Report From London Meeting - Saturday,17 March 2001

On Saturday, 17 March 2001, CAGB and the English Westerners' Society held a special meeting at Over-Seas House, Park Place, St James's Street, London, when 26 members were entertained by the guest speaker Rod Thomas, who provided a thought-provoking presentation, entitled Rubbing Out Long Hair: An Examination of the Indian Story of the Little Big Horn Battle in 1876. Through his analysis of warrior art, Rod gave us his personal interpretation of events and details of Indian casualties based on the Indians' own perspective of what took place in the valley of the Greasy Grass. Rod is a member of CAGB, a board member of CBHMA, co-editor of the LBHA web site and associate editor of the Journal of the Indians Wars. An abridged version of Rubbing Out Long Hair will feature in the next issue. In addition, Francis Taunton and Kevin Galvin each gave a short presentation on Red Cloud's War, covering the Fetterman Massacre and the Wagon Box Fight.


125th Anniversary. This was held on Monday, 25 June at the Little Bighorn Battlefield. A large number of CAGB members from both the United Kingdom and the United States of America were in attendance. Peter Russell as Membership secretary was able to advertise the Association and increase our membership totals. The highlight for the CAGB was to jointly lay a wreath on behalf of the CAGB and English Westerners' Society in recognition of those on both sides who gave their lives on that hot June day in 1876. A Report and selection of photographs appeared in Volume 1, Number 2 of The Crow's Nest.

Trip to the USA 26 - 30 June 2001. Those 12 members and wives who jointly participated in the US Army Staff Ride with members of the British Army, have all now safely returned to their respective homes in the UK and USA, that was despite the best efforts of a number of US Airlines to delay individual members departure. The Staff Ride included visits to the site of the Connor Fight of 1865, Fort Phil Kearney, the Fetterman Massacre site, the disputed site of the Wagon Box Fight and the Rosebud Battlefield. The latter was completed on horseback and was extremely amusing at times but also provided a new perspective on the battle.  We also had the opportunity to fire five historic weapons after our 6 hours in the saddle. Custer's approach to the Little Bighorn from the Yellowstone was followed on the 28 June and we finally reached the Little Bighorn battlefield itself on the 29 June. The debate on what happened to Custer and his 5 Companies was held on the 30 June, when a number of us returned to the Battlefield to examine some of potential movements on that fateful day 125 years ago. The CAGB wish to record their thanks to Dr Jerry Brown who lead the Staff Ride. There will always continue to be debate on the actual movements and final destruction of Custer's five companies and although the archaeology of recent years has provided new insights and we can perhaps get closer to the truth we will never be able to complete the jigsaw. The Staff Ride took us up to the point where we can complete the jigsaw and it was interesting to note the views of the military members of the party, who found that many of Custer's decisions that are often criticised were from their military judgement sound decisions based on the information that was available and the doctrinal template at the time. There was criticism for his decision to separate his command but not the division of command. Reports on the ride on the Rosebud appeared in Volume 1, Number 2 of The Crow's Nest.

Report From The Planting Moon Gathering - Saturday, 5 May 2001

The Planting Moon Gathering, which was held jointly with the English Westerners' Society, took place at the elegant late Victorian Elmbank Hotel, The Mount, York, on Saturday, 5 May 2001 - twenty-one members and guests were present. 

After concluding the formal introductions, domestics, etc., Lawrence Sherrington, Chairman, extended a warm welcome to our main speaker for the day from the United States, Brian Pohanka, a member of both CAGB and English Westerners and widely respected as a leading authority on the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The audience was treated to an excellent two-hour long, well-illustrated presentation that comprehensively set the scene for those members who were planning to be in Montana in June for the 125th Anniversary.

Brian concentrated primarily on the Custer Battalion's fight and examined in some depth both the myths and facts concerning the battle. He illustrated how archaeology, although unable to provide all of the answers, helps to add to our understanding of the events that led ultimately to the complete annihilation of all five companies and their Commanding Officer.

The afternoon session was given over almost entirely to Neil Gilbert, a founder member of CAGB, whose presentation, entitled The Story of the 'Sioux' Shirt, was further evidence that our group's interests include the Plains Indian Wars in general and the culture of the tribes involved. Neil's extensive knowledge and obvious passion for his subject was immediately apparent and his presentation was illustrated by a series of colourful slides and several authentic artifacts from his personal collection.

This fascinating talk covered not only the known history of this particular scalp lock shirt but also how these garments were constructed and the elaborate use made of beads, natural dyes, quills, horse and human hair that were used to decorate them. The shirt in question, probably Sioux and almost certainly from the Upper Missouri region, is housed in such a seemingly unlikely place as the Saffron Walden Museum, Essex, which has a small but nonetheless high quality collection of North American Indian material.

The Chairman, who thanked both speakers for their excellent and informative presentations, brought the meeting to a close. Earlier he had announced that, in view of the undoubted success of the day's events, the organising committee had unanimously agreed that future May gatherings should be held in different parts of the country - Glasgow being the most likely venue for 2002.

During the day sales of both CAGB and English Westerners' publications was brisk and after co-authors Brian Pohanka and Francis Taunton generously agreed to autograph their Custer's Field: A Scene of Sickening Ghastly Horror, the stock of this much sought after little volume was quickly exhausted.

Report From Deer Rutting Moon Gathering In Birmingham- Saturday, 17 November 2001

The Deer Rutting Moon Gathering was held at the East Birmingham College, Birmingham, on Saturday, 17 November 2001 - twenty-one members and three guests attended.

The morning's programme was divided equally between a review of the group's participation in the 125th Anniversary celebrations and the U.S. Army Staff Ride, which were led by John Gould and Ken Doran respectively. Kevin Galvin provided an excellent series of digitally generated photographs for each session. 

The prevailing theme for the 125th Anniversary was one of reconciliation. However, as Gould pointed out this varied from overt hostility, such as the ban on taking photographs and counting coup on the 7th Cavalry Monument by some of the Sioux, to the generous donation made by the 7th Cavalry Association to the Indian Memorial fund and the kind hospitality of the Northern Cheyenne who provided midday refreshments for the whole of the assembled throng. Many new friendships were forged at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument that day. As far as we are aware CAGB, in conjunction with the English Westerners' Society, was the only organisation to lay a wreath in honour of all those from both sides who were killed in the battle. 

Like many others taking part in the Staff Ride, Doran had never sat astride a horse before let alone negotiate such demanding terrain as the Rosebud Valley. His video, which covered the group receiving its first [and only] lesson in horsemanship and riding the Rosebud range, was the source of great amusement. Although the Staff Ride included such historic sites as the Connor Fight; the Fetterman Massacre; the Wagon Box Fight; and the Little Bighorn battle, there is little doubt that the day spent at the Rosebud was the high point for all those who were fortunate enough to have taken part. 

After lunch at the nearby Chestnut Tree public house, our President, Francis Taunton, treated us to an absorbing presentation on the Battle of the Big Hole. Taunton, who illustrated his talk with a fine set of his own photographs, maps and copious notes, made an interesting comparison between this battle and the events of June 1876; with particular reference to the conduct of Colonel John Gibbon. An unexpected, but welcome, contribution was made by Derek Batten, a veteran of numerous archaeological digs in the United States, including the Battle of Big Hole. Among the many artefacts that were found during the time he spent there, was a trowel bayonet that was used with great effect as a trenching tool by the soldiers during the latter stages of the battle. 

Peter Russell, Treasurer & Membership Secretary, circulated a Statement of Account for the period 10 June 2001-15 November 2001, which showed that the Association is in a sound financial position. He also took the opportunity to announce that earlier in the day he had received an application from Bruce Robertson, a member of the College staff, who became the 100th person to join CAGB since its formation less than 18 months ago. To mark this significant milestone in the Association's history Robertson was presented with a signed copy of Francis Taunton's, Army Failures Against The Sioux in 1876: An Examination. 

Russell then introduced the subject of the English, Scots and Welsh-born members of the 7th Cavalry, which had been rescheduled from the morning's session.  While he conceded that it is unlikely that any major new information surrounding the Custer Fight would emanate from this side of the Atlantic, he nevertheless felt that little had been published about the British contingent. With this in mind Russell encouraged members to research the lives of any one of them who came originally from, or had a connection with, their local area.  It is proposed to create a database containing as much information as possible about the British who fought, and died, while serving in the Frontier Army [1866-1890]. 

There followed a members' forum, which dealt mainly with the venue for the gathering in May 2002. While the City of Glasgow received a fair amount of support it was generally agreed that the guest speaker would need to be someone who enjoyed an international reputation as an authority on the Plains Indian Wars before a majority of the membership would be prepared to make the long journey north of the border. It was unanimously decided to defer a decision until the New Year.  

Before bringing another successful gathering to a close the Chairman, Lawrence Sherrington, thanked Phil Butler for allowing us the use of the college and the Big Horn County Historical Society, who run the museum at Hardin, for the large supply of pins and postcards. Two members chose to jointly sponsor this organisation for one year's membership of CAGB, as they are keen to establish a link with this excellent museum, which is situated so close the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in "The Heart of Custer Country".  

During the day many of the members present took the opportunity to purchase a smart new navy-blue polo shirt emblazoned with the CAGB logo and also to choose from the wide range of books and prints that once again proved to be a most popular feature of our gatherings.


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