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HISTORY & PREHISTORY

Rosebud Battlefield State Park

Rosebud Battlefield

This rolling prairie is the site of the June 17, 1876 battle between the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians and General George Crook's cavalry and infantry. One of the largest Indian battles ever waged in the United States, it set the stage for the Indian victory eight days later when Lt. Col. George A. Custer and his immediate command were wiped out on the Little Bighorn.

The battle ragged over ten square miles and involved 2,500 combatants. General George Crook's Big Horn and Yellowstone Expedition had 1,000 men and there were 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. Crook was caught totally by surprise. Traditionally, the Sioux fought like guerrilla commandos, harassing small parties of whites, stealing horses, and retreating into the hills. But on the Rosebud Battlefield, they fought like an army with great intensity. They were fighting to preserve their lands from white encroachment. The treaty of 1868 had deeded eastern Montana, Wyoming and western South Dakota to the Indians. But that was before the discovery of gold in the South Dakota's Black Hills. The Sioux and their allies rallied together to defend their traditional land.

Rosebud Battlefield

The battle waged on for nearly six hours with the balance of the battle seesawing back and forth. The battle ended without a decisive victor, but the Sioux had shown themselves as a formable force; one in fact, which would claim total victory over Custer eight days latter. Captain Anson Mills, of the Third Cavalry, wrote that the Sioux "proved then and there that they were the best cavalry soldiers on earth. In charging up towards us they exposed little of their person, hanging on with one arm around the neck and one leg over the horse, firing and lancing from underneath the horses' necks so that there was no part of the Indians at which we could aim."

The Rosebud Battlefield was added to the National Register of Historic Places in part, as a result of the efforts by "Slim" Kobold. Kobold homesteaded the battlefield area refusing to allow the mining of a rich coal seam under his ranch, in an effort to preserve this historic location for future generations. In 1972, the Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks purchased the ranch from him and it became a state park.

This large 3,052-acre park at 4,300 feet in elevation restricts the use of metal detectors, digging, collecting, or removal of artifacts. Bikes are allowed on existing roadway only. The leash law for pets is in effect from April 1 until the opening day of upland bird season. Visitors must watch for rattlesnakes in this area. The area is undeveloped and is adjacent to the Crow Indian Reservation. Sheridan, Wyoming, is 46 miles to the southeast.

How To Find It!

Rosebud Battlefield State Park is located 25 miles east of Crow Agency on U.S. 212, then 20 miles south on Secondary 314, then 3 miles west on the county road.

For more information and maps visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks listing for Rosebud Battlefield State Park.

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