Published on October 24, 2012 by Casey
The Modoc War, or Modoc Campaign (also known as the Lava Beds War), was an armed conflict between the Native American Modoc tribe and the United States Army in southern Oregon and northern California from 1872 to 1873. The Modoc War was the last of the Indian Wars to occur in California or Oregon. Eadweard Muybridge photographed the early part of the campaign.
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Captain Jack led 52 warriors in a band of more than 150 Modoc people who left the Klamath Reservation. Occupying defensive positions throughout the lava beds south of Tule Lake, for months those few warriors successfully waged a guerrilla war against hundreds of United States Army forces sent against them and reinforced with artillery. In April 1873, Captain Jack and others killed General Edward Canby and another peace commissioner, and wounded others.
After more warfare with reinforcements of US forces, finally some Modoc warriors surrendered, and Captain Jack and the last of his band were captured. Jack and five warriors were tried for the murder of two peace commissioners; Jack and three warriors were executed and two others sentenced for life imprisonment. The remaining 153 Modoc of the band were sent to Indian Territory, where they were held as prisoners of war until 1909. Some at that point returned to the Klamath Reservation, but most (and their descendants) stayed in what was then the state of Oklahoma. As a result, there are federally recognized Modoc tribes in Oregon and Oklahoma today.