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 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. By 1630, the battle was over.:54
Tuyutí was the last major Paraguayan attack. Ultimately, it was a devastating Paraguayan defeat. The Paraguayan military was decimated. 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
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- Williams 2000.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of Tuyutí.|
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- Webb, Jonathan, Battle of Tuyuti animated battle map, The Art of Battle.