War With The Modoc – Indian Wars

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Early April 16th, the Modoc had a big fire in their camp. Major Thomas dropped a shell directly into it, provoking a frantic war whoop, and causing the sudden extinguishing of the fire. Another shell was dropped in the same locality, and was followed by yells of pain and dismay. The Modoc then appeared and challenged the soldiers to come out and fight. Another shell was the answer, and they were driven back. At 4 o’clock A. M. , after another fight, the Modoc gave up the attempt to break through the line and retired. Scattering shots were fired on the men who attempted to advance on them. At 9 o’clock Gen. Gillem‘s command moved forward from the position gained on Tuesday, and soon occupied the ledge next to Jack’s camp. Col. Mason moved the right forward as rapidly as possible to form a junction with Gen. Gillem‘s left, cutting off the Modoc from the lake, their only source of water supply. The junction was affected at noon. At 2 p. m. the mortars were throwing shells within excellent range. Col Greene fell back behind the ledge, awaiting the Modoc, should the shells drive them out. After the firing the Modoc replied with yells. After the fifth shell there came a raking fire and a small party of men sprang out of the chasm and came into the lines amid a shower of bullets. The falling back was caused by the Modoc flanking and opening a crossfire. Col. Miller, attempting to form a junction with the Warm Spring Indians, missed them as he swung down into the great chasm with thirteen men, whereupon Miller fortified himself. The Modoc fought for their lives until the mortars opened, and withstood the fire until 4 p. M. when the shells began falling in their midst and they broke cover dashing across the ledge, losing two men killed and one wounded. The line was reformed and held around the Modoc. Col. Mason signaled that the Modoc were on his rear flank trying to get out. At 7.45 p. m. Col. Mason‘s men were seen on the bluff. There was heavy firing at 8 o’clock on Col. Mason‘s line. A strong effort was made to unite Col. Mason‘s left and Greene‘s right. At 9 o’clock Col. Greene‘s whole line was moving. Col. Mason at 9:40 signaled that the Modoc were leaving the Lava Beds, and the cavalry were ordered to pursue. Half an hour later heavy firing was heard at the Modocs‘ stronghold. At 1:30 the Warm Spring Indians reported three more Modoc scalps making four in one days fight. At 9 p. M. the terrible fight had ceased. By this time the Modocs were evidently disheartened and bewildered by the advance of our forces. Our casualties were four killed and nineteen wounded some slightly. William Smith, bugler of Battery M, Fourth Artillery, was among the killed, and private Harrison of Battery E severely wounded. The Warm Spring Indians fought like heroes and were ready to take and hold any advantages. They lost one killed. The medicine flag which waved in front of Capt. Jack’s stronghold in the Lava Beds, and the scalp of Scar-Faced Charley, who was found wounded in the cave, also a squaw, were captured and turned over to the Warm Spring Indians after being routed from their stronghold, then commenced a guerilla warfare The three days’ fight resulted in a total loss of ten wounded and five killed in both wings of our forces. The troops were in excellent spirits and anxious to pursue the Modocs. Part of them occupied the Lava Beds and prevented any Modocs from returning.

April 18th Sergt. Forest of Co. K, cavalry, captured a Modoc battle flag and took the scalp of Scar-Faced Charley. The savages fearfully mutilated the body of Eugene Hovey, who was killed, and whose body fell into their hands.

Frightful Butchery

The Modocs came into the camp and fired on the picket guard. The command of Capt. Hasbrouck after scouting all day had returned to Sorass Lake for water and were making efforts to secure some by digging, but none could be found. Donald McKay was sent back to Lieut. Bayles’s camp as an escort of Battery B of the Fourth Artillery. Troops G and B of the First Cavalry left for the scene of the fight, the distance being 17 miles, arriving about dawn of the next day. Capt. Jack’s band rode within 100 yards of the camp, when all dismounted and charged on the camp, firing into the herd and guard. The first volley stampeded the herd, which left for the camp, and while the men were getting under arms the Modocs gave volley after volley, killing four soldiers and one Warm Spring Indian. A rally was made and the charge was sounded. This time Donald McKay and some of his men united, and drove the Modocs into the timber, capturing 21 ponies and three pack mules. One Modoc was left on the field and 19 mules packed; also six dead bodies. Before the retreat the trail was covered with gore. The Indians beat a hasty retreat towards the McLeod range of mountains. Capt. Hasbrouck handled his men dexterously. He was furnished with only five days’ supplies, but water was very scarce, which deterred a long stay in the field. General Davis determined to keep the savages moving until the last Modoc was killed. The soldiers gained greater courage by keeping the enemy in the open ground. The wounded were brought into camp in wagons, and from there taken to head-quarters.

The Modocs had no ammunition except what was remaining in their pouches, as they lost their entire reserve of ammunition in this fight. The cavalry arrived in camp all safe. Capt. Jack had but seven animals left. He wore the attire of the late Gen. Canby, and took his position on the field in as lordly a manner as if he had been a Brigadier-General. Enough men remained in the old stronghold to keep it safe, while the rest gave chase to exterminate the fugitives. There were 33 Modocs engaged. No squaws were seen during the fight, nor by the scouts on the following night. There was a strong suspicion that Capt. Jack was receiving aid from some unknown party. It appeared strange how he got six boxes of central primed cartridges. He did not capture them from our forces, and it is certain that he could not have picked up that amount after the battle of January 17. When the courier left, the troops were between the Lava Beds and the Indians, the latter being entirely out of the stronghold.

List of the Killed and Wounded in the Battle of the 10th of May.

Killed:
James D. Totler, Corporal Co. B;
Adolphus Fisher, Private Co. B.

Wounded:
Louis Dunbar, scalp wound in the head;
Peter Griffin, flesh wound in the left hip;
Jesse Beeves, fracture of the right arm, which was subsequently amputated;
Patrick McGuire, fracture below the right knee, leg amputated below the thigh;
Samuel McGlew, flesh wound in the right arm cutting an artery;
George Brown, flesh wound in the left leg all of Company B.
Michael Maher of Company G, flesh wound in the right hip.

All of the above named belonged to the 1st Cavalry. Wassamucka and Lebaster, Warm Spring Indians, were killed, and Yonowiton, another scout, had his right arm fractured.

The Modocs left the Lava Beds about two days after the attack on Captain Jackson‘s force. The last stronghold was abandoned. Captain Jack made his way towards the Pitt River Indians. The Warm Spring Indians and the troops under Perry and Hasbrouck pursuing them.

A quarrel broke out among the savages, two-thirds declaring they would fight no longer.

A battle was fought at Antelope Creek on Monday. Hasbrouck overhauled the Modocs, and a lively fight ensued in the hills close to Fairchilds. The Modocs were driven south-ward, on the Ticknor road, towards the timbered buttes. Five Modocs were killed in the battle and ten squaws and papooses captured.

Trails were discovered showing that the Modocs and the Pitt River Indians were in constant communication. Twenty-five Piute were seen in Surprise Valley, but suddenly disappeared.

Surrender of Most of the Hot Spring Band

The Hot Creek Band were brought in by Fairchild‘s party and surrendered to Gen. Davis. Their surrender was apparently unconditional. They gave up their arms and were put under guard. The band numbered 55 men, women, and children, including 15 warriors. Among the latter were Bogus Charley, Jack Nasty Jim, Curley-headed Doctor, Frank, and others the best fighting men Capt. Jack had. Boston is believed to have been killed. Troops are hunting for Hooker Jim. It was supposed there were 20 warriors with Capt. Jack, whose whereabouts was unknown, though surmised that he was in the Pitt River Mountains. Gen. Gillem was superseded by Gen. Davis, who was very bluff with the Indians, and gave them to understand that if they attempted to escape they would be shot by the guard.

Capture and Surrender of Entire Balance of the Modoc

On the 27th of May, Bogus Charley, Hawker Jim, Schack Nasty Jim and Steamboat Frank were sent out at the suggestion of Capt. Fairchild, and returned the following day; reported the Camp of Captain Jack to be on William Creek, twenty miles east. The commands of Capt. Hasbrouck and Colonel Jackson, left camp on the 29th, for William Creek where the command divided, one wing going down the right bank the other on the left. Col. Jackson‘s command reached the camp first surprising the Modocs, who fled across the creek, about half a mile in advance of Hasbrouck‘s command, Boston, who murdered Dr. Thomas surrendered; seven squaws were captured with several horses and mules, after riding about twenty-five miles at the head of Langell valley on Lost River, a charge was made upon the Modocs who seeing that they were about to be corralled threw up the sponge at once. Scar-Face Charley and nine others, with several squaws were taken.

On the 1st of June, a Warm Spring Indian discovering one of Jack’s scouts stole upon him and disarmed him. He promised to show where Jack was, and the Warm Spring Indians, soon had that doughty warrior in their hands. Warm Spring George had command of the detachment of Warm Springs, but Bow-Legged Charley, and Carpola were the ones who were in at the death.

On the 2d, four more Modoc were taken by the Oregon Volunteers, which included all remaining of the Modoc tribe, these were found on the 6th inst at Yainox. The full number of Modoc captured and killed, amounted to 156 warriors.

Story Of The Surrender

At 1 o’clock, May 22nd, One-Eyed Dixie returned to Gen. Davis’s headquarters at a slashing pace, his horse being completely blown. He made obeisance, and at once reported that the Indians were close at hand and ready to enter the camp under escort. All they asked was for Fairchild to come out and meet them. No soldiers need come. The presence of Fairchild would be considered a guarantee of good faith. “Where is Artena?” asked Gen. Davis. “Tied up,” said Dixie, “long ride and no water.” The absence of Artena gave rise to suspicions of foul play, which were only dispelled by her sudden advent. She too reined her foaming cayuse before Gen. Davis, and said that the Indians were hovering about the hills near here, yearning to surrender to the Typee. Fairchild, Blair, and two or three employees of the former, with whom the Indians were acquainted, mounted swift steeds at the request of Gen. Davis, and started with Dixie.

The news of the intended surrender of the Indians spread through the camp like wildfire. Soldiers, Warm Spring Indians, and Scouts were alike elated at the prospect of a peaceful victory. Squaw Dixie told Gen. Davis before she started, that the Modocs feared the soldiers would kill them the instant they entered the camp. It required a great deal of diplomacy to convince her that the soldiers dare not disobey his commands. Donald McKay, captain of the Warm Spring Indians, also had to pledge his word that the scouts would not interfere. Dixie would leave, but Dixie had very little choice. She was told that the Government did not intend to trifle any longer. She might go to the Modoc or not, according to her own wishes, but she must leave the camp. The Great Typee wanted no squaws about here. She saw the point of the argument, and no longer hesitated. That is why she changed her mind this morning, after she had decided not to carry any more messages to the Modocs.

“Here they come,” was the cry that startled the camp a few moments after, and brought every person, citizen and soldier, old and young, to his feet, hurrying forward to the crest of the hill west of the camp. I secured an excellent view of the scene beyond the procession that was slowly creeping along in this direction. First came Mr. Blair, the manager of Fairchild‘s Range, mounted; fifty yards behind him was Mr. Fairchild, and, further still, 12 Modoc warriors, with their squaws and papooses. Never did a procession move more slowly. The few ponies ridden by the Modoc were gaunt and weak, and seemed scarcely able to bear the women and children who were literally piled upon them. Among the warriors were Bogus Charley, Steamboat Frank, Curly-headed Doctor, and others of lesser note. They were dressed in motley garbs, nearly all of them wearing a portion of the regular uniform of the United States army, and every warrior carried a Springfield rifle. The women were dressed in clothes that had evidently been used by the fair sex within the confines of civilization. All of them entered camp at a funeral pace. The noise and bustle among the soldiers was hushed; few words were spoken. The Modocs said nothing. No one approached them until Gen. Davis came forward. He met the procession 50 paces from the house, and was formally introduced to Bogus Charley. Charles is a slender, athletic, intelligent warrior of about 20 years of age. The man thoroughly understands and speaks English. The scamp smiled sweetly on the General, and shook his hand, and then all the leading warriors came forward and greeted him cordially. Then every warrior laid his gun beside him and awaited orders. Gen. Davis said: “Give up your pistols and all your other arms.” Each warrior said he had no arms. “Then, ” said the General, “I shall give you a camp where you can remain tonight, and if you try to run or escape you be shot dead.” The order was explained and all obedience promised. The procession then moved across Cottonwood Creek to a clump of trees. At this point the trainings of the crowd came in. There were half-naked children, aged squaws who could hardly hobble, blind, lame, halt, bony, and the scum of the tribe. There were 63 persons, men, women and children 12 bucks, 20 squaws and their children.

Mr. Fairchild says there are 20 warriors missing from the Cottonwood branch of the tribe. Bogus Charley said Boston Charley had been killed. The disaffection heretofore reported is corroborated by the captain of the Modocs, who parted company with Capt. Jack eight days ago.

Another Modoc has just entered the camp and surrendered. It is Hooker Jim, the Lost River Murderer.

Official Report of A Mexican Raid.
Washington, May 23.

The Secretary of War today received the following telegram from Lieut. Gen. Sheridan, dated Chicago, last night.

Gen. Augur telegraphs that Col. Mackenzie with six companies of the 4th Cavalry and 25 Seminole scouts struck a camp of Kickapoo and Lipon Indians about 80 miles from Fort Clark, Texas, early on the 18th inst., having marched all the night previous, killed 19 Indians, wounded two, and captured one Buck, a former chief of the Lipon, and 41 women and children, besides destroying two villages with their accumulated property. He had three of his men wounded, one mortally. He has already over 50 captured ponies. The dispatch is silent as to the precise locality where the fight took place, saying nothing about its being on Mexican territory.

Gen. Edward R. S. Canby

General Edward Canby
Portrait of Maj. Gen. Edward R. S. Canby, officer of the Federal Army

Gen. Canby was born in Kentucky in 1819, and was appointed a Cadet at West Point in 1835, from Indiana. He graduated in 1839, in the class with Halleck, Ord, Haskin, Rickets and Hunt, and was promoted to a second lieutenancy in the Second Infantry, July 1.

His services in the Florida war, Mexican war, and the War of the Rebellion, furnish a long and interesting history. He was brevetted a major for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battles of Contreas and Churubusco, and soon after received another brevet, of lieutenant-colonel, for gallant conduct before the Belem Gate, at the city of Mexico.

In New Mexico he was much esteemed by those who were loyal to the government.

He was brevetted brigadier-general in the regular army for his bravery at the battle of Valverdi, New Mexico.

Gen. Canby made quick and thorough work with the Navajo Indians, a brave and determined people who in 1861 rebelled against the government, and restored peace, which has not since been broken.

Gen. Canby distinguished himself whenever and wherever he had an opportunity in his connection with the war for the Union, receiving the thanks of the nation, tendered by Mr. Lincoln in 1864 and by President Johnson in 1865, for his energy and successful military skill. After the surrender of the troops beyond the Mississippi, he was made commander of the departments of Louisiana and Texas, holding the position with great credit until the 27th of May, 1866. He was kind and courteous, diligent in mastering every subject pertaining to his various positions. He died as he had lived, loved and respected by all who knew him.

Funeral Of Gen. Canby

Funeral of the Late General Canby
Funeral of the Late General Canby — the Body Lying in State, a wood engraving (after a photograph by Buchtel & Stolte, Portland, Oregon) published in Harper’s Weekly, May 3, 1873

The obsequies of Gen. Canby took place from the First Baptist Church at Indianapolis, Ind. The church was handsomely decorated throughout with emblems of mourning. The services were conducted by the Rev. Dr. Day of the Baptist Church, assisted by the Rev. Drs. Bayliss of the Methodist, Kimler of the Presbyterian, and Bradley of the Episcopal Churches. After the ceremonies at the church the remains were taken to Crows Hill Cemetery, accompanied by a very large procession in the following order: The City Police, Emmet and College Guards, preceded by a band, organized societies, the officiating clergy, the pall-bearers, Maj-Gen Irwin McDowell, Maj-Gen. Cook, Lieut-Gov. Leonidas Sexton, Judge Walter G. Gresham, Gen. F. McGinnis, Gen. George H Chapman, Judge Samuel H. Buskirk, Gen. Lewis Wallace, John C. Wright, Gen. John S. Simonson, Austin H. Brown, Esq. , Judge Livingstone Howland, the hearse, the mourners, the family, the staff of the diseased, Gen Sherman, Gen. Sheridan, the Governor and officers of State Senators and Representatives in Congress from Indiana and other States, Judiciary of the United States and State of Indiana; Clergy, Faculty of Wabash College, officers and soldiers of the war of 1812, Mexican war, and the late war; the Mayor and corporate authorities of Indianapolis and adjacent cities; officers of the army, navy and Marine corps of the United States; officers and members of the board of Trade. Among the other military men present were Gens. Ekin, Pelouze, Cailender, Carrington, Baird and others. In, the procession and immediately following the hearse was the horse used by Gen. Canby in the Indian campaign. The horse was led by an orderly, and the General’s sword hung from the horn of the saddle.

Rev. Eleazer Thomas

Rev. Eleazer Thomas, D. D., whose untimely death, in connection with that of General Canby, has awakened so much sympathy, was for thirty-five years a regular minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was born at Chatham Corners, New York, January 16, 1814. He graduated with high honors at the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, at Lima, Livingston County, New York. In 1838, he was admitted into the Genesee Annual Conference. His first appointment was to Pittsford, near Rochester, in Western New York; and for seventeen years during his connection with that Conference, he filled some of the most important pulpits in that region as pastor, serving also as Presiding Elder of several of the districts.

In 1855, he was transferred to the California Conference. His friends endeavored to dissuade him, but so true was he to his convictions, that in April, 1855, he started with his family for the far-off western land. On his arrival in May, he attended the Conference then held at Stockton, was warmly received and was stationed at Powell Street Church, San Francisco, The following year the General Conference elected him editor of the California “Christian Advocate,” and for three successive terms he was reelected to the same post. He also established the Methodist Book Depository in San Francisco.

In 1868, the General Conference entrusted him with the publishing interest of the Depository in California, which position he held with honor to the Church until 1872. Dr. Thomas was appointed to the Petaluma, Sonoma County, California.

Modoc Women
Winema or Tobey Riddle, a Modoc, standing between an agent and her husband Frank (on her left), with four Modoc women in front.
American Indian Select List number 72. Archival Research Catalog (ARC) #533247

About the middle of March, 1873, Dr. Thomas was appointed, with Hon. A. B. Meacham and L. S. Dywer, Esq. a commission to effect reconciliation, if possible, with the Modoc Indians, who had been making raids upon the settlers in the southeast part of Oregon. This commission was accompanied by Gen. Canby, Commander of the Military District, and a certain Capt. Riddle and his squaw, who acted as interpreters. Although several unsuccessful councils had been held with the chiefs of the perfidious Modocs, and although the commissioners themselves distrusted them, yet so anxious were they to try the effect of the peaceable and Christian measures, that they consented to meet them again on what was termed neutral ground. At this meeting, Friday, the 11th of April, eight Indians being present, several speeches were made, and at a signal given by Capt. Jack, several shots were fired which resulted in the death of Dr. Thomas and Gen. Canby.

The following is a vivid description of one of the most treacherous and bloody massacres ever perpetrated by the Indians.

For several days, endeavors were made by the Peace Commissioners and General Canby to obtain an interview with Captain Jack and the leading Chiefs of the Modoc Tribe. The prospects of peace seemed to be better, as orders had been sent from Washington to the Peace Commissioners to give the Indians, if necessary, a Reservation in the same neighborhood.

On the evening of the 11th of April, 1873, Bogus Charley reported that Captain Jack, Schonchin and three or four others would meet the Peace Commissioners on a spot near the lake, about three-quarters of a mile from camp. Bogus Charley stopped in the camp all night, and in the morning Boston Charley also came, and said that everything was all right, as Captain Jack was coming out to meet the Commissioners.

Between ten and eleven o’clock in the morning the Peace Commission party comprising General Canby, Mr. A. B. Meacham, Dr. Thomas, Mr. Dyar, Riddle, the interpreter, and squaw, and Bogus Charley, and Boston Charley, went out to the designated spot.

There they met Captain Jack, John Schonchin, Black Jim, Shack, Nasty Jim, Ellen’s man, and Hawker Jim. They had no guns “with them, but each carried a pistol at his belt. This, however, was not much noticed, as in previous interviews they had their guns with them.

They sat down in a kind of broken circle, and General Canby, Meacham and Dr. Thomas sat together, faced by Captain Jack and Schonchin. Mr. Dyar stood by Jack, holding his horse, with Hawker Jim and Shack Nasty Jim to his left.

Meacham opened the talk, and gave a long history of what they wanted to do for them, after which General Canby and Dr. Thomas both talked for some time.

Captain Jack then talked in an apparent good, serious strain, and when he finished stepped back to the rear near where Meacham‘s horse was hitched.

John Schonchin then began to talk, and while he was speaking Mr. Dyar heard a cap miss fire, and looking around saw Captain Jack to his left with his pistol pointed at General Canby. This was the signal for a general massacre, and a dozen shots were fired inside of half a minute.

Murder of General Canby
The Modocs — Murder of General Canby and the Rev. Dr. Thomas, a wood engraving published in Harper’s Weekly, May 3, 1873.

My. Dyar, after hearing the cap miss fire, turned and fled, followed closely by Hawker Jim, who fired two shots after him. Dyar finding Hawker Jim gaining on him turned and drew his Derringer, whereupon Hawker Jim retreated, and Dyar made the best of his way to the camp.

Captain Jack fired again on General Canby and the noble old gentleman ran off to the left, but was speedily shot down and killed instantly.

Meacham was shot at by Schonchin and wounded in the head. He tried to draw his Derringer, when two Indians ran up and knocked him down.

Dr. Thomas was killed almost instantly by two pistol shots in the head.

Riddle ran off, and it appears they did not fire at him, but they knocked his squaw down. Dyar, Riddle, and the squaw, returned in safety to the camp.

About a hundred yards west of the place of meeting, was Mr. A. B. Meacham badly wounded with a pistol shot over the left eye. He was immediately attended to and carried back for medical treatment.

Fifty yards further on was the body of Rev. Dr. Thomas, lying on his face and stripped to the waist.

The body of General Canby, the hero of many a fight, was stripped of every vestige of clothing and lay about one hundred yards to the southward, with two pistol shot wounds in the head

Pausing only to take a glance on the body of the man they both loved and respected, the troops dashed on and the two leading batteries were within a mile of the murderers when the bugle call sounded a “halt.” Lieutenant Egan and Major Wright‘s companies of the Twelfth infantry were behind the artillery and then came the cavalry.

General Gillem and Colonel Green and staff were up with, the men, but as soon as they found that the Indians had all got back to their stronghold the troops were ordered to fall back and prepare for active work.

The attack on Col. Mason‘s camp commenced by the Indians firing on Lieutenants Boyle and Sherwood, who had wandered some five hundred yards outside their picket lines. Lieutenant Sherwood was shot through the arm and leg, but Lieutenant Boyle escaped without injury. Both officers got safely back to their camp.

The remains of General Canby and Dr. Thomas were forwarded to San Francisco the 13th, and a guard of honor, composed of the commanding officers of companies, marched through Friday night by the remains of their beloved commander, and a similar mark of respect was paid the remains of Dr. Thomas. The bodies were carried to the top of the bluffs escorted by the troops, and transferred to ambulances, in which they were carried to Yreka, tinder the escort of Lieutenant Anderson, of the Fourth Artillery, on Saturday evening.

Ten of the Indian ponies were captured on the 13th, by Colonel Mason‘s command. Wagons were then engaged to bring up the rest of the commission from Van Bremers.

Riddle‘s squaw stated that Dr. Thomas was shot by Boston Charley. The poor old gentleman fell on his knees from the effects of the first shot, and beseeched Boston to spare his life. Boston responded to the request of the generous old man, who had in my presence given him blankets and money, by shooting him again through the head.



MLA Source Citation:

Frost, John, LL. D. Frost's Pictorial History of Indian Wars and Captivities, From the Earliest Record of American History to the Present Time; Nearly 200 Engravings from Original Designs, by Distinguished Artists. New York: Wells Publishing Company. Vol. 1. 1873. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 14 September 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/war-modoc-indian-wars.htm - Last updated on Jan 18th, 2014

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