Commentary on M. D. Bown's

Book of Mormon / Spalding MS Parallels

Numbers 79-99


Dale R. Broadhurst

Revision 0a: September, 1998

Editorial and Bibliographic Information

Go Back to Introduction & Index  [ pp. 01 to 06 ]

[ p. 07 ]


Between Spaulding's "Manuscript Story"

and the Book of Mormon

Specific and single similarities have been isolated, listed separately, and numbered, with the paralleling citations from each work following. Whenever possible, direct quotations have been made. Only when necessary has discussion been utilized, and here care has been taken that the duplicating references are amply and accurately recorded -- but even so, errors no doubt will appear. This method of listing parallels is cumbersome perhaps, and has involved exceeding labor in preparation; but it seems to have the merit of providing direct comparison between the two works with a minimum of vagueness.

"MS" refers to Solomon Spaulding's "Manuscript Story," the edition used being published at the Millennial Star Office, Liverpool, England, 1910, 116 pages. "BM" refers to the BOOK OF MORMON, and the edition used was published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1920, 522pp.

Please Read These Notes First:

1. All additions to Bown's original paper are shown in blue.
2. Commentary here as a summary; For full commentary follow the links.
3. The Commentator's Personal Ratings of Bown's Parallels:
    *      poor parallel or not a parallel: should have been dropped
  **      fair parallel: may have errors or inconsistencies
 ***    solid parallel: generally correct with useful information
****   significant parallel: may indicate an inter-textual relationship

Some On-line Textual Resources:

1. Search the Book of Mormon:  LDS and RLDS texts (side-by-side scrolling comparison)
2. Search the Book of Mormon:  Current LDS edition (includes phrase search)
3. Search the Book of Mormon:  1830 edition (includes concordance functions)

4. Search the Spalding MS:  Special e-text version (includes concordance functions)
5. Search the Spalding MS:  Special e-text (side-by-side with 1830 Book of Alma)
6. Search the Spalding MS:  LDS 1910 edition (the edition used in Bown's citations)
7. Read Holley's book:  Book of Mormon: A Closer Look (Spalding / BoM Comparisons)

8. Search the Bible:  King James version (includes Apocrypha & concordance functions)

9. Search Ethan Smith's Book:  View of the Hebrews (includes concordance functions)


Go Back to: Parallels 01-14  [ pp. 07 to 11 ]
Go Back to: Parallels 15-24  [ pp. 12 to 15 ]
Go Back to: Parallels 25-47  [ pp. 15 to 22 ]
Go Back to: Parallels 48-59  [ pp. 22 to 26 ]
Go Back to: Parallels 60-78  [ pp. 27 to 34 ]

[ - 34 to 42 - ]

79. There were two dominent, but contrasting races or tribes.

Comments on item #79:

Bown offers a combination of errors here, in the place of what might have been at least a weak thematic parallel. In place of his "true Indians" being "savage" see my thoughts about "cultural superiority" among the comments I've added to his item #2.

Secondly, the Ohians (also called Ohons) are not "entirely fictional," but rather a representation of the 19th century Americans' gross misunderstandings regarding the Adena and Hopewell native cultures of the Ohio Valley. Spalding had supervised the excavation of a "mound-builder" tumulus in New Salem, Ohio and had some ideas concerning the people who had left their ancient artifacts scattered about the Ohio countryside. He attempted to insert into his story as much of the knowledge about these people and their culture as he was able to convey to his readers. Most of that information turned out to be incorrect and this caused his fictionalization of them to be absurdly unbelievable. But the Ohians are not solely a figment of Spalding's imagination.

Thirdly, Spalding's Ohians were a single race, divided into two nations: The Sciotans living north of the Ohio, and the Kentucks living to the south. They are not tribes, though in their expansion outward from their original borders they began to include within their midst "the various tribes living contiguous to the empire." Whether these tribes were less civilized Ohians, non-Ohian native peoples, or some combination of both, we are not told; I suspect that they became a combination of peoples.

The Book of Mormon relationship that most closely matches that of the Ohians is the division which developed among the Jaredites. However, neither the Ohian nor the Jaredite division could be described as giving rise to "two dominent, but contrasting races."

The "dichotomy" evident among the two Ohian nations has only fragmentary commonalties with the "dichotomy" that separated the Nephites from the Lamanites. If we seek a division based upon "civilized" vs. "savage," the Nephite vs. Lamanite "dichotomy" would be more closely paralleled by the Ohian vs. border tribes relationship. Like the Nephites and Lamanites the Ohians and the border tribes engaged in battles, albeit on a much smaller scale. If Spalding had finished his story and allowed the Ohians to exterminate themselves, Jaredite-style, the border tribes would have become the ultimate inheritors of the land, rather like the Book of Mormon Lamanites in the days of Moroni the son of Mormon.

If we seek a brother vs. brother "dichotomy" among the Ohians, it would not appear until the time of the romance between Prince Elseon and Princess Lamesa. And if we seek a believing people vs. an unbelieving people "dichotomy" in the Spalding story-- once we got beyond the account of the Romans and Deliwans, we would find absolutely nothing to support Bown's statement. Bown has attempted to describe some of the over-all similarities between the peoples of the two accounts and he has made an over-generalized muddle of it. It might be best if we removed his item #79 from the list entirely.


80. Some of the people were dark, others lighter.

Comments on item #80:

In Spalding's day there was quite a bit of speculation that the "mound-builder" artifacts people were finding were the products of an extinct, non-Indian race which had once lived in ancient America. Given the common feelings of racial superiority held by Americans of European ancestry, it comes as no surprise that the extinct mound-builders were generally thought of as having originally been Caucasians or light-skinned people from the Ancient Near East. Spalding mediated this notion a bit by providing his Ohians with a light "olive" skin, probably something like the coloration found among certain peoples of the Mediterranean Basin. His fictional family of Lobaska had even lighter skins. Presumably the Romans, being the culturally superior group in the story, would have possessed the whitest skins.

Spalding's erroneous linkage of racial superiority and skin coloration was nothing new in the world. Similar views were held throughout Europe and even among the higher-caste people of India. What is less understandable is why he should have his Romans voice the same views on racial superiority. Perhaps Spalding pictured all of Fabius' party as being fair-skinned Tuscans who looked down upon their darker fellow citizens in the Roman Empire. However, there is little historical evidence for such ancient racial discrimination.

The exact racial relationship existing between the Nephites and the Lamanites is unclear. They were both descendants of Lehi, perhaps with some admixture of ancestry coming from Lehi's companion voyagers, the family of Ishmael. Presumably all of these descendants were of relatively "pure" Israelite extraction and had not inter-bred with any unnamed non-Israelite neighbors living in ancient America. The Book of Mormon does not state whether these Israelites and their descendants had white skins, olive-colored skins, or the deep brown skins occasionally found among some modern Sephardic Jews. Bown's 3 Nephi citations are useless in making such a dertermination. Exactly what divine curse was placed upon the Lamanites and how it affected their skin coloration may never be known. Perhaps, when they "united with the Nephites" their adoption of Nephite diet, sanitation, apparel, cosmetics, etc. became evident in the appearance of their skin,

Having said this, I must admit that the early Mormons generally interpreted the divine curse placed upon the Lamanites as being "a skin of blackness" that corresponded directly with the often darker, someone bronze-tinged coloration evidenced by the American native tribes. Joseph Smith, jr., described "Zelf" as being a "White Lamanite" because "the curse" had been lifted from him, at least in part. Although the Nephite record is unclear about skin coloration being any indication of racial or cultural superiority, there may be fragments of a parallel here between its texts and what Spalding wrote.

Bown does not get into the sort of speculation on this subject as is offered by Holley . Holley says "They (Nephites) are counseled not to intermarry with their dark-skinned brethren (Lamanites), but instead of the possibility of the savages becoming 'fair and white,' as in Spaulding's story, the Book of Mormon people originally were 'white and fair' and those who intermarried were changed by the Lord into a dark-skinned, loathsome people (Lamanites again). Fathoming this supposed parallel requires an even greater stretch of reason than does the one offered by Bown, While the Book of Mormon does use the term "white and fair," it does so in an entirely different context than that in which Spalding's "fair and . . . white" is recorded. We do not know how many Roman-Deliwan marriages Spalding intended to describe in his unfinished story, but the Romans' European features would have eventually been lost among the "innumerable hordes" they might have joined in marriage. Spalding himself clearly states this fact.

Despite his inherent racism, Spalding shows himself to be something of a progressive in having Fabius authorize inter-racial marriages. Part of the argument presented in favor of this decision is that "if we have children, by feeding them with good fare and keeping them clean they will be . . . fair and nearly as white as (Romans)." These notions correspond with my previously stated thoughts regarding converted Lamanites' possible "adoption of Nephite diet, sanitation, apparel, cosmetics, etc." The Dartmouth graduate saw members of the native tribes as being acceptable marriage partners once the white man's "notions" had been "pumped" into their heads. Had he voiced the full Dartmouth policy he would have added the same sort of Christianization as the converted Lamanites underwent in becoming Nephites again. A variation of this notion went with the first Mormon missionaries when they traveled to "the borders of the Lamanites." Converted Indians would join the Mormons, and together they would become one people in their "New Jerusalem."


81. The people had a great leader with four sons.

Comments on item #81:

Bown presents an unusual numerical parallel, but he provides almost nothing to elucidate that peculiarity. He might have noted that the vocabulary both accounts use to relate these familial relationships is quite similar. A Spalding chapter heading begins: "AN ACCOUNT OF Baska . . ." and continues a few lines later: "he was attended by HIS WIFE AND FOUR SONS, THE ELDEST of which was ABOUT eighteen YEARS OF AGE . . ." The first chapter heading in the Book of Mormon begins: "AN ACCOUNT OF Lehi and HIS WIFE Saraih, AND HIS FOUR SONS . . . THE ELDEST Laman . . ." Although it requires some paring down of the texts to render this commonality here, the same words do occur in the same order within a relatively short block of text in each account. Much later in the Nephite record, Mormon provides us with a few more words which add to the common phraseology: "being ABOUT ten YEARS OF AGE." Clearly the two works occasionally use some parallel phraseology in describing sons and fathers.

Baska (quickly changed by Spalding to read "Lobaska") has little in common with Lehi, other than the fact that these two patriarchs came to the New World from distant lands bringing with them some advanced technology (Lehi's "liahona," Lobaska's flying-machine, etc.). It was their respective sons did some similar things. The better counterparts for drawing parallels would be Lobaska and Alma, who seem to have rather like each other in their later years. However, Alma had only two sons and Lobaska had four. I'm tempted to mention the coincidence of Mormon leaders having two counselors and Ohian leaders having four, but that would be entirely out of order here.


82. Two of the sons became leaders of opposing tribes.

Comments on item #82:

Bown's observation here is a good one and provides us with a better parallel than do attempts to compare the Ohians and the Lehites directly. A weakening factor is that Lehi's eldest and youngest sons found the two divisions among the Lehites. In the case of Lobaska, it is his two oldest sons who become leaders of the two pre-existing divisions among the Ohians. The Laman-Nephi rivalry so important to the Lehite story is missing from the account of Lobaska's sons. A corresponding Sciotan-Kentuck rivalry is mentioned as having existed in the time of Lobaska and was re-ignited centuries later, but that had nothing to do with Lobaska's sons. The Sciotans and Kentucks were not exactly "opposing tribes," nor were the Nephites and Lamanites. However the factions in both accounts did eventually engage in the same kind of warfare (see Bown's item #88).


83. The people obtained inspiration from heaven..

I have moved Bown's item #83 to a new place in the list, following his item #74.

84. Men of one of the tribes painted their heads with red.

Comments on item #84:

Bown has given us something less than a true parallel here. We do not know what the Book of Mormon writer meant by "the Amlicites . . . marked themselves . . . after the manner of the Lamanites." Was that marking only done during battle, so that the Amlicite faction of the Nephites matched their Lamanite allies? Or did the Lamanites in question always mark themselves thusly? We do not know whether it was the simple act of marking themselves that made the Amlicites look like Lamanites, or whether it was the act of marking their foreheads that accomplished that objective. Perhaps the Lamanites marked themselves somewhat differently.

If both the Amlicites and Lamanites marked their foreheads, did the Lamanites also do so in red paint, or did they use some other color? It is possible that Bown's idea of Lamanites wearing red paint on their heads or foreheads in correct, but without some supporting evidence to demonstrate this speculation, the best we can say is that some men in each story applied some red paint to their heads under entirely different circumstances.


85. Men of one tribe shaved their heads.

Comments on item #85:

This parallel is marginally stronger than Bown's previous attempt at comparing Deliwan and Lamanite warriors. But again, we must ask questions about when, how often, for how long, and under what circumstances the Lamanites shaved their heads. When they did so, did they leave a scalp-lock (similar to the Deliwan half-shaved heads?) or was the entire head made "naked?"

Holley attempts to combine Bown's items #84 and #85 to come up with "savage" Deliwans who "wore skins only on the middle parts of their bodies, shaved their heads and painted them red, and used slings and bows and arrows." He compares this composite creation with "savage Lamanites" who "wore skins only on the middle parts of their bodies, shaved their heads and painted them red, and used slings and bows and arrows." At first glance the supposed parallel appears to be an impressive one; but, under closer scrutiny, we see that the two tribes-people are only generally comparable. They perhaps had about the same level of technology and lived somewhat similar lifestyles, but they were not so identical as Holley would have us believe.


86. Men of one tribe dressed in the skins of wild animals.

Comments on item #86:

This is a fair parallel. The Deliwan and the Lamanites wore garments made of skins and sometimes those skins covered only their mid-sections. We do not know whether the Lamanites left the hair on their leather clothing, as did the Deliwan. Since the Lamanites had various social and military intercourse with the cloth-producing Nephites, we might imagine that they occasionally donned an article or two of cloth apparel. Certainly their Deliwan counterparts in Spalding's story were happy to exchange some of their "wigwams" for Roman "scarlet cloth."


87. Preparation for war was a constant occupation.

Comments on item #87:

This is another solid thematic parallel. The peoples in both stories experienced times of war and times of peace, but they never entirely lost their military knowledge and skills. The "constant preparation" for possible warfare went on throughout Ohian history, it seems. This was a carefully managed policy and practice carried out by the Sciotan and Kentuck imperial governments.

Except for periods of peace and military inactivity, the Lamanites also kept up a warlike spirit and capability to go into battle, it seems, almost at a moment's notice. When they were ruled over by a single king, this warlike spirit and military capability must have also been royal policy. The Nephites, on the other hand, were rarely so united and prepared for immediate battle. They seemed to do better when they had strong military leaders who had the power to organize armies, provisions, defensive constructions, etc. However, at times, we almost picture them as being something like the Revolutionary War era Americans, complete with the equivalent of a Continental Congress which only slowly and begrudgingly gave support to its army in the field.


88. There were wars between two factions.

Comments on item #88:

Bown could have explored the material he cites for this parallel in much greater depth. Had he done so, he might have divided his observation into two parts: There were "frequent bickerings, contentions and wars" within the ranks of the Ohian people and there was a special history of contention between the Sciotans and Kentucks which eventually gave rise to their great war.

The "contentions and wars" taking place among the "chiefs" within Sciota and within Kentuck were a source of concern to the great Lobaska and he sought to "remedy these evils" through the establishment of constitutionally based strong central governments, both in Sciota and Kentuck. We might compare and contrast the "CONTENTIONS AND WARS . . . AMONG THE" peoples of Sciota or the peoples of Kentuck with the "CONTENTIONS . . . AND WARS and dissensions AMONG THE peoples of Nephi." We might also look at the "WARS AND CONTENTIONS" of the Jaredites. However, we know too far little about the Ohian domestic strife to make a review of its various conflicts.

We have a better picture regarding the details of the great war between Sciota and Kentuck, and here, as Bown as observed in reference to the Book of Mormon story, there is also "an astonishing frequency of massacres and battles." In making the comparisons between this great attempt at fratricidal extinction, and the similar "wars and contentions" that took place between the Lamanites and Nephites, we should keep in mind two things: First of all, the recorded Sciotan-Kentuck warfare consists only of two short episodes, about 500 years apart. Secondly, we have no clear idea how the second episode ended other than the fact that there were no Ohians remaining in the land to greet the arrival of Columbus. Spalding tells us: "this country was once inhabited by great and powerful nations considerably civilized and skilled in the arts of war, and that . . . a bloody battle hath been fought and heroes by the thousand have been made to bite the dust." That is all he reveals about the final conflict among these "nations who for ages have been extinct."

In the Book of Mormon, on the other hand, we have rather detailed accounts of massacres, battles, and wars that took place more frequently over a similar length of time. The wars narratives in the two accounts are good places to look for parallels in theme, vocabulary, and phraseology. Although The Book of Mormon warriors and Spalding's warriors did not fight exactly the same wars, the stories of their conflicts often sound remarkably similar.

When we consider these similarities we should make some attempt at distinguishing the various Lehite military engagements from one another and from the Jaredite wars related in the same book. Unless we exercise some special caution here, we run the risk of making over-generalized and potentially invalid statements about how the Book of Mormon stories of warfare do or do not resemble the Spalding story's warfare.


89. The last war was to be one of extermination.

Comments on item #89:

We know from reading the stories all the way through that the Jaredite wars and the Nephite-Lamanite wars became genocidal struggles. But the Book of Mormon writers never use the word "extermination." We are left uncertain as to whether the two last factions of the Jaredites made formal plans to exterminate one another. And we cannot believe that it was the intent of the Lamanite leaders, during the final conflict, to destroy every man, woman, and child among the Nephites. The Lamanites seem to have been too fond of taking prisoners to have followed a relentless policy of extermination.

The Book of Mormon word of choice for the genocide is "extinct" or "extinction." Moroni warns the Lamanites that they will "become extinct" unless they give up fighting his people, but he does not appear to be voicing this as a prophecy or as a statement of Nephite policy. The more weighty use of the term occurs when Alma reveals to Helaman that "the people of Nephi shall become extinct." This will be a natural consequence of their failure to maintain a correct relationship with their God, not because a Lamanite government demands that outcome in a war. The situation between the Ohians and between the descendants of Lehi is somewhat different here. In the former story the corrupt religious powers in Sciota says that their God threatens them with famine and pestilence unless they attack the Kentucks. The civil powers then demand that the Sciotans "exterminate, without distinction of age or sex, all the inhabitants of the Empire of Kentuck."

Thus we discover that the commonality Bown sees in the accounts' "last war" is far from being a direct and perfect thematic parallel. In both accounts the "extermination" or "extinction" results from an expression of the divine will; but in the Spalding story the pretended expression of that divine will comes as a false revelation which actually contradicts the original intent of their scriptures. In both accounts the "extermination" or "extinction" comes about because the Ohians and Lehites have not followed the commandments of their scriptures; but in the Mormon story there is no governmental policy requiring genocide.


90. Armies of huge size were assembled.

Comments on item #90:

Holley expands upon the information cited by Bown and has this to say concerning the sizes of the armies: "In the Book of Mormon's 'great and tremendous battle at Cumorah,' more than two hundred and thirty thousand warriors were killed along with their 'chiefs' . . . in the Manuscript Story account . . . the armies of the Sciotans, who gathered for the "great battle" were led by their respective 'chiefs' . . . as many as thirteen Sciotan chiefs with eleven thousand five hundred men each may have participated in this battle." If Holley's estimations are anywhere near correct (and if the Kentucks ranks roughly equaled those of the Sciotans) the total number of Ohians fighting in the war might have been something like three hundred thousand. We do not know how many Lamanites fought at the battle of Cumorah, but it would be safe to say that their numbers, combined with those of the Nephites, would fall into the general numeric range for the total combatants at the battle of Geheno.

Bown missed the fact that in both accounts divisions of troops numbering in the thousands are referred to as "bands," or even as "little bands" and "small bands." Holley points out Spalding's "'BAND OF about three THOUSAND resolute warriors,' a 'SMALL BAND OF valiant citizens,' and a "LITTLE BAND OF DESPERATE heroes.'" He then compares these large groups of Ohians to some equally impressive troops of warriors in the Book of Mormon, including "my LITTLE BAND OF two THOUSAND," and "my LITTLE BAND (who) fought most DESPERATELY." Holley adds to this observation that military leaders in both sources were fond of calling some of these troops "my sons." The phraseology overlap is substantial and we would be hard-pressed to guess which account the reference had been taken from, if our attention was directed to something like: "my little band of two thousand and five hundred brave sons."


91. They were armed with swords and with bows and arrows.

Comments on item #91:

The martial technology evident in the Book of Mormon's "weapons of war" and Spalding's "weapons of death" is the same. There is nothing in the texts to indicate that either set of opposing armies had any significantly different weaponry. The best we might offer as differences would be Book of Mormon "scimitars" and "javelins." The Ohians seem to have mostly used their spears in phalanx formations, which may indicate that they were not throwing spears, such as were the Nephite "javelins" and "darts." Since we read of Ohian swords doing more "piercing" than cutting and slashing, they may have been mostly rapiers and poniards. Nevertheless, warriors in both accounts use their blades to cut off the heads of opponents in single combat sword-fights. Neither source has much to say about cavalry or chariotry, so perhaps sabers were not particularly common.

The tribal peoples in both accounts are the ones who appear to have made the most use of slings and arrows. The Book of Mormon warriors possessed a wider array of metal armor and are the only fighters recorded as carrying shields. Still, it is hard to imagine the Ohian phalanxes opperating effectively without the spearmen having shields of some sort. The Ohian soldiers did not have metal breastplates, but "they wore pieces of mammoth skins" on their breasts, which must have served them almost as well as metal plate. While the Lamanites appear to have often gone into battle almost naked, in at least one instance some of them wore "breastplates; and they had also prepared themselves with garments of skins, yea, very thick garments." We are not told what kind of skins they wore into battle. Presumably they were not elephant skins, as those animals are not spoken of after the time of the Jaredites.

It is hard to say which fighting force might have been more effective in battle. The laconic mention of chariots in the Book of Mormon may indicate a superior weapon which could have been a deciding factor in battles conducted on firm and relatively flat terrain. On the other hand, a well disciplined Ohian phalanx may have cut through Nephite ranks like a knife through butter. Speaking in a general sense, however, the armies in the two accounts were so similarly equipped that it would have been difficult to distinguish one from the other.


92. Great destruction of property and towns, by fire.

Comments on item #92:

In both accounts invading armies were sometimes faced with abandoned landscape from which the people had fled to find refuge in fortified positions. Where the Lamanites found "THE INHABITANTS thereof were NOT gathered in," they killed them and destroyed "their towns and VILLAGES . . . BURNED with FIRE." As Bown says, the invading Sciotans pursued a similar policy in Kentuck; they avoided the enemy fortifications, for the most part, and were content to "enter the VILLAGES, killing THE INHABITANTS who had NOT made their escape and BURNING their houses." The invader's tactics and the results in both cases were identical.


93. There was a tremendous slaughter.

Comments on item #93:

The Book of Mormon uses the words "slaughter," "slaughters," and "slaughtered" a total of nineteen times; it uses "massacre." and "massacred" once each. Spalding uses the word "slaughter" eighteen times; he uses "massacre" nine times and "massacred" twice. The Nephite record tells us: "I beheld . . . GREAT SLAUGHTERS with the sword;" "we slew them (Lamanites with A GREAT SLAUGHTER" "they slew the Amlicites with GREAT SLAUGHTER . . . with much SLAUGHTER;" "there WAS A tremendous SLAUGHTER among the people of Nephi;" "they (Lamanites) were slain with AN IMMENSE SLAUGHTER;" "they did begin to slay them (Nephihahites) with AN exceedingly GREAT SLAUGHTER;" "GREAT HAS BEEN THE SLAUGHTER among our (Nephite) people;" "GREAT and terrible WAS THE SLAUGHTER . . . so GREAT A SLAUGHTER among all the people;" "the GREAT SLAUGHTER which HAD been MADE;" and "the Nephites were driven and slaughtered with AN exceeding GREAT SLAUGHTER.

Spalding also favors this word. In his romance we find: "by blood and SLAUGHTER;" "produced this blood and SLAUGHTER;" "Sambal trembled at THE SLAUGHTER;" "this SLAUGHTER of Sambal's forces;" "THE GREATEST SLAUGHTER;" "THE SLAUGHTER WAS IMMENSE," "the havoc and SLAUGHTER they had begun;" "AN IMMENSE SLAUGHTER WAS made," "both armies viewed THE IMMENSE SLAUGHTER;" "MAKE A most dreadful SLAUGHTER;" "A most terrible SLAUGHTER of their warriors;" "THE SLAUGHTER of the Sciotans;" "THE intended SLAUGHTER and devastation;" "AN IMMENSE SLAUGHTER of the citizens;" "AN indiscriminate SLAUGHTER HAD taken place;" "after THE SLAUGHTER WAS ended;" "GREAT already HAD BEEN THE SLAUGHTER;" and "THE IMMENSE SLAUGHTER of his army."

A similar and equally tiresome litany might be reeled off for the words "massacre" and "massacred." However, a single comparison will suffice to indicate the common phraseology in the accounts. The Book of Mormon tells us that the Nephites were forced to fight against the Lamanites to prevent "that their wives and their children should be MASSACRED by the BARBAROUS cruelty of those who were once their brethren." Spalding also tells of a divided people, the leading class of which sprang from brethren. In one case, although the enemy had attempted to slay them, "they (citizens, including wives and children) had escaped the intended MASSACRE of a BARBAROUS unrelenting enemy."

So, while both accounts deplore the great and immense slaughters of the battlefield, they reserve a special concern for the massacre of defenseless wives and children by the enemy warriors. Such a bloody deed is considered "barbarous;" and is especially repugnant because it is carried out by people so closely related as to be called "brothers" and "cousins." While we cannot fathom all the reasons behind the Nephite writers need to relate such massacres to a future readership, we can well guess at Spalding's reasons. As a member of the Continental Army he no doubt heard stories of American rebels, Tories, and troops, both Colonial and British, engaging in some horrid killing. In the town of Cherry Valley, New York, where Spalding later lived, the loyalists and their Indian allies had massacred defenseless women and children in the name of King George. Again, in the War of 1812, Spalding and his family were faced with possible massacre in Canadian and British raids along the shores of Lake Erie. Clearly, Spalding's thoughts of bloody massacres carried out by a related but hostile people spilled out onto the pages of his romance.


94. Women and children included in the slaughter.

Comments on item #94:

I suppose this was an inevitable story element in both works. Spalding had to account for the total extinction of his civilized, light-skinned "mound-builders" and it wouldn't have been very tidy for him to have left a few thousand still living in 1814 when Americans knew such people were not to be found. So he write of the slaughters and massacres mentioned in Bown's item #93. Every one died: men, women, and children.

The Book of Mormon is more generous. Not only do three of the Nephites tarry somewhere upon the Earth, still alive after all these centuries, the Lamanites themselves are actually Nephites under a "curse." Once they've been convinced of their true Israelite ancestry, accept the Book of Mormon, and join the Mormons in the "New Jerusalem," the visions and blessings of old will return, their judges will be restored and all will be as at first. Despite its equally horrible tale of slaughters and massacres of innocent women and children, the Book of Mormon, in the end, delivers the more optimistic message. Spalding's story is a failed parody; a warning without a promise.


95. They fought on a plain, overlooked by a hill.

Comments on item #95:

While the account of the final Nephite-Lamanite battle at Cumorah does not specifically speak of the encampments and battlefield being laid out on a plain, we can infer that the land around the Hill Cumorah was relatively flat. Mormon and his comrades were able to look down "from the top of the hill Cumorah" and behold a vista filled with thousands of soldiers. There is no mention of other, nearby high points blocking their view.

The brief, bloodless engagement between the troops of Kings Bombal and Hadokam was also conducted on "the flat or level land" between a hill and a river. "The side of the hill" served as a place of concealment for "the reserved corps of the Kentucks." In the great battle of Geheno the hill served as a place of refuge for the fleeing army of Kentuck. Given the low level military technology evident among the peoples in the two accounts it is not surprising that they conducted their larger battles on the plains. Seizing the high ground of a battlefield is always a prime military objective in tactical maneuvers, so it is not especially remarkable that battles also took place near hills in both accounts

Holley notes some sub-parallels for the Bombal-Hadokam story wherein the Nephites also concealed an army by a hill, ambushed an enemy at the riverside, and expressed a desire not to engage in bloodshed. There are a number of points in the two texts where similar military strategy and tactics are described in bits and pieces of very similar phraseology. While the exact same war stories are nowhere related in Spalding and the Mormon book, we might easily list a large number of sub-parallels regarding the details and outcomes of military movements and engagements throughout both works.


96. They fought during the day and rested at night.

Comments on item #96:

While Bown's observation here may sound trivial, it may be that the two texts he cites are relating the fact that, at one point in their respective battling, soldiers in both accounts collapsed at the edge of the battlefield, sleeping on the bare ground with their weapons at their sides, rather than retiring to their camps for the night. The accounts do not contain enough details to extend the parallel beyond this possibility. The probable source for Spalding's "darkness spread itself over the face of the earth" is noted in my comments for Bown's item #18.


97. Similar strategy is described.

Comments on item #97:

This is one of Bown's more important discoveries, but he has neglected to explore and document the complex elements of the parallel. Beginning with Lobaska's "stratagem" in the Bombal-Hadokam military engagement, Spalding is fond of relating episodes devoted to remarkable tricks and surprises in the field. These near-impossible "stratagems" generally involve quick, unnoticed troop movements, decoying or misleading an enemy force, unusual plans carried out under the cover of darkness, etc. The general objective he has in mind is to gain a substantial advantage over the enemy without incurring causalities among one's own ranks. In his more generous moments Spalding also has his protagonists subdue the enemy without shedding blood on either side.

The Book of Mormon is also replete with near-impossible troop movements, surprises, and stratagems. The night-time stratagem conducted against an unaware enemy is a favorite topic from the account concerning the murder of Laban forward. It is these night-time stratagems which caught Bown's attention, and rightly so. The sub-parallels provided by the two records in these matters are so detailed, both in theme and vocabulary, as to make us wonder whether there might not be some other explanation for them than mere coincidence.

Spalding's prototypical sources are fairly easily uncovered. Episodes from "The Iliad," "The Aeneid," Livy's and Caesar's "Histories," as well as some odds and ends from the Bible and McPherson's "Poems of Ossian" all contributed to his wild stratagem stories. Although "the Iliad" has some accounts of soldiers sneaking behind enemy lines to carry out heroic deeds, it is Virgil's account of Nisus and Euryalus which had the more evident impact upon Spalding's narrative. He lifted his story of the Sciotan warriors, Kelsock and Hamko, without even much attempt to change the wording, directly from Book 9 of Dryden's English translation of "The Aeneid."

The Book of Mormon texts Bown cites (along with a few he does not list) constitute a set of night-time stratagem stories into which Spalding's Kelsock-Hamko episode could easily be placed, given a few proper-name changes. The Book of Mormon accounts, of course, are clothed in a thin covering of biblical language; we might look to David's two encounters with the sleeping King Saul and to some other Bible stories for similar phraseology. But with the more apparent biblical language removed, the Book of Mormon night-time stratagem stories can be seen to share a substantial overlap of vocabulary and phraseology with Spalding.


98. They buried their dead in heaps and covered them.

Comments on item #98:

It was Spalding's original intent to provide a story which explained the origin of the burial mounds, defensive earthworks, and ceremonial enclosures of the Ohio valley. He accomplished part of that task in writing his descriptions of Ohian fortifications. That left the burial tumuli. He explained those by providing battles in which the slain were interred in mass-graves and then covered over to produce mounds. Had he finished his romance, he might have furnished enough slaughters and massacres to account for all the Hopewell and Adena mounds from the Mississippi River to Niagara Falls.

The Book of Mormon does not have the appearance of having been written primarily to account for "mound-builder" artifacts and earthworks. It, like Spalding, provides descriptions of earthan fortifications and mass-graves covered over to produce mounds; but the accounts are minor additions to texts which clearly have other concerns than just explaining the constructions of the "mound-builders." Having said that, it is worthwhile to repeat here what I said in reference to Bown's item #32: "Ethan Smith, in his telling of these ancient earthworks, provided essentially the same descriptions as do Spalding and the Book of Mormon writer."


99. Attributed their destruction to the judgment of God.

Comments on item #99:

Spalding's "Almighty" God always stands behind the scenes, directing the performance of the characters in the romance. And yet, since Spalding did not believe in such a God, his attempts to attribute the outcome of story-plot elements to the will of "The Almighty" also come across as unbelievable. The Book of Mormon, in contrast, tells of a much more believable God. In reading the book can often feel the divine will working through its events towards a final outcome. The Nephite record was written by persons who truly believed in such a God. Either that, or it is an infinitely more complex and successful religious parody than Spalding could ever hope to pull off, given what we know of his notions, concerns and amateurish methods documented in the Oberlin manuscript.


100. Captured and domesticated fowls.

I have moved Bown's item #100 to a new place in the list, following his item #47.

Commentary on Bown:  [Index]  [parallels 01-14]  [parallels 15-24]  [parallels 25-47]  [parallels 48-59]
[parallels 60-79]  < ----- >  [Bown's Notes]   [Names Index]   [Editorial & Bibliographic Info.]

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revision 0a: September, 1998