The Modoc War of 1872-1873 is significant in the Indian Wars because it was publicized worldwide and it was of the last wars in the era. The involving parties of this conflict included Modoc band leaders, Klamath Indians, the US Army and the settlers of the surrounding areas. The land of interest consisted of Southern Oregon from Fort Klamath and Klamath Reservation through the Northern border in California.
This essay concentrates on the young Modoc sub chief known as Captain Jack because he wore a uniform coast with brass buttons. His real name was Kintpuash and he was born at Tule Lake in 1837. Kintpuash’s approximate age would have been 35 years during the first battles of the Modoc War. Kintpuash’s knowledge of his homelands provided his small band with an advantage during the initial months. The land they were fighting on was considered their traditional fishing grounds and village sites. Their victories were well deserved despite the factors that were not in their favor.
The Modoc Indians’ had many factors against them. They were always outnumbered and at times they were considered severely outnumbered. Some sources claim ratios as high as 6:1. Among the Modoc numbers included women and children. It was considered to be army fighting against families during the winter and spring conditions.
The first tensions began on the Klamath Reservation when the Modocs signed a treaty to quarter alongside their neighboring Klamath tribe in 1864. Issues here included lack of food, poverty, sickness and general unwelcoming attitudes. Kintpuash’s band of Modocs had to travel to different parts of the reservation to avoid hostile matters. Yet there was no place within the reservation borders that had the resources they needed. Even the US Superintendent of Oregon, Alfred Meacham, suggested Kintpuash to take his band to Clear Lake. Yet their survival here was not promising either.
This led Kintpuash’s band to leave the reservation and travel to original fishing grounds at Tule Lake. By 1869, the US Army forced them to move back and once again Kintpuash left with his band. In November of 1972, the army troops of 40 strong and a volunteer militia of 100 citizens had approached Kintpuash’s camp at Lost River.
Although Kintpuash sought to keep the peace and disarm, there was a disagreement among another warrior and shots were fired on both sides. This turn of events for Kintpuash forced him to lead his band out of the battle. They went into Northern California and found a retreat in a naturally fortified area known as Captain Jack’s Stronghold. This area lay in the Lava Beds just east of Mount Shasta. Here the band lived and fought from within the lava bed caves for six months.
During this period, there had been peace negotiations. Kintpuash urged for his band to receive their own reservation. Although, Kintpuash was in negotiation and urged for the best situation of his people, the younger warriors insisted Kintpuash to kill...