Native Americans score victory at the Battle of the Rosebud

Native Americans score victory at the Battle of the Rosebud

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Sioux and Cheyenne Native Americans score a tactical victory over General Crook’s forces at the Battle of the Rosebud, foreshadowing the disaster of the Battle of the Little Big Horn eight days later.

General George Crook was in command of one of three columns of soldiers converging on the Big Horn country of southern Montana that June. A large band of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians under the direction of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and several other chiefs had congregated in the area in defiance of U.S. demands that the Indians confine themselves to reservations. The army viewed the Indians’ refusal as an opportunity to dispatch a massive three-pronged attack and win a decisive victory over the “hostile” Indians.

Crook’s column, marching north from Fort Fetterman in Wyoming Territory, was to join with two others: General Gibbon’s column coming east from Fort Ellis in Montana Territory, and General Terry’s force coming west from Fort Abraham Lincoln in Dakota Territory. Terry’s force included the soon-to-be-famous 7th Cavalry under the command of George Custer. The vast distances and lack of reliable communications made it difficult to coordinate, but the three armies planned to converge on the valley of the Big Horn River and stage an assault on an enemy whose location and size was only vaguely known.

The plan quickly ran into trouble. As Crook approached the Big Horn, his Indian scouts informed him they had found signs of a major Sioux force that must still be nearby. Crook was convinced that the Sioux were encamped in a large village somewhere along the Rosebud Creek just east of the Big Horn. Like most of his fellow officers, Crook believed that Indians were more likely to flee than stand and fight, and he was determined to find the village and attack before the Sioux could escape into the wilderness. Crook’s Indian allies—262 Crow and Shoshone warriors—were less certain. They suspected the Sioux force was under the command of Crazy Horse, thee brilliant war chief. Crazy Horse, they warned, was too shrewd to give Crook an opportunity to attack a stationary village.

Crook soon learned that his allies were right. Around 8 a.m. on June 17, 1876, Crook halted his force of about 1,300 men in the bowl of a small valley along the Rosebud Creek in order to allow the rear of the column to catch up. Crook’s soldiers unsaddled and let their horses graze while they relaxed in the grass and enjoyed the cool morning air. The American soldiers were out in the open, divided, and unprepared. Suddenly, several Indian scouts rode into the camp at a full gallop. “Sioux! Sioux!” they shouted. “Many Sioux!” Within minutes, a mass of Sioux warriors began to converge on the army.

A force of at least 1,500 mounted Sioux warriors caught Crook’s soldiers by surprise. Crazy Horse had kept an additional 2,500 warriors in reserve to finish the attack. Fortunately for Crook, one segment of his army was not caught unprepared. His 262 Crow and Shoshone allies had taken up advanced positions about 500 yards from the main body of soldiers. With astonishing courage, the Indian warriors boldly countercharged the much larger invading force. They managed to blunt the initial attack long enough for Crook to regroup his men and send soldiers forward to support his Indian allies. The fighting continued until noon, when the Sioux-perhaps hoping to draw Crook’s army into an ambush—retreated from the field.

The combined force of 4,000 Sioux warriors had outnumbered Crook’s divided and unprepared army by more than three to one. Had it not been for the wisdom and courage of Crook’s Indian allies, Americans today might well remember the Battle of the Rosebud as they do the subsequent Battle of the Little Big Horn. As it was, Crook’s team was badly bloodied—28 men were killed and 56 were seriously wounded.

Crook had no choice but to withdraw and regroup. Crazy Horse had lost only 13 men and his warriors were emboldened by their successful attack on the American soldiers. Eight days later, they would join with their tribesmen in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, which would wipe out George Custer and his 7th Cavalry.

READ MORE: What Really Happened at the Battle of the Little Bighorn?

List of battles won by indigenous peoples of the Americas

The following is a list of battles won by Indigenous peoples of the Americas:

  • Capture of Fort Sandusky
  • Oatman Massacre
  • Sacred Heart Massacre
  • Sheteck Masssacre [5]
  • Swansea Massacre
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  7. "Fort Pitt Block House". Fort Pitt Block House. Archived from the original on 2019-03-21 . Retrieved 2019-04-03 .
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  13. Editors, History com. "Indians hammer U.S. soldiers at the Battle of the Rosebud". HISTORY. Archived from the original on 2019-04-03 . Retrieved 2019-04-03 . CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

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Battle of the Rosebud

Given the number of combatants, the Battle of the Rosebud was one of the largest confrontations waged in the Indian Wars. In the spring of 1876, the U.S. Army took to the field against the Lakota (Sioux) and Cheyenne. The tribes had not met an ultimatum to return to their reservations in the Dakotas and Nebraska after U.S. negotiations to acquire the sacred Black Hills had failed in the fall of 1875. Brigadier General George Crook moved 1,050 soldiers and 260 Crow and Shoshone scouts north into the Rosebud Valley, Montana Territory, after his scouts reported a significant concentration of Lakota and Cheyenne there. Crook’s column represented one of three tactical columns placed in the field in the summer to ferret out the natives. On June 17, a roughly equal number of warriors led by Crazy Horse assaulted Crook's force along Rosebud Creek. The confused battle over uneven ground separated into three pitched skirmishes. There were numerous brave acts on both sides, including a Cheyenne girl who rescued her brother after his horse had been shot out from under him.* After six hours and much lead shot, the Lakotas and Cheyennes called off the fight the braves had fought Crook’s men to a standstill. Crook's force suffered 10 killed and 21 wounded, and the warriors sustained similar casualties. Crook claimed the day because he believed he had driven the Indians from the field, but his claim was empty. The fight was at most a stalemate, and Crook's badly hit column withdrew to its base camp on Goose Creek near present-day Sheridan, Wyoming. As a result of the battle, one of the three army columns converging on the Indians was effectively incapacitated and taken out of the campaign for two months. Some say the battle set the stage for the Indian victory involving many of the same warriors eight days later and 30 miles away, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. At least partial blame has been laid at Crook's feet for Custer's disaster because the latter failed to rout the Indians, give chase, and conceivably force them north into other U.S. Army columns. Instead, the reasoning goes, the action gave the Lakota and Cheyenne a psychological boost. But other scholars say Crook is wrongfully implicated in Custer's demise: The former had barely enough provisions for his soldiers through June 18, which suggests he would have had to reverse course the following day. In addition, Crook could not have advised General Terry, Custer's commanding officer, of the battle's outcome soon enough to aid Custer. To historians of the battle as well as Native Americans today, the Rosebud is acknowledged as a positive chapter in the Lakota and Cheyenne defense of their lands and lifeways. However, it was not a simple fight between whites and Indians. To the Crows and Shoshones who scouted for the Americans, it was their battle too, against the Lakotas and Cheyennes who were encroaching on their lands and lifeways.

*Thereafter, the Cheyenne referred to the battle as "Where the Girl Saved Her Brother."
See Indian Wars Time Table.

Memory and the Rosebud

Buffalo Calf Road Woman rides in to spirit her fallen Cheyenne brother to safety during the June 17, 1876, Battle of the Rosebud.

Frank Standing High, from Paul L. Hedren Collection

Brigadier General George Crook used Shoshone and Crow scouts in his battle against Northern Cheyennes and Lakotas on the Rosebud River in Montana Territory. (Library of Congress)

Among the ironies of the bloody and transformative Great Sioux War of 1876 is the differing manner in which Indian survivors—Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyennes, Shoshones and Crows—embraced its legacy and recalled its battle grounds. The twist is no more apparent than in the story of the June 17 Battle of the Rosebud, a sprawling fight involving all of those tribes and occurring just eight days before the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Emotions were mixed among the Army’s Shoshone and Crow scouts. The Shoshones fought alongside Brigadier General George Crook’s soldiers on the Rosebud, then quit the war and rarely looked back. After all, the Sioux war on the northern Plains was a world apart from the Shoshones’ Wind River homeland in Wyoming Territory. For the Crows proximity proved confounding. The Little Bighorn clash, the most heralded of the scores of engagements, was fought within the very bounds of the massive Crow Indian Reservation in Montana Territory. Crow warriors scouted for Crook, Brigadier General Alfred Terry, Colonel John Gibbon and Lieutenant Colonel George Custer in 1876, but by stance and proximity they have ever after been linked to the Custer story and its aftermath.

However ambivalent but understandable the Crow embrace of the Great Sioux War, their attachment to it was not shared by surviving Sioux warriors and their descendants. For one, the Sioux do not live in the midst of the war’s major battlefields. Rather, most live on reservations hundreds of miles east in the Dakotas. Moreover, their historical attention is largely focused elsewhere. In the immediate wake of the conflict some sought exile in Canada with Sitting Bull and Gall, while others, including those aligning with Crazy Horse, surrendered at agencies in Nebraska and Dakota Territory. Both courses were troublesome. The Canadian exile ended fitfully on July 19, 1881, when Sitting Bull surrendered at Fort Buford, Dakota Territory—the last of his tribe to do so. Crazy Horse, meanwhile, was bayoneted to death at Nebraska’s Camp Robinson on Sept. 5, 1877, during the Army’s botched attempt to arrest and remove him to Florida. For the rest of the surviving Sioux those early postwar days at the agencies proved little more than cycles of privation and humiliating land cessions. While the Sioux do recall Custer and the war for the Black Hills, their primary historical focus is on Wounded Knee, the Dec. 29, 1890, epilogue that proved far more horrific than anything occurring 14 years earlier.

Crazy Horse rallied the Lakotas on the Rosebud, only to die in Army custody a year later. (Gilcrease Museum)

Northern Cheyennes embraced the Sioux War differently yet. The war burdened them greatly, in attacks on Cheyenne villages on the Powder River in March and on the Red Fork of the Powder that November, and in the post–Little Bighorn clash with soldiers at Warbonnet Creek that July. Exiled to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) after the war, they made a desperate return trek north, only to be bloodied again in 1878 when some broke from imprisonment at newly christened Fort Robinson. When the U.S. government finally opened a reservation for the Northern Cheyennes in Montana Territory in 1884, those steadfast allies of the Lakotas found themselves smack in the midst of the Sioux war battlefields. The site of the war’s final clash—the May 7, 1877, Muddy Creek or Lame Deer fight—was almost immediately built over by the growing community of Lame Deer, tribal headquarters of the new reservation.

As had the Crows, the Northern Cheyennes also reckoned with Sioux war landmarks and battlefields in their very backyard. While vestiges of the Muddy Creek fight have all but disappeared, just north of Lame Deer stand the revered Deer Medicine Rocks, a site with spiritual significance to the war. Several miles north is the site of Sitting Bull’s mystical Sun Dance camp. Both overlook the historically sublime Rosebud Creek, an otherwise unassuming watercourse that threads its way across the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation south to north, its waters bound for the Yellowstone River.

Another postwar phenomenon with lasting resonance were the many interviews conducted with survivors. With an eye to preserving history, such interlocutors as Walter Mason Camp, Eli S. Ricker, Hugh L. Scott, Thomas Bailey Marquis, John Stands in Timber and others sought out participants and eyewitnesses—Indian and white alike—and recorded their stories. The Little Bighorn invariably dominated many accounts, but some veterans, particularly Indians, could not relate their involvement in that great fight without first acknowledging earlier episodes, stretching back to the saga of Northern Cheyenne Chief Old Bear and the Powder River fight at the outset of the months-long conflict. Much is owed to the interviewers, interpreters and aged veterans who so willingly shared their accounts of victory and defeat. Subsequent generations are forever enriched by their collaboration. The stories from the Rosebud are illustrative.

As proximity ties the Crows inexorably to the Little Bighorn, the Northern Cheyennes are similarly linked to the Rosebud, a sprawling battleground within miles of their reservation’s southern border. Northern Cheyenne affinity for the Rosebud has several roots. Around the turn of the 20th century their ancestors placed rock memorials on the battlefield to commemorate memorable encounters. They placed one such cairn in a feature known as the Gap, on the east side of the field, to honor a young warrior slain there. As the story goes, the boy’s bereft brother took a suicide vow in honor of his sibling and was killed in the fighting on the Little Bighorn eight days later. Unfortunately, the cairn was lost to time when that corner of the Gap was transformed into a hay meadow.

The Northern Cheyennes also placed stones where Captain Guy V. Henry was shot in the face, fell from his horse and barely survived the fight. Henry’s grievous wounding occurred on the southern shoulder of Kollmar Creek, an intermittent drainage that slices conspicuously across the battlefield. The Cheyennes and Sioux nearly destroyed the troops fighting with Henry and his battalion commander, Lt. Col. William B. Royall, thus the surviving cairn also serves as a stark memorial to a critical fight nearly won.

Buffalo Calf Road Woman’s rescue of brother Chief Comes in Sight so moved the Cheyennes, they recall the Rosebud fight as the “Battle Where the Girl Saved Her Brother.” (Paul Hedren Collection)

Among other heroic episodes occurring during the Rosebud battle, none is as dramatic as the moment a sister saved her brother. Early in the fighting in the Gap three warriors—two Cheyennes and a Sioux—were riding through the draw, perhaps as a test of courage or just as likely seeking to capture cavalry horses secured behind imposing rocks. The three faced harsh enemy fire, and as they turned back, one of them, a Cheyenne named Chief Comes in Sight, was thrown when a bullet shattered his horse’s hind leg, sending it into a somersault. Chief Comes in Sight landed on his feet and started to run, zigzagging to avoid incoming rounds. Soldiers went after him. Another mounted Cheyenne, White Elk, was preparing to draw the soldier fire and help his friend escape when he spotted a slender figure on horseback, racing down from the Indian lines straight for the dismounted warrior. When the female rider reached the man afoot, she wheeled her horse about, he jumped on behind her, and the two galloped off. Only then did White Elk recognize Buffalo Calf Road Woman, the Cheyenne wife of warrior Black Coyote and sister of Chief Comes in Sight. Amid a rain of bullets sister and brother escaped unharmed. But for his sister’s dauntless courage, Chief Comes in Sight surely would have been killed.

Chief Comes in Sight’s rescue was as honorific as it was startling. Buffalo Calf Road Woman was the only woman who rode from the Indian village that morning to confront Crook. The 26-year-old mother of two was a superb horsewoman and fearless warrior. By virtue of their very presence in Old Bear’s village on the Powder River that March, she, husband Black Coyote and brother Chief Comes in Sight had been drawn into the Great Sioux War. Buffalo Calf Road Woman fought again, on the Little Bighorn, but the Rosebud was her signature moment. For generations since her heroics have inspired Indian artists to render the scene, from period ledger art to modern fine art. While Crook claimed victory on the Rosebud because his troops occupied the battlefield at the end of the day, Northern Cheyennes recall it as Indian victory, namely as the “Battle Where the Girl Saved Her Brother.”

Another episode in the Gap, while far less valorous, was telling in another regard. Jack Red Cloud, the 18-year-old son of Oglala Chief Red Cloud, had joined Sitting Bull’s confederation that May, just before the Sun Dance. Early in the Rosebud fight Crow scouts shot Jack Red Cloud’s horse from beneath him. (The young man was conspicuously, if foolishly, wearing his father’s eagle feather warbonnet and carrying an ornately engraved Winchester rifle that had been presented to his father at the White House a year earlier.) Thrown to the ground, Jack did not pause to remove the bridle from his dead pony—an act of righteousness expected of warriors, even in the face of deadly enemy fire. Instead, the frightened young man immediately took off running, his flowing warbonnet drawing inordinate attention.

Not so heroic was Jack Red Cloud’s weeping, begging and loss of his famed father’s warbonnet and rifle to Crow scout Bull Doesn’t Fall Down. (National Museum of the American Indian)

Alerted by the flurry of feathers, several Crow scouts spotted Jack. One of them, Bull Doesn’t Fall Down, singled out the fleeing youngster as particularly worthy of a coup. Running him down on horseback, Bull Doesn’t Fall Down flogged Jack severely with his quirt, berating him as a coward for both failing to remove his bridle and bolting in panic, then further admonishing the teen for wearing the feathers of a true warrior. Young Red Cloud wept and begged for mercy. Bull Doesn’t Fall Down and fellow warrior Along the Hills confiscated the young Oglala’s warbonnet and rifle, then, in an eloquent expression of contempt, let him go. It was a humiliation worse than death.

At that point Crazy Horse and two others charged in to pick up young Red Cloud. Jack and his father were members of the influential Bad Face band of Oglalas, people deeply committed to preserving the old ways. Crazy Horse’s friend and fellow warrior He Dog was also a member of the band, and looking out for one another, even in such a humbling circumstance, was a critical virtue. Still, none of Jack’s saviors would look at him afterward, shaming him for having dissolved in tears before his enemies.

Cheyenne Two Moon (at left) and Crow Bull Doesn’t Fall Down were among veterans in attendance at the 50th Rosebud anniversary. (Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument)

Jack Red Cloud’s humiliation on the Rosebud had an epilogue. In 1926, amid events marking the 50th anniversary of the Little Bighorn fight, aged Indian veterans held their own gathering at the Crow Agency. Present among the Sioux contingent from Pine Ridge was 68-year-old Jack Red Cloud, who by then was an Oglala chief. Also in attendance was Crook scout Bull Doesn’t Fall Down, the contemptuous Crow who had counted coup on Jack and openly berated him for his feckless behavior in 1876. Noticing Jack across the broad camp circle, Bull Doesn’t Fall Down walked briskly up to him, pulled out a quirt and in plain sight of all playfully flogged the dignified and thoroughly startled old Sioux chief. Jack sat still and proud, enduring the jest with no outward signs of humiliation or anger. Onlookers were puzzled until Bull Doesn’t Fall Down explained their encounter 50 years earlier on the Rosebud. The Crow then graciously summoned forth a buggy full of gifts and presented them to Jack. The two shook hands, Jack exclaiming, “Aho! Aho!” (“Thank you! Thank you!”) to the warm approval of his fellow Lakotas. At least these Crows and Sioux were enemies no more.

As in the Gap, the action on Kollmar Creek occasioned several distinctive episodes, perhaps none more thrilling than the escape of 18-year-old Cheyenne warrior Limpy. During some childhood escapade the young warrior had broken his leg, compensating ever since for bones that had been poorly set—hence his name. Regardless, Limpy fought as fearlessly as any other warrior on the Rosebud.

That morning to the south of Kollmar Creek, as a group of soldiers withdrew eastward afoot, Limpy and five other mounted Cheyennes pressed the bluecoats. Eager to count coup, they paid little heed to their surroundings. Suddenly a group of soldiers popped up on their left flank, firing as they advanced. The Cheyenne riders elected to make a run for a hill some 200 yards to the rear, warrior Young Two Moon suggesting they should scatter, so as to avoid making one big easy target. One by one each rode off, safely evading the soldiers. Then came Limpy’s turn.

The youngest in the group, he obligingly went last and had barely set out when a bullet struck his pony. The horse went wild, kicking, jumping and finally bucking off its rider, before dropping dead. Fortunately for Limpy, nearby stood a cluster of sandstone monoliths, some as tall as a man, others high as a horse, and all providing good cover on an otherwise exposed ground. Making for the rocks, the young warrior had just reached their shelter when he thought of his bridle, a fine one mounted with silver dollars that an uncle had given him. Unwilling to bear the shame of losing it, he ran back to his dead pony and started tugging at the headpiece amid sustained enemy fire. “Bullets were flying on top of my head,” Limpy recalled.

From a distance Young Two Moon saw Limpy’s plight, and that mounted Army scouts were rushing toward him, aiming to kill and count coup. Setting out on horseback to rescue his fellow warrior, Young Two Moon reached Limpy, but the crippled boy was unable to jump on the pony’s back, and the two again parted. With the enemy closing in, Limpy hobbled over to one of the smaller sandstone rocks and clambered atop it. Young Two Moon then rode out a second time, and this time from his perch Limpy was able to scramble onto the pony’s back. Riding double, the Cheyennes escaped, Limpy clutching both his weapon and the prized bridle. He soon took charge of a captured horse and set out again with his five companions. Joining another body of Indians, mostly Cheyennes, the six again charged into the fight.

As a young man Charles Limpy (at right) proved his mettle on the Rosebud despite his bum leg. (Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument)

Limpy’s story also had an epilogue set in modern times. In 1934, to mark the 58th anniversary of the Battle of the Rosebud, the Billings chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution unveiled a monument of stone and bronze atop a knoll at the Big Bend of the Rosebud. The marker was one in a wave of memorials orchestrated by the national DAR to mark such historic American sites. Imposing as it was, however, more striking was the presence of four old men—Beaver Heart, Louis Dog, Wheezer Bear and Charles Limpy of the “Limpy’s Rocks” episode in 1876. The four had journeyed from the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation for the unveiling. A fifth old man, Kills Night, was blind and ailing and remained home near Busby, lamenting his inability to attend. All were veterans of the Rosebud battle, acknowledged as the last of the Cheyennes who had fought both there and at the Little Bighorn. Three came dressed in historical garb, and, according to a reporter from The Billings Gazette, all were in a talkative mood. That bright, hot afternoon the four wizened Cheyennes shared their stories of the fight, adding to the rich tapestry of the Rosebud.

Such chroniclers as Thomas Bailey Marquis and John Stands in Timber captured and published similar Northern Cheyenne accounts, further perpetuating the tribal legacy of the place. For those four old men and all the Northern Cheyennes, then as now, languid Rosebud Creek and the surrounding battlefield remain sacred ground, both in physical proximity and in the sanctuary of their collective memory.

Paul Hedren, a retired National Park Service historian and superintendent, drew these stories from his forthcoming book Rosebud, June 17, 1876: Prelude to the Little Big Horn. For further reading see Hedren’s Traveler’s Guide to the Great Sioux War: The Battlefields, Forts and Related Sites of America’s Greatest Indian War.

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull (1831-1890) was a Lakota Native American chief and the last chief to surrender to the U.S. government. A great military leader, the Sioux tribes of the Great Plains coalesced under his leadership, culminating in the Great Sioux Wars of the 1870s (which included the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn).

Early Life

Sitting Bull, or Tatanka Iyotanka, was born in 1831 in what is now the state of South Dakota. From as early as 14, he fought and hunted for his Lakota tribe. He took after his father, Returns-Again, who was renowned as a great warrior.

It wasn&rsquot long before Sitting Bull also became known for his courage. Much of this was shown in his fighting to halt the United States&rsquo relentless western expansion, which drove directly into Native American territories. In the 1860s he first came across the white settlers. The interactions were mainly uprisings and battles, sometimes resulting in other tribes being cast into reservations. In 1864 he participated in the Battle of Killdeer Mountain, and the fighting continued into the 1870s.

Clash of Cultures and the Little Bighorn

As U.S. territory spread, Sitting Bull and the Native Americans moved further west. This accomplished two goals: avoiding the advancing white settlers and getting closer to herds of buffalo.

Red Cloud, the chief before Sitting Bull

Red Cloud, the chief before Sitting Bull, became unpopular with many because of the Fort Laramie treaty, which forced many Native Americans into reservations. In stark contrast, Sitting Bull took a leading role in risings against the U.S. government during this period. Partly due to the popularity of this, he rose to prominence as a medicine man, and he was named the &ldquohead chief of the Lakota nation&rdquo in 1868. All of this made a violent, major encounter with U.S. troops nearly inevitable.

The situation was exacerbated when gold was found in South Dakota&rsquos Black Hills. These Hills were defined as sacred land to the Native Americans in the Fort Laramie treaty, but the American government and prospectors ignored this and planned to grab the disputed area. They also proclaimed that the Lakota had to be in reservations by 1876.

Talk:Battle of the Rosebud

The article recalls that although Reno had counted only 10 dead, further research would count 28. I think since this makes mention of the up-to 56 wounded it should also mention the up-to 28 dead.

This article is downright racist, especially the "first time tribes showed cohesion fighting together"passage. What kind of colonialist hogwash is this . -VictoryBlood 09:18, 10 December 2006 (UTC) I concurr. This article is completely biased. It is narrated exclusively from the perspective of the Anglo-Americans. It does not represent the views of our people whatsoever. We lost many courageous souls in battle that day, and to have it be trivialized in such a manner is disgusting. There should be a revolution amongst the Wikipedia community. Why should we let these barbaric foreigners push us around any longer? They stole our lands, butchered our people, destroyed our religion, exploited our culture, desecrated our sacred places and exposed us to diseases to which we had no immunity. We cannot let them rewrite our history. It's about time those visitors from across the ocean showed us some respect. We must assert ourselves as the heirs to the glorious civilization of our ancestors. We must force them to recognize that we are the true guardians of the land, that as visitors, they may use it if they like, but their use must meet with our expressed approval. EightDeer 17:57, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

EightDeer sounds a bit too militant, and off topic. The whole article needs a re write, but to go on with such a proclaimation? very odd. However your respect to our culture and history is admirable. Militant action with militant need, the need being the peoples aproval and aspiration, I dont see Pine Ridge taking up arms in revolt, or Quito in a revolutionary blaze, thus the violent method illegitamate, not to mention inpractical. Revolution with need, not desire.

Sioux historians Stanley Vestal, Robert Utley, and Dee Brown would have to disagree with what is written as the outcome to this conflict. They all clearly state that the "bluecoats" retreated and "despite Crook's claims, the true victory, both tactical and strategic, lay with the Indians." (Utley,2008)

History channel made a documentary where archaeological proof and Indian and US soldiers testimonies support that Crazy Horse defeated Crook force (whose indian scout saved his life during the battle)and forced them to retreat leaving the open field to the American Natives return and help in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:22, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

"first time tribes showed cohesion fighting together" Native American fighting was based on brave individual and small group actions, contrasting to American large unit tactics arising from Civil War experience. It is hardly an insult. SGGH ping! 11:06, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

It is hardly racist to claim that native tribes were in the habit of fighting each other prior to the arrival of white men. And that it was unusual for previously warring tribes to form an alliance.

Nevertheless, Indian warriors proved (not for the first time) that knowing how your enemy has displayed himself can win a battle. I think this discussion is a little overblown, and the article, although maybe in need of an edit, should basically stand as it is now.

The subtext of the argument, that Indians are somehow perfect lovers of the land, in balance with nature, is in conflict with the evidence that they caused the extinction of much of the large fauna that previously inhabited the Americas. Kadathdreamques (talk) 21:15, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

Although there can be legitimate debate as to which side won this battle, that victory would merely be a Tactical victory. In no way can this be considered a Strategic victory for either side. Strategy is about winning, about winning the war, not the battles. The Native Americans lost this war and lost it rather quickly. They won many battles and piled up many tactical victories, but they lost the war. Their loss was strategic.

At the Battle of Cannae, Hannibal won one of the greatest tactical victories in recorded history. Yet the victory was hollow because Hannibal failed to achieve Strategic Victory by defeating ROME and not too many years later the Punic Wars resulted in a complete and utter defeat of Carthage--A strategic victory for the Romans.

The U.S. fought a great number of land, sea and air battles in Viet Nam. Our side scored tactical victories in most all of them. But in 1975 we lost the war. We failed at Strategic Victory while our opponents--the North Vietnamese--achieved a great Strategic Victory.

There is a distinct and unassailable difference between Strategic and Tactical Victory. Great Sioux War of 1876-77 was a strategic defeat for Native Americans, no matter how you want to re-interpret history. --Mike Cline (talk) 15:51, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

It was Sitting Bull who realized there was no way for Indians to win a war against the US. He understood that although they could win tactically, there was no strategic victory possible. I doubt he used those words, or thought in those terms though. Kadathdreamques (talk) 21:34, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

I find it interesting that the name of the "Indian scout" who saved Crook is not listed in these comments. Since he wasn't Lakota, is this not a form of racism as well? Part of the problem with the primary source of this entry is that it is old and little or nothing of the Indian side was obtained. It took over a century for their side (mostly correct) of the Little Bighorn battle to be confirmed. Military reports of the time were self-serving as well. It needs a re-write for the brave men and woman who fought in this battle that laid the foundations of the Indian victory at The Little Big Horn. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:32, 25 July 2011 (UTC)

Lets face it, much of this is from a book written over 50 years ago, hence distorted and bias, but apparently still a primary source. Few of the "facts" have ever very been carefully examined and properly recorded. The same history in relation to Custer and the Little Big Horn, has been rewritten so many times and examined so closely they can tell you how many gum wrappers were left behind since 1876. This prime cause and prelude to the more famous, yet also poorly analyzed, disaster (or victory) at the Little Big Horn is in much need of a good unbiased overview and rewrite by some competent historian, who might leave his mark doing so. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Newmans2001 (talk • contribs) 03:02, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

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"By the standards of Indian warfare, the Battle of the Rosebud was a long and bloody engagement." - needs references to "Indian warfare standards". It also seems questionable to make general value judgements about Indian Warfare are we are speaking of persons belonging to different tribes and it is unclear how they effect warfare of one another. --Rebentisch (talk) 14:12, 17 June 2019 (UTC)

Sioux and Cheyenne Native Americans score a tactical victory over General Crook’s forces at the Battle of the Rosebud, foreshadowing the disaster of the Battle of the Little Big Horn eight days later.

Battle of the Rosebud
Lakota Sioux Northern Cheyenne United States Crow Shoshoni
Commanders and leaders
Crazy Horse George R. Crook Plenty Coups (Crow) Washakie (Shoshoni)

Visions and Reconnaissance

The tribes had come together for a variety of reasons. The region containing the Powder, Rosebud, Bighorn, and Yellowstone rivers was a productive hunting ground. The tribes regularly gathered in large numbers during early summer to celebrate their annual sun dance ceremony. This ceremony had occurred about two weeks earlier near present-day Lame Deer, Montana. During the ceremony, Sitting Bull received a vision of soldiers falling upside down into his village. He prophesized there soon would be a great victory for his people.

On the morning of June 25, the camp was ripe with rumors about soldiers on the other side of the Wolf Mountains, 15 miles to the east, yet few people paid any attention. In the words of Low Dog, an Oglala Lakota: "I did not think anyone would come and attack us so strong as we were."

On June 22, General Terry decided to detach Custer and his 7 th Cavalry to make a wide flanking march and approach the Indians from the east and south. Custer was to act as the hammer, and prevent the Lakota and their Cheyenne allies from slipping away and scattering, a common fear expressed by government and military authorities. General Terry and Colonel Gibbon, with infantry and cavalry, would approach from the north to act as a blocking force or anvil in support of Custer's far ranging movements toward the headwaters of the Tongue and Little Bighorn Rivers. The Indians, who were thought to be camped somewhere along the Little Bighorn River, "would be so completely enclosed as to make their escape virtually impossible."

Native Americans score victory at the Battle of the Rosebud - HISTORY

The Battle of the Rosebud may well be the largest Indian battle ever fought in the American West. The monumental clash on June 17, 1876, along Rosebud Creek in southeastern Montana pitted George Crook and his Shoshone and Crow allies against Sioux and Northern Cheyennes under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. It set the stage for the battle that occurred eight days later when, just twenty-five miles away, George Armstrong Custer blundered into the very same village that had outmatched Crook. Historian Paul L. Hedren presents the definitive account of this critical battle, from its antecedents in the Sioux campaign to its historic consequences.

Rosebud, June 17, 1876 explores in unprecedented detail the events of the spring and early summer of 1876. Drawing on an extensive array of sources, including government reports, diaries, reminiscences, and a previously untapped trove of newspaper stories, the book traces the movements of both Indian forces and U.S. troops and their Indian allies as Brigadier General Crook commenced his second great campaign against the northern Indians for the year. Both Indian and army paths led to Rosebud Creek, where warriors surprised Crook and then parried with his soldiers for the better part of a day on an enormous field. Describing the battle from multiple viewpoints, Hedren narrates the action moment by moment, capturing the ebb and flow of the fighting. Throughout he weighs the decisions and events that contributed to Crook&rsquos tactical victory, and to his fateful decision thereafter not to pursue his adversary. The result is a uniquely comprehensive view of an engagement that made history and then changed its course.

Rosebud was at once a battle won and a battle lost. With informed attention to the subtleties and significance of both outcomes, as well as to the fears and motivations on all sides, Hedren has given new meaning to this consequential fight, and new insight into its place in the larger story of the Great Sioux War.

The Battle of Tippecanoe

From the time of the first English colonial settlement of pilgrims in America, the struggle of the Native American tribes to maintain control of their land had greatly intensified with more of the tribal lands being confiscated by increasing numbers of white settlers. By 1811, frontiersmen and women had settled upon much of the eastern United States and moved west into the northern section of what was then called Indiana Territory inhabited by the Shawnee tribe and their leader, Tecumseh. 1 The Battle of Tippecanoe took place on November 7, 1811 at Prophetstown in Indiana territory, where Tecumseh and his men were met by United States forces, in a land struggle between the two. 2

Located in the Wabash Valley, the village of Tippecanoe was established in the 1700s as a trading post, before being demolished in 1791 in an attempt to rid the area of Natives, leaving it open to “white settlers”. 3 Just ten years later, William Henry Harrison became governor of Indiana Territory and was assigned the undertaking of encouraging American settlers to Indiana Territory and acquiring the ownership of the land throughout the territory from the Natives. 4 As white settlers began to move west, inhabiting much more Native land, Shawnee leader Tecumseh saw a need to gather forces in hopes of keeping the United States at bay. In 1808, Tippecanoe was resurrected once more by Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa (known as the Prophet) , naming it Prophetstown, where they would soon establish the Indian confederacy. 5

As the governor of Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison was well known by many tribal leaders, including Tecumseh. 6 Meeting numerous times, Governor Harrison not only promoted peaceful coexistence within Indiana Territory, but also throughout the whole of America. 7 He openly spoke of the mistreatment of the Natives by the United States and urged Congress to take honorable action that would not further damage the United States/Native relations. 8 Despite William Henry Harrison’s outspoken loyalty to the Native tribes, his ultimate goal was to secure statehood for Indiana Territory, which meant greater white settlement as opposed to Native settlement. 9 In 1811, Governor Harrison asked the United States government for permission to act against the Natives who were opposing the United States’ westward expansion, and was granted consent that year. 10

Once consent was received, William Henry Harrison began to organize a militia of one-thousand men with the hopes of attacking the village of Prophetstown while Tecumseh was away to obtain more aid for the Native cause and Tenskwatawa was left to lead the confederacy. 11 By November 6, 1811, the United States militia was mobilized and Harrison met with Tenskwatawa’s delegates in order to urge peaceful agreement between the opposing forces and action was delayed until a formal meeting could be arranged for the following day. 12 Both leaders leery of one another, Harrison advised his troops of the necessity of alertness throughout the night a conflict became imminent. 13

Against the instructions from Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa ordered the Indian Confederacy to launch an attack on the United States forces mobilized at Prophetstown, awaiting formal negotiations. 14 With the promise by Tenskwatawa that no harm would fall upon the Natives by the United States Army during the struggle, the confederacy prepared for an offensive. 15 In the early morning hours of the 7 th of November, Tecumseh’s comrades blindsided Harrison’s men as they slept. 16

Awakened to find the Native American soldiers’ attack upon them, William Henry Harrison’s men responded quickly, and gunshots were fired into the chaos. 17 Many of those fighting for the United States had never engaged in battle prior to this day, yet instinctively fought off the tribal warriors. 18 Outnumbered and with little strategy, the 500 Natives fought hard against the troop of settlers as the sun rose, and within two hours they had managed to kill or wound over 188 of their opposers. 19 Even with the casualties that Harrison and his men had sustained, the Natives’ will was greatly damaged by their own losses and it was clear that the offensive was lost. 20 Feeling betrayed by Tenskwatawa’s promises of no harm being laid upon them by Harrison’s men, the Natives turned against him depriving him of his former authorities and threatening him with death. 21 As Harrison once again mobilized for what he believed was an impending response from Tecumseh, the Natives fled from the village of Prophetstown to care for those who were injured. 22

In February of 1812, Tecumseh arrived in Prophetstown to find the aftermath of the unsuccessful Battle of Tippecanoe. 23 Tecumseh knew that the United States Government’s opposition towards the Natives was growing and that attempting to regain strength and accomplish what was originally sought was no obtainable any longer. 24 He and others still loyal to him agreed to join the British Armed Forces during the War of 1812 against the United States aiding in the capture of Detroit and continuing to fight on behalf of the British until his untimely death in 1813. 25

Tenskwatawa, himself had lost much during the fateful battle on November 7, 1811, including the respect of his brother, Tecumseh. 26 He was condemned by his former followers and left to seek protection within other tribes whom had not been involved in the Battle of Tippecanoe. 27 With very few loyal followers remaining at his side, he traveled the northern part of America until his death in 1836 at the age of 61. 28

Since the first English settlers came to the New World in 1614, the Natives control of land their ancestors had once held dear was quickly being torn from their grasps and falling into the hands of white settlers. By 1811, the influence of the settlers could be seen across the eastern borders and to what is now known as Indiana as land quickly became states of the Union. Tecumseh and his men, growing tired of their homes being taken from them, formed an army, strengthened by foreign allies, to oppose the expansion of the United States.

Covered in darkness before the first sunlight of November 7, 1811, Tecumseh’s brother Tenskwatawa urged their men to launch an attack on Harrison’s army, tricking them to believe that they were not destined to fail. Although unsuccessful in the attempt to drive the settlers from their land, the ambush did signify the important tensions within the two societies and the inevitable conflict which would ensue within the next year.

Adam Jortner, The Gods of Prophetstown: the Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier , (Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 201.

“ The Battle of Tippecanoe,” Accessed on February 24, 2014,

“ History of the Battle of Tippecanoe,” Accessed on February 24, 2014, .

“ History of the Battle of Tippecanoe,” Accessed on February 24, 2014, .

“ Our History, Indiana: William Henry Harrison,” Accessed on February 24, 2014,

“ History of the Battle of Tippecanoe,” Accessed on February 24, 2014, .

Adam Jortner, The Gods of Prophetstown: the Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier , (Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 145.

“ History of the Battle of Tippecanoe,” Accessed on February 24, 2014, .

Adam Jortner, The Gods of Prophetstown: the Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier , (Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 145.

“ History of the Battle of Tippecanoe,” Accessed on February 24, 2014, .

“ History of the Battle of Tippecanoe,” Accessed on February 24, 2014, .

“ History of the Battle of Tippecanoe,” Accessed on February 24, 2014, .

Jortner, Adam. The Gods of Prophetstown: the Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Princeton University. “The Battle of Tippecanoe.” Accessed on February 24, 2014.

Purdue University. “Our History, Indiana: William Henry Harrison.” Accessed on February 24, 2014.

Tippecanoe County Historical Association. “History of the Battle of Tippecanoe.” Accessed on February 24, 2014. .

The White House. “William Henry Harrison.” Accessed on February 24, 2014. .

Paper written and submitted to American Military University on February 24, 2014

Indian Wars and the Year of Custer: The Rosebud Defeat and Custer

The flawed strategy of General Crook lead to his defeat in the Battle of the Rosebud and contributed to Custer’s demise at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

The Battle of the Rosebud on June 17, 1876 cannot be considered an isolated confrontation between the US army and the Native Americans it was tasked to defeat and force onto reservations established by the government. In light of what was to follow in the weeks after the Rosebud, serious doubts were cast on the army’s knowledge and ability to force one of the largest Native American villages in recorded history to submit to defeat. The mistakes made on that day indirectly led to George Custer’s loss at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

A Flawed Battle Strategy at the Rosebud

Following the Battle of the Rosebud, Crook wanted to continue along Rosebud Creek in search of the Indian village that supposedly was nearby. He assumed that such a village had prompted the Sioux and Cheyenne to attack him at the start of the Rosebud battle in its defense. No such village existed on Rosebud Creek. It was, in fact, located twenty miles away on the Little Bighorn River.

Crook was saved from finding that out firsthand. His scouts refused to accompany him in search of the camp for fear they would be ambushed along the way. He also had many wounded soldiers in his command and was very low on rations and ammunition. As a result, Crook was forced to return to his base camp, dozens of miles to the south. He had planned to wait there for supplies and reinforcements before continuing his pursuit of the Indians. Crook would not take to the field again until August of 1876 and was of no benefit to Custer or Terry during the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Crook’s Empty Victory

Crook would later boast in a dispatch to his superior, General Phil Sheridan, that he was victorious in driving the enemy from the field during the Battle of the Rosebud. Although the Indians had withdrawn, they had done so on their own terms while suffering only minor losses. His objectives of pressing the Indians into submission or assisting other commanders in the field to do so were lost. The reality was that Crook had suffered a defeat and his men knew it. After the battle, they began to secretly call him “Rosebud George.”

One of his subordinate officers, Captain Anson Mills, later wrote “all of us made very brief reports of the battle, having little pride in our own achievement.” The New York Herald echoed Mills’ sediments in a scathing editorial: “the retreat of Crook southward after the battle left Sitting Bull free to choose the future seat of his operations, making him a very ‘unknown quantity’ indeed.” Crook’s hope of overshadowing his dismal defeat in the Battle of Powder River was also gone. The only objective obtained over that engagement was to account for all of his dead and wounded after the fighting had stopped.

For Custer, Too Little Too Late

The true value of Battle of the Rosebud was the intelligence Crook gained about the size and ferocity of his enemy. However, no direct communication occurred between him and the other commanders involved in the 1876 offensive against the Sioux. Crook instead warned Sheridan of the Indians’ ability to fight who, in turn, attempted to relay the information to Terry, Custer, and Gibbon closing in on the same Indian village from the north. Unfortunately, they did not receive it until it was too late. George Custer and the Seventh Cavalry would suffer one of the worst defeats in the history of the army on June 25, in part because they had no idea just how big the hornet’s nest Crook had stirred up was. General Terry did not receive Sheridan’s dispatch concerning the Battle of the Rosebud until June 30.

Watch the video: The Battle at Little Bighorn. History