Report From The Planting Moon Gathering - Saturday, 10 May 2008

The Planting Moon Gathering was held in the top floor suite at Doggett’s Coat & Badge on the Thames by Blackfriars Bridge, London - twenty-seven members and guests. We were pleased to welcome a number of guests from the English Westerners’ Society as well as the American Civil War Round Table (UK).

A rather busy meeting commenced with introductions from the new chairman, Peter Russell, who also presented to the retiring president, Francis Taunton, with a copy of Kingsley Bray’s much praised biography, Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life.

The first presentation of the day was given by Terry Hurley and André Fugl, who came in period costume to talk about the Early Plains Indian Wars U.S. Infantry. Terry gave an entertaining and informative talk on the uniforms and equipment of the era, including examples of how the soldiers’ kit impacted upon their fighting ability. A highlight of this presentation was the chance to get a close look at the 1860s uniforms worn by Terry and André. The warm early May weather enhanced lunch on the terrace, whilst also providing a practical demonstration of how uncomfortable the heavy infantry uniforms would have been during the summer on the Midwestern Plains!

Kevin Galvin followed this with a talk entitled Tactical Victory, Strategic Defeat: The Events after the Little Big Horn from an Indian Perspective, which focused on a somewhat neglected aspect of the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. As the title suggests, it dealt with the course of the fighting following the Battle of the Little Bighorn, including the movements of generals Gibbon, Crook and Terry, the fight at Slim Buttes and the death of Crazy Horse. This well illustrated presentation sought to shed light upon the way in which the Sioux and their allies had gone from the decisive defeat of Custer to virtual disintegration as a fighting force.

The last presentation of the morning was a talk by Peter Harrison on the subject of Monasetah & Custer. Peter’s eagerly awaited book on Monasetah is currently with the publishers and he hopes that it will come out either later this year or early 2009. In the meantime, the meeting was treated to the first public viewing of a verified photograph of Monasetah, together with pictures of her family and descendants. Peter was also able to deftly field some tricky questions from the floor on the relationship between Little Rock’s daughter and her captor.

Lunch was followed by a verbal joust between the Association’s past president and acknowledged Custer expert, Francis Taunton, who gave an enlightening talk upon Benteen’s Scout to the Left and Mike Fox who continued to expand upon his use of information technology to assist in Unravelling the Mysteries of the LBH. This joint presentation led to a lively debate which continued during the afternoon coffee break on the terrace, but was unfortunately cut short as the meeting drew to a close.

The final event of the day was a rather truncated quiz which, as usual, was set by the winner of the last quiz at the Birmingham meeting in November, the honour on that occasion having gone to the events co-ordinator. The winner by some distance was Francis Taunton who received a book on the Wounded Knee massacre as his prize. We looked forward to Francis’ quiz at the Birmingham meeting.

Report From The Deer Rutting Moon Gathering - Saturday, 8 November 2008

Although the numbers were a slightly down from the last gathering held in May the twenty plus members and guests who attended the Association’s autumn meeting on 8th November 2008, once again at the Chestnut Tree Public House in Birmingham, certainly enjoyed themselves.

As mentioned in a report in 2007, The Chestnut Tree was under new management. The new owner, Mr Patel, was carrying out a major refurbishment and although we had access to the room we normally met in, it meant that the main kitchen and dining area were both closed. As a result, only a limited menu was available – basically it was curry and rice of various types or nothing. Mr Patel’s offering, home made curries were however very well received.

What about the meeting you ask. Our new chairman, Peter Russell, took us through the usual preliminaries and introductions which included two formal presentations. The first to Lawrence Sherrington, who as you will be aware had been the Association’s first Chairman, Peter presented Lawrence with a copy of James Donovan’s book A Terrible Glory. The second presentation was made to Kevin Galvin who has co-edited The Crow’s Nest since its first publication and maintained the website as well as taking over the reins of secretary. He was presented a 3-dimensional map of the Little Bighorn battlefield. He had apparently been trying to get one of these for many years and was delighted to have received such a gift. A short Annual General Meeting then followed and the committee were all re-elected to serve another term in office. The new term is from 1st June 2009 to 31st May 2010.

The presentations then got underway with a very entertaining talk by Harry Seabourne, supported by Tim O’Sullivan, entitled Feathered Warriors of the Plains. This rather enigmatic title gave no hint to the contents of the talk which was an account of the Lakota Black Elk, concentrating upon his visit to Great Britain with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, delivered in Harry’s inimitable style. The talk was so fascinating that not surprisingly it overran. All those presence asked Harry if he would kindly produce an article based on his talk [Webmaster: Harry’s article appeared in The Crow's Nest, Spring/Summer, Volume 9, Number 2 on Pages 17-19].

Kevin Galvin then gave us an extremely interesting account of The Civil War Career of Frederick Benteen. Kevin’s talk was interrupted by the impromptu service of our home made curries, but he manfully soldiered on as we enjoyed our lunch. This presentation set the scene for the afternoon session which was set aside almost exclusively for a debate upon Benteen’s performance at the Little Bighorn.

The afternoon debate, Did Benteen disobey his orders at the Battle of the Little Bighorn? was ably chaired by Lawrence Sherrington. The speakers were Gary Leonard and Kevin Galvin, who played devil’s advocates in accusing Benteen of disobedience of orders, and Mike Fox who eloquently and singlehandedly defended him. Both side put their cases, after which there was a general and enthusiastic debate, kept in order by Lawrence. When the time came for the meeting to vote upon the proposition, it became clear that Mike’s defence had been successful and Benteen was vindicated.

After a coffee break, light relief was provided by the final event of the day, the CAGB quiz. As is the custom, the quiz was set by Francis Taunton who had won the last quiz at the London meeting in May. Francis’ questions proved to beyond most mere mortals, but Elisabeth Kimber took it in her stride and won a copy of Mike Donahue’s much praised Drawing Battle Lines.


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