Alma 16:1 - 16:5
Alma 16:1 And it came to pass in the eleventh year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, on the fifth day of the second month, there having been much peace in the land of Zarahemla, there having been no wars nor contentions for a certain number of years, even until the fifth day of the second month in the eleventh year, there was a cry of war heard throughout the land.
On the 5th day of the second month of the reign of the judges over the Nephites, the Lamanites made a surprise attack on some Nephite outposts. There had been peace in and around Zarahemla for a number of years, but the Lamanites were now on the offense.
Alma 16:2 For behold, the armies of the Lamanites had come in upon the wilderness side, into the borders of the land, even into the city of Ammonihah, and began to slay the people and destroy the city.
Their first incursion was from the wilderness side near the city of Ammonihah. There they attacked the city, destroyed it and kill all the citizens.
I cannot help but wonder if any of them were remembering what Alma and Amulek had prophesied to them about their pending destruction if they did not repent.
Alma 16:3 And now it came to pass, before the Nephites could raise a sufficient army to drive them out of the land, they had destroyed the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, and also some around the borders of Noah, and taken others captive into the wilderness.
It took a while before the Nephites could mobilize a force to combat the Lamanites before they had destroyed Ammonihah and its people along with other Nephites who were living in the area. In addition the Lamanites had taken many captive and retreated back into the wilderness.
Alma 16:4 Now it came to pass that the Nephites were desirous to obtain those who had been carried away captive into the wilderness.
The Nephites resolved to get these captives back.
Alma 16:5 Therefore, he that had been appointed chief captain over the armies of the Nephites, (and his name was Zoram, and he had two sons, Lehi and Aha)—now Zoram and his two sons, knowing that Alma was high priest over the church, and having heard that he had the spirit of prophecy, therefore they went unto him and desired of him to know whither the Lord would that they should go into the wilderness in search of their brethren, who had been taken captive by the Lamanites.
The commander who was given the responsibility to get these captives back was a man named Zoram. He was named chief captain. He also had the help of his two sons Lehi and Aha. Not knowing just where to go to look for the captives, Zoram and his sons went to Alma to see if Alma would seek for divine help to know just where in the wilderness to find them.
We know we can seek for divine help all the way from life and death situations to where are our car keys.