• LOCATION 86 | The Modoc War: A Homeland Lost

    On CR 120

    Okay, you should now be on CR 120.

    Continue to follow this road as I return to the first battle at the Stronghold. With forces struggling in the east, Major Green's command in the west was advancing blindly...and only moving forward in inches. Soldiers tore their boots on razor-sharp lava. And in the fog, all they could see were muzzle flashes from Modoc rifles. Moving easily over ground they knew so well, the Modocs made Green's army look amateurish and foolish. One wounded captain that cried out was taunted at a distance by the Modoc women. They told him he was "no man" because he sounded so feeble.

    Major Green was horrified. At one point, he jumped up on a rock, within the line of Modoc fire, and leapt from one rock to the other. He screamed orders and yelled obscenities, pounding one of his long military gloves on his hand for emphasis.

    The Modocs watched Green in awe. Who was this crazy man in blue? They tried to shoot him but they couldn't bring him down. For years afterward, the Modoc talked about the magical properties of John Green's glove - believing it was that glove that protected him during the war. Of course, Major Green's actions that day were also awarded by the military when they gave him a Medal of Honor, even though the Army may not have been in this mess if Major Green had just followed General Canby's original order to stand down.

    Up ahead you should be seeing a large round butte, which is where we are currently headed. But before we get there, I want you to understand that the magical properties of John Green's glove highlights an important part of Modoc beliefs. Now you've heard me mentioned Curley Headed Doctor, who played a very important role in the continuation of the war on the side of the Modocs. Curley was the Lost River tribal shaman. He had survived the Ben Wright Massacre and had no love for the white man. He also followed the teachings of a Native American prophet from the 1860's named Smohalla, who insisted all Indians should return to their aboriginal lifestyle. Curley agreed - if the Modocs integrated with the Christian whites, they were at risk of losing their culture - and very existence. It's no surprise he actively stoked the Modocs' war fever.

    Curley ordered for some of those the reeds from Tule Lake to be cut, braided and painted red, then laid around the entire perimeter of the stronghold. Curley promised: "As long as long as no solider crosses this rope. No Modoc will die." No soldier did cross that rope in battle, and no Modoc was killed. That promise of invincibility appealed to the Modocs. And, I think that's one reason the war lasted as long as it did.

The Modoc War: A Homeland Lost