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Mark Kellogg Diary and Dispatch

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Bismarck Tribune reporter Mark Kellogg has a unique place in the story of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, or Greasy Grass. Though he died in the battle, his diary and newspaper dispatches record the movements of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry’s through Dakota and Montana territories in the spring of 1876.

On this date in 1876, two weeks out from Fort Abraham Lincoln, Kellogg penciled the day’s activities in his diary and also in a lengthy dispatch published weeks later in the Tribune. The morning was gloomy and misty. The expedition broke camp at 8 a.m. The clouds lifted and the weather improved. The expedition crossed the Little Missouri River and endured the “broken country” of the Badlands “up-up and down-down, zig-zagging up the high steep buttes.” Kellogg called the trail very tortuous clear through to the next camp, which they reached at 2 p.m. after journeying nearly 13 miles.

Kellogg and a scout went hunting away from the expedition column and shot and killed three bighorn sheep, which they dressed and packed on their horses for the four-mile ride back to camp. Kellogg wrote: “Went down very long steep buttes, twisted down clay formations where if have stumbled would have gone down precipice hundreds of feet.” He wrote of the “splendid panoramic view” of the area, and saw the column of soldiers “winding its way along.”

The day was hot. Major John Carland found a deep hole in a butte containing ice water, which he and other men drank. Kellogg wrote: “This unexpected relief was like nectar on parched lips, burning throats and feverish stomachs.”

The expedition camped between present-day Medora and Sentinel Butte. Rain began to fall at 7 p.m., and a snowstorm the next morning hindered the march for two days.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura, referencing the book “I Go With Custer: The Life and Death of Reporter Mark Kellogg” by Sandy Barnard

Barnard, S. (1996). I go with Custer: The life and death of reporter Mark Kellogg. The Bismarck Tribune: Bismarck, ND
Bismarck Weekly Tribune. 1876, June 21. Pages 1, 2
Kopp, M. 2020, June 28. Custer’s destiny shaped here by a powerful 3-day June blizzard.
Mark Kellogg diary: history.nd.gov/archives/Kelloggdiary.pdf
Custer Snow Camp: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/dpg/recarea/?recid=79474

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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