On Tuesday, November 14, at the Hub on Smith, the Sheridan Community Land Trust Explore History Program presented a talk on The Battle of the Rosebud. SCLT History Manager Kevin Knapp and former Sheridan County Historical Society Director Dana Prater discussed the details of this famous battle. The presentation featured the latest understanding of the battle based on archaeological research and covered the battle from all perspectives.
Dana Prater started the program with an overview of the battlefield, and Crook’s fight.
She added about the events that led up to the battle.
The Indians refused to give up their hunting country and go peacefully onto the reservations.
On the morning of June 17, 1876, Crooks command of 1300 soldiers, civilian miners and Crow and Shoshone Indian scouts, paused along Rosebud Creek, north of present-day Decker, Montana His orders were to destroy a village that was thought to be near the creek, and force the Indians back on the reservations. Knapp took over the mic.
People back east wanted news of the battles on the Western Frontier. Many newspapers and magazines had correspondents embedded with the army. Knapp had several slides of sketches done by correspondents.
The talk was also illustrated by slides of maps of the movements of the troops and the Indians, and the landscape around the battlefield.
There was talk at the time and even among present day historians, that General Crook was actually lost, and that was why he was on the Rosebud Creek that day.
Just like Custer’s Battle was named, “Battle of the Greasy Grass,” and the Fetterman Fight was named, “Battle of 100 in the Hand,” by the Native Americans, Prater talked about the Indian name for the Rosebud Battle.
At the end, the battle was a draw, with no clear winner. However, it did embolden the Sioux and Cheyenne in their fight against the U.S. Army. The exact number of casualties is still unknown, as there were varying accounts. Crook said he had 10 killed and 21 wounded. His aide gave the number of total casualties as 57. Frank Grouard, scout, reported that 28 soldiers were killed and 56 were wounded. The Lakota and Cheyenne casualties are likewise uncertain with estimates from the soldiers of the number killed ranging from 10 to 100.
Today, the 3052-acre battlefield is preserved as a National Historic Landmark and Montana State Park commemorating the Battle of the Rosebud, “Where the Girl Saved Her Brother.” It is about 26 miles from the town of Decker, Montana, and the site remains much the same as it was during the time of the battle. Getting there, one has to drive across private land, and visitors are asked to be respectful of the landowners.
The cafeteria at The Hub was crowded, around 90 people attended the event. There will be a repeat of this program at the Tongue River Valley Community Center in Dayton on Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 10 a.m.