Historian and Storyteller Returns to Rockpile with New Book & Stories
The Battle of Rosebud was one of the largest and most impactful Indian battles ever fought in the American West, and on Thursday night, Oklahoma-based historian Paul Hedren will be at the Rockpile Museum to present from his latest book, “Rosebud, June 17, 1876: Prelude to the Little Big Born.”
The monumental battle along Rosebud Creek in southeastern Montana in 1876 pitted George Crook and his Shoshone and Crow allies against the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. This battle set the stage for events eight days later, when 25 miles away, George Armstrong Custer accidentally stumbled into the same village that had bested Crook.
Though having no direct impact on Gillette, the event nonetheless tells the regional story of the Powder River Basin as events of that summer opened up the region for cattle ranchers and the building of the railroad, which transformed the territory.
“There would have almost certainly been troops passing through Campbell County,” Rockpile Museum Director Robert Henning said, noting that the Rosebed fight spilled into the Powder River Basin and had lasting ramifications on the region as a whole.
Hedren has written extensively about Indian war history and early battles of the West with 12 books, including “Powder River: Disastrous Opening of the Great Sioux War,” which he spoke about two years ago during his first visit to the Rockpile Museum.
His first appearance was one of the most popular events yet, according to Henning, who has stayed in close contact with the historian and is thrilled to have back. Hedren, who is retired from the National Park Service after serving a nearly four-decade career, beginning with his first post at Fort Laramie where his interest in western history was peaked. Currently, Hedren is a full-time writer and researcher of Indian war history, with a special interest is the Sioux War of 1876-77, sometimes called the Custer War or Black Hills War.
His extensive research and deep knowledge of the subject are what makes him such a trusted source, Henning added. That, and his excellent story-telling ability that keeps a crowd riveted well beyond the allotted 45-minute speaking timeframe.
“People could sit there and listen to him tell stories for hours,” Henning said, “and it’s fantastic to have him for a second time.”
Along with speaking from his current book, Hedren will also be signing books and answering questions.
“He’s really down to earth,” Henning said, “and will answer any question. I really encourage folks to come out. They will not be disappointed.”
The event begins at 7 p.m. June 27 at the Campbell County Rockpile Museum. It’s free and open to the public. Copies of Hedren’s current book will be on hand for sale in the bookstore, and readers are welcome to bring other copies of his books to be signed as well. For more information, contact the museum at (307) 682-5723.