Jody Baker: Mrs. Baynes And The Afghan Wars (In Seven Parts)

Part Two

Friday, April 12, 2013 - by Jody Baker

I was looking forward to a continuation of our discussion about the First and Second Afghan Wars. As you should know by now, a discussion with Mrs. Baynes consists mainly of listening. But she had worked hard on the text of her report, forming and reforming her sentences, shaping and reshaping her paragraphs, so I sat back and prepared to listen. 

The time for this discussion was ideal. It was a bright Saturday morning, and I was off duty at the constabulary from the Saturday to the Monday, next. The air outside was crisp and brittle, with a touch of frost still in the Spring air. The coals were ablaze in the hearth fire to take the chill off the room, and Mrs. Baynes was settled comfortably in her armchair with her manuscript pad of text before her.

" I think, Inspector," she began, "that if one is to understand the British presence in India, one must begin with an understanding of the East India Company. That was the private, and very profitable, trading company that so greatly influenced the early shaping of the Empire. And to understand the East India Company, one must step backward in history to the Company's origin. 

" In 1588 the English defeated the Spanish Armada and gained a control of the sea lanes. In 1600 Queen Elizabeth chartered The East India Company, a small private trading venture, and assigned it the task of establishing a foreign trading presence with the aim of enlarging our presence and working toward trade expansion. A select group of 80 London merchants were assembled and were granted a monopoly of all trade east of the Cape of Good Hope. In return for that grant, they agreed to finance and undertake the risky venture, and to preserve and protect the English interests. This was a private business venture engaged in commerce. It later adopted a military and territorial function.


The East India Company began in this manner: ` ... a small and struggling affair, with a capital of only     72,000 [pounds]. Dazzling dividends were to be won from this investment. The British Empire in India, which was painfully built up in the course of the next three centuries, owes its origins to the charter granted by Queen Elizabeth to a group of London merchants and financiers in the year 1600.’ ” (See Churchill's “History of the English Speaking People,”  Cassell and Co. Ltd., London, 1956-58) 

I interrupted the discourse. "That's interesting, Mrs. Baynes, but is it relevant?"

"You bet your sweet biffy, it’s relevant," she replied. "As we progress through history, it will become clear that the wound received by Dr. Watson was the result of the confluence of several streams of historical events which were set in motion more than a century before. The wellsprings of these streams are to be found in the activities of the East India Company." 

Mrs. Baynes returned to her notes and continued her exposition:   " Initially, there was resistance from the Portuguese and the Dutch. But it was during the 1700's and the conflict with the French that events brought the East India Company to a position of power and influence unparalleled in history. This began and gained its greatness through the brilliant leadership of a 25 year old civilian clerk of the East Indian Company. Circumstances had put him in precisely the right place at exactly the right time in history. His name, Robert Clive, became legend.

"The story of Robert Clive is a story of failures and successes, of heroics and disasters, of fame and of shame. And it is a story not entirely unrelated to Dr. Watson's wound. It is the historical prelude to the circumstances leading to both the First and the Second Afghan Wars." 

Respectfully,  Inspector Baynes

(Jody Baker is a Chattanooga attorney, who specializes in Sherlock Holmes lore. He can be reached at

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Picture a sold-out baseball game at Wrigley Field or Nationals Park packed with 40,000 fans. That image represents roughly the same number of women and men who die from breast cancer each year.  In Tennessee alone, an estimated 900 women will die from the disease in 2016. It is a sad statistic, but there is some good news: thanks to early detection and improved treatments, ... (click for more)

Medical Cannabis Can Literally Save Lives

Narcotic drug overdoses have increased in our area over 40 percent in the past year, and it's time to do something about this public health crisis. Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Director Mark Gwyn said, "We had more overdose deaths in the state last year than we had traffic fatalities."  Medical cannabis is an alternative to the use of potentially dangerous narcotics ... (click for more)

1 Shot And Killed In St. Elmo Monday Morning; 2nd Person Taken To Hospital

One person was shot and killed in St. Elmo Monday morning. Another person was taken to the hospital. The person transported was driving a Lincoln that was behind a church off of Virginia Avenue. The shooting happened on Florida Avenue, and police said it did not appear to be gang related. More information to follow. (click for more)

6 People, Including 4 Children, Die In Mobile Home Fire In Trion, Ga.

Six people, including four children, died in a mobile home fire at Trion, Ga., on Sunday night. The fire broke out on Airport Road in Chattooga County. Sheriff Mark Schrader said, "It is with a heavy heart tonight that I report that a residential fire has claimed the lives of six people, two adults and four children. The fire occurred around 11:00 p.m. in the Airport subdivision, ... (click for more)

UTC Women Fall To UNCG 1-0 To End Regular Season

 The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s soccer team fell 1-0 at UNCG Sunday afternoon to close out the regular season. The Mocs end the year at 6-10-2 overall and 4-4-1 in the Southern Conference and tie the Spartans (7-10-2, 4-4-1 SoCon) for fifth in the standings.   “It was another tough result,” Chattanooga head coach Gavin McKinney said. “We did, however, ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Draws Top Ranked Greeneville, CCS Opens With Madison Magnet

For the second year in a row, Notre Dame drew the top-ranked Greeneville in the opening round of the TSSAA Class A/AA state tournament.  Notre Dame is scheduled to play Greeneville on Wednesday at 8 p m. (EST)  in Murfreesboro. CCS will play Madison Magnet in the first round on field #1 at 7:30 p.m. (EST) . CCS and Greeneville met in the state championship game ... (click for more)