On this day in 1777 British and American forces clashed in the pivotal Battle Of Senhor Glyndwr’s Watch-Repair Shop. The battle was the climax of the Southern Campaign of the great revolutionary war hero General Bartholomew Baltimore
In 1776 Baltimore, incensed by the praise heaped on his arch-rival Washington for his famous crossing of the Delaware, had declared that he would go one better and take the British by surprise by staging a night crossing of the mighty Amazon. The private journal of Baltimore’s daughter, recently discovered rotting in the Detroit public library, suggests that this plan was originally conceived in the mistaken belief that the Amazon was located in upstate New York.1 However by the time the mistake was discovered Baltimore had already sold the stage rights and apparently felt too embarrassed to back out. Thus on February 9th 1777 General Baltimore set out for Brazil with 17,000 infantry, a division of dragoons and the last of the Continental Congress’ gunpowder supplies.
Baltimore’s plan was relatively simple. Boldly crossing the Amazon at Manaus he would strike south at the only British outpost on the river- a small brothel and watch-repair shop run by an alcoholic Welsh transvestite named Owain Glyndŵr.2 Having defeated the British he would then return to America to write lurid memoirs and bask in the adulation of patriots everywhere. However this strategy immediately ran into problems. Firstly the Spanish merchant hired to transport Baltimore’s men to South America proved to actually be the notorious Algerian pirate Felicity Babcock in disguise. Using a complicated series of disguises, sexual innuendo and turning around quickly while holding a heavy ladder Babcock managed to maroon Baltimore’s men on a nearby reef and make off with their supplies, including all the gunpowder, food and Baltimore’s precious supply of scented handkerchiefs and manscara. Ever-resourceful, Baltimore managed to build a raft out of palm leaves and corpses, but by the time he reached Trinidad his men had been forced to eat the dragoon’s horses and, eventually, the dragoons.
In Trinidad further trouble awaited. The islanders, who had spent years persuading each of the major colonial powers that they actually belonged to one of the others and thereby avoiding having to pay tax to any of them, had been extremely alarmed by the arrival of a troop of Hessian mercenaries in British service. By a strange coincidence the British government had gotten wind of Baltimore’s scheme and, deciding that anything so obviously insane must actually be fiendishly clever, sent the Hessians to oppose it. It was these same Hessians who Baltimore’s men came across so suddenly now.3
A fierce battle quickly broke out ending only when Baltimore and the Hessian Colonel, meeting at a local dinner party, decided that this whole nonsense had gone on long enough and agreed to a truce until both sides could reach the Amazon where they could have a proper battle, at the arranged time and place, like gentlemen.
The rest of the journey was without incident and battle on the 22nd of April, 1777 battle was apparently joined, although few records have survived describing it in detail. Curiously both the British and the Americans seem to have been informed that their side won the battle. Attempts to clear up this confusion were not helped when Baltimore’s men and the Hessians both reported that their commanding officers had been eaten by lions on the way back, a claim which was widely accepted at the time but which has subsequently been called into question by recent breakthroughs in geographical zoology. Whatever the truth it is clear that General Baltimore’s bold campaign played an important role in securing freedom for the nascent United States and in inspiring a generation of military men to come.4
1- Chardonnay Baltimore, I Really Wish I Was Adopted: The Diary Of A Revolutionary Girl (Samarkand: Drax Publishing, 1805), 69-76.
2- Probably no relation but for an alternate view see Griff Rhys-Misimovic, From Powys to the Peru: The True Fate of the Immortal Owain Glyndwr (Swansea: The No I’m Not Fucking Crazy Press, 1998), 89.
3- Felicity Babcock, Muahahahaha: My Role In the Discovery of Cloning and Why I Won’t Tell You How I Did It (New Orleans: The New Orleans Automatic Writing and Clairvoyance Co., 1913), 87.
4- See for example Belvedere Smyth, The Cherokee Wars vol. 3: Andrew Jackson’s Crossing of The Nile (Cetshwayo’s Kraal: Drax Publishing, 1875), 198 or Harcourt Carter, The Yellow River Campaign: Ulysses S. Grant’s Finest Hour (Belmopan: Drax Publishing, 1967), 32.