The Modocs were a small tribe in northern California. As as fishing and hunting they became involved in the slave-trade. This usually involved capturing the Digger Indians and selling them to the most prosperous Native American tribes.

In 1864 the Modocs agreed to give up their tribal lands to United States and were moved to the Klamath Reservation in Oregon. The Modocs clashed with the local Klamath tribe and in 1872 Kintpuash and a group of Modocs began to leave the reservation and returned to their original land in California. This party included about 70 warriors. On 29th November, 1872, fighting broke out between troops and the Modocs. One soldiers and eight Modocs were killed during the fighting. Over the next few weeks fourteen settlers in California were killed by war parties.

During negotiations on 11th April, 1873, a group of warriors killed peace commissioner Brigadier General Edward Canby. This was followed on 26th April by four officers and eighteen men were killed at the battle of Stronghold. However, the Modocs were outnumbered and on 1st June, 1873 Kintpuash and his warriors surrendered to the army.

Kintpuash, Boston Charley, Schonchin John and Black Kim were executed for the murder of Canby on 3rd October, 1873. Scarface Charley was appointed by Colonel Wheaton as chief of the remaining Modocs. He took his people to Quapaw Reservation in Oklahoma. The authorities were disappointed by Scarface Charley's ability to control the behaviour of the Modocs and in 1874 he was replaced by Bogus Charley.

Primary Sources

(1) Jessie Applegate was one of those who travelled through Modoc land in 1846.

We could see columns of smoke rising in every direction, for our presence was already known to the Modocs and the signal fire telegraph was in active operation ... It is likely that the excitement among the Modocs was caused, more than anything else, by the apprehension that ours was a party sent to chastise them for their attack on Fremont. We were but a handful of men surrounded by hundreds of Indians armed with their poisoned arrows, but by dint of great care and vigilance we were able to pass through their country safely.

(2) Peter Burnett was a member of a wagon train to California in 1843.

These Indians are amongst the poorest and most degraded of the human race, and are generally thievish and cowardly. They were not disposed to attack the emigrants themselves, but sought every opportunity to destroy their stock, that they might obtain their carcasses, after the emigrants had passed. It became necessary to keep the stock up every night, to save them from the Indian arrow.