The War of the Triple Alliance
, also known as the
, and the Great War
in Paraguay itself, was fought from 1864 to 1870, and caused more
deaths than any other South American war. It was fought between
Paraguay and the
allied countries of Argentina, Brazil, and
of the war has been widely attributed to causes as varied as the
after-effects of colonialism in Latin America, the struggle for physical power
over the strategic Río de la Plata region, Brazilian and Argentina meddling in
internal Uruguayan politics, British economic interests in the
region, and the expansionist ambitions of Paraguayan president
Paraguay had had boundary disputes and tariff
issues with Argentina and Brazil for many years.
The outcome of the war was the utter defeat of Paraguay. After the
defeated Paraguay in conventional warfare, the conflict turned into
a drawn-out guerrilla
that devastated the Paraguayan military and civilian population.
The guerilla war lasted until López was killed on March 1, 1870.
One estimate places total Paraguayan losses — through both war and
— as high as 1.2 million
people, or 90% of its pre-war population.A different estimate
places Paraguayan deaths at approximately 300,000 people out of its
500,000 to 525,000 prewar inhabitants.
It took decades for Paraguay to recover from the chaos and
demographic imbalance in which it had been placed. What had been by
name one of the first South American republics
, Paraguay only chose its first
democratically-elected president in 1993
Brazil, the war helped bring about the end of slavery
, moved the military
into a key role in the public sphere, and caused a ruinous increase
of public debt, which took decades to pay, seriously reducing the
country's growth. It has been argued that the war played a key role
in the consolidation of Argentina as a nation-state
After the war, that country became Latin America's second
wealthiest nation (Brazil being the first). For Uruguay, it was the
last time that Brazil and Argentina would take such an
interventionist role in its internal politics.
Paraguay before the war
Francisco Solano López, Paraguayan
Historians have long considered that Paraguay under José Gaspar Rodríguez
(1813–1840) and Carlos Antonio López
developed quite differently from other South American countries.
The aim of Rodríguez de Francia and Carlos López was to encourage
self-sufficient economic development in Paraguay by imposing
isolation from neighboring countries. But historiography
is ever-changing: in the 1960s
and 1970s, many historians claimed that the War of the Triple
Alliance was caused by pseudo-colonial influence of the British who
were in need of a new source of cotton due to the United States civil war
But this claim is inconsistent with other
historical research and has been disputed by several historical
works that have appeared since the 1990s.
The regime of the López family was characterized by a harsh
centralism without any room for the creation of a true civil
society. There was no distinction between the public and the
private sphere, and the López family ruled the country as it would
a large property estate.
The government controlled all exports. The yerba maté
and valuable wood exported
maintained the balance of commerce. Paraguay was extremely
protectionist, never accepting loans from the outside and, through
high tariffs, refusing the entrance of foreign products. Francisco Solano López
, son of
Carlos Antonio López, replaced his father as president-dictator in
1862, and generally continued the political policies of his
In the area of the military, however, Solano López modernized and
expanded in ways that eventually would lead to war. More than 200
foreign technicians, hired by the government, installed telegraph
lines and railroads to aid the steel, textiles, paper, ink, naval
construction and gunpowder industries. The Ybycuí foundry, installed in 1850, manufactured cannons,
mortars and bullets of all calibers. Warships were built in
This growth required contact with the international market, but
Paraguay was landlocked. Its ports were river ports and ships had to
travel down the Río Paraguay and
Paraná to reach the estuary of the Río de la
Plata and the ocean. Solano López conceived
a project to obtain a port in the Atlantic Ocean: he perhaps intended to create a "Greater Paraguay"
by capturing a slice of Brazilian territory that would link
Paraguay to the coastline.
To maintain his expansionist intentions, López began to prepare
Paraguay's military. He encouraged the industry of war, mobilized a
large quantity of men for the army (mandatory military service
already existed in Paraguay), submitted them to intensive military
training, and built fortifications at the mouth of the Río
Diplomatically, Solano López wanted to ally himself with Uruguay's
were tied to
Brazil and Argentina.
In 1864 López thought the balance of power was threatened when
Brazil got involved in Uruguay's politics and struggle for
leadership. This caused López to declare war on Brazil. Argentina
stayed neutral and only declared war on Paraguay when it invaded
Corrientes province after Mitre rejected the request Solano made to
use Argentinean territory to move his troops to fight in Uruguay
Politics of the Río de la Plata
Brazil and Argentina had become independent, the fight
between the governments of Buenos Aires and of Rio de Janeiro for hegemony in the Río de
la Plata profoundly marked the diplomatic and political relations
between the countries of the region.
Emperor Pedro II wearing a southern
Brazilian traditional outfit during his visit to Uruguaiana in the
province of Rio Grande do Sul, 1865.
Brazil almost entered
into war with Argentina twice. [Actually, there was Argentina–Brazil War
The government of Buenos Aires intended to reconstruct the
territory of the old Viceroyalty of the Río
de la Plata
, enclosing Paraguay and Uruguay. It carried out
diverse attempts to do so during the first half of the 19th
century, without success — many times due to Brazilian intervention
. Fearing excessive Argentine control, Brazil favored a balance of
power in the region, helping Paraguay and Uruguay retain their
Brazil, under the rule of the Portuguese
, was the first country to
recognize the independence of Paraguay in 1811. While Argentina was
ruled by Juan Manuel Rosas
(1829–1852), a common enemy of both Brazil and Paraguay, Brazil
contributed to the improvement of the fortifications and
development of the Paraguayan army, sending officials and technical
help to Asunción.
roads linked the province of Mato Grosso
to Rio de
Janeiro, Brazilian ships needed to travel through
Paraguayan territory, going up the Río Paraguay to arrive at
times, however, Brazil had difficulty obtaining permission to sail
from the government in Asunción.
Brazil carried out three political and military interventions in
Uruguay — in 1851, against Manuel Oribe
to fight Argentine influence in the country; in 1855, at the
request of the Uruguayan government and Venancio Flores
, leader of the Colorados
, who were traditionally
supported by the Brazilian empire; and in 1864, against Atanásio Aguirre
. This last
intervention would be the fuse of the War of the Triple Alliance.
interventions were aligned to the British desire for the
fragmentation of the Río de la Plata region to stop any attempt to monopolize the
region's minerals as well as the control of both shores of the Río
de la Plata, therefore, controlling the access of all ships going
Intervention against Aguirre
In April 1864, Brazil sent a diplomatic mission to Uruguay led by
José Antônio Saraiva
to demand payment for the damages caused to gaucho
farmers in border conflicts with Uruguayan
farmers. The Uruguayan president Atanásio Aguirre
, of the National Party
, refused the
Solano López offered himself as mediator, but was turned down by
Brazil. López subsequently broke diplomatic relations with Brazil —
in August 1864 — and declared that the occupation of Uruguay by
Brazilian troops would be an attack on the equilibrium of the Río
de la Plata region.
On October 12, Brazilian troops invaded Uruguay. The followers of
the Colorado Venancio Flores, who had the support of Argentina,
united with the Brazilian troops and deposed Aguirre.
The war begins
A Brazilian corporal of the 1st
Battalion of Fatherland Volunteer Corps, heavy infantry,
When attacked by Brazil, the Uruguayan Blancos asked for help from
Solano López, but Paraguay did not directly come to their ally's
aid. Instead, on November 12, 1864, the Paraguayan ship
captured the Brazilian ship Marquês de
which had sailed up the Río Paraguay to the province of
. Paraguay declared war on
Brazil on December 13 and on Argentina three months later, on March
18, 1865. Uruguay, already governed by Venancio Flores, aligned
itself with Brazil and Argentina.
At the beginning of the war, the military force of the Triple
Alliance was inferior to that of Paraguay, which included,
according to revisionist historians, more than 60,000 well-trained
men—38,000 of whom were immediately under arms—and a naval squadron
of twenty-three steamboats
) and five river-navigating ships, based
around the Tacuari,
a gunboat. Its artillery included
about 400 cannons. However, recent studies have shown a different
picture. Although the Paraguayan army had somewhere between 70,000
and 100,000 men at the beginning of the conflict, they were badly
equipped. Most of the infantry armament consisted of inaccurate
smooth-bore muskets and carbines, slow to reload and with short
range. The same applied to the artillery. The officers had no
training or experience and there was no command system, as all
decisions were made by López. Food, ammunition and armament were
scarce and logistics and hospital care were deficient, if existent
at all. But this not this fully tested
The armies of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay were a fraction of the
total size of the Paraguayan army. Argentina had approximately
8,500 regular troops and a naval squadron of four vapores
and one goleta
entered the war with fewer than 2,000 men and no navy. Many of
Brazil's 16,000 troops were initially located in its southern
garrisons. The Brazilian advantage, though, was in its navy: 42
ships with 239 cannon and about 4,000 well-trained crew. A great
part of the squadron had already met in the Río de la Plata basin,
where it had acted, under the Marquis of Tamandaré
, in the
intervention against Aguirre.
Brazil, however, was unprepared to fight a war. Its army was
unorganized. The troops used in the interventions in Uruguay were
composed merely of the armed contingents of gaucho politicians and
some National Guard staff. The Brazilian infantry who fought in the
War of the Triple Alliance were not professional soldiers but
volunteers, the so-called Voluntários da Pátria
. The army
was heavily recruited from the landless, largely black, underclass.
The cavalry was formed from the National Guard of Rio Grande Do Sul
. From the end of 1864 to
1870 about 146,000 Brazilians fought in the war while 18,000
members of the National Guard stayed behind in Brazilian territory
to defend it. The 146,000 soldiers were: 10,025 army soldiers
stationed in Uruguayan territory in 1864, 2,047 that were in the
province of Mato Grosso, 55,985 Fatherland Volunteers, 60,009
National Guards, 8,570 ex-slaves who had been freed to be sent to
war, and 9,177 navy personnel.
Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay signed the Treaty of the Triple Alliance
in Buenos Aires on May 1, 1865, allying the three Río de la Plata
countries against Paraguay. They named Bartolomé Mitre
, president of
Argentina, as supreme commander of the allied troops.
During the first phase of the war Paraguay took the initiative. The
armies of López dictated the location of initial battles — invading
in the north in December
1864, Rio Grande do Sul
south in the first months of 1865 and the Argentine province of
Brazilian troops in front of a Church
in Nova Palmira located in the province of Rio Grande do Sul,
Brazilian officers posing with their
weapons and gear in a photographer´s improvised studio very near
the battlefront, between 1865 and 1870.
Two bodies of Paraguayan troops invaded Mato Grosso simultaneously.
Due to the numerical superiority of the attackers the province was
Five thousand men, transported in ten ships and commanded by the
colonel Vicente Barrios
, went up the
Río Paraguay and attacked the fort of Nova
. The garrison of 155 men resisted for three days under
the command of the lieutenant-colonel Hermenegildo de
Albuquerque Porto Carrero
, later baron of Fort Coimbra.
munitions were exhausted the defenders abandoned the fort and
withdrew up the river towards Corumbá on board the gunship Anhambaí.
occupied the empty fort the Paraguayans advanced north taking the
cities of Albuquerque
and Corumbá in
second Paraguayan column, which was led by Colonel Francisco Isidoro Resquín and
included four thousand men, penetrated a region south of Mato
Grosso, and sent a detachment to attack the military frontier of
The detachment, led by Major Martín Urbieta
, encountered tough
resistance on December 29, 1864 from Lieutenant Antonio João Ribeiro
and his 16
men, who died without yielding. The Paraguayans continued to Nioaque and Miranda, defeating the troops of the colonel José Dias da Silva.
Coxim was taken in
Paraguayan forces, despite their victories, did not continue to
Cuiabá, the capital
of the province. Augusto
had fortified the camp of Melgaço
to protect Cuiabá. The main objective
was to distract the attention of the Brazilian government to the
north as the war would lead to the south, closer to the Río de la
The invasion of Mato Grosso was a
The invasion of Corrientes and of Rio Grande do Sul was the second
phase of the Paraguayan offensive. To raise the support of the
Uruguayan Blancos, the Paraguayan forces had to travel through
Argentine territory. In March 1865, López asked the Argentine
government's permission for an army of 25,000 men (led by General
) to travel through
the province of Corrientes. The president - Bartolomé Mitre
, an ally of Brazil in
the intervention in Uruguay - refused.
On March 18, 1865, Paraguay declared war on Argentina. A Paraguayan
squadron, coming down the Río Paraná, imprisoned Argentine ships in the port of Corrientes.
Immediately, General Robles's
troops took the city.
By invading Corrientes, López tried to obtain the support of the
powerful Argentine caudillo Justo José de Urquiza
of the provinces of Corrientes and Entre Ríos, and the chief
federalist hostile to Mitre and to the government of Buenos Aires.
But Urquiza assumed an ambiguous attitude towards the Paraguayan
troops . They advanced around 200 kilometers south before
ultimately ending the offensive in failure.
Along with Robles's troops, a force of 10,000 men under the orders
of lieutenant-colonel Antonio de la Cruz
crossed the Argentine border south of Encarnación,
in May 1865, driving for Rio Grande do Sul. They traveled down Río
Uruguay and took the town of São
on June 12. Uruguaiana, to the south, was taken on August
5 without any significant resistance. The Brazilian reaction was
yet to come.
Brazil sent an expedition to fight the invaders in Mato Grosso
. A column of 2,780 men led by Colonel Manuel
Pedro Drago left Uberaba in Minas
Gerais in April 1865, and arrived at Coxim in December
after a difficult march of more than two thousand kilometers
through four provinces.
But Paraguay had abandoned Coxim by
December. Drago arrived at Miranda in September 1866 - and Paraguay
had left once again. In January 1867, Colonel Carlos de Morais Camisão
assumed command of the column, now with only 1,680 men, and decided
to invade Paraguayan territory, where he penetrated as far as
. The expedition was forced
to retreat by the Paraguayan cavalry.
Despite the efforts of Colonel Camisão's troops and the resistance
in the region, which succeeded in liberating Corumbá in June 1867,
Mato Grosso remained under the control of the Paraguayans. They
finally withdrew in April 1868, moving their troops to the main
theatre of operations, in the south of Paraguay.
Communications in the Río de la Plata basin was solely by river;
few roads existed. Whoever controlled the rivers would win the war,
so the Paraguayan fortifications had been built on the edges of the
lower end of Río Paraguay.
The naval battle of Riachuelo
occurred on June 11, 1865. The Brazilian fleet commanded by
Barroso da Silva
won, destroying the powerful Paraguayan navy
and preventing the Paraguayans from permanently occupying Argentine
territory. The battle practically decided the outcome of the war in
favour of the Triple Alliance, which controlled, from that point
on, the rivers of the Río de la Plata basin up to the entrance to
López ordered the retreat of the forces that occupied Corrientes,
the Paraguayan troops that invaded São
Borja advanced, taking Itaqui and Uruguaiana.
A separate division (3,200 men) that
continued towards Uruguay, under the command of the major Pedro Duarte
, was defeated by Flores in the
bloody battle of Jataí
banks of the Río Uruguay.
The allied troops united under the command of Mitre in the camp of
Concordia, in the Argentine province of Entre Ríos, with the
field-marshal Manuel Luís
at the front of the Brazilian troops. Part of the
troops, commanded by the lieutenant-general Manuel Marques de Sousa
, baron of
Porto Alegre, left to reinforce Uruguaiana. The Paraguayans yielded
on September 18, 1865.
In the subsequent months the Paraguayans were driven out of the
cities of Corrientes and San Cosme
only Argentine territory still in Paraguayan possession. By the end
of 1865, the Triple Alliance was on the offensive. Their armies
numbered more than 50,000 men and were prepared to invade
In September 12, 1866, López invited Mitre to a conference in
Yatayty Cora. López had realized that the war was lost and was
ready to sign a peace treaty with the Allies. No agreement was
reached though since Mitre's conditions for rendition were that
every article of the Secret Treaty of the Triple Alliance
was still to be carried out, a condition to which López refused
Despite López'es refusal, article 6 of the treaty not only rendered
any possibility of truce or peace nearly impossible but also
stipulated that the war was to continue until the current
government ceased to be, which meant the death of López.
Caxias in command
Assigned on October 10, 1866 to command the Brazilian forces,
Marshal Luís Alves de Lima e Silva, Marquis and, later, Duke of Caxias
, arrived in Paraguay in
November, finding the Brazilian army practically paralyzed. The
contingent of Argentines and Uruguayans, devastated by disease,
were cut off from the rest of the allied army. Mitre and Flores
returned to their respective countries due to questions of internal
politics. Tamandaré was replaced in command by the Admiral Joaquim José Inácio
Viscount of Inhaúma. Osório organized a 5,000-strong third Corps of
the Brazilian army in Rio Grande do Sul. In Mitre's absence, Caxias
assumed the general command and restructured the army.
Between November 1866 and July 1867, Caxias organized a health
corps (to give aid to the endless number of injured soldiers and to
fight the epidemic of cholera) and a system of supplying of the
troops. In that period military operations were limited to
skirmishes with the Paraguayans and to bombarding Curupaity
. López took advantage of the
disorganization of the enemy to reinforce his stronghold in
The march to flank the left wing of the Paraguayan fortifications
constituted the basis of Caxias's tactics. Caxias wanted to
bypass the Paraguayan strongholds, cut the connections between
Asunción and Humaitá, and finally encircle the
To this end, Caxias marched to Tuiu-Cuê
. But Mitre, who had retaken command
in August 1867, insisted on attacking the right wing, a strategy
that had previously been disastrous in Curupaity. Under his orders
the Brazilian squadron forced its way past Curupaity but was forced
to stop at Humaitá. New splits in the high command arose: Mitre
wanted to continue, but the Brazilians instead captured São Solano, Pike and Tayi, isolating Humaitá from Asunción.
López reacted by attacking the rearguard of
the allies in Tuiuti, but suffered new defeats.
With the removal of Mitre in January 1868, Caxias reassumed supreme
command and decided to bypass Curupaity and Humaitá, carried out
with success by the squadron commanded by Captain Delfim Carlos de Carvalho
Baron of Passagem. Humaitá fell on 25 July after a long
to Asunción, Caxias's army went 200 kilometers to Palmas,
stopping at the Piquissiri river.
Brazilian soldiers kneeling before the
statue of Our Lady of Conception during a procession in May 30,
There López had concentrated 18,000 Paraguayans in a fortified line
that exploited the terrain and supported the forts of Angostura and
Itá-Ibaté. Resigned to frontal combat, Caxias ordered the so-called
Piquissiri maneuver. While a squadron attacked Angostura
, Caxias made the army cross on the right
side of the river. He ordered the construction of a road in the
swamps of the Chaco
along which the troops
advanced to the northeast. At Villeta, the army crossed the river again, between Asunción and Piquissiri, behind the fortified Paraguayan
Instead of advancing to the capital, already evacuated
and bombarded, Caxias went south and attacked the Paraguayans from
had won a series of victories in December 1868, when he went back
south to take Piquissiri from the rear, capturing Itororó, Avaí, Lomas
Valentinas and Angostura.
On December 24 the three new
commanders of the Triple Alliance (Caxias, the Argentine Juan Andrés Gelly y Obes
the Uruguayan Enrique Castro) sent a note to Solano López asking
for surrender, but López refused and fled for Cerro Leon
Asunción was occupied on January 1, 1869 by commands of Colonel
Hermes Ernesto da Fonseca, father of the future Marshal Hermes da Fonseca
. On the fifth day,
Caxias entered the city with the rest of the army, and 13 days
later left his command.
The end of the war
Command of Count d'Eu
Count d´Eu reviewing Brazilian troops
in an open field, ca. 1869.
The son-in-law of the emperor Dom Pedro
, Luís Filipe Gastão
, Count d'Eu, was nominated to direct the final phase
of the military operations in Paraguay. He sought not just a total
rout of Paraguay, but also the strengthening of the Brazilian
Empire. In August 1869, the Triple Alliance
installed a provisional government in Asunción headed by Paraguayan Cirilo Antonio
López organized the resistance in the mountain range northeast of
At the head of 21,000 men, Count d'Eu led
the campaign against the Paraguayan resistance, the Campaign of the
Mountain Range, which lasted over a year. The most important
battles were the battles of Piribebuy and of Acosta
Ñu, in which more than 5,000 Paraguayans died.
Death of López
Two detachments were sent in pursuit of Solano López, who was
accompanied by 200 men in the forests in the north. On March 1,
1870, the troops of General José Antônio Correia da Câmara
surprised the last Paraguayan camp in Cerro Corá
, where Solano López was fatally
injured by a spear as he tried to swim away down the Aquidabanigui
stream. His last words were: "Muero por mi patria
" (I die
for my nation). This marks the end of the war of the Triple
The Paraguayan people had been fanatically committed to López and
the war effort, and as a result they fought to the point of
dissolution. Paraguay suffered massive casualties, losing perhaps
the majority of its population. The war left it utterly
A Brazilian priest with Paraguayan
refugees coming from San Pedro, 1869 or 1870.
The specific numbers of casualties are hotly disputed, but it has
been estimated that 300,000 Paraguayans, mostly civilians, died; up
to 90% of the male population may have been killed. According to
one numerical estimation, the prewar population of approximately
525,000 Paraguayans was reduced to about 221,000 in 1871, of which
only about 28,000 were men. Definitively accurate casualty numbers
will probably never be determined.
A study carried out Dr. Thomas Whigham from the Georgia University
in 1999, which was published in the Latin American Research
under the title "The Paraguayan Rosetta Stone: New
Evidence on the Demographics of the Paraguayan War, 1864-1870"
and later expanded in the essay titled "Refining the Numbers: A
Response to Reber and Kleinpenning"
in the year 2002, portray
somewhat more accurate figures. Based on a census which was carried
after the war ended in the years 1870 and 1871, and after some
corrections such as calculating omissions common to the time, Dr.
Whigham came up with a much lower figure of 150,000-160,000
Paraguayan people left, of which only 28,000 were adult males. This
figures leaves a woman/man ratio of 4 to 1 while in some more
devastated areas of the nation the ratio rose up to 20 to 1.
Regarding the population before the war, Dr. Whigham used a census
carried out in the year 1846 in order to calculate, based on a
population growth rate of 1.7 to 2.5 percent annually (which was
the standard rate in the time and again the aforementioned
omissions), that the immediate pre-war population in 1864 was of
approximately 420,000-450,000 Paraguayans. This represents a loss
of 60 to 70 percent of the population.
Of the around 123,000 Brazilians that fought in the War of the
Triple Alliance, the best estimates say that around 50,000 died.
Uruguayan forces counted barely 5,600 men (some of whom were
foreigners), , of whom about 3,100 died. Argentina lost around
18,000 of its 30,000 combatants.
The high rates of mortality, however, were not the result of the
armed conflict in itself. Bad food and very bad hygiene caused most
of the deaths. Among the Brazilians, two-thirds of the killed died
in hospitals and marching prior to facing the enemy. In the
beginning of the conflict, most of the Brazilian soldiers came from
the north and northeast regions of the country; the changes from a
hot to cold climate, and the amount of food available to them, were
abrupt. Drinking river water was sometimes fatal to entire
battalions of Brazilians. Cholera
perhaps the main cause of death during the war.
Consequences of the war
The internal political vacuum in Paraguay was at first dominated by
survivors of the Paraguayan
. This group of exiles, based in Buenos Aires, had
regarded Solano López as a mad tyrant and fought for the allies
during the war. The group set up a provisional government in 1869
mainly under Brazilian auspices and signed the 1870 peace accords,
which guaranteed Paraguay's independence and free river navigation.
A constitution was also promulgated in the same year, but it proved
ineffective because of the foreign origin of its liberal,
Preparations for the victory
celebration in Brazil, 1870.
A standstill began, and the Brazilian army, which was in complete
control of the Paraguayan territory, remained in the country for
six years after the final defeat of Paraguay in 1870, only leaving
in 1876 in order to ensure the continued existence of Paraguay.
During this time, the possibility of an armed conflict with
Argentina for control over Paraguay became increasingly real, as
Argentina wanted to seize the Chaco region, but was barred by the
Paraguayan villages destroyed by the war were abandoned and the
peasant survivors migrated to the outskirts of Asunción, dedicating themselves to subsistence agriculture in the
central region of the country.
Other lands were sold to
foreigners, mainly Argentines, and turned into estates. Paraguayan
industry fell apart. The Paraguayan market opened itself to British
products and the country was forced for the first time to obtain
outside loans, totalling a million British pounds. In fact, Britain
can be seen as the power that most benefited from the war: whilst
the war ended the Paraguayan threat to her interests, Brazil and
Argentina fell into massive debt, establishing a pattern that
continues to this day. (Brazil had repaid all British loans by the
Brazil paid a high price for victory. The war was financed by the
Bank of London
, and by Baring Brothers
and N M Rothschild & Sons
the five years of war, Brazilian expenditure reached twice its
receipts, causing a financial crisis.
Slavery was undermined in Brazil as slaves were freed to serve in
the war. The Brazilian army
new and expressive force in national life. It transformed itself
into a strong institution that, with the war, gained tradition and
internal cohesion, and would take a significant role in the later
development of the history of the country.
The war took its biggest toll on the Brazilian emperor. The
economic depression and the strengthening of the army later played
a big role in the deposition of the emperor Dom Pedro II
and the republican proclamation in
1889. General Deodoro da Fonseca
became the first Brazilian president.
December 1975, when presidents Ernesto
Geisel and Alfredo Stroessner
signed a treaty of friendship and co-operation in Asunción, the Brazilian government returned its spoils of
war to Paraguay, except the Paraguayan national archives which were
removed during the ransacking of Asuncion and taken to the National
library in Rio de Janeiro.
The war still remains a controversial topic - especially in
Paraguay, where it is considered either a fearless struggle for the
rights of a smaller nation against the aggressions of more powerful
neighbours, or a foolish attempt to fight an unwinnable war that
almost destroyed a whole nation. In Argentina, as the war wore on,
many Argentines saw the conflict as Mitre's war of conquest, and
not as a response to aggression. They remembered that Solano López,
believing he would have Mitre's support, seized the opportunity to
attack Brazil created by Mitre when he used the Argentinian Navy to
deny access to the Río de la Plata to Brazilian ships in early
1865, thus starting the war.
Territorial changes and treaties
Current map of Paraguay with the
former disputed lands shaded in green.
Following Paraguay's final defeat in 1870, Argentina sought to
enforce one of the secret clauses of the Triple Alliance Treaty,
according to which Argentina would receive a large part of the
, a Paraguayan region rich in
wood (a product used in
of leather). The Argentinian
negotiators proposed to Brazil that Paraguay should be divided in
two, with each of the victors incorporating a half into its
territory. For the Brazilian government, however, the complete
dismemberment of Paraguay was not a desirable outcome - for one
thing Brazil needed to maintain a good trading relationship with
Britain and the British were not about to countenance the
disappearance of a country that owed them such a large sum of
money; in addition the Brazilians could see that Paraguay served as
a buffer between the Brazilian Empire and Argentina.
No single overall peace treaty was signed. The post-war border
between Paraguay and Argentina was resolved through long
negotiations, finalized in a treaty that defined the frontier
between the two countries signed on February 3, 1876 and which
granted Argentina roughly a third of the area it had intended to
incorporate originally. The only region about which no consensus was
reached — the area between the Río
Verde and the main branch of Río
Pilcomayo — was arbitrated by U.S.
President Rutherford B. Hayes
, who declared it Paraguayan.
Paraguayan department Presidente
Hayes was named after Hayes due to his arbitration
decision.) Brazil signed a separate peace treaty with Paraguay on
January 9, 1872, obtaining freedom of navigation on the Río Paraguay.
Brazil received the
borders it had claimed before the war. The treaty also stipulated a
war debt to the imperial government of Brazil that was eventually
pardoned in 1943 by Getúlio
in reply to a similar Argentine initiative.
annexed part of Paraguayan territory and became the strongest of
During the campaign, the
provinces of Entre Rios and Corrientes had supplied Brazilian
troops with cattle, foodstuffs and other products.
Argentina and Brazil annexed about 140,000 km² (55,000 square
miles) of Paraguayan territory: Argentina took much of the Misiones region and part of the Chaco between the Bermejo and Pilcomayo rivers, an area which today
constitutes the province of Formosa; Brazil enlarged its Mato Grosso province by claiming territories
that had been disputed with Paraguay before the war.
demanded a large indemnity
never paid) and occupied Paraguay until 1876. Meanwhile, the
political control of Uruguay, which they retained until 1958.
- Carlos de Oliveira
Gomes, A Solidão Segundo Solano López, Civilização
Brasileira, 1980; Círculo do Livro, 1982.
- Joseph Eskenazi Pernidji and Mauricio Eskenazi e Pernidji.
Homens e Mulheres na Guerra do Paraguai. Imago, 2003.
- Lily Tuck. The News From Paraguay. Harper Perennial,
- Age of Empires III: The War of the Triple Alliance, a
modification to the computer game Age of Empires III
- Miguel Angel Centeno, Blood and Debt: War and the
Nation-State in Latin America, University Park, PA:
Pennsylvania State University Press, 1957. Page 55.
- Byron Farwell, The Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Land
Warfare: An Illustrated World View, New York: WW Norton, 2001.
- Another estimate is that from the prewar population of
1,337,437, the population fell to 221,709 (28,746 men, 106,254
women, 86,079 children) by the end of the war (War and the
Breed, David Starr Jordan, p. 164. Boston, 1915; Applied
Genetics, Paul Popenoe, The Macmillan Company, New York,
- Jurg Meister, Francisco Solano López Nationalheld oder
Kriegsverbrecher?, Osnabrück: Biblio Verlag, 1987. 345, 355,
- Historia de las relaciones exteriores de la República Argentina
(notes from CEMA University, in spanish, and references therein)
- Scheina, 331.
- PJ O'Rourke, Give War a Chance. New York: Vintage
Books, 1992. Page 47.
- Galeano, Eduardo. "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries
of the Pillage of a Continent". Monthly Review Press.1997
- Chiavenatto,Julio José. "Genocídio Americano: A Guerra do
Paraguai". Editora Brasiliense, SP. Brasil.1979
- SALLES, Ricardo. Guerra do Paraguai: Memórias & Imagens.
Rio de Janeiro: Bibilioteca Nacional, 2003, pg.14
- Library of Congress Country Studies, "Carlos Antonio López."
December 1988.  URL accessed December 30 2005.
- Robert Cowley, The Reader's Encyclopedia to Military
History. New York, New York: Houston Mifflin, 1996. Page
- Brandon Valeriano, "A Classification of Interstate War:
Typologies and Rivalry." Article based on talk given March 17-20,
2004 to the International Studies Association in Montreal. File
available at , accessed December 30 2005.
- Scheina, 313-4.
- Whigwham, 118.
- Scheina, 314.
- Scheina, 313.
- Scheina, 315-7.
- SALLES, Ricardo. Guerra do Paraguai: Memórias & Imagens.
Rio de Janeiro: Bibilioteca Nacional, 2003, pg.18
- Scheina, 318.
- SALLES, Ricardo. Guerra do Paraguai: Memórias & Imagens.
Rio de Janeiro: Bibilioteca Nacional, 2003, pg.38
- Scheina, 319.
- Scheina, 320.
- Vasconsellos, Victor N. Resumen de Historia del Paraguay.
Delimitaciones Territoriales’’, Industria Grafica Comuneros S.A.
Asuncion, Paraguay, 1970. Page 108
- Vasconsellos. Page 108.
- Bareiro Saguier, Ruben; Villagra Marsal, Carlos.
Testimonios de la Guerra Grande. Muerte del Mariscal López.
Tomo I, Editorial Servilibro. Asuncion, Paraguay, 2007. Page
70, 82, 98.
- Hendrik Kraay, Journal of Social History, "'The
shelter of the uniform': the Brazilian army and runaway slaves,
1800-1888" Spring 1996.
- Vasconsellos. Page 78, 110-114.
- Diego Abente, "The War of the Triple Alliance", Latin American
Research Review, 1987, Vol. 22, No. 2, 47-69
- Osgood Hardy, "South American Alliances: Some Political and
Geographical Considerations", Geographical Review, Oct. 1919, Vol.
8, No. 4/5, 259-265
- Jose Alfredo Fornos Penalba, "Draft Dodgers, War Resisters,
Turbulent Gauchos: The War of the Triple Alliance againist
Paraguay", The Americas, April 1982, Vol. 38 No. 4, 463-479
- Robert Scheina, Latin America's Wars: The Age of the
Caudillo, 1791-1899, Dulles, Virginia: Brassey's, 2003.
- Chris Leuchars. To the Bitter End: Paraguay and the War of
the Triple Alliance, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press,
- Thomas Whigham. The Paraguayan War, Lincoln, Nebraska:
University of Nebraska Press, 2002.
- Jose Alfredo Fornos Penalba, Draft Dodgers, War Resisters
and Turbulent Gauchos: The War of the Triple Alliance against
Paraguay, The Americas, Vol.38, No.4. (Apr., 1982),
- John Hoyt Williams, The Battle of Tuyuti, Military
History; April 2000, Vol.17 Issue 1, p58.
- Peter Wilson, Latin America's Total War, History
Today, 00182753, May 2004, Vol. 54, Issue 5.