Report From The Planting Moon Gathering - Saturday, 6 June 2009

The Planting Moon Gathering was once again held in the top floor suite at Doggett’s Coat & Badge on the Thames by Blackfriars Bridge, London - twenty-seven members and guests were present.

The selection of June 6 was chosen as it also marked the 65th Anniversary of D-day, the Allied invasion of mainland Europe, and Chairman Peter Russell opened the proceedings by asking those present to pause for a few moments to reflect on the events that took place on that historic day. 

The main presentation of the morning session was given by the well-known Jewish author, Clive Sinclair, ably supported by his son Seth and Seth’s girlfriend, both professional actors, who read extracts from the first chapter of his book True Tales of the Wild West. Sinclair’s writing is a mélange of fact, fantasy and fiction and ‘The Man Who Killed Randolph Scott’ (Chapter 1) is both an erudite investigation of, and a glorious romp through, ‘Custer’s West.’

Prior to the Gathering our President, Derek Batten had posed the question: “Were there any Jewish soldiers in the Little Big Horn fight?” Peter Russell responded by suggesting that Cincinnati-born Sgt. George Geiger, Company H, was a possible candidate. He said that Geiger served in the 47th Ohio Infantry during the Civil War, was captured at the siege of Atlanta, survived many months of privation in the infamous Andersonville Prison, was awarded the Medal of Honor as one of the four sharpshooters who protected the water carriers on the second day of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and died after a long and painful illness at the National Soldiers’ Home in Dayton, Ohio in 1904, where his religion was clearly recorded as ‘Protestant.’ Nonetheless some websites claim he was Jewish although his name is conspicuous by its absence from the register of U.S. Civil War Jewish-American Veterans, 1861-1865 and the Hall of Heroes at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, Washington, D.C. However, Russell concluded by saying that he found strong ‘circumstantial evidence’ to suggest Geiger was of the Jewish faith, though further research will be required before it can be said with absolute certainty but added, surely it was Geiger’s qualities as a man and a soldier that were the more important issues here.

Following the unqualified success of the “Benteen Debate” at the November 2008 Gathering, members looked forward with eager anticipation to a similar examination of Major Marcus Reno’s performance at the LBH and were not to be disappointed. Kevin Galvin was in the chair. The five main charges under consideration were that Reno:

(i) Disobeyed orders;

(ii) Showed cowardice;

(iii) Deliberately chose not to go to the aid of Custer and his two battalions;

(iv) Threw away his revolvers and

 (v) Was drunk.

Gary Leonard took on the role of prosecutor and put forward a series of persuasive, well-informed arguments which left no one in any doubt that he considered Reno was plainly guilty on all five counts. Reno decided to conduct his own defence, albeit in the person of Derek Ware who looked resplendent in a replica cavalry officer’s uniform of the period. Derek answered all five charges with a combination of verve and passion, laced with a sprinkling of humour, which clearly influenced a sympathetic audience to narrowly vote in his favour on the first four counts. However, his explanation that Reno’s unstable behaviour was down to sunstroke (following the loss of his hat early in the battle) and not an excess of whiskey, failed to convince anyone.         

The final session of yet another highly successful and enjoyable Gathering was the now near mandatory quiz with questions on this occasion set by Elisabeth Kimber. Everyone’s knowledge was severely tested and with a score of just under 30% Kevin Galvin was declared the winner for which he was presented with a pair of pen and ink portraits of GAC and Libbie, which had been generously donated by Darrell Dorgan, Bismarck, North Dakota.

Before bringing the day’s events to a close the Chairman announced that the next Gathering of the Association would take place at the Chestnut Tree, Sheldon Heath, Birmingham, on Saturday, 7 November 2009.      

Report From The Deer Rutting Moon Gathering - Saturday, 7 November 2009

Nineteen members and guests attended the Annual General Meeting and Deer Rutting Moon Gathering, which were held at Keri Gold Bar & Indian Restaurant (formerly the Chestnut Tree) Garretts Green, Birmingham.

After formally opening the day’s proceedings the Chairman, Peter Russell, gave a brief report of the Association’s activities during the previous twelve months which was supplemented by similar accounts from the Secretary, Kevin Galvin, and Treasurer, Mike Christian which all showed that the CAGB continues to thrive in these uncertain economic times from both a membership and financial perspective. That being said, it was felt prudent to increase the annual subscription for UK-based members from £8 to £9 for 2010/11 to cover the anticipated increases in the cost of mailing and publication of our biannual journal, The Crow’s Nest. It was, however, agreed to leave the subscription for US and Canadian members unchanged at $20 US whilst those resident in the Republic of Ireland and mainland Europe will have the choice of paying either £11 sterling or 14 Euros.

When it came to the election of the Committee for 2010/11 Peter Russell made the rather unexpected announcement that, after serving continuously in various capacities since the Association’s formation ten years ago, he would be standing down at the end of the current CAGB year, i.e. 31 May 2010. Mike Fox put his name forward to fill the vacancy and, together with all four other retiring members, was unanimously elected.

The last item on the agenda was the choice of venue for the 10th Anniversary of the CAGB, which officially fell on 10 June 2010. Although the Association was formed in Birmingham, and a small majority of those present were in favour of holding the celebratory Gathering in that city, the Committee decided that on this special occasion at least London might be a more popular choice. In the event a poll was held among the UK membership as a whole and an overwhelming number voted to hold the Gathering at Doggett’s Coat & Badge, Blackfriars Bridge, central London on Saturday, 12 June 2010.

With the AGM successfully completed the less formal part of the day began with an excellent presentation by Neil Gilbert who gave an entertaining and informative talk comparing and contrasting the battles of The Rosebud and the Little Bighorn. His talk, which was enhanced by handouts and photographs showing the course of the Rosebud fight, was well received and elicited a number of questions and comments.

Elisabeth Kimber was next to take centre stage when she held her audience captivated with a highly original interpretation of the relationship between Keogh and Custer, under the intriguing title Keogh and Custer: Friends or Foes? Elisabeth hinted at a close relationship between the Irish Dragoon and Libbie, which may well have sparked a touch of jealousy on the part of Autie.

The first session after lunch was presented by Peter Russell who gave a light-hearted, well illustrated, biographical talk entitled A ‘Dose of Garlic’ from Company G, which explored the relationship between Danish born, Trumpeter Henry Dose, his wife, Elizabeth Hahn, from Bavaria, and First Sergeant Edward Garlick from England, whom Elizabeth married just a few short months after Dose was killed with the rest of Custer’s column at the Little Big Horn. 

No Gathering of the CAGB would be quite the same without the traditional quiz and on this occasion the questions were set by Kevin Galvin. Perhaps not unexpectedly Francis Taunton and Elisabeth Kimber scored the two highest marks but under the rules, as each had previously won the quiz in recent times, they were precluded from a receiving a prize. This honour passed down to Peter Russell, the next in line, and he was duly presented with a copy of Michael Elliott’s Custerology plus the task of setting the questions for the quiz at the next Gathering.

The Chairman then brought yet another very enjoyable and informative meeting to a close.


Custer Association of Great Britain

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