Saturday, January 16, 2016


"G. Crook, 1876", inscription.
Photo:Urbaniak, 2014.

I have mentioned this inscription in two previous postings (to view them click on the General Crook entry in the cloud index at the bottom of the blog) but only from field drawings as I did not have an actual photo of it. Now I can present a photograph of the General Crook inscription courtesy of the previously cited (Tom Horn, 12/11/2015; Kid Curry) 2014 thesis dissertation of Timothy Urbaniak, HISTORIC INSCRIPTIONS OF THE NORTHERN PLAINS IDENTITY AND INFLUENCE IN THE RESIDUAL COMMUNICATION . Tim has generously allowed me to reproduce some of his illustrations of historic inscriptions and quote his text.

"From 1875 to 1882 - Crook was head of the Department of the Platte. Crook served against the Sioux during the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. He fought the Lakota at the Battle of the Rosebud. On 28 May 1876, Brigadier General George Crook assumed direct command of the Bighorn and Yellowstone Expedition at Fort Fetterman." (Wikipedia)

General Crook, Wikimedia.

Crook left Fort Fetterman the next day with over 1,000 troops consisting of "15 companies from the 2nd and 3rd Cavalry, 5 companies from the 4th and 9th Infantry, 250 mules and 106 wagons. On 14 June, the column was joined by 261 Shoshone and Crow allies." (Wikipedia)

"The Battle of the Rosebud," from
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper,
1876, public domain.

On 17 June, during a rest break, the troops heard gunfire from the north and a scout rushed into the camp shouting, "Lakota, Lakota" and the Battle of the Rosebud was beginning. "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. Rapidly firing the soldiers drove off the attackers but used up much of the ammunition meant for use later in the campaign. Low on ammunition and with numerous wounded, the General returned to his post. Historians debate whether Crook's pressing on could have prevented the killing of five companies of the 7th Cavalry Regiment led by George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn." (Wikipedia)

"G. Crook, 1876", inscription
highlighted. Photo:Urbaniak, 2014.

"At the Rosebud Battlefield there is a long sandstone cliff line that was once used as a buffalo jump and that has provided a canvas for communication for millennia. Petroglyphs dating to precontact times, primarily in the form of shield figures, are incised along the surface of the sandstone cliff. The surface also contains historic inscriptions including one of "G. Crook 1876" (Figure 5.40); since the incising is shallow, it has been traced for clarity (Figure 5.41). Due to the fact that it takes time to create an inscription, even such a shallow one, and due to the fact that the Rosebud Battle began in the morning and just a few hours after Crook and his men arrived at Rosebud Creek, there was not likely a lot of time for a pre-battle incising, and there is no mention of the act in Crook's autobiography (Crook 1986:194). It is possible that someone else carved it as a commemoration; or Crook created he inscription when he returned to the site in the 1890s; although if that was the case he did not spend much in the effort." (Urbaniak 2014:122-3)

So, is this inscription attributable to General Crook? Well, if in the sense of did General Crook carve it himself, I do not think we can answer that. But, if in the sense of was it carved by someone else when General Crook was there (in the general vicinity) I think that is very likely. In either case it brings back a fascinating period of Western History - thank you Tim.


Urbianik, Timothy Rostov,
2014    HISTORIC INSCRIPTIONS OF THE NORTHERN PLAINS IDENTITY AND INFLUENCE IN THE RESIDUAL COMMUNICATION, Dissertation Presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology The University of Montana Missoula, MT,  July 2014.


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