The Rosebud

Battle of the Rosebud

The Battle of the Rosebud (also known the Battle of the Rosebud Creek) occurred June 17, 1876, in the Montana Territory between the United States Army and a force of Lakota Native Americans during the Black Hills War. The Cheyenne called it the Battle Where the Girl Saved Her Brother because of an incident during the fight involving Buffalo Calf Road Woman.


General George Crook commanded a mixed force of some 970 cavalry and mule-mounted infantry, 80 civilian teamsters and miners, and 260 Crow (or Absaroke) and Shoshone Indian scouts, traditional foes of the Lakota desiring to retake old hunting grounds. The expedition was part of a three-pronged campaign by some 2,400 soldiers to force roughly 2,500 Lakota and Cheyenne warriors and thousands of noncombatants to return to their reservations.

Crook had made a previous attempt in March, deceived by pleasant weather, to corner the Lakota. When his force got within a hundred miles of the Yellowstone River it was struck by a full blizzard that forced him to abandon his supply train and resulted in numerous frostbite casualties. When the force managed to locate a track of horses, Crook sent three companies of the 2nd Cavalry under its commander, Colonel J. J. Reynolds, to continue the search.

Reynolds blundered in attacking a village of Cheyenne reputedly returning to the reservation, then saw his command dissolve in panic when resistance unexpectedly stiffened. Crook abandoned the expedition and court-martialed three 2nd Cavalry commanders, including Reynolds.

Attacked on the Rosebud

The battle began shortly after 8 a.m. when Crook's Indian scouts who had been out to the front and flanks returned after being attacked by a large mixed party of Sioux and Cheyenne.

The battle was waged in hilly terrain, with fighting from ridge to ridge. The Indian attack initially took the soldiers by surprise as Crook had not posted pickets due to a general feeling of overconfidence. A hard fight ensued for six hours. Hard fighting by Crooks indian allies during early stages saved his command as they repeatedly charged the Sioux. Even after the soldiers were fully involved Crow and Shoshone scouts helped to save isolated units from complete disaster several times during the action. Crook had sent a detachment of eight companies sent along the Rosebud canyon to find and attack the assumed Indian camp. After not finding the camp they returned following the sound of the guns. As this force climbed a ravine leading up to the battleground from the Rosebud, the Lakota and Cheyenne broke off their attack and withdrew.


general goerge cook was defeated. and his Indian scouts refused to continue, halting his advance and preventing him from joining up with the 7th Cavalry under George Armstrong Custer.

The battlesite is preserved at the Rosebud Battlefield State Park in Big Horn County, Montana.

Order of Battle

See also

External links


  • Dillon, Richard H. (1983). North American Indian Wars.
  • Finerty, John F., War-path and Bivouac: or, the Conquest of the Sioux: a first-hand account by a Chicago newspaper reporter accompanying the Crook expedition and present at the Rosebud

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