Near Tule Lake in Siskiyou County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Ambush at Midday - The Thomas-Wright Battle of April 26, 1873
Last Victor for the Modocs
Officers Thomas and Wright were leading an artillery reconnaissance patrol to Hardin Butte. The soldiers were unenthusiastic and ill-prepared for an encounter. When the patrol stopped for lunch in the depression before you, a few scouts were sent out, but most soldiers rested. Fearing discovery by this group double their size, the Modoc opened fire from high, protected places such as this outcropping. About two-thirds of the patrol was killed or wounded in the battle, the Modoc suffered no casualties.
A soldier not involved in the battle described the outcome: "At the first fire, the troops were so demoralized that the offices could do nothing with them. Wright was severely wounded ... and his company, with one or two exceptions deserted him and fled like a pack of sheep; then the slaughter began."
Scarface Charley halted the battle, showing mercy for the few surviving soldiers: "All you fellows that ain't dead had better go home. We don't want to kill you all in one day."
The Modoc way of life was inseparable from this
At the Thomas-Wright Battle, Scarface Charley's show of mercy reflected one aspect of Modoc views on the war. Many Modoc were not were not interested in indiscriminate killing, but were determined to defend their land and culture. After this battle, they were never again successful in doing so.
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Location. 41° 46.154′ N, 121° 32.368′ W. Marker is near Tule Lake, California, in Siskiyou County. Marker can be reached from Hill Road (Route 10) near County Route 120, on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Tulelake CA 96134, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Volcanic Classroom (approx. 0.9 miles away); The End of the Modoc War (approx. 0.9 miles away); Spatter Cones (approx. 1.3 miles away); Beds of Lava Civilian Conservation Corps (approx. 2 miles away); River of Rocks - The Devils Homestead Lava Flow (approx. 2 miles away); Last Meeting of the Peace Commission (approx. 3.4 miles away); Canby Cross (approx. 3.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Tule Lake.
More about this marker. A one mile trail from the parking lot leads to Thomas-Wright Battle site.
Also see . . . Thomas-Wright Battlefield - Explore!. This, the fourth battle of the Modoc War (after the battle at the Lost River, and two battles at Captain Jack’s Stronghold) was actually fought between a U.S. Army patrol led by Captain Evan Thomas and a small band of around 20 or 22 Modoc Indian warriors led by Scarfaced Charley. 1st Lt Thomas F. Wright was one of four officers that accompanied Thomas and his 59 enlisted men. (Submitted on August 30, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.)
Categories. • Native Americans • Wars, US Indian •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 150 times since then and 84 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.