Saturday, August 20, 2016

Captain Jack's Stronghold (Modoc War of 1872-1873)

The Modoc War of 1872-73 

The Medicine Flag today, and 143 years ago. 

Captain Jack's Stronghold. 

From Modoc War, by Erwin N. Thompson, after the soldiers had driven the Modoc band from the stronghold:

"Among the bones, rags, and wickiups there was little of the loot of war that appealed to the collector instinct among soldiers. However there was one trophy that assumed importance in their minds — the "medicine flag." At three different high points in the Stronghold the Modocs had erected these emblems, the guarantors of victory. One in particular, standing on one of the highest rocks, had long been visible to the soldiers, and to them it had become a symbol of Modoc defiance, the enemy's regimental colors as it were.

The troops captured this medicine flag on the last day of the fight. It was no star-spangled eagle embroidered on a field of blazing color. Simpson, realizing its importance as a symbol, drew and described it as consisting of a "mink's skin and hawk's feathers with medicine bead." These were fastened to the end of a stick "about four feet long, and is just as it was cut from the tree." He said that the small white bead had been placed among the feathers, and the pole "stood on a heap of stones during the fighting." After the battle, a photographer took a picture of two soldiers standing on the "medicine rock." This rock may still be identified today toward the northeastern end of the Stronghold. It is quite possible that the medicine flag fluttered from here during the battle. Its capture and removal symbolized the soldiers' success in taking the Stronghold. But that was all it symbolized. The Modocs were still their own masters, somewhere in the lava beds to the south."

More images of Captain Jack's Stronghold from my recent visit to the Lava Beds National Monument (what happens in Siskiyou County, stays in Siskiyou County).

Captain's Jack's Cave

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