Captain Jack

Captain Jack

Captain Jack (d. 1873), subchief of the Modoc and leader of the hostile group in the Modoc War (1872-73). Jack, whose Modoc name was Kintpuash, had agreed (1864) to leave his ancestral home and live on a reservation with the Klamath. He found it impossible to live on friendly terms with his former enemies, and after killing a Klamath medicine man, Jack and a group of followers left the reservation. They resisted arrest (Nov., 1872) and fled into the lava beds in California. Their strong defensive position frustrated numerous attempts by U.S. troops to dislodge them. In Apr., 1873, a peace commission headed by Gen. Edward Richard Sprigg Canby met with Jack and several of his men. At a prearranged signal, Jack shot Canby dead. The army renewed its efforts to capture them and forced the Modoc to take refuge elsewhere. The Modoc, who were tired of fighting, began to give themselves up, and on June 1, Captain Jack was captured. He was taken to Fort Klamath, where on Oct. 3, 1873, he and three of his warriors were hanged for the murder of Canby.

See biography by D. P. Payne (1938).

Captain Jack's Stronghold, named for Modoc chief Captain Jack, is a part of Lava Beds National Monument. The stronghold can be accessed from the Perez turnoff, off Highway 139 between Tule Lake and Canby, California.

During the Modoc War, Captain Jack's band settled here following the Battle of Lost River, and held off a United States Army force outnumbering them by as much as 10 to 1 for several months. The lava beds made an outstanding stronghold for the Modocs because of the rough terrain, rocks that could be used in fortification, and irregular pathways to evade pursuers.

In the First Battle of the Stronghold, January 17, 1873, 51 Modoc warriors defeated an Army force of 225 soldiers supported by 104 Oregon and California volunteers, killing 35 and wounding several others, while suffering no casualties or serious woundings. During the Second Battle of the Stronghold, April 15 - 17, the reinforced Army of over six hundred men captured the Modoc spring and cut off their route to Tule Lake, forcing the Modoc to flee when their water supplies ran out. After fleeing the Stronghold, the band of Modoc splintered, and the last group, made up of Captain Jack and three warriors, were captured on June 1, 1873.

The area originally served as a hunting and gathering area.

An electrical substation on WAPA's Path 66 northern end close to Captain Jack's Stronghold has been named after him.


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