First Battle of Tuyutí
|First Battle of Tuyutí|
|Part of the Paraguayan War|
Painting by Cándido López
|Commanders and leaders|
|26,000 men:53||35,000 men
|Casualties and losses|
The First Battle of Tuyutí was a Paraguayan offensive in the Paraguayan War. 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.
In this phase of the war the Allies' strategic objective was take the Fortress of Humaitá, the gateway to Paraguay. They intended an amphibious operation which required their land forces to take the fortress in the rear. Having crossed the Paraná River from Argentina and landed in Paraguay, they now had to face an extensive country studded with lagoons and carrizal (reed beds growing in marsh), the Fortress being defended by the extensive earthworks of its Polígono or Quadrilateral. It was in this context that the Battle of Tuyutí occurred.
In early May 1866, a Paraguayan attack at a marsh called Estero Bellaco failed. As the allies camped for over two weeks before resuming their advance on 20 May 1866. Paraguayan leader Francisco Solano López moved his headquarters to Paso Pucu, where he dug trenches in the passes from Gomez to Rojas.:53 Learning the Allied army planned to attack on the 25th, Lopez ordered a May 24 surprise attack on Tuyutí, "a swampy, scrub-brush savannah".[page needed]
The Paraguayans attacked in three columns, attacked at 1155 after a Congreve rocket announced the battle should began. Gen Vincente Barrios with 8,000 infantry and 1000 cavalry attacked the Allied left, Brazilians under the command of Gen. Osorio. Gen. Isidoro Resquin with 7,000 cavalry and 3,000 infantry attacked the Allied right flank. Col. Jose Diaz with 6,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry attacked the center, the Gen. Flores' Vanguard Division. Col. Hilario Marco with 7,000 men and 48 cannons was held in reserve at Estero Rojas:53–54
The attack began in the center, where the Uruguayans were forced back by surprise with some Brazilian Volunteer Battalions. On the left of the allied encampment, Captain Emilio Mallet had ordered the construction of a large moat in front of his artillery pieces. When the Paraguayan onslaught reached it, they were in grapeshot range and unable to cross the obstacle. The Paraguayans tried to circle the artillery, avoiding the incoming fire, but encountered Antonio Sampaio's 3rd Infantry Division. This unit fought desperately in the muddy terrain with its commander dying in the process, having fought stubbornly. At this point, Osório ordered his reserves to attack and repelled the Paraguayan center.
On the allied left, the Paraguayans forced back the few Brazilian units, almost reaching the Allied camp. Osório reinforced the Brazilian lines with various units, finally committing the 2nd Cavalry Division, commanded by General Mena Barreto. The Paraguayans continued to attack until they were encircled and annihilated. In the Argentine sector, the Paraguayan cavalry under Gen Resquin routed the Argentine cavalry under Gens. Caceres and Hornos.:54
Soon the battle turned into "a series of charges and countercharges, a Latin American version of Waterloo".[page needed] The Paraguayan columns continued to attack, but never could overcome the allied firepower.:54 In the words of Colonel Thompson of the Paraguayan army, who was there, "At 4 p.m. the firing was over, the Paraguayans being completely defeated, and their army destroyed. The Allies had suffered severely also, but they still had an army left. The Paraguayans left 6,000 dead on the field; the Allies only took some 350 prisoners, all wounded. This was because the Paraguayans would never surrender but, when wounded, fought on till they were killed. 7,000 wounded were taken into the Paraguayan hospitals from this battle, those with slight wounds not going into hospital at all... The Allies lost above 8,000 killed and wounded.
Tuyutí was the last major Paraguayan attack. Ultimately, it was a devastating Paraguayan defeat. "The 10,000 men who had not been killed or [seriously] wounded were completely scattered and disorganised, and it was some days before they were again collected", wrote Thompson. "The Allies buried some of their own dead, but they heaped up the Paraguayan corpses in alternate layers, with wood, in piles of from 50 to 100, and burnt them. They complained that the Paraguayans were so lean they that they would not burn".
The largest battle ever fought in South America had just ended. Lopéz's flanking maneuver had failed, but it had been very close to succeeding. In fact, the Allies were unable to pursue the enemy due to the few horses they had remaining. They needed to regain strength and rebuild.:57
Col. Mallet's hidden ditch, Fosso de Mallet, was the inspiration for Mallet's famous battle cry, "Por aqui nao entram". The Brazilian 3rd Division suffered enormous casualties while their commander, Gen. Sampaio, shouted, "Fogo, Batalhão!".:54
- Hooker, T.D., 2008, The Paraguayan War, Nottingham: Foundry Books, ISBN 1901543153
- Williams 2000.
- Farwell, Byron (2001), The Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Land Warfare: An Illustrated World View, New York: WW Norton, p. 831.
- George Thompson, The War in Paraguay: With A Historical Sketch of the Country And Its People And Notes Upon the Military Engineering of the War, Longmans, Green and Co, 1869, pp. 145-6
- Thompson, The War in Paraguay, p.149.
- Fragoso, Augusto Tasso (1934), História da Guerra entre a Tríplice Aliança e o Paraguai [History of the War between the Triple Alliance and Paraguay] (in Portuguese) II, Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa do Estado Maior do Exército
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of Tuyutí.|
- Doratioto, Francisco (2002), Maldita Guerra: Nova história da Guerra do Paraguai [Damned War: new History of the Paraguayan War] (in Portuguese), São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.
- Dupuy, Trevor N (1991), The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 BC to the Present (4th ed.), New York: HarperCollins.
- Kolinski, Charles J (1965), Independence or Death: The Story of the Paraguayan War, University of Florida Press.
- Leuchars, Chris (2002), To the Bitter End: Paraguay and the War of the Triple Alliance, London: Greenwood.
- Murad, Abid (1957), A Batalha de Tuiuti e Uma Lição de Civismo [The Battle of Tuyutí & a lesson in patriotism] (in Portuguese), Rio de Janeiro: Biblioteca do Exército.
- Thompson, George (1869), The War in Paraguay, London: Longmans, Green & Co.
- Scheina, Robert L (2003), Latin America’s Wars, 1: The Age of the Caudillo, 1791–1899, New York: Potomac.
- Williams, John Hoyt (2000), "A Swamp of Blood: The Battle of Tuyuti", Military History 17 (1): 58–64.
- Webb, Jonathan, Battle of Tuyuti animated battle map, The Art of Battle.