Camp Kimball, named for George C. Kimball, assistant quartermaster for the Sibley expedition, was the site of the expedition’s encampment during the night of July 22, 1863. The site is nine miles southwest of Carrington, Foster County.
Early in the morning on July 22, the army was on the trail. After leaving approximately 1,000 men and unnecessary supplies behind at Camp Atchison, the reduced force rapidly marched southwesterly toward the Missouri River where the Indians they were pursuing were reportedly heading. The weather was cool and pleasant with just enough wind to blow away the dust raised by more than 2,000 men, 1,100 mules and horses, wagons, and artillery.
Along the way the column passed a site where Métis had slaughtered a herd of buffalo. A soldier’s diary described the scene: “buffalo heads were lying around a few rods apart [for] as far as we could see.” The day’s march ended northeast of a local landmark called Hawk’s Nest. Camp Kimball was established beside Pipestem Creek, which had clear, cool water that the men appreciated after subsisting on brackish lake water for many weeks.
That evening some of the expedition’s scouts captured a Dakota (Sioux) who turned out to be one of their own couriers. A few days earlier he had been dispatched from Camp Atchison with messages for a nearby Dakota camp. For two days he had ridden toward the place where he had last seen the camp, but could not find it because the village had moved. This supported the rumors that the Dakotas had left the Devils Lake area for the Missouri River.
Today, Camp Kimball State Historic Site contains no marker, directional signs, or interpretation. The narrow plot of pasture surrounded by cultivated fields bears little resemblance to a bustling military camp.
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