Canby Cross - Lava Beds National Monument
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NW_history_buff
N 41° 49.091 W 121° 32.605
10T E 620974 N 4630615
Canby Cross is named after General E.R.S Canby, who was killed at this location while trying to negotiate peace terms with the Modoc Indians on April 11, 1872. His death was a precursor to a second battle at Captain Jack's Stronghold.
Waymark Code: WMFGE4
Location: California, United States
Date Posted: 10/16/2012
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member saopaulo1
Views: 2

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Canby Cross Historic Site is home to a tall, white wooden cross as well as a couple of historical markers located within the Lava Beds National Monument (park fees may apply in season). The historical markers discuss the events that led to the death of General E.R.S Canby, the ONLY U.S. General to be killed in an Indian War. This cross marks the exact location where General Canby and fellow negotiators were attacked by Modoc Indians during peace talks on April 11, 1872, which ultimately led to General Canby's death and the death of fellow negotiator, Reverend Eleazar Thomas. This Peace Commission that was established to persuade the Modocs to stop fighting was forever ruined and a longstanding battle between the Modoc Indians led by Captain Jack (a name given to him by the whites) and the U.S. Army would drag out for many months at Captain Jack's Stronghold, not far from here.

The following text comes from a roadside marker near Canby's Cross that describes the events leading up to General Canby's untimely death:

Wrap Text around Image By April 1873, months of peace talks to end the Modoc War had gone nowhere. General E.R.S. Canby found himself caught between President Grant's Indian Peace Policy and the desire of some settlers to have the Army eliminate the Modoc band. The Modoc leader, Captain Jack, was also caught between peace and war factions. Some Modoc argued that-as in their own tradition-once the leaders of an army were killed, the soldiers would retreat. They pressured Captain Jack to act.

Within minutes of a similar attack at Hospital Rock, eight Modoc attacked the commissioners with hidden weapons. When it was over, General Canby and Reverand Eleazer Thomas were dead, and Indian Agent Alfred Meacham lay seriously wounded. The Peace Policy came to an end.

There's an online brochure from the National Parks Service that gives specifics on the Modoc War that you can read. Wikipedia also gives a good writeup on the life of Edward Canby. There is also another marker next to Canby's Cross that poignantly describes the emotions and fallout from the Modoc War and reads:

Canby Cross ~ Over the years, various individuals and groups have made efforts to memorialize the death of General E.R.S. Canby, the only general to be killed in an Indian War. This wooden cross is a replica of an original erected by a U.S. soldier in 1882, just nine years after the event. Some of the very same troops Canby had commended here in the lava beds were still fighting other Indian Wars, and public interest and emotion about such conflicts ran high.

Although the inscription on the cross may elicit strong emotions in some modern visitors, it illuminates the point that people see events through the lens of their own culture and time. In 1873, what some Modocs considered a justifiable war tactic, the U.S. Army considered murder. No monument commemorates the places where Modocs may have felt their attempts to live peaceably were betrayed.

More than any other Modoc War site, Canby Cross represents the vast gulf between the perceptions of the two sides during wartime, and challenges us to look beyond history to the assumptions of our own cultures. As in all wars, there were no innocent parties in this conflict.

Group that erected the marker: National Parks Service

URL of a web site with more information about the history mentioned on the sign: [Web Link]

Address of where the marker is located. Approximate if necessary:
Lava Beds National Monument Rd
Lava Beds National Monument
Tulelake, CA USA

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