The Modoc War 1872–73

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Map Code: Ax01522

Before the white man, the Modoc inhabited the Oregon-California borders, fishing for salmon and baking water-lily seed popcorn. Following the Gold Rushes, settlers began arriving in floods. The Modoc began to attack these wagon trains, killing over 60 at Bloody Point (1852). In 1864, they agreed to move to a reservation with other tribes on the Klamath River. Intertribal friction and inadequate land led two bands of Modoc, under ‘Captain Jack’ and ‘Hooker Jim’, to abscond and camp in their traditional land near Tule Lake. Soldiers sent to apprehend them were repulsed, and the Modoc escaped into the Lava Beds, killing settlers en route. After an attempt to root the Modoc from their cave stronghold was repulsed, General Canby was sent to mediate: the Modoc killed him and an accompanying chaplain. This provoked massive reinforcements and after an ambush annihilated Captain Thomas’s detachment, the Modoc were finally cornered. Four, including ‘Jack’ were hanged for Canby’s murder.

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