The War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870)

#1
I'm not really sure what the point of this thread is, but I have to express my amazement that this is not a more well-known war: The War of the Triple Alliance 1864-1870. At the time Paraguay had one of the largest armies in South America. Under the militaristic leadership of their president Francisco Solano Lopez they intervened in Uruguay and ultimately found themselves at war with the Triple Alliance of the Empire of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. After losing on the conventional battlefield, Paraguay was invaded and her army and people resorted to guerilla tactics. The war finally ended when Lopez was killed in the fighting (he attempted to rush a Brazilian officer with a sword), but by then Paraguay had suffered staggering losses. Kleinpennig has argued that 50% of Paraguay's male population died through fighting, disease and starvation, and Whigham and Potthast have argued for 69%! Paraguayan War casualties - Wikipedia
 
Jun 2012
2,973
Brazil
#2
It is an interesting war, it is probably one of the most interesting episodes of south american history, but also one of the darkest. You have military technologies being used, steam, telegraph, trenches, and soldiers being sent to the battlefield in chains. Paraguay fought to the near end, although it is commendable, it was not good for the country people or future.
 
#3
It is an interesting war, it is probably one of the most interesting episodes of south american history, but also one of the darkest. You have military technologies being used, steam, telegraph, trenches, and soldiers being sent to the battlefield in chains. Paraguay fought to the near end, although it is commendable, it was not good for the country people or future.
Regarding soldiers in chains, were there unwilling conscripts being made to fight? Also, why were the Paraguayans or their government so determined to fight to the end?
 
Jun 2012
2,973
Brazil
#4
Regarding soldiers in chains, were there unwilling conscripts being made to fight? Also, why were the Paraguayans or their government so determined to fight to the end?
Argentine soldiers that refused to fight, were put in chains and sent to the battlefield, most of them from the provinces that were close to Paraguay and had good relations with them.
The war since the beginning developed an "Eastern front style" total war, when Paraguay invaded Brazil, they fought in a pretty savage way, when Brasil counter attacked, they also were savage, so both sides didn't gave no quarter, also Paraguay was completely controlled by Lopez, the soldiers would do what Lopez wanted for loyalty or because if not his families would suffer, for example in the battle of Riachuelo, even after losing the element of surprise, paraguayan navy attacked, because they feared Lopez reaction.
 
Nov 2010
7,666
Cornwall
#5
I agree that it is one of the most interesting wars. I first came across it in one of those Military Blunders books and I had read that two thirds of Paraguay's population was lost, all in all. By Sr Lopez
 
#6
I agree that it is one of the most interesting wars. I first came across it in one of those Military Blunders books and I had read that two thirds of Paraguay's population was lost, all in all. By Sr Lopez
Looking at that wiki article again, the casualty estimates of 50% (Kleinpennig) and 69% (Whigham/Potthast) do not apply to adult males but the total population, so the claim of two thirds could well be correct!
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,890
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#7
It is obvious that the War of the Triple Alliance is not as well known as it should be. The one good aspect of the war is that it is a great example of the terrible things which can and sometimes do happen to a small country which fights against much more powerful countries.

Some people might suppose that some (relatively) benevolent god, knowing that warfare would become far more terrible in the 20th century, decided to choose a modern country with diplomatic recognition to suffer a defeat as bad as many small tribes and other groups with populations of a few hundred or a few thousand have often suffered in history, to serve as a warning to other smaller and weaker countries not to fight wars against larger and more powerful countries. Such a hypothetical god might have thought; "Certainly popular entertainment often praises heroes who fight against the odds and refuse to back down despite those odds, and a corrective lesson from history is badly needed to show the world for all time the folly of such suicidal behavior". And such a hypothetical god might have selected Paraguay to be the example country because of Paraguay's small population.

And of course the example of Paraguay's fate has often been ignored by later leaders, and many smaller and weaker countries became involved in the two World Wars fighting much larger and more powerful nations, often more or less voluntarily, and so suffered terrible casualty rates.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,807
Sydney
#8
The death rate of the male population seems to have been somewhat inflated even if it was still a demographic crash

still the Paraguayans fought to the utmost , they were compelled certainly but it seems that most were willing
what is tragic is the Paraguay was a fairly developed country , the war stunt their growth
as is the way of sore looser there was a following war , the war of the Chaco
for some local reason the ferociously right wing party in power were the "reds"

there also was a war between Peru and Bolivia for the rich deposit of Guano on the Pacific coast ,
the deposits made of seabird droppings were very valuable as fertilizer
inevitably it went down in history as " la guerra del Mierda " ...the war for sh..t
Peru won and used the total population of Easter Island as forced labor , few survived
 
#9
there also was a war between Peru and Bolivia for the rich deposit of Guano on the Pacific coast ,
the deposits made of seabird droppings were very valuable as fertilizer
inevitably it went down in history as " la guerra del Mierda " ...the war for sh..t
Peru won and used the total population of Easter Island as forced labor , few survived
I think you've mixed up Peru and Chile. Peru and Bolivia fought Chile, and Bolivia lost their coastline to Chile. Bolivia still claims that coastline to this day and, I think I've read, even brought it up with the UN.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,305
Netherlands
#10
I agree that it is one of the most interesting wars. I first came across it in one of those Military Blunders books and I had read that two thirds of Paraguay's population was lost, all in all. By Sr Lopez
Too simple. The invasion of Uruguay by Argentina and Brazil was basically the start of it all. Not only would it mean complete encirclement by enemies, but judging from their behavior Paraguay would probably be next anyway (Argentina considered them a breakaway province anyway). They could also have chosen to remain outside the war, but judging from what happened in Holland 1940 that gives no guarantees.
That being said, invading Brazil the way they did, should indeed feature prominently in that book.
 

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