John Muir


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139 Yosem [Yosemite] however could not be defended notwithstanding this sheerness of walls, but the Modoc Stronghold is a natural Gibralter far excelling in strength any natural castle I ever beheld It consists of numerous [redoubts] formed by the subsidence of portions of the lava flow after it had become hard on top -- & of a complicated series of [redans] with abundance of salient & reentering angles united with each other & with the redoubts by a labyrinth of open & covered corridors, with caves & chasms altogether forming the strongest natural fortifications I ever met. Moreover they were on ground wh [which] over looked all the adjacent [hills] & [even] [but a short distance from] near the water at the

140 lake, while the [commissariat] could be [readily] replenished from the cattle of the [Relt] Klamath plains While in the beds adjacent there were other defenses scarcely less strong & [connected] by sub [subterranean] passages known only to the Inds [indians] No wonder then that the Modocs offered so formidable a resistance a handful of [resolute] mtneers [mountaineers] [men] acquainted with intricacies of this strangely [rent] & shattered region could defy the utmost efforts of a whole army [for yrs] 'Ere we reached the battleground [Modoc] [lands] we heard it remarked that our soldiers slain here met the fate they deserved That they were too drunk, too incautious Did not [understand] guard against surprise But on the ground we could only pity the poor fellows who were

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Original journal dimensions: 9 x 14.5 cm.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist