Mark Kellogg

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A portrait of Mark Kellogg from the late 1800s. Photographer unknown

Mark Kellogg (March 31, 1831 - June 25, 1876) was a newspaper reporter killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Kellogg rode with George Armstrong Custer during the battle and was evidently one of the first men killed by the Lakota and Cheyenne.[1] His dispatches were the only press coverage of Custer and his men in the days leading up to the battle. As a newspaper stringer whose reports were picked up around the country, Kellogg is considered the first Associated Press correspondent to die in the line of duty.[2]

Life

Born Marcus Henry Kellogg on March 31, 1831, in Brighton, Ontario, Canada, Kellogg was the third of ten children. Kellogg's family moved a number of times in his youth before they eventually settled in La Crosse, Wisconsin[3], where his father became postmaster and built the Kellogg House hotel in 1851. Kellogg had learned to operate a telegraph in Kenosha, Wisconsin while his family while his family was in residence nearby in Marengo and Waukegan, Illinois and he went to work for both the Northwestern Telegraph Company and the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company.[4]

He married Martha J. Robinson in 1861 and they had two daughters. During the years of the American Civil War, Kellogg became the assistant editor for the La Crosse Democrat newspaper. He also unsuccessfully ran for the office of city clerk in 1867 and played shortstop on one of the town's baseball teams.[5]

In 1867 Kellogg's wife died. Leaving his daughters to be raised by an aunt, Kellogg began drifting around the upper midwest, working as a reporter and editorial assistant in places such as Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Brainerd, Minnesota. While living in Brainerd he ran for election to the Minnesota Legislature, but was defeated. He also worked as a string correspondent for the St. Paul Dispatch, which often published his articles under the pen name, "Frontier."[6]

In the early 1870s, he moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, where in 1873 he helped editor Clement A. Lounsberry found The Bismarck Tribune. Even though Kellogg was only an editorial assistant for the paper, he substituted for Lounsberry as editor of the Tribune's second, third and fourth issues.[7]

Battle of the Little Bighorn

When Lounsberry learned that a military column (including the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer) would soon leave Fort Abraham Lincoln for the Montana Territory, he agreed to accompany Custer and provide media coverage. However, at the last minute Lounsberry's wife fell ill, so the editor asked Kellogg to take his place as correspondent.[8] Lounsberry expected Kellogg would cover nothing more than a sensational military victory.[9]

Kellogg sent three dispatches back to Lounsberry, the last one four days before the battle when they were near the mouth of the Rosebud River. His last dispatch read, "By the time this reaches you we would have met and fought the red devils, with what result remains to be seen. I go with Custer and will be at the death."[10] It should be noted that Kellogg wasn't predicting his own death or Custer's defeat; instead, "at the death" was a common phrase of the day.[11]

Four days after that dispatch, the Battle of the Little Bighorn occurred, resulting in the deaths of Custer and the 208 soldiers, scouts and civilians riding with him, including Kellogg.

Aftermath

Press reports of the day say Kellogg "died early in the retreat from the Little Bighorn River when Custer's left wing was unsuccessfully scouting for a ford."[12] However, Colonel John Gibbon, whose men arrived at the battle on the second day and also helped bury the dead, said he found Kellogg's body in a ravine where a number of men from Company E died.[13] Kellogg's body was scalped and missing an ear; he was identified by the boots he wore.

When Clement Lounsberry learned of the defeat of Custer's force and Kellogg's death, he "worked tirelessly throughout the night" to produce a special edition of The Bismarck Tribune.[14] Published on July 6, 1876, the article was the battle's first full account. Lounsberry also telegraphed the news, including Kellogg's correspondence, to a number of eastern newspapers, including The New York Herald. Two letters written by Kellogg were published posthumously by the Herald on July 11, 1876.

As a newspaper stringer whose reports were picked up around the country, Kellogg is considered the first Associated Press correspondent to die in the line of duty.[15]

Some of Kellogg's diary and notes survived the battle and these, along with his news accounts, are one of the primary historical sources for information on the days preceding the battle. His notes are now in the possession of the North Dakota State Historical Society.[16]

References

  1. "Mark Kellogg's Prequil to the Battle: A reporter's account of riding with Custer into the Battle of the Little Bighorn," The New York Herald, July 11, 1876. Access Feb 10, 2007.
  2. http://www.ap.org/pages/about/history/history_first.html Associated Press history archives, accessed Feb. 10, 2007.
  3. The Custer Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Life of George Armstrong Custer and the Plains by Thom Hatch, Stackpole Books, 2002, pages 203-204.
  4. Dan L. Thrapp. 1991. Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography: In Three Volumes Volume II. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0803294190 Pp. 766.
  5. I Go With Custer: The Life & Death of Reporter Mark Kellogg by Mark Kellogg, AST Press, 1996.
  6. I Go With Custer: The Life & Death of Reporter Mark Kellogg by Mark Kellogg, AST Press, 1996.
  7. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/calounsberry.htm Clement A. Lounsberry Colonel, United States Army, Arlington National Cemetery website, accessed Feb. 10, 2007
  8. The Custer Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Life of George Armstrong Custer and the Plains by Thom Hatch, Stackpole Books, 2002, pages 203-204.
  9. I Go With Custer: The Life & Death of Reporter Mark Kellogg by Mark Kellogg, AST Press, 1996.
  10. "The AP Looks Back: 150 Years of Capturing the Moment" by Marlane A. Liddell, Smithsonian Magazine, May 1998; "150th Anniversary of the AP" by John Connolly, The Irish Times, September 1998, accessed Feb 10, 2007.
  11. I Go With Custer: The Life & Death of Reporter Mark Kellogg by Mark Kellogg, AST Press, 1996.
  12. "Mark Kellogg's Prequil to the Battle: A reporter's account of riding with Custer into the Battle of the Little Bighorn," The New York Herald, July 11, 1876. Accessed Feb. 10, 2007.
  13. The Custer Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Life of George Armstrong Custer and the Plains by Thom Hatch, Stackpole Books, 2002, pages 203-204.
  14. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/calounsberry.htm Clement A. Lounsberry Colonel, United States Army, Arlington National Cemetery website, accessed Feb. 10, 2007
  15. http://www.ap.org/pages/about/history/history_first.html Associated Press history archives, accessed Feb. 10, 2007.
  16. The Custer Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Life of George Armstrong Custer and the Plains by Thom Hatch, Stackpole Books, 2002, pages 203-204.