Everyone is welcome at our monthly meetings
See list of meeting dates and speakers below for our 2016-2017 program year.
Copies of recorded meetings are available for a small charge. Click here for a printable list of recorded meetings.
More current meetings can be viewed on Youtube.
Our meetings are held at:
Holiday Inn O'Hare
5615 N. Cumberland
Chicago, IL 60631
Parking at the Holiday Inn is FREE
Map and Directions
Dinner $50.00 Members and Non- Members
Cocktails at 5:30, Dinner at 6:30
Presentation only is $10 per person.
Payable at the door, cash or check. Be there by 7:15.
For those attending the presentation only, your reservation is appreciated but
Dinner reservations should be received by Sunday evening prior to the meeting. When you make your dinner reservation, please be sure to indicate your entrée choice.
Please make reservations your reservation in advance by emailing
DinnerReservations@ChicagoCWRT.org with the names of your party and choice
of entre'e or calling (630) 460-1865
Cancellations: email us at
DinnerReservations@ChicagoCWRT.org or call (630) 460-1865
Entrée choices are:
June 9th, 2017
Untold Facts of the Custer Debacle
On June 27, 1876 the nation was stunned by telegraph reports from Fort Lincoln, Nebraska Territory, that Civil War Hero George Armstrong Custer and a large part of his vaunted Seventh United States Cavalry had been massacred by renegade Indians somewhere west of the Mississippi in Wyoming Territory. Theories abounded, fed by the newspapermen of the day, suggesting in one tale that Custer had been out-witted by Sitting Bull because Sitting Bull had attended West Point incognito and was thoroughly grounded in infantry tactics. Reservation Indians and captives were thoroughly interrogated but wary of being killed or punished severely, denied their participation or said very little about their role in the fight.
For many years, various writers blamed Custer for recklessness, bad judgment, or bravado for his defeat, feeding on the derogatory ravings of a single author who seemed to delight in twisting the knife in the General- even questioning his Civil War record.
Others attacked Major Reno and Captain Benteen who, it was charged, “failed to support Custer” when the Indians surrounded him. Reno insisted on a military Court-martial to clear his name, and furnished copious amounts of hard liquor and cigars to those officers and enlisted men who waited at one of Chicago’s better hotels to testify. All generally agreed that Custer was responsible for the debacle and the surviving officers and men were heroic in their efforts to save what could be saved of the situation
while they waited for the relief column to arrive.
As time passed by, Custer’s fate continued to interest anyone who had a new idea
to propose and a desire to sell a book Few invested time in actual research, fewer had
any military experience to draw from to form a background reference to the event.
On June 9th Don Sender will cover Custer’s Civil War record, post-war scandals regarding the Indian Bureau, the composition of the Army, bureaucratic cost cutting that caused problems with the cavalry’s weapons, training restraints, officers’ jealousies, their attitudes, and their actions in the field that would complicate the mission and almost destroy the 7th Cavalry.
Don Sender is a Member of the International Press Club of Chicago, Past President of the Salt Creek Civil War Round Table, a retired U.S. history teacher (Wheaton Dist. 200) (1994) and a retired Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve (1992). Following his retirements he worked part time as a Legislative Assistant to DuPage Republican State Senator Beverly Fawell, and as a Caseworker for Milton Township’s Emergency Assistance Program. He served as a Milton Township Trustee 2000-2004.
Although retired from teaching, he has given audio visual lectures on various historical events of 1754-2016. World War I, the career of General Custer, the Indian Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Military Intelligence, and other topics are specialties.
For our 2016-17 program year, we proudly welcome these outstanding speakers:
Sept. 9th: Steve Quick on The C.S.S. Hunley
Oct. 14th: Lance Herdegen, Nevins-Freeman Address
Nov. 11th: Dave Connon on Iowa Copperheads
Dec. 9th: Bjorn Skaptasan on Ambrose Bierce at Shiloh
Jan. 13th, 2017: Richard Sommers on Lessons in Leadership in the Petersburg Campaign
Feb. 10th: Bob O'Neil on Cavalry During the Peninsula Campaign
Mar. 10th: Paul Kahan on Simon Cameron, Lincoln's First Secretary of War
Apr. 21st: Diane Smith on Command Conflict in the Overland Campaign
May 12th: Connie Hansen presents a First Person Portrayal of Jennie Wade's mother
June 9th: Don Sender on Untold Facts of the Custer Debacle