Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Captain Jack

Kintpuash, better known as Captain Jack (d. October 3, 1873), was a chief of the Native American Modoc tribe of California and Oregon, and was their leader during the Modoc War.

Captain Jack, 1864

In 1864, the Modoc tribe agreed to live on a reservation in their ancestral home near Tule Lake, on the California-Oregon border. However, due to settlers complaining about losing the fertile land, they were moved to the Klamath Reservation in southwestern Oregon, home of their traditional rivals, the Klamath tribe. As the Klamath outnumbered their neighbors, and the reservation was on traditional Klamath land, the Modoc were poorly treated. In 1865, Captain Jack led the Modoc off the reservation and back to their home. In 1869, the Modoc were again captured by the United States Army, and returned to the Klamath Reservation, but conditions had not improved, and Capain Jack led a band of about 180 Modoc to the Tule Lake area in April, 1870.

In 1872 the Army was again sent to capture Captain Jack's band. On November 29, while negotiating their surrender at Lost River, California, fighting broke out between a soldier and one of the Modoc warriors. The short battle of Lost River ensued, and Captain Jack took the opportunity to take his band into the wastelands of what is now Lava Beds National Monument. The band settled in a natural fortress, now known as Captain Jack's Stronghold, consisting of many caves and trenches in the lava beds. When they were located, the Army quickly launced a battle on January 17, 1873; the Army lost 35 dead and many wounded, while the Modoc suffered no casualties.

Captain Jack's advisors suggested that the Army would leave if their leader, General Edward Canby, were killed, and Captain Jack called for peace negotiations. On April 11, on a pre-arainged signal during a peace confrence, Captain Jack and some of his men pulled out pistols and killed the negotiating team, Captain Jack personally killing General Canby, who thus became the only General to be killed during the Indian Wars. The murder did not have the desired effect; the Army, now under the command of General Jefferson C. Davis, was reinforced with over 1000 men. On April 14, the Army attacked the stronghold again, and forced the Modoc to flee.

Over the next several months, various groups of Modoc continued to fight the army, while many began to surrender. On June 1, Captain Jack laid down his rifle and surrendered. Captain Jack was taken to Fort Klamath, Oregon, and on October 3, was hanged with three of his warriors for the murder of General Canby and the negotiators.