14.2.1-2: For the Isaurians too, whose way it is now to keep the peace and now put everything in turmoil by sudden raids, abandoned their occasional secret plundering expeditions and, as impunity stimulated for the worse their growing boldness, broke out in a serious war. For a long time they had been inflaming their warlike spirits by restless outbreaks, but they were now especially exasperated, as they declared, by the indignity of some of their associates, who had been taken prisoner, having been thrown to beasts of prey in the shows of the amphitheatre at Iconium, a town of Pisidia—an outrage without precedent.
And, in the words of Cicero, as even wild animals, when warned by hunger, generally return to the place where they were once fed, so they all, swooping like a whirlwind down from their steep and rugged mountains, made for the districts near the sea; and hiding themselves there in pathless lurking-places and defiles as the dark nights were coming on-the moon being still crescent and so not shining with full brilliance—they watched the sailors….[then attacked] and since their natural ferocity was fired by greed, they spared no one, even of those who surrendered, but massacred them all and without resistance carried off the cargoes, led either by their value or by their usefulness.
There is evidence that the Gaidnaton Robbers were really just seeking land reform. At the end of this phase of conflict in 3 Nephi 6:3, the peace treaty specifically included distribution of land. It reads that Nephite leaders granted unto those robbers who had entered into a covenant to keep the peace… “lands, according to their numbers, that they might have, with their labors, wherewith to subsist upon; and thus they did establish peace in all the land.” That’s a rather odd peace treaty. If we take a straight forward reading of the text, the Gadianton Robbers revolt for no good reason beyond being influenced by the devil, and having a lust for money and mayhem. After many years of battle and devastation they caused, when they are finally defeated in epic battle they got…more land? And the next verse described the “equity and justice” of the peace (3 Nephi 6:4), which at least infers that those qualities were lacking in Nephite laws and might have inspired the insurgency in the first place.
14:2.5-6 Anger at [the slaughter of their people by the robbers] aroused the [Roman] soldiers quartered in the numerous towns and fortresses which lie near those regions, and each division strove to the best of its power to check the marauders as they ranged more widely, now in solid bodies, sometimes even in isolated bands. But the soldiers were defeated by their strength and numbers; for since the Isaurians were born and brought up amid the steep and winding defiles of the mountains, they bounded over them as if they were a smooth and level plain, attacking the enemy with missiles from a distance and terrifying them with savage howls.
And sometimes our infantry in pursuing them were forced to scale lofty slopes, and when they lost their footing, even if they reached the very summits by catching hold of underbrush or briars, the narrow and pathless tracts allowed them neither to take order of battle nor with mighty effort to keep a firm footing; and while the enemy, running here and there, tore off and hurled down masses of rock from above, they made their perilous way down over steep slopes; or if, compelled by dire necessity, they made a brave fight, they were overwhelmed by falling boulders of enormous weight.
Now behold, these robbers did make great havoc, yea, even great destruction among the people of Nephi, and also among the people of the Lamanites. And it came to pass that it was expedient that there should be a stop put to this work of destruction; therefore they sent an army of strong men into the wilderness and upon the mountains to search out this band of robbers, and to destroy them. But behold, it came to pass that in that same year they were driven back even into their own lands… And it came to pass in the commencement of the eighty and first year they did go forth again against this band of robbers, and did destroy many; and they were also visited with much destruction.
It gave [the Nephites] a tactical advantage in some areas, but also made them more susceptible to fatigue and the hit and run tactics of their enemies. This cost them strategic mobility which allowed robbers to flourish in more inhospitable regions. The heavier infantry may have inspired the hit and run tactics and mountain hideouts of the insurgents. The greater logistical need of the heavy infantry couple with their inability to operate in rough terrain led to an increase of banditry in the land.
14.2.7: Therefore extreme caution was shown after that, and when the marauders began to make for the mountain heights, the soldiers yielded to the unfavourable position. When, however, the Isaurians could be found on level ground, as constantly happened, they were allowed neither to stretch out their right arms nor poise their weapons, of which each carried two or three, but they were slaughtered like defenceless sheep