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SHERIDAN — The Sheridan County Museum will be unveiling their newest exhibition “The Battle of the Rosebud” by Tom Warneke and Connie Robinson Saturday at 10 a.m. at 850 Sibley Circle. The display consists of a diorama by Warneke and an accompanying mural by Robinson.
“No other museum that we know of interprets the Battle of the Rosebud as we do,” interim museum Director Sarah Ligocki said.
“About 10 years ago…I just felt I wanted to do the Battle of the Rosebud,” Warneke said about his diorama, “and it finally came together.”
The battle of the Rosebud was fought at the height of tension between the Native Americans and the U.S. government.
The Black Hills area had been given to the Native Americans as the original compromise. However, after gold was found in the western territories the U.S. government decided to take back the lands and ordered the Native Americans to report to reservations.
When the Native Americans fought back, U.S. army troops were sent to forcibly move them to the reservations.
The Battle of the Rosebud was fought June 17, 1876, between General George Crook and Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, and several thousand combatants were involved including Native American leaders such as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. The conflict resolved as a draw between both sides.
The armed engagement is significant due to it’s proximity to Sheridan as the battle was fought about 30 miles north of the city. Also, the battle affected the outcome of the Battle of the Little Bighorn fought shortly after.
As the combat had no clear winner, Crook retreated to Sheridan to care for his injured men and wait for reinforcements. Due to his defensive movement, Crook was unable to meet up with General Custer in time for the Battle of the Little Bighorn a week later.
This will be Warneke’s 19th diorama and the construction and research of the project took him about one year to complete. Warneke used plywood to build the supporting platform, sculpted the scene from several layers of styrofoam and then meticulously added and painted flowers or brush to create the life-like details.
Bernard Thomas’s painting of the “Battle of the Rosebud” set the action and scene for Warneke’s diorama. Warneke said he tried to recreate the scene Thomas depicted while also providing his own interpretation of the battle.
Skip Peterson also assisted Warneke in his diorama, by painting the details on all the figurines. He painted a few of the figurines to match the individual’s in Thomas’s painting.
“People don’t realize how much help goes into building these,” Warneke said.
He gave credit to several other Sheridan residents for their support throughout the project, saying, “I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Warneke said he enjoys making dioramas, “for posterity, so we don’t lose track of history…I like recording history and I try to do everything as true as I can.”
The unveiling is free of charge and open to the public.
This article was researched and written by Sheridan Press intern Lucy LaRosa.