Modoc War in the United States. Original front page from the Illustrated London News, dated May 31st. 1873, recording the outcome of the Modoc War, including the supposed scalp of chief ‘Scar-faced Charlie.’
The Modoc War (also known as the Lava Beds War) was an armed conflict between the Native American Modoc people and the United States Army in northeastern California and southeastern Oregon from 1872 to 1873. Kintpuash—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 (in present-day Lava Beds National Monument), those few warriors resisted for months the more numerous United States Army forces sent against them, which were reinforced with artillery. In April 1873 at a peace commission meeting, Captain Jack and others killed General Edward Canby and Rev. Eleazer Thomas, and wounded two others, mistakenly believing this would encourage the Americans to leave. They fled back to the lava beds. After U.S. forces were reinforced, some Modoc warriors surrendered and Captain Jack and the last of his band were captured. Jack and five warriors were tried for the murders of the two peace commissioners. Jack and three warriors were executed and two others sentenced to life in prison. The remaining 153 of the band were sent to Indian Territory (pre-statehood Oklahoma), where they were held as prisoners of war until 1909, settled on reservation land with the Shawnee. Some at that point were allowed to return to the Klamath Reservation in Oregon. Most Modoc (and their descendants) stayed in what became the state of Oklahoma. They achieved separate federal recognition and were granted some land in Oklahoma.