Tour Locations | The Modoc War: A Homeland Lost
LOCATION 36 | The Modoc War: A Homeland Lost
E. Front Street
You should now be on the main drag in Merrill, heading out of town - just keep going straight.
In the bitter pre-dawn hours of November 29th, 1872, when I believe the war could have still been avoided. The Modoc men, women and children were sleeping. The soldiers were tired and freezing. No one was looking for a fight.
But as luck would have it, Scarface Charley was up early that morning. And as he beached his canoe and moved up the bank, his eyes - well-trained to track game - caught movement. That's when he saw a line of soldiers in their blue uniforms.
Surprised, Scarface Charley accidentally discharged his gun on the bank, awakening the Modoc and putting the soldiers on high-alert. There was mounting confusion as the Modocs came out of their tent. Captain Jackson asked Boutelle what he thought of the situation and Boutelle quickly replied, "There's going to be a fight.
Jackson ordered Boutelle to arrest Scarface Charley. In the cold, misty dawn, the two men pointed their guns at each other. They fired simultaneously...and both missed! But those shots were about to be heard around the world. The first battle of the Modoc War had unintentionally begun. Both would live to later meet and talk about that moment they'd fired at exactly the same moment. But many others would die first.