Sunday, April 3, 2016

Pachacamac: The City of Zarahemla – Part VI

Continuing from the previous five posts on Zarahemla as Pachacamac and its coastal location, and when Coriantumr attacked it then where he went as he headed up the center of the land toward Bountiful.
    During Nephite times there were two main north and south highways—a central and a coastal road; today there are three, with a highway along the edge of the eastern Andes and the Amazon basin added, running from the Ecuadorian border to Puerto Maldonado close to the Bolivian border in the southeast of Peru called El Marginal de la Selva (“the Jungle Border Highway”), which name was later changed to the Peruvian Highway 5N (PE-5N), and loosely called the "Fernando Belaunde Terry Highway," after the man who became president of Peru for the second time in 1980, having served his first presidential term in 1963-1968, when he first promised to build the highway and open up that area to development. He built the highway, but was ousted by a military coup led by General Juan Velasco Alvarado before he could begin the development.
Showing Coriantumr’s approach to Zarahemla from the city of Nephi and across the Land of Nephi to the coast and up the coastal passage behind the hills and into the Lurin Valley
    Thus, Coriantumr had a choice of going up the coastal road, which was mostly desert and not well occupied, or up the central road, through the capital parts of the land where the crops were planted in the high valleys and the cities built. As Mormon wrote: “And now when Coriantumr saw that he was in possession of the city of Zarahemla, and saw that the Nephites had fled before them, and were slain, and were taken, and were cast into prison, and that he had obtained the possession of the strongest hold in all the land, his heart took courage insomuch that he was about to go forth against all the land” (Helaman 1:22).
Heading northeast through the Lurin Valley and once through the Pass, Coriantumr heads northward on the central road toward Cajamarca (Bountiful)
    However, Coriantumr was not satisfied with just heading for Bountiful and capturing the city, he arrogantly wanted to “march forth with a large army, even towards the city of Bountiful; for it was his determination to go forth and cut his way through with the sword, that he might obtain the north parts of the land” (Helaman 1:23). So being the butcher and hater of the Nephites he was, he needed to head up the central road, through the populated area of the land where he could “cut his way through with the sword,” destroying any and all Nephite resistence.
View looking northeast up the Lurin Valley toward the narrow pass where the road split and went on to Cuzco, or turned northward toward Cajamarca
    To do that, Coriantumr headed up the Lurin Valley to the Pass that took him northward on the central road to Cajamarca, or Bountiful. As Mormon described it: “And, supposing that their greatest strength was in the center of the land, therefore he did march forth, giving them no time to assemble themselves together save it were in small bodies; and in this manner they did fall upon them and cut them down to the earth” (Helaman 1:24).
    Still, despite the speed at which he moved his army, they still had to negotiate the gorges and high mountain passes, that by their restricted size, slowed his army down from time to time, and then battling his way up the capital parts of the land slowed him even further, giving enough timer for the Nephite army to get organized. Mormon goes on to describe what happened: “But behold, this march of Coriantumr through the center of the land gave Moronihah great advantage over them, notwithstanding the greatness of the number of the Nephites who were slain” (Helaman 1:25).
    Now Moronihah was Moroni’s son, who was presently in charge of the Nephite armies. And like his father, he was smart and understood the Lamanite desirers; however, in that he had not taken into account the defector Coriantumr and his knowledge of the Nephite defenses. Thus, as Mormon wrote: “Moronihah had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the center of the land, but that they would attack the cities round about in the borders as they had hitherto done; therefore Moronihah had caused that their strong armies should maintain those parts round about by the borders. But behold, the Lamanites were not frightened according to his desire, but they had come into the center of the land, and had taken the capital city which was the city of Zarahemla, and were marching through the most capital parts of the land, slaying the people with a great slaughter, both men, women, and children, taking possession of many cities and of many strongholds.” (Helaman 1:26-27).
Coriantumr marched his army northward, turning toward Cajamarca (Bountiful) onto the central road once through the Pass as the east end of the Lurin Valley
    Now, however, since Coriantumr had succeeded in attacking Zarahemla without warning coming up the almost hidden narrow sixty-mile-long passage on the coast, he now had merely to travel up the Lurin Valley to the Pass and turn north along the main road northward that lie along the foothills of the mountains, passing through the north-south lying valleys all the way to Cajamarca, the Nephite city of Bountiful. However, his decision to attack teh central parts of the land placed him around 100 miles closer to Moronihah’s army so that once word came to the Nephite commander, that the Lamanites had taken Zarahemla and were on the march northward, Moronihah was quick to act, for the distance between Zarahemla up the capital parts or center of the Nephite land was sufficient to allow the Nephite commander to organize a pincher approach to attack the Lamanites: “when Moronihah had discovered this, he immediately sent forth Lehi with an army round about to head them before they should come to the land Bountiful” (Helaman 1-28).
Moronihah ordered Lehi to march his army to the north of Coriantumr’s approach while he marched his army to the south of Coriantumr’s approach
    The distance from Pachacamac (Zarahemla) to Cajamarca (Bountiful) by the costal road would have been abut 500 miles, and through the valley and up the central road, around 440 miles. Had Coriantumr taken the coastal road, he might have made it to Bountiful, but his arrogance and blood-thirsty nature caused him to take the central road where more battles could be fought and won, placing him both closer to Moronihah’s army and also slowed down the progress of his march.
    Now both Lehi and Moronihah had been in the east by the borders where the Lamanites had always attacked. Evidently, Lehi and his army were further north, for Moronihah sent him to intercept Coriantumr’s northward movement, while he, Moronihah, swung his army in behind that of Coriantumr to cut off any retreat.
    And thus he did; and he did head them before they came to the land Bountiful, and gave unto them battle, insomuch that they began to retreat back towards the land of Zarahemla” (Helaman 1:29).
    Moronihah’s plan worked. Lehi and his army were able to cut off Coriantumr’s northward movement up the center of the land, while Moronihah and his army came up behind, so when the Lamanite army turned back toward Zarahemla, Moronihah blocked his path, and the Nephites had trapped the Lamanite army between two of their own armies.
Lehi marched his army to cut off Coriantumr’s approach northward, while Moronihah marched his army to cut off Coriantumr’s retreat
    As Mormon describes it: “And it came to pass that Moronihah did head them in their retreat, and did give unto them battle, insomuch that it became an exceedingly bloody battle; yea, many were slain, and among the number who were slain Coriantumr was also found. And now, behold, the Lamanites could not retreat either way, neither on the north, nor on the south, nor on the east, nor on the west, for they were surrounded on every hand by the Nephites” (Helaman 1:30-31).
    Thus, Coriantumr had plunged the Lamanites into the midst of two Nephite armies, who gained control over Coriantumr and his army and captured those that were not killed. Moronihah also liberated Zarahemla and sent the Lamanites still alive back to their homes (Helaman 1:32-33).
    It had been a bold move by Coriantumr, not taking his army northward from the City of Nephi as had been done before, since in order to get to the City of Zarahemla, they would then have had to cross over the mountain ranges and through the passes, cross the Sidon River, and drop down into the valley and land of Zarahemla. Quite often in those approaches, their march was discovered from some distance away by Nephite lookouts from their resort outposts, giving the Nephites plenty of time to put together a defense and bring one of their armies in between the Lamanite march and the City of Zarahemla.
    This time, however, Coriantumr, with his knowledge of Zarahemla, how it was defended, and that he could approach it from the coast almost unseen, had a different plan, which allowed him to “march forth at the head of his numerous host, and came upon the inhabitants of the city, and their march was with such exceedingly great speed that there was no time for the Nephites to gather together their armies” (Helaman 1:19). In fact, they were upon the city before anyone even knew about it and they “cut down the watch by the entrance of the city, and did march forth with his whole army into the city” (Helaman 1:20).
    How did he effect this surprise? By approaching the City of Zarahemla from the south, along the coastal desert plain rather than from the east like all other attempts had been tried.
    This also helps us better understand why several Lamanite kings placed Nephite defectors in charge of their armies, because they understood the strategy they employed from knowing the Nephite nature so well.

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