The Modoc War was the only Indian war in American history, in which a full ranked general was killed. This general was Edward Richard Sprigg Canby. ( George Armstrong Custer was not a full ranked general )
In his earlier career, Canby had served ( for examples ) in the Second Seminole war in Florida, and in 1860, Canby had coordinated a campaign against the Navaho in New Mexico.
The Modoc War cost the United States government, at its lowest estimate, half a million dollars. Considering the number of the enemy, there were only about 50 - 60 Modoc warriors, it was probably the costliest Indian war ever fought. In comparison, the reservation requested by the Modoc on Lost River would have cost, at most, $10,000 up to 20.000.
In October 1864, the United States and the Klamath, Modoc, and Snake (Yahooskin band) tribes signed a standard treaty , establishing the Klamath Reservation. Under the terms of this treaty the Modoc, with Old Chief Schonchin as their leader, gave up their lands in the Lost River, Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Lake regions, and moved to the reservation in the Upper Klamath Valley.
In 1865, Captain Jack ( Keintpoos ) had left the reservatiion with a small band of Modocs and went back to Lost River country. There the Modocs found settlers had already moved onto traditional Modoc land, even though the official Treaty of 1864 had not been ratified. In late 1869, Keintpoos`band was coerced by the government back onto the reservation.
This move was accomplished following a council between Captain Jack, a Modoc leader; Alfred B. Meacham, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon; O.C. Knapp, agent on the reservation; Ivan D. Applegate, sub-agent at Yainax; and W.C. McKay. Talk at the council accomplished nothing. When U.S. Army soldiers suddenly appeared at the meeting place the Modoc warriors fled, leaving their women and children behind. Meacham put the women and children in wagons and started for the reservation. "Queen" Mary, Captain Jack's sister, was permitted to go to Captain Jack to persuade him to move to the reservation. Her efforts were successful. Arriving on the reservation, Jack and his band prepared to make permanent homes at Modoc Point.
Shortly after Captain Jack and his band started building permanent homes at Modoc Point, the Klamaths, their long time rivals, began to mistreat them, making it necessary for the band to move to another part of the reservation. Several attempts were made to find a location. The Klamaths continued to harass the band until finally Captain Jack and his followers left the reservation and returned to Lost River in 1870.
Realizing that there was an unfriendly feeling between Jack's band of Modocs and the Klamath, Alfred B. Meacham recommended to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. that Captain Jack and his band be given a separate reservation. Pending action on his recommendation Meacham instructed Captain Jack and his band to remain at Clear Lake. However, Captain Jack and his band roamed the country harassing the settlers with the result the settlers in the Lost River region petitioned Meacham to remove the Modoc to the Klamath Reservation.
On receipt of the petition, Meacham requested General Edward Canby, Commanding General of the Department of the Columbia, to remove Captain Jack and his band of Modoc to Yainax on the Klamath Reservation. General Canby forwarded Meacham's request to General Schofield, Commanding General of the Pacific, suggesting that before using force to get Captain Jack to the reservation, another peaceful effort should be made.
On April 3, 1872, Major Elmer Otis held a council with Captain Jack at Lost River Gap, near what is now Olene, Oregon. At that meeting Captain Jack and the important men of his band were distinctly hostile. Nothing was accomplished toward relocating the band to the reservation.
On April 12, the Commission of Indian Affairs in Washington requested T. B. Odeneal, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Washington, to get Captain Jack and his band of Modocs to the reservation if practicable and to see that they were not maltreated by the Klamath.
On May 14, Odeneal, carrying out his instructions, sent Ivan D. Applegate and L. S. Dyer to arrange for a council with Captain Jack, which Jack refused.
After the failure to meet with Captain Jack, on July 6, 1872, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in Washington directed Superintendent Odeneal to move Captain Jack and his band to the Klamath Reservation, peacefully if possible, forcibly if necessary.
"You are directed to remove the Modoc Indians to Camp Yainax on the Klamath Reservation, peacably if you possibly can, but forcibly if you must " ( Message by F. A. Walker to T. B. Odeneal, November 25, in 1872 )
Despairing of a peaceful settlement, on November 27, Superintendent Odeneal requested Major John Green, commanding officer at Fort Klamath, to furnish sufficient troops to compel Captain Jack to move to the reservation. On November 28 Captain Jame Jackson, commanding 40 troops, left Fort Klamath for Captain Jack's camp on Lost River. The troops arrived in Jack's camp on Lost River about a mile above Emigrant Crossing (now Stone Bridge, Oregon) on November 29.
Wishing to avoid conflict, Captain Jack agreed to go to the reservation, but the situation became tense when Captain Jackson demanded he disarm. Captain Jack had never fought the Army, and was incensed at this command, but finally agreed to put down his weapons. As the rest of the Modoc were following his lead, it is believed that the Modoc warrior Scarfaced Charley and Lieutenant Frazier A. Boutelle, got into a verbal argument, pulled their weapons and shot at each other, both missing their target.The shots were given simultaneously.
At the same time, a small band of settlers attacked Hooker Jim`s Modoc band, that was across the river. It is not known, how many Modoc were killed. Alfred Meacham later wrote, two women and a baby in its mother`s arm were killed. Meacham wrote also, that soldiers piled matting on a sick woman left behind and burned her to death. Captain Jack`s Modoc band fled immediate to the lava beds.In retaliation for the settlers attack, Hooker Jim and a few Modoc warriors killed fourteen settlers ( this was done without Captain Jack`s knowledge ) before these warriors fled to the lava beds too. War was coming.
An official report of the Lost River Battle was made nearly one year later, after the war had ended. This document once again used Captain Jackson`s words "opened fire upon the troops" discounting Lieutenant Boutelle`s report of a simultaneous firing