Tag Archives: Indian wars

Forgotten Lost Victories – The Modocs – 1852

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Bringing civilization to Native Americans was never easy.  Almost every step of the way the tribes selfishly hoarded the lands they depended upon, frequently resorting to violence when whites who needed the land for farming, ranching and mining tried to run them off.

One example was the Modocs in northern California, 1852.  The US suddenly owned the land, having disproved the false claims by Mexico of ownership by invading them and killing as many as they could catch.  But the Modocs were spoiled by being owned by Mexico, being mostly left alone.  When whites came into the Tule Lake area the Modoc slaughtered 38 innocent people.

Ben Wright and a group of miners from Yreka, California attempted to peacefully resolve the situation by having a feast for the tribe, but almost to a person the Modoc unreasonably refused to eat the poisoned food. 

Wright and the miners were forced to fire into the mass  of tribal members, which allowed a third of them to escape.  That failure led to decades more of Modoc attempts to halt the march of civilization and disputing rightful white claims to the land.

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Not until 1873, after seven months of hard fighting and the loss of many innocent white lives were the Modoc finally subdued permanently and the leaders hanged.

A microcosm of the history of the western US where flawed and improper leadership and planning resulted in the needless loss of innocent white lives.

Learning handy skills while defending the US

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When I joined the US Army in 1961 it had a lot of attractions for a young man of 17.  First off, it didn’t involve going to work in a moly mine in Questa, New Mexico.  Secondly, it was the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and I naturally hoped I’d get an opportunity to kill me some young Russians to defend this country.  Thirdly, the recruiter promised they’d teach me some skills I’d find useful in civilian life.

Eventually I learned that moly mine mightn’t have been a bad idea.  Never got to kill me any Russians, neither.  Never defended this country worth nuthun.  And thirdly, the only skill I learned that might have helped me as a civilian was how to kill a man by hitting him in the face with an entrenching tool.  A lot of years have passed since then, but I’m still hoping to put that entrenching tool thing to use.

Fact is, that like the US troops who served in WWI, the Spanish American War, the Mexican War, and all the US Army who fought the Apache, the Comanche, the Cheyenne along with dozens of other tribes, we were not ‘defending’ this country.  Until WWII a person would have to go back to the Civil War and include the soldiers fighting for the Confederacy to locate someone defending his country.

Well, I suppose you could say the Mexican soldiers who fought against the US in the Mexican War were defending their country.  And the Apache was defending his, and so on.

But those serving in the US Army were doing something else, entirely.

Care to guess what it was?