31 March 2020

Rattlesnakes and Scorpions [guest post by Edward Fox, late March 1873]


A
nother ten days will probably elapse before the final settlement of the Modoc difficulties, whether it be peace or war. I have great faith, however, that the presence of the military in such close proximity to their stronghold will tend to make Captain Jack more reasonable in his demands, and perhaps result in his accepting the terms offered and the final settlement of that branch of the Modoc tribe on some distant reservation.
Major Edwin C. Mason, of the twenty-first infantry, is commanding the troops encamped on the east side of Tule Lake, about three miles from Captain Jack’s cave. His division comprises companies C, B and I of the Twenty-first infantry, troops B and G of the First cavalry and a detachment of the Fourth artillery, with two howitzers. The troops at this camp, consisting of troops F, K and H of the First cavalry, batteries E, A and M of the Fourth artillery, and two companies of the Twelfth infantry, leave here to-morrow en route for their new camp in the lava beds at the foot of the bluffs. Major Green, of the First cavalry, is in command of this division, and the entire army, amounting to about seven hundred men, is under the command of General Gillem, Colonel of the First cavalry.
We will camp to-morrow night at Klamath Lake, about half way between Van Bremer’s and the lava beds, and finish our journey on Tuesday. Major Mason reports that the lava beds swarm with rattlesnakes and scorpions, a class of reptiles that will not add to our personal comfort.
Boston Charley came in from the lava beds yesterday and returned to-day with the intelligence that the troops were coming up to see them. The members of the Peace Commission and General Canby will move to-morrow with the troops, and we shall probably have a big powwow with the Modocs before the end of the week.
Hooker Jim and three others of Captain Jack’s band were up at Yainax reservation the other day, and it is feared they were trying to seduce the peaceable Indians to join their party. The troops will make no aggressive movement until the Peace Commissioners have been allowed to exercise their talking faculties, but should moral suasion fail, measures of a warlike nature will be introduced.
[Another Fox/McKay dispatch. This one appeared in the New York Herald, the San Francisco Call and the Evening Bulletin on 5 April. It is written in Fox’s style. The text of the San Francisco papers is less garbled than the Herald version, which has “and platoons of rebels” for “a class of reptiles” and “but moral persuasion of a warlike nature will be introduced” for “but should moral suasion fail, measures of a warlike nature will be introduced”. sbh]

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