Cheese Won a Naval Battle!

Oh, this is choice.  I wish I had found this story two years ago, when I was writing about Latin American history in the nineteenth century.  I can still add it to the text, though, as a new paragraph.  Here is how that section will read:

Flores was brought back by the brief Uruguayan War (August 1864-February 1865), in which both Brazil and Argentina backed the Colorados against the Blancos. Because the Blancos were clearly the underdogs, all the Colorados and their allies had to do was overrun the countryside, isolate the Blancos in Montevideo, and force them to surrender. Still, it took them six months, because the Brazilian navy could not coordinate its activities with the Brazilian army. I am mentioning this because the war included one of the strangest stories I have ever read in military history; cheese won a naval battle! What happened was that during one clash between a Brazilian and an Uruguayan (Blanco) ship, the Uruguayans ran out of cannonballs, and the quick-thinking captain ordered his men to load the guns with balls of stale edam cheese. Obviously this food item had become too hard to eat, judging from the results. The first two shots missed, but the third squarely hit the main mast of the Brazilian ship, shattering the mast and killing two men standing nearby with cheese shrapnel. When some more shots shredded the sails, the Brazilian admiral ordered the ship to withdraw. And no, I don’t know how he and the crew explained the damage to the folks back home.


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