War of the Triple Alliance
Overview
 
The Paraguayan War also known as War of the Triple Alliance (Spanish: Guerra de la Triple Alianza; Portuguese: Guerra da Tríplice Aliança), was a military conflict
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 fought from 1864 to 1870 between Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

 and the Triple Alliance
Treaty of the Triple Alliance
The Treaty of the Triple Alliance was a treaty which allied Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay in the Paraguayan War. Signed at the beginning of the war, its articles prescribed the allies' actions both during and after the war.- Legal Restrictions :...

 of Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Brazil, and Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

. It caused more deaths proportionally than any other war in modern history
Modern history
Modern history, or the modern era, describes the historical timeline after the Middle Ages. Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period after the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution...

, and particularly devastated Paraguay, killing most of its male population.

Several theories exist regarding the origins of the war.
Timeline

1866    Battle of Curupaity in the War of the Triple Alliance.

1869    Battle of Acosta Ñu: A Paraguayan battalion made up of children is massacred by the Brazilian Army during the War of the Triple Alliance.

1870    Marshal F.S. López dies during the Battle of Cerro Corá thus marking the end of the War of the Triple Alliance.

Encyclopedia
The Paraguayan War also known as War of the Triple Alliance (Spanish: Guerra de la Triple Alianza; Portuguese: Guerra da Tríplice Aliança), was a military conflict
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 fought from 1864 to 1870 between Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

 and the Triple Alliance
Treaty of the Triple Alliance
The Treaty of the Triple Alliance was a treaty which allied Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay in the Paraguayan War. Signed at the beginning of the war, its articles prescribed the allies' actions both during and after the war.- Legal Restrictions :...

 of Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Brazil, and Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

. It caused more deaths proportionally than any other war in modern history
Modern history
Modern history, or the modern era, describes the historical timeline after the Middle Ages. Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period after the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution...

, and particularly devastated Paraguay, killing most of its male population.

Several theories exist regarding the origins of the war. The traditional view emphasizes the aggressive policy of Paraguayan president Francisco Solano López towards Platine
La Plata Basin
The Río de la Plata Basin , sometimes called the Platine basin or Platine region, is the name given to the hydrographical area that covers parts of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay...

 matters. Conversely, the Paraguayan traditional view and Argentine revisionism since the 1960s give a preponderant role to the interests of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. The war began in late 1864 with combat operations between Brazil and Paraguay; from 1865 onwards, one can properly refer to the "War of the Triple Alliance".

Overview

The start of the war has been widely attributed to causes as varied as the after-effects of colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

, the struggle for physical power over the strategic Río de la Plata
Río de la Plata
The Río de la Plata —sometimes rendered River Plate in British English and the Commonwealth, and occasionally rendered [La] Plata River in other English-speaking countries—is the river and estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River on the border between Argentina and...

 region, Brazilian and Argentine meddling in internal Uruguayan politics, British economic interests in the region, and the expansionist ambitions of Solano López. 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 Triple Alliance defeated Paraguay in conventional warfare, the conflict turned into a drawn-out guerrilla-style resistance that devastated the Paraguayan military and civilian population. The guerrilla war lasted until López was killed on March 1, 1870. One estimate places total Paraguayan losses — through both war and disease
Infectious disease
Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, contagious diseases or transmissible diseases comprise clinically evident illness resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism...

 — 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. According to Steven Pinker
Steven Pinker
Steven Arthur Pinker is a Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist and popular science author...

 the war killed more than 60% of the population of Paraguay, making it proportionally the most destructive war in modern times
Modern Times
Modern Times can refer to modern history.It may also refer to:* Modern Times , a 1936 Charlie Chaplin film* Modern Times , a 1975 album by Al Stewart...

.

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. In 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 one decade 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
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

.

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

Historians have long considered that Paraguay under José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
200px|right|thumb|José Gaspar Rodríguez de FranciaDr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco was the first leader of Paraguay following its independence from Spain...

 (1813–1840) and Carlos Antonio López (1841–1862) 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 a high level of isolation from neighboring countries.

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 estate of land.

The Paraguayan government exerted its control on all exports. The export of yerba mate
Yerba mate
Maté, yerba maté or erva maté , Ilex paraguariensis, is a species of holly native to subtropical South America in northeastern Argentina, Bolivia, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay...

 and valuable wood products maintained the balance of commerce between Paraguay and the outside world. The Paraguayan government was extremely protectionist, never accepting loans from the outside and, through high tariffs, refusing the importation of foreign products. Francisco Solano López, the son of Carlos Antonio López, replaced his father as the President-Dictator in 1862, and he generally continued the political policies of his father.

In the area of the military, however, Solano López modernized and expanded industry and the Paraguayan Army
Paraguayan army
The Paraguayan Army is an institution of the State of Paraguay, organized into three divisions and 9, and several commands and directions, went to war on two occasions, in the War of the Triple Alliance v Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay and Chaco War v Bolivia.- Mission :* Maintaining the sanctity...

 in ways that would lead to war in the long run. The Paraguayan government hired more than 200 foreign technicians, who installed telegraph lines and railroads to aid the expanding steel, textile, paper, ink, naval construction, weapons, and gunpowder industries. The Ybycuí
Ybycuí
Ybycuí is a Paraguayan rural community of the department of Paraguari, located 120 km away from Asunción,and 40 km from the Ruta una .- Demography :...

 foundry, completed in 1850, manufactured cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

s, mortars, and bullets of all calibers. River warship
Warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

s were built in the shipyards of Asunción
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

.

This industrial and military growth required some contact with the international market, but Paraguay is and was a landlocked country. Its ports were river ports, and Paraguayan and other ships had to travel down the Río Paraguay and the Río Paraná to reach the estuary of the Río de la Plata
Río de la Plata
The Río de la Plata —sometimes rendered River Plate in British English and the Commonwealth, and occasionally rendered [La] Plata River in other English-speaking countries—is the river and estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River on the border between Argentina and...

 (shared by Argentina and Uruguay) and the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. President Solano López conceived of a project to obtain ports on the Atlantic Ocean: he probably intended to create a "Greater Paraguay" by capturing a slice of Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

ian territory that would link Paraguay to the Atlantic coast. In opposition to this view of Paraguayan expansionism, during the 1960s and 1970s many historians claimed that the Paraguayan War was caused by pseudo-colonial influence of the British, who were in need of a new source of cotton due to the Civil War in the United States
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. However, this claim is inconsistent with the results of other historical research; the claim of British influences has been disputed by several works of history that have been published since 1990.

To set about his expansionist intentions, López began to prepare a large army for Paraguay. He encouraged the development of war industries, mobilized a large quantity of men for the Army (mandatory military service had already existed in Paraguay), submitted them to intensive military training, and built fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s at the mouth of the Río Paraguay. He also set about building armed riverboats.

Diplomatically, Solano López wanted to ally himself with Uruguay's ruling Blanco Party
National Party (Uruguay)
The National Party , also known as the White Party , is a major right-wing conservative political party in Uruguay, currently the major opposition party to the ruling Frente Amplio government....

. The Colorado party
Colorado Party (Uruguay)
The Colorado Party is a political party in Uruguay.- Aims :It unites Conservative, Moderate and Social democratic groups. It was the dominant party of government almost without exception during the stabilisation of the Uruguayan republic....

 was connected to Brazil and Argentina.

In 1864, President López thought that the balance of power was threatened when Brazil got involved in Uruguay's internal politics and the struggle for leadership. This was the spark that led López to declare war
Declaration of war
A declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government in order to create a state of war between two or more states.The legality of who is competent to declare war varies...

 on Brazil. Argentina stayed neutral in this, and that country only declared war on Paraguay when it invaded the Corrientes Province of Argentina. This occurred when Mitre rejected the request that Solano made to use Argentine territory to move his troops to fight in Uruguay against Brazil.

Politics of the Río de la Plata

Since Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and Argentina had become independent, the fight between the governments of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

 and of Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

 for hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 in the Río de la Plata profoundly marked the diplomatic and political relations between the countries of the region. Brazil almost entered into war with Argentina twice.

Brazil, under the rule of the Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

, 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
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

. As no roads linked the province of Mato Grosso
Mato Grosso
Mato Grosso is one of the states of Brazil, the third largest in area, located in the western part of the country.Neighboring states are Rondônia, Amazonas, Pará, Tocantins, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul. It also borders Bolivia to the southwest...

 to Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

, Brazilian ships needed to travel through Paraguayan territory, going up the Río Paraguay to arrive at Cuiabá
Cuiabá
Under the Koppen climate classification, Cuiaba features a tropical wet and dry climate. Cuiabá is famous for its searing heat, although temperatures in winter can arrive sporadically at 10 degrees, indeed atypical, caused by cold fronts coming from the south, and that may only last one or two...

. Many 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
Manuel Oribe
Manuel Ceferino Oribe y Viana was the fourth president of Uruguay.-Biography:Manuel Oribe was the son of Captain Francisco Oribe and María Francisca Viana, a descendant of the first governor of Montevideo, José Joaquín de Viana...

 to fight Argentine influence in the country; in 1855, at the request of the Uruguayan government and Venancio Flores
Venancio Flores
Venancio Flores Barrios was a Uruguayan political leader and general. Flores was President of Uruguay from 1854 to 1855 and from 1865 to 1868.-Background and early career:...

, leader of the Colorados
Colorado Party (Uruguay)
The Colorado Party is a political party in Uruguay.- Aims :It unites Conservative, Moderate and Social democratic groups. It was the dominant party of government almost without exception during the stabilisation of the Uruguayan republic....

, who were traditionally supported by the Brazilian empire; and in 1864, against Atanásio Aguirre
Atanasio Aguirre
Atanasio de la Cruz Aguirre was acting President of Uruguay from 1864 to 1865.-Background:Aguirre was a member of the National Party; he was a Senator from 1861.On March 1, 1864, Bernardo Berro stepped down from the Presidency.-President of Uruguay:...

. This last intervention would be the fuse of the Paraguayan War.

Intervention against Aguirre

In April 1864, Brazil sent a diplomatic mission to Uruguay led by José Antônio Saraiva
José Antônio Saraiva
José Antônio Saraiva, also known as Counsellor Saraiva , was a politician, diplomat and lawyer during the period of the Empire of Brazil ....

 to demand payment for the damages caused to gaucho
Gaucho
Gaucho is a term commonly used to describe residents of the South American pampas, chacos, or Patagonian grasslands, found principally in parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Southern Chile, and Southern Brazil...

 farmers in border conflicts with Uruguayan farmers. The Uruguayan president Atanásio Aguirre
Atanasio Aguirre
Atanasio de la Cruz Aguirre was acting President of Uruguay from 1864 to 1865.-Background:Aguirre was a member of the National Party; he was a Senator from 1861.On March 1, 1864, Bernardo Berro stepped down from the Presidency.-President of Uruguay:...

, of the National Party
National Party (Uruguay)
The National Party , also known as the White Party , is a major right-wing conservative political party in Uruguay, currently the major opposition party to the ruling Frente Amplio government....

, refused the Brazilian demands.

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.

Beginning of the war

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 Tacuarí captured the Brazilian ship Marquês de Olinda which had sailed up the Río Paraguay to the province of Mato Grosso
Mato Grosso
Mato Grosso is one of the states of Brazil, the third largest in area, located in the western part of the country.Neighboring states are Rondônia, Amazonas, Pará, Tocantins, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul. It also borders Bolivia to the southwest...

. 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 steamboat
Steamboat
A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels...

s (vapores) and five river-navigating ships, based around the Tacuarí, 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.

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. Uruguay 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 cannons and about 4,000 well-trained crew. A great part of the squadron had already met in the Rio de la Plata basin, where it had acted, under the Marquis of Tamandaré
Marquis of Tamandaré
Joaquim Marques Lisboa, the Marquis of Tamandaré , was a military officer and member of the Liberal Party. His long military career expanded from the Brazilian War of Independence to the Paraguayan War .In the year 1936–1938 Brazil published a coin with his portrait....

, 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 Paraguayan War 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
Rio Grande do Sul
Rio Grande do Sul is the southernmost state in Brazil, and the state with the fifth highest Human Development Index in the country. In this state is located the southernmost city in the country, Chuí, on the border with Uruguay. In the region of Bento Gonçalves and Caxias do Sul, the largest wine...

. 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
Treaty of the Triple Alliance
The Treaty of the Triple Alliance was a treaty which allied Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay in the Paraguayan War. Signed at the beginning of the war, its articles prescribed the allies' actions both during and after the war.- Legal Restrictions :...

 in Buenos Aires on May 1, 1865, allying the three Río de la Plata countries against Paraguay. They named Bartolomé Mitre
Bartolomé Mitre
Bartolomé Mitre Martínez was an Argentine statesman, military figure, and author. He was the President of Argentina from 1862 to 1868.-Life and times:...

, president of Argentina, as supreme commander of the allied troops.

Paraguayan offensive

During the first phase of the war Paraguay took the initiative. The armies of López dictated the location of initial battles — invading Mato Grosso
Mato Grosso
Mato Grosso is one of the states of Brazil, the third largest in area, located in the western part of the country.Neighboring states are Rondônia, Amazonas, Pará, Tocantins, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul. It also borders Bolivia to the southwest...

 in the north in December 1864, Rio Grande do Sul
Rio Grande do Sul
Rio Grande do Sul is the southernmost state in Brazil, and the state with the fifth highest Human Development Index in the country. In this state is located the southernmost city in the country, Chuí, on the border with Uruguay. In the region of Bento Gonçalves and Caxias do Sul, the largest wine...

 in the south in the first months of 1865 and the Argentine province of Corrientes
Corrientes Province
Corrientes is a province in northeast Argentina, in the Mesopotamia region. It is surrounded by : Paraguay, the province of Misiones, Brazil, Uruguay, and the provinces of Entre Rios, Santa Fe and Chaco.-History:...

.

Two bodies of Paraguayan troops invaded Mato Grosso simultaneously. Due to the numerical superiority of the attackers, the province was invaded quickly.

Five thousand men, transported in ten ships and commanded by colonel Vicente Barrios, went up the Río Paraguay and attacked the fort of Nova Coimbra
Corumbá
Corumbá is a municipality in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, 425 km northwest of Campo Grande, the state's capital. It has a population of approximately 96,000 inhabitants, and its economy is based mainly on agriculture, animal husbandry, mineral extraction, and tourism, being the...

. The garrison of 155 men resisted for three days under the command of lieutenant-colonel Hermenegildo de Albuquerque Porto Carrero, later baron of Fort Coimbra. When the munitions were exhausted the defenders abandoned the fort and withdrew up the river towards Corumbá
Corumbá
Corumbá is a municipality in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, 425 km northwest of Campo Grande, the state's capital. It has a population of approximately 96,000 inhabitants, and its economy is based mainly on agriculture, animal husbandry, mineral extraction, and tourism, being the...

 on board the gunship Anhambaí. After they occupied the empty fort the Paraguayans advanced north taking the cities of Albuquerque and Corumbá in January 1865.

The 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 Dourados
Dourados
Dourados is a Brazilian city, situated in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Southwest of Campo Grande . It has a population of approximately 200,000 inhabitants, and its economy is based mainly in arable agriculture and in cattle ranching...

. 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
Nioaque
Nioaque is a municipality located in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Its population was 17,610 and its area is 3,924 km²....

 and Miranda
Miranda, Mato Grosso do Sul
Miranda is a city and municipality located in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, named for its location on the river by the same name. Its population was 24,781 and its area is 5,479 km².-References:www.explorepantanal.com...

, defeating the troops of colonel José Dias da Silva. Coxim
Coxim
Coxim is a municipality located in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Its population was 33,021 and its area is 6,412 km².. It was founded in 1729....

 was taken in April 1865.

The Paraguayan forces, despite their victories, did not continue to Cuiabá
Cuiabá
Under the Koppen climate classification, Cuiaba features a tropical wet and dry climate. Cuiabá is famous for its searing heat, although temperatures in winter can arrive sporadically at 10 degrees, indeed atypical, caused by cold fronts coming from the south, and that may only last one or two...

, the capital of the province. Augusto Leverger had fortified the camp of Melgaço
Barão de Melgaço
Barão de Melgaço is a town and municipality in the state of Mato Grosso in the Central-West Region of Brazil.-References:...

 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 Plata estuary. The invasion of Mato Grosso was a diversionary manoeuvre.

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 Wenceslao Robles) to travel through the province of Corrientes. The president – Bartolomé Mitre
Bartolomé Mitre
Bartolomé Mitre Martínez was an Argentine statesman, military figure, and author. He was the President of Argentina from 1862 to 1868.-Life and times:...

, 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
Corrientes
Corrientes is the capital city of the province of Corrientes, Argentina, located on the eastern shore of the Paraná River, about from Buenos Aires and from Posadas, on National Route 12...

. Immediately, General Robles's troops took the city.

By invading Corrientes, López tried to obtain the support of the powerful Argentine caudillo
Caudillo
Caudillo is a Spanish word for "leader" and usually describes a political-military leader at the head of an authoritarian power. The term translates into English as leader or chief, or more pejoratively as warlord, dictator or strongman. Caudillo was the term used to refer to the charismatic...

 Justo José de Urquiza
Justo José de Urquiza
Justo José de Urquiza y García was an Argentine general and politician. He was president of the Argentine Confederation from 1854 to 1860.He was governor of Entre Ríos during the government of Juan Manuel de Rosas, governor of Buenos Aires with powers delegated from the other provinces...

, governor 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 Estigarriba 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 Borja
São Borja
São Borja is a city in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. São Borja is the oldest municipality in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul and was founded in 1682 by the Jesuits as the first of the Seven Points of the Missions, and named São Francisco de Borja, in honor of Saint Francis...

 on June 12. Uruguaiana, to the south, was taken on August 5 without any significant resistance. The Brazilian reaction was yet to come.

Reaction of Brazil

Brazil sent an expedition to fight the invaders in Mato Grosso
Mato Grosso
Mato Grosso is one of the states of Brazil, the third largest in area, located in the western part of the country.Neighboring states are Rondônia, Amazonas, Pará, Tocantins, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul. It also borders Bolivia to the southwest...

. A column of 2,780 men led by Colonel Manuel Pedro Drago left Uberaba
Uberaba
Uberaba is a city and municipality in the west of the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. Its population is 296.000 with an area of 4529.7 km², giving a density of 60.71 people per km². It is located on a plateau at an elevation of 785 meters and is in the Uberaba River floodplain...

 in Minas Gerais
Minas Gerais
Minas Gerais is one of the 26 states of Brazil, of which it is the second most populous, the third richest, and the fourth largest in area. Minas Gerais is the Brazilian state with the largest number of Presidents of Brazil, the current one, Dilma Rousseff, being one of them. The capital is the...

 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
Carlos de Morais Camisão
Carlos de Morais Camisão was a Brazilian colonel of the Paraguay War. He was one of the leaders of Laguna, with Alfredo d'Escragnolle Taunay.-Condecorations:...

 assumed command of the column, now with only 1,680 men, and decided to invade Paraguayan territory, where he penetrated as far as Laguna. 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 were solely by river; few roads existed. Whoever controlled the rivers would win the war, so the Paraguayan fortifications had been built on the banks of the lower end of Río Paraguay.
The naval battle of Riachuelo
Battle of Riachuelo
The naval Battle of Riachuelo was a key point in the War of the Triple Alliance. By late 1864, Paraguay had scored a series of victories in the war; on June 11, 1865, however, its naval defeat by Brazil began to turn the tide in favor of the allies....

 occurred on June 11, 1865. The Brazilian fleet commanded by Francisco Manoel Barroso da Silva
Francisco Manoel Barroso da Silva
Commodore Francisco Manoel Barroso da Silva directed the Brazilian fleet while the Marquis of Tamandaré was absent during the Battle of Riachuelo in the War of the Triple Alliance....

 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 waters of the Río de la Plata basin up to the entrance to Paraguay.
While López ordered the retreat of the forces that occupied Corrientes, the Paraguayan troops that invaded São Borja
São Borja
São Borja is a city in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. São Borja is the oldest municipality in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul and was founded in 1682 by the Jesuits as the first of the Seven Points of the Missions, and named São Francisco de Borja, in honor of Saint Francis...

 advanced, taking Itaqui
Itaqui
Itaqui is a municipality in Brazil, located in the southwestern part of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, close to the Argentinian border, between Uruguaiana and São Borja. It sits at a mean altitude of 57 meters , by the Uruguay River. Its population is currently estimated at 42,000.- History :The...

 and Uruguaiana
Uruguaiana
Uruguaiana is a municipality in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. It is located on the left-hand shore of the Uruguay River that forms the border with Argentina. Opposite Uruguaiana, and joined to it by a road/railway bridge, lies the Argentine city of Paso de los Libres, Corrientes...

. A separate division (3,200 men) that continued towards Uruguay, under the command of major Pedro Duarte, was defeated by Flores in the bloody battle of Jataí
Battle of Jataí
The Battle of Yatai was fought on August 17, 1865 between the troops of the Triple Alliance and the soldiers of Paraguay near Paso de los Libres, now Paso de los Libres Department Corrientes Province, Argentina....

 on the 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 field-marshal Manuel Luís Osório at the front of the Brazilian troops. Some of the troops, commanded by 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
San Cosme, Corrientes
San Cosme is a town in Corrientes Province, Argentina. It is the capital of San Cosme Department....

, the 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 Paraguay.

On 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
Treaty of the Triple Alliance
The Treaty of the Triple Alliance was a treaty which allied Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay in the Paraguayan War. Signed at the beginning of the war, its articles prescribed the allies' actions both during and after the war.- Legal Restrictions :...

 was still to be carried out, a condition which López refused. Despite López's 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 because of difficult internal political conditions. Tamandaré was replaced in command by Admiral Joaquim José Inácio, future 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 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 Humaitá.

The march to outflank 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
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

 and Humaitá, and finally encircle the Paraguayans. 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
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

. López reacted by attacking the rearguard of the allies in Tuyutí
Battle of Tuyutí
The Battle of Tuyutí was a Paraguayan offensive in the War of the Triple Alliance. The allied victory added to the Paraguayan troubles that began with a failed offensive and continued with the loss of its fleet in the Battle of Riachuelo....

, but suffered further 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, later Baron of Passagem. Humaitá fell on 25 July after a long siege.

En route to Asunción
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

, Caxias's army went 200 kilometers to Palmas, stopping at the Piquissiri river. 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 manoeuvre. While a squadron attacked Angostura
Angostura, Sinaloa
Angostura is a city and its surrounding municipality in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.The city of Angostura was the chief seat of commerce, on the great river Orinoco, with a population of 10000 inhabitants by 1825. The municipality reported 43,827 inhabitants in the 2000 census.-External...

, 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
Gran Chaco
The Gran Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semi-arid lowland region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Argentina and a portion of the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, where it is connected with the Pantanal region...

 along which the troops advanced to the northeast. At Villeta
Villeta
Villeta is a city of Paraguay, in the Central Department, on the banks of Paraguay River. It is an important industrial center and port.-Toponymy:...

, the army crossed the river again, between Asunción
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

 and Piquissiri, behind the fortified Paraguayan line. Instead of advancing to the capital, already evacuated and bombarded, Caxias went south and attacked the Paraguayans from the rear.
Caxias had won a series of victories in December 1868, when he went back south to take Piquissiri from the rear, capturing Itororó
Itororó
Itororó is a town and municipality in the state of Bahia in the North-East region of Brazil.-References:...

, Avaí, Lomas Valentinas and Angostura. On December 24 the three new commanders of the Triple Alliance (Caxias, the Argentine Juan Andrés Gelly y Obes, and the Uruguayan Enrique Castro) sent a note to Solano López asking for surrender, but López refused and fled to 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.

Command of Count d'Eu

The son-in-law of the emperor Dom Pedro II, Luís Filipe Gastão de Orléans, 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
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

 headed by Paraguayan Cirilo Antonio Rivarola
Cirilo Antonio Rivarola
Cirilo Antonio Rivarola Acosta was President of Paraguay March 1, 1870 - December 10, 1871. Before and during the War of the Triple Alliance, Rivarola was an opponent of dictator Francisco Solano López...

.

Solano López organized the resistance in the mountain range northeast of Asunción
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

. 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
Piribebuy
Piribebuy is a district in the Cordillera Department of Paraguay. It is of spontaneous origin, though some attribute its founding to Martin Ledesma de Valderrama in 1636. Since its founding documents were burned during the War of the Triple Alliance, 8 March, 1636, was later appointed as its Day of...

 and of Acosta Ñu
Battle of Acosta Ñu
The Battle of Acosta Ñu or Campo Grande was a battle during the War of the Triple Alliance, where, on August 16, 1869, 20,000 men of the Triple Alliance fought Paraguayan forces made up of 6,000 soldiers, many of them children.-Background:...

, 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
Battle of Cerro Corá
The battle of Cerro Corá was fought on 1 March 1870 on a hill-surrounded valley of the same name, in the north-east of Paraguay. This was the last battle in the War of the Triple Alliance....

. During the ensuing battle, López was wounded and separated from the remainder of his army. Too weak to walk, he was escorted by his aide and a pair of officers, who led him to the banks of the Aquidabangui River. The officers left Lopez and his aide there while they looked for reinforcements, but while they waited for the men's return, General Câmara arrived with a small number of soldiers. Offering to permit López to surrender and guaranteeing his life, he refused and, shouting "¡Muero con mi patria!" ("I die with my fatherland!") he tried to attack Câmara with his sword. López was quickly killed by Câmara's men, thereby bringing a final end to the long conflict.

Casualties

At the end of the war and with Paraguay suffering severe shortages of weapons and supplies, López reacted with draconian attempts to keep order, ordering troops to kill any combatant, including officers, who talked of surrender. As a result, paranoia prevailed in the army, and soldiers fought to the bitter end. Paraguay suffered massive casualties, losing perhaps the majority of its population.


The specific numbers of casualties are hotly disputed. It has been estimated that 300,000 Paraguayans, mostly civilians, died. It has also been written that up to 90% of the male population may have been killed, though this figure is without support. According to one numerical estimate, the prewar population was approximately 525,000 Paraguayans (14 estimates went from 300,000 to 1,337,000; see F. Chartrain : "L'Eglise et les partis dans la vie politique du Paraguay depuis l'Indépendance", Paris I University "Doctorat d'Etat", 1972, pages 134–135. His own calculation based on a 1879 census and in the military forces, gives between 700,000 and 800,000 inhabitants). A 1871 census gave 221,079 inhabitants, of which 106,254 were female, 86,079 were children with no indication of sex or upper age limit and 28,746 were male. These figures, considering the local situation, cannot be more than a very rough estimate; many men and boys fled during the war to the countryside and forests. As such, accurate casualty numbers may never be determined.

A 1999 study by Dr. Thomas Whigham from the University of Georgia
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning and is one of multiple schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States...

 published in the Latin American Research Review under the title "The Paraguayan Rosetta Stone: New Evidence on the Demographics of the Paraguayan War, 1864–1870" and later expanded in the 2002 essay titled "Refining the Numbers: A Response to Reber and Kleinpenning" give somewhat more accurate figures. Based on a census that was carried out after the war ended, in the years 1870 and 1871, 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 leaves a woman/man ratio of 4 to 1, while in the most devastated areas of the nation the ratio was as high as 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% annually (which was the standard rate at that time and again the aforementioned omissions), that the immediate pre-war population in 1864 was approximately 420,000–450,000 Paraguayans. This figure produces a loss of 60% to 70% of the population.

Of the approximately 123,000 Brazilians who fought in the Paraguayan War, the best estimates are that around 50,000 men 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 entirely the result of armed conflict. Bad food and very poor hygiene caused most of the deaths, many of which were due to cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

. Among the Brazilians, two-thirds of the war dead died either in a hospital or on the march. At the beginning of the conflict, most of the Brazilian soldiers came from the north and northeast regions of the country; as such, the change from a hot climate to a colder one, along with restricted food rations, may also have been a contributing factor. Drinking water from the rivers was also sometimes fatal to entire battalions of Brazilians and made Cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

 the most likely chief 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 Legion. 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, democratic tenets.
A stalemate began, and the Brazilian army, which was in complete control of 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 Brazilian Army.

The Paraguayan villages destroyed by the war were abandoned and the peasant survivors migrated to the outskirts of Asunción
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

, devoting themselves to subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture is self-sufficiency farming in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed their families. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to eat and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made with an eye...

 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 Getúlio Vargas
Getúlio Vargas
Getúlio Dornelles Vargas served as President of Brazil, first as dictator, from 1930 to 1945, and in a democratically elected term from 1951 until his suicide in 1954. Vargas led Brazil for 18 years, the most for any President, and second in Brazilian history to Emperor Pedro II...

 era.)

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
N M Rothschild & Sons
N M Rothschild & Sons is a private investment banking company, belonging to the Rothschild family...

. During 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
Brazilian Army
The Brazilian Army is the land arm of the Brazilian Military. The Brazilian Army has fought in several international conflicts, mostly in South America and during the 19th century, such as the Brazilian War of Independence , Argentina-Brazil War , War of the Farrapos , Platine War , Uruguayan War ...

 became a new and influential 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 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
Deodoro da Fonseca
Marshal Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca became the first president of the Republic of Brazil after heading a military coup that deposed Emperor Pedro II and proclaimed the Republic in 1889, disestablishing the Empire of Brazil.- Biography :...

 became the first Brazilian president.

In December 1975, when presidents Ernesto Geisel
Ernesto Geisel
Ernesto Beckmann Geisel, was a Brazilian military leader and politician of German descent who was President of Brazil from 1974 to 1979.-Early life and family:...

 and Alfredo Stroessner
Alfredo Stroessner
Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda, whose name is also spelled Strössner or Strößner , was a Paraguayan military officer and dictator from 1954 to 1989...

 signed a treaty of friendship and co-operation in Asunción
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

, the Brazilian government returned its spoils of war to Paraguay, except the Paraguayan national archives which were removed during the ransacking of Asunción 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 Argentine Navy to deny access to the Río de la Plata to Brazilian ships in early 1865, thus starting the war.

Territorial changes and treaties

Following Paraguay's defeat in 1870, Argentina sought to enforce one of the secret clauses of the Triple Alliance Treaty which permitted Argentina to annex a large portion of the Gran Chaco
Gran Chaco
The Gran Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semi-arid lowland region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Argentina and a portion of the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, where it is connected with the Pantanal region...

 region, an area that was rich in quebracho wood (a product used in the tanning
Tanning
Tanning is the making of leather from the skins of animals which does not easily decompose. Traditionally, tanning used tannin, an acidic chemical compound from which the tanning process draws its name . Coloring may occur during tanning...

 of leather). The Argentine negotiators proposed to Brazil that Paraguay should be divided in two, with each of the victors incorporating a half into its territory. The Brazilian government, however, was not agreeable to such an idea for two reasons: First, Brazil desired to maintain good trading relations with Britain—who was not about to countenance the disappearance of a country that owed them such a large sum of money—and, second, the Brazilians wanted to maintain Paraguay as a buffer between themselves and Argentina. As such, the Argentine proposal to incorporate Paraguay in its entirety was rejected.

Eventually the post-war border between Paraguay and Argentina was resolved through long negotiations and was finalized on February 3, 1876 with a treaty which granted Argentina roughly a third of the area it had originally desired. The only region about which no consensus was reached — the area between the Río Verde
Río Verde
Rioverde is a city and its surrounding municipality located in the south-central part of the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. It is the fifth-largest city in the state, behind San Luis Potosí, Soledad de Graciano Sánchez, Ciudad Valles, and Matehuala...

 and the main branch of Río Pilcomayo — was arbitrated by U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 19th President of the United States . As president, he oversaw the end of Reconstruction and the United States' entry into the Second Industrial Revolution...

, who declared it Paraguayan (the Paraguayan department
Department (subnational entity)
Department is the name given to the administrative and political subdivisions of many countries.As a territorial unit, "department" was first used by the French Revolutionary governments, apparently to emphasize that each territory was simply an administrative sub-division of the united sovereign...

 Presidente Hayes was named after Hayes due to his arbitration decision). Brazil signed a separate peace treaty with Paraguay on January 9, 1872, in which it obtained freedom of navigation on the Río Paraguay
Paraguay River
The Paraguay River is a major river in south central South America, running through Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina...

. Brazil also retained the borders it had claimed before the war. The treaty also stipulated a war debt was to be paid to the Brazilian government, but it was subsequently cancelled by President Getúlio Vargas
Getúlio Vargas
Getúlio Dornelles Vargas served as President of Brazil, first as dictator, from 1930 to 1945, and in a democratically elected term from 1951 until his suicide in 1954. Vargas led Brazil for 18 years, the most for any President, and second in Brazilian history to Emperor Pedro II...

 in 1943 in a gesture of good will.

Argentina annexed part of Paraguayan territory and became the strongest of the River Plate
Río de la Plata
The Río de la Plata —sometimes rendered River Plate in British English and the Commonwealth, and occasionally rendered [La] Plata River in other English-speaking countries—is the river and estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River on the border between Argentina and...

 countries. During the campaign, the provinces of Entre Rios and Corrientes had supplied Brazilian troops with cattle, foodstuffs and other products.

In total, Argentina and Brazil annexed about 140000 sqkm of Paraguayan territory: Argentina took much of the Misiones
Misiones Province
Misiones is one of the 23 provinces of Argentina, located in the northeastern corner of the country in the Mesopotamiсa region. It is surrounded by Paraguay to the northwest, Brazil to the north, east and south, and Corrientes Province of Argentina to the southwest.- History :The province was...

 region and part of the Chaco
Gran Chaco
The Gran Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semi-arid lowland region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Argentina and a portion of the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, where it is connected with the Pantanal region...

 between the Bermejo
Bermejo River
The Bermejo River is a river in South America that flows from Bolivia to the Paraguay River in Argentina. The river is generally called Bermejo in spite of its different names along its way, but it also has its own Native American names; in Wichí it is called Teuco, and in Guaraní it is called Ypitá...

 and Pilcomayo
Pilcomayo River
The Pilcomayo River is a river in central South America. At long, it is the longest western tributary of the Paraguay River. Its drainage basin is in area, and its mean discharge is ....

 rivers, an area which today constitutes the province of Formosa
Formosa Province
Formosa Province is in northeastern Argentina, part of the Gran Chaco Region. Its northeast end touches Asunción, Paraguay, and borders the provinces of Chaco and Salta to its south and west, respectively...

; Brazil enlarged its Mato Grosso
Mato Grosso
Mato Grosso is one of the states of Brazil, the third largest in area, located in the western part of the country.Neighboring states are Rondônia, Amazonas, Pará, Tocantins, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul. It also borders Bolivia to the southwest...

 province by claiming territories that had been disputed with Paraguay before the war. Both demanded a large indemnity
Indemnity
An indemnity is a sum paid by A to B by way of compensation for a particular loss suffered by B. The indemnitor may or may not be responsible for the loss suffered by the indemnitee...

 (which was never paid) and occupied Paraguay until 1876. Meanwhile, the Colorados
Colorado Party (Uruguay)
The Colorado Party is a political party in Uruguay.- Aims :It unites Conservative, Moderate and Social democratic groups. It was the dominant party of government almost without exception during the stabilisation of the Uruguayan republic....

 had gained political control of Uruguay, which they retained until 1958.

Impact on yerba mate industry

Since colonial times, yerba mate
Yerba mate
Maté, yerba maté or erva maté , Ilex paraguariensis, is a species of holly native to subtropical South America in northeastern Argentina, Bolivia, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay...

 has been a major cash crop
Cash crop
In agriculture, a cash crop is a crop which is grown for profit.The term is used to differentiate from subsistence crops, which are those fed to the producer's own livestock or grown as food for the producer's family...

 for Paraguay and it had, until the Paraguayan War, generated significant revenues for the country. The war caused a sharp drop in harvesting of yerba mate in Paraguay, reportedly by as much as 95% between 1865 and 1867. This may have been in large part due to its extensive use by soldiers from all sides who used the crop to diminish hunger pains and alleviate combat anxiety. As a result, after the war concluded in 1870, Paraguay found itself demographically as well as economically ruined. This provided an opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs to take control of yerba mate production and industry in Paraguay. Additionally, as much of the 156415 sqkm lost by Paraguay to Argentina and Brazil as a result of the war was rich in yerba mate, by the end of the nineteenth century Brazil became the leading producer of the crop.

Novels

  • 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
    Lily Tuck
    Lily Tuck is an American novelist and short story writer whose novel The News from Paraguay won the 2004 National Book Award. Her novel Siam was nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction...

    . The News From Paraguay. Harper Perennial, 2004.

Films

  • Argentino hasta la muerte, by Fernando Ayala
    Fernando Ayala
    Fernando Ayala was an Argentine film producer, film director, screenwriter and film producer of the classic era...

    , Argentina (1971).
  • Cerro Cora
    Cerro Cora (film)
    Cerro Cora is a 1978 Paraguayan film based on the story of the War of the Triple Alliance.-External links:* at YouTube...

    , by Guillermo Vera, Paraguay (1978).
  • Netto perde sua alma, by Beto Souza and Tabajara Ruas, Brazil (2001).
  • Guerra do Brasil, documentary by Sylvio Back, Brasil (1987).
  • Cándido López - Los campos de batalla, documentary by José Luis García, Argentina (2005).
  • The Paraguayan War, documentary by Denis Wright, Brazil (2009).

See also

  • List of battles of the Paraguayan War
  • Paraguayan War casualties
  • Treaty of the Triple Alliance
    Treaty of the Triple Alliance
    The Treaty of the Triple Alliance was a treaty which allied Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay in the Paraguayan War. Signed at the beginning of the war, its articles prescribed the allies' actions both during and after the war.- Legal Restrictions :...

  • Women in the Paraguayan War
    Women in the Paraguayan War
    Paraguan women had a significant role in the Paraguayan War of 1864.The Paraguayan War, also known as the War of the Triple Alliance, was one of the most dreadful in the history of Latin America....


External links


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