The two thousand stripling warriors, also known as The Army of Helaman, were an army of young men in the Book of Mormon, first mentioned in the Book of Alma They were extremely valiant and loyal warriors who were all reportedly wounded at one time, but none ever died from their wounds.
Book of Mormon
The story of the stripling warriors presents an interesting so-called juxtaposition of pacifism and militarism among believers. The Ammonite parents of the stripling warriors were the last of a thread of pacifists, dubbed such by a few modern-day readers, and martyrs in the Book of Mormon that begins with the prophet Abinadi's appearance to King Noah in the highlands of Nephi. The progression proceeds as follows:
- Abinadi is martyred, sealing his testimony in his own blood, after preaching before the court of King Noah and his wicked priests. The preaching and martyrdom lead to the conversion of one of the priests, Alma.
- Alma and his followers fled from the armies of King Noah into the wilderness. King Noah is eventually slain and his son, Limhi, is appointed king. Limhi's people fight when they were attacked by the Lamanites, while Alma and his followers lack the power to resist and are enslaved. However, in two separate and unique ways, the people who followed Alma and Limhi eventually return to Zarahemla.
- Alma's son, Alma the Younger and his friends, including Ammon, is converted miraculously from a rebellious youth into a believer. Ammon and his brothers embarks on a mission to the land of Nephi, and his Anti-Nephi-Lehi converts there lay down their lives before their antagonistic attacking brethren, which leads to additional conversions. Though careful observation yields the truth that the Anti-Nephi-Lehites had already spilled the blood of others and were, in part, fearful of sinning again. (see below) Meanwhile both Alma and Ammon were experienced in battle.
- The missionaries and Lamanite converts migrate to Zarahemla where they are protected by the Nephite military.
Formation of the unit
The Ammonites (or Anti-Nephi-Lehies) lived in Jershon and were converted to Christianity by Ammon. They covenanted "that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood" and "rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives". After being attacked by the remaining Lamanites, the Ammonites moved to a territory given to them by the Nephites.
After a few more years, the Lamanites began attacking the Nephites. When they saw how the Nephites were suffering by defending them, the Ammonites were considering breaking their oath to defend themselves when two thousand of their sons (who had been too young at the time to have made the covenant) volunteered to fight for the defense of the Nephites and the Ammonites. Helaman, the son of Alma the Younger and a leader of the church among the Nephites, was approached to be their commander. The army was used extensively and was one of the Nephite's most effective military units. Though every soldier was wounded at one time or another, there were no fatalities among the warriors. Mormon, the compiler of the Book of Mormon, and Helaman, their commander, as well as the young men themselves, attributed this to the upbringing provided by their mothers and the great faith they exhibited.