Battle of the Rosebud

Published on February 3, 2013 by Carol

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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.

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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.

Source: US-history

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Battle of the Rosebud

Published on November 30, 2010 by John

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Battle of Rosebud
Battle on the Rosebud River, 1876

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.

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Background

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. 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 family noncombatants, to return to their reservations.

Crook had made a previous attempt in March to corner the Lakota. When his force got within a hundred miles of the Yellowstone River, it was struck by a blizzard, forcing him to abandon his supply train and resulting 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 discovered a village of Cheyenne which was in use as a staging area, containing 800-1500 ponies as well as large stores of guns, ammunition, food and other supplies. Ordering a pistol charge by a single company under his command, Reynolds took the Cheyenne by surprise and drove their warriors from the immediate area, but failed to support his attack with the rest of his force. When resistance on the outskirts of the village stiffened, Reynolds ordered the Cheyenne supplies destroyed and left with great haste, leaving several soldiers behind and exhausting his force in attempting to reunite with Crook thereafter. Guards posted that night to watch the ponies which had been seized were so tired they fell unconscious, and the ponies were liberated by Cheyenne trailing Reynolds’ force.

For failing to follow through on the initial attack with his full detachment, and for destroying rather than holding the Cheyenne supplies, Reynolds was later court-martialed.

Attacked on the Rosebud

On 17 June 1876, Crook’s column marched northward along the south fork of Rosebud Creek. The holiday atmosphere that prevailed since the arrival of the Indian scouts on 15 June was suddenly absent. The Crow and Shoshone scouts did not sense their enemies’ presence. The soldiers, particularly the mule-riding infantry, were fatigued from the previous day’s 35-mile march and the early morning reveille at 3 a.m.

At 8 a.m., Crook stopped to rest his men and animals. Although deep in hostile territory, Crook made no special dispositions for defense. His troops halted in their marching order. The Crow and Shoshone scouts remained alert while the soldiers rested. Soldiers in camp began to hear gunfire coming from the bluffs to the north, where the scouts were positioned. As the intensity of fire increased, a scout rushed into the camp shouting, “Lakota, Lakota!”{Vaughn, “With Crook at the Rosebud,” page 50} By 0830, the Sioux and Cheyenne had hotly engaged Crook’s Indian allies on the high ground north of the main body. Heavily outnumbered, the Crow and Shoshone scouts fell back toward the camp, but their fighting withdrawal gave Crook time to deploy his forces.

Crook directed his forces to seize the high ground north and south of the Rosebud Creek. He ordered Captain Van Vliet, with two troops of the 3d Cavalry, to occupy the high bluffs to the south. In the north, the commands of Major Chambers with two companies of the 4th Infantry and three companies of the 9th Infantry, and Captain Noyes with three troops of the 2d Cavalry, formed a dismounted skirmish line and advanced toward the Sioux. Their progress was slow due to flanking fire from Indians occupying the high ground to the northeast.

To accelerate the advance, Crook ordered Captain Anson Mills, commanding six troops of the 3d Cavalry, to charge the Sioux. Mills’ mounted charge unnerved the Indians and they withdrew along the ridgeline, not stopping until they reached the next crest. Mills quickly re-formed three troops and led another charge, driving the Indians northwest again to the next hill. Preparing to drive the Indians from there, Mills received orders from Crook to cease the advance and assume a defensive posture. Chambers and Noyes led their forces forward in support and, within minutes, joined Mills on top of the ridge. The bulk of Crook’s command, joined by the packers and miners, occupied Crook’s Ridge. Establishing his headquarters there at approximately 0930, Crook considered his next move.

At the west end of the field, Lieutenant Colonel William Royall, Crook’s second in command, pursued the Indians’ attacking the rear of Crook’s camp. Leading Captain Henry’s three troops of the 3d Cavalry and two troops borrowed from Mills’ command, Royall advanced rapidly along the ridgeline to the northwest, finally halting his advance near the head of Kollmar Creek. Royall’s detachment was a mile from the main body and in danger of being cut off and destroyed. Sensing this vulnerability, the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors shifted their main effort to the west and concentrated their attacks on Royall. Seeing the danger, Crooks sent orders to Royall to withdraw to Crooks Ridge. Royall sent only one troop to join Crook, claiming later his forces had been too hotly engaged.

Crook’s initial charges secured key terrain but did little to damage the Indian forces. Assaults scattered the Indians but they did not quit the field. After falling back, the Sioux and Cheyenne kept firing from a distance and attacked several times in small parties. When counterattacked by the soldiers, the warriors sped away on their swift horses. Crook realized his charges were ineffective.

Crook returned to his battle plan. Believing the Sioux and Cheyennes’ fighting tenacity was based on defense of families in a nearby village, Crook ordered Mills and Noyes to withdraw their cavalry from the high ground and follow the Rosebud north to find the suspected village. He recalled Van Vliet’s battalion from the south side of the Rosebud.

A mile away, Royall’s situation was deteriorating. He tried to withdraw across Kollmar Creek but found the Indians’ fire too heavy. Next he began to withdraw southeast along the ridgeline. A large group of Sioux and Cheyenne broke off from the fight against Crooks’ main forces and charged boldly down the valley of Kollmar Creek, advancing all the way to the Rosebud. The arrival of Van Vliet’s command checked the warriors’ advance. Crook ordered the Crow and Shoshone scouts to charge into the withdrawing warriors’ flank.

Mills’ advance up the Rosebud left Crook without sufficient force to aid Royall and his hard-pressed battalion. While Mills made his way up the Rosebud, searching for a village that did not exist, Royall’s situation grew worse.

At approximately 1130, Royall withdrew to the southeast and assumed a new defensive position. He hoped to lead his command across Kollmar Creek and rendezvous with Crook. Meanwhile, the Sioux and Cheyenne attacked him from three sides. From his headquarters, Crook realized that Royall needed help to get out of the situation, help only Mills’ force could provide. Crook sent orders to Mills redirecting him to turn west and attack the rear of the Indians’ pressing Royall.

At approximately 1230, Royall decided against further waiting and withdrew his troops into the Kollmar ravine to remount their horses. From there, they would have to ride through gunfire to reach the relative safety of Crook’s main position. As the US cavalry began their dash, the Crow and Shoshone scouts countercharged the pursuing enemy and relieved much of the pressure on Royall’s men. Two companies of infantry left the main position to provide covering fire from the northeast side of the ravine. Royall’s command still suffered grievous casualties.

Mills arrived too late to assist Royall’s withdrawal, but his unexpected appearance on the Indians’ flank caused the Sioux and Cheyenne to break contact and retreat. Concentrating his mounted units, Crook now led them up the Rosebud in search of the non-existent Indian village. The advance came upon a narrow ravine which the scouts warned was an excellent spot for an ambush. Crook halted his advance. The battle of Rosebud was over. By the standards of Indian warfare, it had been an extremely long and bloody engagement. Never before had the Plains Indians fought with such ferocity, and never before had they shown such a willingness to accept casualties. Nor was their sacrifice in vain. Concerned for his wounded, short on supplies, and perhaps still shaken by the Indians’ ferocity, Crook returned to his camp on Goose Creek and stayed there for seven weeks awaiting reinforcements. Unlike his enemies, Crook’s command would play no role in the momentous events at The Little Bighorn.

The hard fought battle lasted for six hours. Hard fighting by Crooks Indian allies during the early stages saved his command from a likely devastating surprise attack. The gallantry of the Crow and Shoshone scouts throughout the battle was crucial to Crooks averting disaster.

Results

Historian Joseph Marshall III argues that the Lakota would have won the battle had it not been for the fact that they were fighting after riding all night to arrive at the battle. Crook reported a loss of 32 dead and 21 wounded and 13 of the Lakota dead. Although Crook’s force was left in possession of the battlefield and he claimed a victory, the battle caused Crook to return to his base camp at Goose Creek and halted his advance which prevented him from joining up with the 7th Cavalry under George Armstrong Custer. Crook withdrew to a position on Big Goose Creek, near present-day Sheridan, Wyoming, and waited 7 weeks for reinforcements from the 9th Infantry and 5th Cavalry before resuming the campaign on August 5.

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

Source: Wikipedia

NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged
Based on the collective work of NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com, © 2014 Native American Encyclopedia.
Cite This Source | Link To Battle of the Rosebud
Add these citations to your bibliography. Select the text below and then copy and paste it into your document.

American Psychological Association (APA):

Battle of the Rosebud NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Retrieved October 01, 2014, from NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com website: http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/battle-the-rosebud/

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

Battle of the Rosebud NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com. NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/battle-the-rosebud/ (accessed: October 01, 2014).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

"Battle of the Rosebud" NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia 01 Oct. 2014. <NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/battle-the-rosebud/>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):

NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com, "Battle of the Rosebud" in NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Source location: Native American Encyclopedia http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/battle-the-rosebud/. Available: http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com. Accessed: October 01, 2014.

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@ article {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com2014,
    title = {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged},
    month = Oct,
    day = 01,
    year = 2014,
    url = {http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/battle-the-rosebud/},
}
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The State of Arizona's name comes from the Aztec word "Arizuma" meaning "silver bearing". It has also been linked to the Pima Peoples word "Arizonac," meaning "little spring" or "young spring."

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