REPORT ARCHIVE 2002

Report From The Deer Rutting Moon Gathering - Saturday, 16 November 2002 

The Deer Rutting Moon Gathering took place at the City College (East Birmingham Campus), Birmingham, on Saturday, 16 November 2002 - twenty-nine members and guests were present.

In spite of torrential rain that caused disruption to all forms of transport and delayed the start of the day's proceedings, the meeting proved to be one the most successful and enjoyable to date. Twenty-five members and four guests had braved the elements, travelling from as far a field as Cumbria, Devon, Glasgow, Kent, Newcastle and even the United States. Apologies for absence were received from Chairman, Lawrence Sherrington and advertised presenter, Neil Gilbert, both due to illness, as well as from several other members. College Co-ordinator, Phil Butler, stepped into the breech and was Chairman for the day.

The slightly shortened morning session was devoted entirely to presentations by Francis Taunton and Kevin Galvin on The Fetterman Affair and Wagon Box Fight respectively. As we have come to expect both talks were well illustrated by a series of "then and now" drawings, maps and photographs, the latter being taken by Francis and Kevin on the US Army Staff Ride in June 2001. 

An excellent lunch was taken at the Chestnut Tree public house, which gave everyone the opportunity to intermingle, which is a most important part of our half-yearly get together. The afternoon's proceedings began with the President, Francis Taunton, performing the pleasant task of formally announcing the names of the Association's first two Vice-presidents, Joan Croy and Derek Batten, which proved to be very popular with the assembled throng. To mark this special occasion Joan was presented with a CAGB polo shirt and Derek a copy of John S. Gray's Custer's Last Campaign.

In the absence of Neil Gilbert, the advertised presentation, 'Lakota - the Language of the Sioux', was deferred until a later date. However, it was most fortunate that just a few days before Peter Russell, had received a 'demo' video from Associate Member, Darrell Dorgan, entitled 'Sheheke - the White Coyote, Ambassador of the Mandans'. Although not strictly coming within our stated period of history (the Plains Indian Wars 1865-90), it was nevertheless found to be of interest particularly as it was produced under the auspices of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation. The second half of the 'vacant slot' was admirably filled in a most unexpected but thoroughly entertaining way by Harry Seabourne, ably assisted by Founder Member, Tim O'Sullivan. Without any notes or time for preparation whatsoever Harry gave a memorable performance on the Sioux language, both written and signed, and as one member put it "Both gentlemen were so informative regarding the Sioux Language. They were men who immediately held one's respect."

After a short break for tea, Treasurer & Membership Secretary, Peter Russell gave a brief report on the current level of membership,* the healthy state of the Association's finances and the 'new look' newsletter. He also intimated that due to the increased number of pages in the newsletter, the better quality of the paper it was printed on and the expected rise in postal and administrative costs it would be necessary to increase the annual subscription in June 2003 - the exact amount still to be decided.

Acting Chairman, Phil Butler, then invited Joan Croy to say a few words about her long-time interest in the Custer Story, which covers such a wide range of different activities. It also gave us the opportunity to thank Joan personally for the tremendous support she has given to the CAGB both in terms of recruiting over 40 of her fellow countrymen and volunteering to collect dollar cheques on our behalf from members resident in the United States. Prior to the meeting Joan had generously donated five pairs of Custer and Sitting Bull "dolls" which were sold to raise funds for the group. The Custer dolls were actually signed by the General himself, although I suspect Associate Member, Steve Alexander, may have had a hand in it!

In less than two and a half years the CAGB has grown from its twelve original British-based members into a truly international organisation. It was therefore a great pleasure to welcome Associate Member Brian Del Vecchio and his wife, Peggy, from Palmyra, Virginia, who just happened to on holiday in England with Joan Croy. Brian spoke most passionately about his involvement in the controversy surrounding the erection and siting of a historic roadside marker at the University of Virginia to record the part Custer played in graciously accepting the surrender of the town of Charlottesville and saving the historic buildings from almost certain destruction. With equal eloquence, Brian went on to tell the story of Captain Thomas Farish, a Captain in the Confederate Army, who owned the farm in Charlottesville in which the General had set up his headquarters. Farish had been found guilty of being a spy and condemned by Sheridan to be hanged on a gallows erected on his own front lawn but was pardoned at the last moment when Custer intervened. These two incidents highlighted a side of Custer that is all too frequently overlooked by modern-day historians.

Throughout the day a large selection of books was on sale and several members took the opportunity to purchase a CAGB polo shirt and signed prints of David Shanahan's painting, part of the proceeds of which will be donated to the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation.    

Report From The Planting Moon Gathering - Saturday, 18 May 2002

The Planting Moon Gathering took place at the City College (East Birmingham Campus), Birmingham, on Saturday, 18 May 2002 - fifteen members and guests were present. 

The day's programme was a little less formal than previous gatherings, which gave members more time talk with each and to introduce topics that might otherwise have not been discussed. 

Northamptonshire-based Derek Batten, a veteran of numerous archaeological digs in the United States that include the battlefield sites at Washita and the Little Bighorn, was the main speaker.  It was the former battle that was the subject of his presentation, which was opened with an excellent scene-setting excerpt from the film Little Big Man that showed the dawn attack on Black Kettle's snow-covered village.  Derek's 'hands on' knowledge and passion for his chosen topic were both immediately apparent and his relaxed style, combined with an interesting collection of slides and artefacts, was well received by an attentive audience. 

Following a short break for coffee, members took part in a Plains Indian Wars-based quiz with questions being set by Lawrence Sherrington, who was also in the chair. A close-fought contest was won by Mike Martin, who was presented with an audiotape of the Brass Mounted Army: Music of the Old Horse Cavalry, as a prize. 

The afternoon session was given over to Darrell Dorgan's video about Fort Abraham Lincoln, entitled The Western Edge, that was generally well received and which provoked an interesting discussion, with members expressing very different views on what they had seen.  Darrell generously donated some dream catchers to boost the Association's funds and they sold out immediately.   

Phil Butler announced that our tenure at the College was secure for the foreseeable future and Chairman, Lawrence Sherrington, thanked him not only for providing the venue but also for the seemingly inexhaustible supply of refreshments, a sentiment that was heartily endorsed by the assembled throng. Several members took the opportunity to buy the CAGB's polo shirt and copies of British Custeriana Series 1 and 2 that are still available. 

Before bringing another successful gathering to a close, the Chairman expressed his appreciation of the contribution made by Kevin Galvin and Peter Russell, which, he said, had played such an important part in the tremendous success of the Association since it was formed two years ago.

LAST UPDATED 9 OCTOBER 2003

Custer Association of Great Britain

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