The Indignity Must Perish, engraving by J.C. Armytage from M.A. Wageman’s painting.
On Saturday, January 29th, I live-tweeted my inspirational journey on the historic busride re-tracing the steps of a key episode in the Battle of Egremont, the "Trail of Awkward Silence" upon which Corporal A.E. Puffington led a ramshackle platoon of farmers on that day in 1705. A fairly rigorous historical survey indicates I am the first person to live-tweet a community remembrance of the Battle of Egremont, a beyond-obscure historical episode born of the looming Western Massachusetts hills that has nevertheless exerted a profound influence on not only the surviving community but the early development of the nation.
Here, in one place, is a chronicle of my roundbreaking live coverage this weekend. (Mostly tweets; a few Facebook statuses as well.)* Some photos were uploaded from the scene, but in assembling this material here I’ve also added some period illustrations pulled from my research.
Some choose to ignore (at least publicly) the lingering impact this bitter, bloody rift still has upon the communities of North and South Egremont, some 306 years later. (At least the food in historic Benjamin Hall after some public remembrance or another is typically delicious; though admittedly, you’re right, the cider is mediocre at best.)
*Found Sounds and Such…, I might had, also saw two live, from-the-scene posts—a bit of text providing a link to the tweet stream, and a photo of “Chilly Whiskers.”
Some of the below text has been cleaned up a bit from its original posting, and the searchable hashtag that punctuated each tweet—#BattleofEgremont—has been removed (unless originally integrated into the text of the tweet).
9:31 AM Jan 29th
Only about 12 people are cued up for historic bus tour on 306th anniversary of key #BattleofEgremont event. Makes sense though; next year is the big one.
9:52 Jan 29th (Facebook status)
Right now! Live-tweeting historic busride of major Battle of Egremont event. (We have not forgotten!)
9:55 AM Jan 29th
Today in 1705, Corporal A.E. Puffington led march of irregulars on famed ‘Trail of Awkward Silence.’ Seen as a turning point in #BattleofEgremont
Portrait of Corporal A.E. Puffington, Gilbert Stuart (1796)
10:00 AM Jan 29th
Bus route re-traces stretches of hillsides and fields where the grueling, nearly afternoon-long trek occurred.
10:02 AM Jan 29th
Today: gorgeous bright sun on freshly fallen snow. But no seatbelts on this BRTA-issued bus. And a rocky ride.
10:05 AM Jan 29th
Several riders are in period garb.
10:22 AM Jan 29th Shrapply’s Meadow.
This view is from outside the Parson’s bush-boundary.
10:25 AM Jan 29th
This hill is informally called Chilly Whiskers. It was a spot recently adapted by the native Mahicans for public recreation (inspired by Greek gymnasium culture, described at length by the friendlier English settlers by fireside.)
10:30 AM Jan 29th
We are nearing the clearing where the (in)famous ‘biscuit dissatisfaction’ became more acute. Chills!
10:34 AM Jan 29th (Facebook status)
Thing are heating up on this Battle of Egremont bus tour. Spread the word! All the action is on Twitter. #BattleofEgremont
10:38am Jo Duran: Thanks for doing this Jeremy. Helps the rest who are not able. 8-)
11:35am Stacy Parsons: Sad I’m missing this story!
11:40am Jeremy D. Goodwin:Yeah Stacy; though I’m sure you’ll come out for the big 307th anniversary next year. Pass the word: #BattleofEgremont.
3:13pm Stacy Parsons: Wouldn’t miss the 307th anniversary! Looking forward to the reenactment.
10:50 AM Jan 29th
Corporal A.E. Puffington had declared in rousing morning speech, “And I’ll be the first to break out your biscuits, boys!”
10:51 AM Jan 29th
But by mid-morning it became apparent that the biscuits were not packed.
Biscuit Discontent Among the Men, Howard Pyle, charcoal on parchment (1773)
11:11 AM Jan 29th
(A.E. Puffington’s full name: Ambrose E. Puffington.)
11:13 AM Jan 29th
As the late-morning waned, the men awaited a declaration of biscuit break. The precious basket having been left back at Benjamin Hall, there was none forthcoming.
11:13 AM Jan 29th
Puffington could not show his weakness by acknowledging the error, so affected a lack of desire for delicious, fruit-smeared biscuit.
11:17 AM Jan 29th
Moving snowball fight at sight of the discontent. Long, contemplative ride back toward town.
11:33 AM Jan 29th
A couple of #scenekids are running informal #johnnycake concessions on the chilly fairgrounds.
11:47 AM Jan 29th
We are standing in a circle in field, singing an English folk tune that was adopted by S. Egremont before the split.
11:54 AM Jan 29th
And, of course, a reading of Frost’s ‘Meloncholia in a glade (the memory of Grapefruit.’
11:21 AM Jan 29th
BTW, broke out delicious McGuido (on everything bagel w/ ham) and homefries from @FuelGreatBarrington this morning.
12:14 PM Jan 29th
Getting toward the end of the festivities.
12:20 PM Jan 29th
OK, headed back to Benjamin Hall for refreshments and reflections.
12:32 PM Jan 29th
Ceremonial lemon crumpets are delicious. Descendant of Dr. J. Witherspoon offers benediction. Finally, arm wrestling.
12:35 PM Jan 29th
I always find these events to be less Puritan Gothic than Protestant Itchyshirt. And the ubiquitous smoked salmon, I cannot explain.
12:36 PM Jan 29th
In the attempt to mine cultural import, the lox is a red herring.
Egremont inheritance, Paul Revere, mezzotint (1669)
12:46 PM Jan 29th
Well, signing off from historic bus ride. “We will not forget!”. Next event in the historically informed local mythology will be spring “grapefruit” hunt. (An antiseptic invocation of such a bitter episode!)
12:47 PM Jan 29th
But that’s how we process the trauma, I know.
12:32 PM Jan 29th
No drum and fife band this year, btw. Lame.
12:51 PM Jan 29th (Facebook status)
Well, that’s it…I signed off from the “Trail of Awkward Silence” bus tour. Mixed feelings; it was poignant, politically ambiguous, high-carb. But good way to begin run-up to 307th anniversary of the Battle of Egremont. See the tweets, #BattleofEgremont. Feel free to share; and remember, Egremont Awareness really is the key to healing.