Canby's Cross Commemorates Fallen General
The Army sent Gen. Canby to Northern California in 1872 to persuade Captain Jack’s band of Modoc Indians to move onto the Klamath Reservation in Oregon. By 1873, the Modocs, entrenched in their lava beds stronghold, had fought the U.S. Army to a stalemate. Canby was a distinguished veteran of the Mexican-American and Civil wars, commanded an abortive pursuit of Navajo Indians in New Mexico, and served in several administrative posts around the country. Despite warnings from his interpreters that the Modocs intended to kill him, Canby agreed to peace talks on April 11, 1873, midway between the army encampment and the Modoc stronghold. When Canby rejected Captain Jack’s demand for a Modoc homeland in California, Captain Jack shot Canby in the face at point-blank range. Simultaneously, Captain Jack’s warriors attacked the peace commissioners, killing one and wounding another. A sensational military trial without defense counsel convicted six Modocs of Canby’s murder. Four were hanged, including Captain Jack, and their heads sent to Washington, D.C.