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RG1247.AM:  Philip Kearney Moore

Diary:  1876

Size:  One folder (photocopies only)


This collection consists of a small pocket diary (photocopies only) that at one time belonged to a soldier of the Fourth U.S. Cavalry during the summer and fall of 1876. At this time Col. Ranald MacKenzie commanded the regiment.  The diary contains brief entries documenting the Fourth Cavalry’s movement from Fort Sill, I.T., beginning in August 1876.

Although not included in the entries, the Fourth Cavalry arrived at Camp Robinson, Nebraska, on or about August 13. While at Camp Robinson, the regiment captured, disarmed, and dismounted the followers of Red Cloud and Red Leaf on Chadron Creek and forced the Indians to return to Red Cloud Agency. There is no reference in the diary to this episode. Entries resume Nov. 1, as the regiment left Camp Robinson en route to Fort Laramie, where it would join Gen. George Crook’s winter campaign against the Sioux and Cheyennes. The diary notes the location of the Fourth Cavalry’s camps from Camp Robinson to Fort Laramie, from Fort Laramie to Fort Fetterman, and from Fort Fetterman to Fort Reno, where the regiment arrived about Nov. 18. That date is the last entry in the diary. 

Subsequent to the dates recorded in the diary, the Fourth Cavalry marched to the Red Fork of the Powder River, where on Nov. 25 it surprised and defeated Dull Knife’s village of Cheyennes. This is a well-known episode of the Sioux War of 1876-77, and is recorded in numerous sources. In addition to the Fourth U.S. Cavalry, the force that attacked the Cheyenne village included Sioux, Arapaho, Shoshone, and Pawnee Indian scouts.

A number of drawings also appear in the diary typical of what has been called “ledger art.”  Some of the drawings include representations of fighting between soldiers and Indians. There is a supposition that an Indian who had experienced combat with the U.S. Army executed these drawings.

The diary was donated to the Nebraska State Historical Society by Philip Kearney Moore in 1928.  The donor’s story was that his father purchased the diary in 1877 from a “derelict” leaving the Black Hills. The “derelict” said he had taken it from a dead Indian in 1876, who had been killed by soldiers.

What we know:

  1. A member of the Fourth U.S. Cavalry wrote the text of the diary.

  2. The diary was in possession of its original author until at least Nov. 18, 1876, and documents a portion of the regiment’s campaign that culminated in the destruction of Dull Knife’s village of Cheyennes on Nov. 25, 1876.

If the donor’s story were true, the Indian artist would have obtained the book sometime between November 18, 1876, and the end of the year.

James E. Potter

Senior Research Historian

October 6, 2006

Note:  The original diary is held at the Nebraska History Museum.  Researchers interested in viewing the original diary must schedule an appointment with the Museum Collections department.

Scans of the ledger art from this diary can be seen on the Plains Indian Ledger Art website.


Subject headings:

Indian art

Indian ledger drawings

Indians of North America — Art

U.S. Army. Cavalry 4th regiment


TMM     03-13-2018