One of the largest Indian battles ever wagedin 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 raged 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.
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.
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.