MAY 9, 1846

MODOC REVENGE ATTACK LEADS TO KLAMATH LAKE MASSACRE

General John C. Frémont and Scout Kit Carson were among the first known explorers from the United States to go through the Modoc country.  Frémont and a party of 14, including Carson, were headed south to join the war with Mexico and were camping near Lower Klamath Lake.  Fremont’s party had made it a practice to kill any Indian on sight.  That night the camp was likely attacked by Modoc warriors.  By the time the attack was repulsed, three members of Frémont’s group, including two Delaware Indians, were dead.  The one dead attacker was wrongly judged to be a Klamath Lake native.  To avenge the deaths, the next day Frémont attacked a Klamath Tribe fishing village at the junction of the Williamson River and Klamath Lake that likely had nothing to do with the attack.  The attack completely destroyed the village structures and killed women and children as well as warriors. 

Sources:  “Modoc NF History, 1945 -- Chapter II, Early History,” Modoc National Forest, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Retrieved 12/2/2020, https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/modoc/learning/history-culture/?cid=stelprdb5310672
 “Frémont and Kit Carson at Upper Klamath Lake,” The Oregon History Project.  Retrieved 12/2/2020,  https://oregonhistoryproject.org/narratives/nature-and-history-in-the-klamath-basin/inhabiting-the-land/fremont-and kit-carson-at-upper-klamath-lake/#.W17XqPZFzcs
Photo:  Lorenzo Lorain, 1860.  Klamath and Modoc Indians, 1860.  Oregon Historical Society.  Public Domain.

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