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Modoc Chief Capt. Jack, Document Signed the Night Before his Hanging
Partially printed document, 1p, 5 x 8 in., imprinted "Headquarters District of the Lakes, Fort Klamath, Oregon." October 2, 1873. Modoc Chief "Captain Jack" autograph witnessed the evening before his execution. On October 3, 1873, the U.S. Army hanged four Modoc headmen at Oregon's Fort Klamath. The condemned had supposedly murdered the only U.S. Army general to die during the Indian Wars of the nineteenth century. Their much-anticipated execution marked the end of the Modoc War of 1872–73.

The letter reads:

“Headquarters District of the Lakes,
Fort Klamath, Oregon, Oct 2 1873.
Signature of the Modoc Chief
the evening before his execution
his
Captain X Jack
mark
Chief of the Lost River Modocs

witness/ (signature and rank)/

attest-
Frank C. Wheaton, Brevet Major General U.S.A.
Lieut. Col. 21st Inft.
Comdg. Dist. and Post"

The hanging of Modoc Chief "Captain Jack" brought to an end the so-called Modoc War that arose when, in 1869, the Modoc band under the leadership of Captain Jack (Keintupuash) finally agreed to live up to the terms of an 1854 treaty and move to a reservation in Oregon's Upper Klamath Valley. Almost immediately the Modoc group became involved in a land dispute with the Klamath, who were sharing the reservation, leading Jack and his followers to leave the reservation. A series of negotiations were held over the next several years aimed at forcing the Modocs back onto the reservation, all of which failed. After a number of depredations against whites, the Government sent 400 troops under the command of Colonel Frank Wheaton into the field to settle the situation. Jack's band retreated to an area of rugged lava beds which they vowed to defend.

A Peace Commission, led by General Marcus Canby was organized to meet with the Indians. While Jack desired a peaceful solution, several of his followers urged the murder of the Commissioners. At a meeting on April 11, as tempers flared, Captain Jack shot and killed Canby, and several other Commissioners were wounded, one mortally.

Over the next several weeks repeated attempts by the Army to dislodge the Modocs met with stiff resistance. Dozens of US soldiers were killed or wounded. Finally, at the battle of Dry Lake, the Army succeeded. Captain Jack was captured on June 4. Tried and convicted, he was hanged on October 3rd, along with three of the other ringleaders of the rebellion.

A fine, and grim souvenir of this important chapter in the history of Indian-White relations in the Northwest.

$3500.00 plus shipping