Military Wiki
Battle of Prairie Dog Creek
Part of the Great Sioux War of 1876
DateJune 9, 1876
LocationSheridan County, Wyoming, and Rosebud County, Montana
Result United States victory
Montana Territory
 United States Northern Cheyenne
Commanders and leaders
United States George Crook
Anson Mills
Andrew Burt
Samuel Munson
Thomas Burrowes
950+ Soldiers
100+ Civilians
Casualties and losses
2 Soldiers Wounded, 1 Mule Killed, 2 Horses Wounded 2 Killed or Wounded

The Battle of Prairie Dog Creek, also known as the Skirmish at Tongue River Heights, or the Battle of the Tongue River (1876), part of the Great Sioux War of 1876, occurred on June 9, 1876, at the confluence of Prairie Dog Creek and the Tongue River primarily in Wyoming Territory.

The battle

On June 9, 1876, soldiers and civilians under the command of Brigadier General George Crook, were encamped on the Tongue River at the mouth of Prairie Dog Creek. With Crook, were over 950 United States cavalry and infantry soldiers, and civilians. While the soldiers were in camp, two mounted Cheyenne warriors were observed riding along the bluffs on the north bank of the Tongue River. Then, about 200 concealed Cheyenne warriors suddenly fired their .44 Henry, and .50 caliber rifles into Crook's camp, from the same overlooking bluffs across the Tongue River. Another small band of warriors had remained hidden to the east of Crook's camp. Their intention was to steal some of the soldiers' horses while their attention was diverted. Crook ordered an attack. Companies C, G, and H, of the 9th U.S. Infantry crossed the river, and after wading through the rivers' frigid water, scaled the nearly vertical bluffs. Companies A, E, I, and M of the Third U.S. Cavalry, the battalion under the command of Captain Anson Mills also responded, and crossed the river just to the west, and on the left flank of the infantrymen. After reaching a grove of cottonwood trees, the cavalry dismounted. Leaving every fourth man as a horse holder, the cavalrymen advanced dismounted up the bluffs. After reaching the top, the soldiers drove the Cheyenne warriors that had fired into the camp earlier in the battle, north about half a mile, and back away from the crest of the ridge. But at a second ridge line, the Cheyenne reformed. Soldiers then drove them aback from it. Warriors reformed a third time, but this final effort lasted only briefly, and the Cheyenne warriors retreated north, away from the battlefield. The warriors that had intended to try to steal some of the horses, did not attempt it, and also withdrew north. Thus ended the Battle of Prairie Dog Creek.[1]


In the fight, the casualties were two Cheyenne killed or wounded, two soldiers that suffered minor wounds, one of the soldiers' mule's killed, and two of the soldier's horses wounded. The soldiers seemed to have rather enjoyed the skirmish since it relieved the boredom in their otherwise mundane life in bivouac. Since the soldiers' mounts were well secured, the Cheyenne suffered only a lost opportunity to steal some horses. Many of the same combatants that fought here on both sides, would also see action at the Battle of the Rosebud, only eight days later. And many of the Cheyenne, would also fight in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, just 16 days after Prairie Dog Creek.[2]

The battlefield

The battlefield is located on private land, at the confluence of Prairie Dog Creek and the Tongue River in Sheridan County, Wyoming, and Rosebud County, Montana near present-day Decker, Montana.

Order of battle

United States Army, Department of the Platte - Brigadier General George Crook, Commanding.

Regiments, and Companies Engaged in the Battle.

  • 3rd United States Cavalry Regiment,
    • Company A, First Lieutenant Swanson
    • Company E, Captain Alexander Sutorius
    • Company I, Captain Andrews
    • Company M. First Lieutenant Augustus Choutea Paul
  • 9th United States Infantry Regiment,
    • Company C, Captain Samuel Munson.
    • Company G, Captain Thomas Bredin Burrowes.
    • Company H, Captain Andrew Burt.
  • The Newspaper Reporter, John F. Finerty, the "Fighting Irish Pencil Pusher" of the Chicago Times.

Regiments, Companies, and other Organizations, present, but not engaged in the Battle:

Native Americans

  • Cheyenne.


  1. Werts, Keith T. (2011). The Crazy Horse and Crook Fight of 1876: New Discoveries at the Battle of the Rosebud. Spokane Valley, Washington: Werts Publishing. 
  2. Werts, Keith T. (2011). The Crazy Horse and Crook Fight of 1876: New Discoveries at the Battle of the Rosebud. Spokane Valley, Washington: Werts Publishing. 

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