Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Kelly Dixon

Committee Co-chair

Christopher Merritt

Commitee Members

Kenneth Lockridge


Battle of the Rosebud, Battlefield Archaeology, Doug Scott, Firearms Analysis, Montana


University of Montana


The Rosebud Battlefield, located in Southeast Montana, offered an opportunity to research an Indian Wars era battlefield that has not been the subject of systematic archaeological investigations. The Rosebud has been largely overlooked in the historical record due to the events that happened along the Little Bighorn River eight days later. This project was initiated in 2009 with the purpose of fulfilling goals laid out by the Montana Preservation Alliance: 1) survey beyond the park boundary; 2) create a usable document for archaeological overview and assessment in order to guide future study; 3) map and document historically significant areas pertaining to the battle both on state and private land. Completing these goals as part of this thesis research provided opportunities to use archaeology to understand aspects of the battle and to integrate historical and archaeological evidence to closely analyze topics such as Royall’s positions and to compare the firearms analysis of the Rosebud with the firearms analysis of the Little Bighorn. Some of the major emphasis of this thesis is the role of the Crow and Shoshone warriors, the tactic used by Crook during the battle, and accounts of how the battle unfolded. The archaeological evidence also uncovered unknown fighting positions not reported in the historical record. In addition, two cartridge cases were located which link warriors from the Rosebud to the Little Bighorn fight. Although far from being a complete, archaeological examination of the 11,000 acre Rosebud Battlefield, this thesis is intended to help researchers and land managers interpret the battle more thoroughly.

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