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Question: Was Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War invalid because "war was not brought to all nations" by the Civil War and/or claiming there is "no link" between the Civil War and later conflicts?
The Civil War was, indeed, a bloody war, resulting in about 204,000 battle casualties plus another 225,000 military personnel who died of disease
Significantly, the prophesy warns of "the death and misery of many souls." The Civil War was, indeed, a bloody war, resulting in about 204,000 battle casualties plus another 225,000 military personnel who died of disease. This number actually well exceeds the American battle deaths (128,000) in World War I. In World War II, there were 396,637 battle deaths.
Here are some figures concerning another war (World War I).
Authoritative tables give the grand total of all armies mobilized at 59,176,864. Direct military deaths out of this number are set down as 7,781,806; the wounded at 18,681,257; prisoners and missing 7,080,580; making a total of direct military casualties of 33,434,443. This is only a statement of military casualties however. The same authority sets down the number of civilians as being greater from famine, disease, and massacres than those who fell in the military operations. Of these two classes are named: civilians who were killed by direct military causes, and those who died from indirect causes. Of the first class the number was 100,082; and the second--those who died from indirect causes, among the Armenians, Syrians, Jews, and Greeks--massacred or starved by the Turks--are numbered at 4,000,000. The deaths numbered beyond the normal mortality of influenza and pneumonia induced by the war is placed at 4,000,000. The Serbians who died through diseases, or massacre, numbered 1,085,441. Making the total of deaths in these two classes 9,085,441, so that with military deaths and civilian deaths, resulting from the war, make a grand total of 16,967,329 deaths. And of the more than 18,000,000 who were wounded in battle 30% or about 6,000,000, were made permanent human wrecks.:1:302
Following the Civil War, many nations entered into alliances and secret agreements in order to protect themselves from other nations
Following the Civil War the nations, in their great alarm because of the new methods of warfare which were being developed and their fear of other nations, entered into alliances and secret agreements in order to protect themselves from other nations. At the outbreak of the World War, these alliances had reached proportions never before known, and during the war other alliances were made until nearly every nation on the earth had taken sides with the Triple Alliance or the Triple Entente. It was during the period of the World War, 1914-1918, Great Britain made her appeal to the nations to come to the defense of the standard of Democracy. Her pleadings were heard round the world. And what is still more remarkable, the entire procedure conforms exactly to the prediction made by Joseph Smith, viz: "they shall also call upon other nations in order to defend themselves against other nations." A plurality of nations aligned and allied on both sides of the deadly conflict.:2:125
This revelation was not just about the American Civil War
The revelation makes that very clear by first stating in verse one, "thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass." Notice that the word used is wars (plural), not war (singular), thereby "suggesting not one war but a continuum of conflict. Thus, like chapter 24 of Matthew, this scripture covered things both imminent and distant."Of course, in our own time, we could add the war in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, civil wars in Central America, Lebanon, the British-Argentine conflict, Desert Storm, etc.
In our several Indian uprisings since the close of the Civil War, many see the fulfillment of that part of the prophecy which declares that the "remnants who are left of the land [the American Indians] will marshal themselves, and shall become exceeding angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.":1:303
World history since 1861 demonstrates that armed conflict widened and persisted since the American Civil War. There is nothing in the prophecy that claims that the Civil War must be the direct cause of on-going war, merely that on-going war will occur. And, it will happen after "Great Britain" "shall...call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves":
2 And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.
3 For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations. (D&C 87:2-3)
This is an excellent description of WW I and II, during which war was "poured out" into global battles. And, since WW II war and strife has not ceased.
An on-line database of armed conflict demonstrates that there has not been a single year since the end of the Civil War in which a war or armed conflict did not begin, and many of these wars lasted for multiple years (or even, in some cases) decades. (Click here to download a PDF from this on-line database listing the wars from 1865-1950.)
- Neal A. Maxwell, Sermons Not Spoken (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985), 66.
- Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965). GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 1947).