Topic: Modoc War

War With The Modoc – Indian Wars

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...

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The Last Fight of the Campaign

From the Report of Brig.-Gen. H. C. Hasbrouck, United States Army (Retired) I marched from Redding, California, my Battery B, Fourth Artillery, being equipped as cavalry, under the command of Captain John Mendenhall, Fourth Artillery, April 19, 1873, and arrived at Promontory Point, April 28th. April 29th marched under Captain Mendenhall to Captain Jack’s old stronghold in the lava-beds. May 7th I left the stronghold in command of my own battery and Troops B and G, First Cavalry, and arrived at Peninsula Camp, May 8th. May 9th, under verbal instructions of the Department Commander, marched to Sorass Lake in command of my battery, Captain Jackson’s Troop B, Lieutenant Kyle’s Troop G, First Cavalry, and Warm Spring Indian scouts under Donald McKay, Act – Asst.-Surg. J. S. Skinner, medical officer. Camped at the lake with the cavalry and Indians, and sent the battery to camp in the timber about one mile to the southeast. May loth was attacked by the Modocs just before daylight. Their main line occupied a line of bluffs about four hundred yards distant, and a smaller party soon took possession of a lower line about two hundred yards nearer. Outposts had been established the night before upon the higher bluffs, but the Modocs succeeded in getting possession without their knowledge. The horses were stampeded by the first volley and Indian yells and ran through the camp...

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Jackson’s Expedition

The Modoc Indians belong generally to the races known as “Digger Indians” – from living largely upon esculent roots which the squaws dig, dry and cache for winter subsistence, – but they are much superior to the average Digger Indian, and are more nearly allied in character -and by intermarriage -to the “Rogue Rivers,” a warlike tribe, now about extinct, inhabiting at one time the western slope of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. Schonchin was chief of the tribe when the treaty was made with the Klamaths, Modocs and Yainaskin Snakes, by which these tribes, for the consideration offered by the Indian Bureau, agreed to live upon the Klamath Reservation, then just established. The Indian title to the Lost River and Tule Lake country was thus extinguished, and the land thrown open to settlement. The Klamath Reserve proving to have a much colder climate than the Modocs were accustomed to, and the Klamath Indians, their ancient foes, taunting them with living on “their”‘ land, catching “their” fish, and killing “their” game, the Modocs became discontented. The governing chief, “Old Schonchin,” with a large part of the tribe, got as far away from the Klamaths as he could, and lived up to the terms of the treaty; but the restless and desperate spirits of the tribe, under the leadership of the Indian afterward widely known as “Captain Jack,” and John...

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First Battle of the Modoc War

Perhaps few places on earth, of like area, have cost so much in blood and treasure as Klamath land, and yet it may be worth the price, dear as it was, for it is one of nature’s brightest gems. The native possessor held it with a tenacity which compels us to admire his patriotism, his reverence for the land of his ancestors, while we deprecate the methods of his warfare. As he would put it: “Here is the dust of my fathers. Better for me to die here than to be removed to any other country. If I die here I go down to dust with my father and my people. If I die in some other land I shall be lost forever.” The Modocs stood as bloody sentinels along the line of the emigrant road. As far back as 1852 they began the work of ambush and slaughter, and Modoc land was for a quarter of a century the scene not only of savage treachery and cruelty, but of heroic deeds and tragic incident. Weary immigrants toiling onward toward the setting sun – no record tells how many – were here sacrificed almost on the very threshold of their land of promise. Later, when the enterprising white man, having seen and appreciated this land of green meadows, silvery lakes and crystal streams, determined to possess it, brave settlers,...

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The Affair at Cottonwood

By Brig.-Gen. David Perry, United States Army (Retired)I was returning July 4th from Fort Lapwai to General Howard’s command in charge of a pack-train loaded with ammunition. It had been expected that Captain Jackson’s troop of cavalry would reach Lapwai in time to furnish a safe escort. Fearing that the ammunition might be needed, I decided not to wait longer and pushed ahead with a small detachment. No one believed the hostiles to be within striking distance, as the last reports located them in the Salmon River Mountains. Imagine then my surprise at meeting Whipple’s command that afternoon several miles from Cottonwood deployed in two lines with his mountain guns between them. Then it was that I learned of the appearance in that neighborhood of a large body of hostiles and the fate of Rains and detachment. It appears that Whipple’s scouts reported seeing Indians in the hills back of Cottonwood where the command lay and in the direction of Lapwai. Orders were immediately given to “saddle up.” As soon as they could get their horses, an advance-guard under Rains started off at a gallop. In their eagerness to get away they outstripped by several minutes the command, which was just in the act of mounting when firing was heard in the direction of the advance-guard. Proceeding at a gallop they reached the scene of the firing only to...

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The Indians Of Idaho Nez Percé And Shoshone Uprisings

Some notice of the original inhabitants of Idaho is due the reader of this book, even though that notice must necessarily be short and its data largely traditional. With-out a written language of any kind, unless it was the use of the rudest and most barbarous symbols, they have passed away and left no recorded history; without architecture, except that which exhausts its genius in the construction of a skin wigwam or a bark lodge, they have died and left no monuments. Traditions concerning them are too confused, contradictory and uncertain to satisfy any who desire reliable history. Any real information at all reliable concerning them began with the publication of the journal of the exploring expedition of Lewis and Clarke in 1804 and 1805. Incidental notices of various tribes have been given to the world by other explorers and travelers, but very much that has been written concerning them was not the ascertaining of patient and continued personal investigation, nor yet the impressions of any extended personal contact, but the chance and hasty gatherings of unreliable traditions, or, what was even less to be depended on than this, the exaggerated recitals of some wild, camp-fire stories. All these, of course, have a value as literature, and occupy an interesting place in romantic story, but their history is not great. When these people were first brought under the study...

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In the Land of Burnt Out Fires

In the Land of Burnt Out Fires A Tragedy of the Far NorthwestBy Dr. BradyThe most costly war in which the United States ever engaged, considering the number of opponents, occurred in the winter of 1872-73 in the lava-beds of Oregon. Fifty Modoc 1According to some etymologies, the word means a stranger. Indians, under the leadership of one Kientpoos – commonly known as Captain Jack, held that pedregal against overwhelming numbers of regular soldiers upon whom they inflicted defeat after defeat with little loss to themselves. They were not captured until treachery had played its maleficent part. To understand this tremendous drama a knowledge of the first act is essential. In September, 1852, an emigrant train, comprising sixty-five men, women and children, was making its way northward into the lake region of southern Oregon. The California-Oregon trail led between Lower Klamath and Tule Lakes. Huge bluffs several hundred feet high approached nearly the shore of Tule Lake, leaving a narrow road between the cliffs and the water. There the emigrant party mentioned was overwhelmed by Modoc Indians led by old Schonchin. The Modocs closed both ends of the trail and attacked from the bluffs. The settlers fought bravely, but to no avail. Those not killed were captured and tortured to death with every device of savage malignity. One man, desperately wounded, and left for dead, escaped to tell the...

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Biography of Captain Jack – Kintpuash

Kintpuash ‘having the water-brash’ – Gatschet; also spelled Keiutpoos, but commonly known as Captain Jack. A subchief of the Modoc on the Oregon-California border, and leader of the hostile element in the Modoc war of 1872-73. The Modoc, a warlike and aggressive offshoot front the Klamath tribe of south east Oregon, occupied the territory immediately to the south of the latter, extending across the California border and including the Lost River Country and the famous Lava-bed region. They had been particularly hostile to the whites up to 1864, when, under the head chief Sconchin, they made a treaty agreeing to go upon a reservation established on Upper Klamath Lake jointly for them and the Klamath tribe. The treaty remained unratified for several years, and the meantime Jack, with a dissatisfied band numbering nearly half the tribe and including about 70 fighting men, continued to rove about the Lost River Country, committing frequent depredations and terrorizing the settlers. He claimed as his authority for remaining, in spite of the treaty, a permission given by an Indian agent on the California side. With some difficulty he was finally induced in the spring of 1870 to go with his band upon the reservation, where the rest of the tribe was already established under Sconchin. He remained but a short time, however, and soon left after killing an Indian doctor, who, he said,...

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Modoc Tribe

Modoc Indians (from Móatokni, ‘southerners’). A Lutuamian tribe, forming the southern division of that stock, in south west Oregon. The Modoc language is practically the same as the Klamath, the dialectic differences being extremely slight. This linguistic identity would indicate that the local separation of the two tribes must have been comparatively recent and has never been complete. The former habitat of the Modoc included Little Klamath Lake, Modoc Lake, Tule Lake, Lost River Valley, and Clear Lake, and extended at times as far east as Goose Lake. The most important bands of the tribe were at Little Klamath Lake, Tule Lake, and in the Valley of Lost River. Frequent conflicts with white immigrants, in which both sides were guilty of many atrocities, have given the tribe an unfortunate reputation. In 1864 the Modoc joined the Klamath in ceding their territory to the United States and removed to Klamath Reservation. They seem never to have been contented, however, and made persistent efforts to return and occupy their former lands on Lost River and its vicinity. In 1870 a prominent chief named Kintpuash, commonly known to history as Captain Jack, led the more turbulent portion of the tribe back to the California border and obstinately refused to return to the reservation. The first attempt to bring back the runaways by force brought on the Modoc War of 1872-73. After some...

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Klamath Tribe

Klamath Indians (possibly from máklaks, the Lutuami term for `Indians,’ `people,’ ‘community’; lit. ‘the encamped’). A Lutuamian tribe in south west Oregon. They call themselves Eukshikni or Auksni,’ people of the lake,’ referring to the fact that their principal seats were on Upper Klamath lake. There were also important settlements on Williamson and Sprague Rivers. The Klamath are a hardy people and, unlike the other branch of the family, the Modoc, have always lived at peace with the whites. In 1864 they joined the Modoc in ceding the greater part of their territory to the United States and settled on Klamath Reservation, where they numbered 755 in 1905, including, however, many former slaves and members of other tribes who have become more or less assimilated with the Klamath since the establishment of the reservation. Slavery was a notable institution among the Klamath, and previous to the treaty of 1864 they accompanied the Modoc every year on a raid against the Achomawi of Pit River, California, for the capture of women and children whom they retained as slaves or bartered with the Chinook at The Dalles. The Klamath took no part in the Modoc War of 1872-73, and it is said that their contemptuous treatment of the Modoc was a main cause of the dissatisfaction of the latter with their homes on the reservation which led to their return to...

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Captain Jack of the Modoc Indians

It was a queer country where the Modoc lived. Their land stretched along for sixty-five miles, measured on the straight line that separates Oregon from California, and it was thirty miles wide, some in Oregon and some in California. Parts were fairly good for cattle and horses where the earth was rich, but most of it was in hillocks and knolls all stony and so much alike that it was not much easier, than on the water, to find the way without a compass. This land was called the “lava bed country,” and it was well named. I suppose...

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Biography of Sidney S. Benton

SIDNEY S. BENTON. – This pioneer of Illinois, California and Washington is one of those facile, multiplex characters that give to our Western life its buoyancy. He was born in the first-named State in 1838, while Chicago was yet in her swamps, and his father was at that city in 1831, when it was a mere Indian trading post, and also at Galena, the home of the Grants, in 1832. His father came out to California with ox-teams amid Indians, and over the usual sage-brush plains, and the iron-stone rocks in 1849. He mined on Feather river in Yuba county, and in 1852 went to Siskiyou county, where he followed mining and merchandising. Sidney arrived in 1856 via Panama at Yreka, and mined near that city and in Scott’s valley until 1861. In that year he went to Nevada, working on the Comstock; for six years he was underground foreman of the Savage mine, making money and losing it. In Siskiyou county and Surprise valley, and at Dixon in Solano county, California, he engaged again in business. At the latter place, in 1863, he met an old acquaintance from Wisconsin, Miss Mattie E. Bowmer. She and her brother had come the year before from the East in the company which had been attacked on the Upper Snake river by Indians, who killed twenty-eight of the party. Some fifteen years...

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Biography of Capt. Enoch W. Pike

CAPT. ENOCH W. PIKE. – As a rule, the settlers of the Northwest have not passed through very much actual suffering in subduing the country; but their experiences have sometimes been severe, as is illustrated in the career of the subject of this sketch. Captain Pike is a native of Maine, and was born in 1842. Removing while a boy to Winona, Minnesota, he was led by the call for soldiers during the war to enlist in Company K. Ninth Regiment Minnesota Infantry Volunteers. His regiment was detached to subdue the Sioux, who were then at war with the settlers; but after this he served to the close of the war. Returning to his home in Minnesota, he was appointed postmaster at Lewiston, but learning of the opportunities in the far West, and having a soldier’s claim to public land, he crossed the continent, arriving at Salem in 1867. The expenses of the journey for himself and his young wife had exhausted his mans, but finding friends at the capital of Oregon, he was supplied with work and, in addition to making a living, was able to buy a lot and erect a dwelling. Being suited with Linn county he removed thither, and with his parents, recently from the East, engaged in agriculture. A back stroke, however, fell upon him there from having inconsiderately signed a note for a...

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