tactics. The time period 1837-1838 is between the time period that Grenier outlined, 1607-1814, and the brutal irregular war the Missouri witnessed during the American Civil War 1861-1865. This is one more research topic that I wish to explore in the future and will keep you updated.

Dealing with The Book of Mormon, we have now have our contrasting variable which solidifies ancient parallels. In my research the Book of Mormon features a focus on strategy and tactics between organized armies of men that seek decisive battle. While there are elements of irregular warfare within the book, the narrative and their society seemed focused on regular warfare. This is in stark contrast to warfare in Smith's day which often focused on destructive war against civilian populations and property, conducted by small bands of irregular soldiers.

This is a rough draft of an research topic I hope to pursue in the future. Between Chinese classes, preparing for graduate school, and familial obligations I am sorry to say I can't offer you more. I hope you enjoy and I look forward to your comments.

1. William Hamblin, "Sharper Than a Two-edged Sword," Sunstone, December 1991, 33-61.
2. John Grenier, The First Way of War: American War Making On the Frontier London: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
3. Ibid., 13.
4. See "The Military Mind of Joseph Smith", posted on this blog and The Millennial Star


David J. West said...

Petite Guerre reminds me of Klein Krieg. I've read more german texts than french on guerilla warfare.
So within the Book of Mormon Teancum is the number one example of guerilla warfare/spec ops, but I also think on such things as Amaron in Moroni 9.

Now you know where I got the idea for the character

Morgan Deane said...

Thanks David. If you like special operations you should check out the rest of Grenier's book. He argues another part of the first way of war thesis is the hiring of rangers. And Grenier is currently working on a book about a famous 16th century ranger.

David J. West said...

William Tell?

Morgan Deane said...

No, I think there was a Rogers in there. William Rogers?