Siege of Humaitá

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Siege of Humaitá
Part of the Paraguayan War
A Passagem de Humaitá.jpg
Brazilian Navy forcing passage through the fortress Humaitá
Date 19 February – 25 July 1868
Location Paraguay River, Humaitá
Result Brazilian victory
 Empire of Brazil
Commanders and leaders
Paraguay Francisco Solano López
Paraguay Col Martinez
Empire of Brazil Marshal Caxias

The Siege of Humaitá was a naval battle and later siege which occurred at the fortress of Humaitá, on the Paraguay River beginning on February 19, 1868, as a part of the Paraguayan War, and ending on July 25, 1868.

It is also the name of a picture painted by Victor Meirelles in 1868, depicting this event.


On August 1, 1867 the Argentine general Bartolomé Mitre commanded the Brazilian imperial fleet to secure a passage through Curupaiti and Humaitá. On August 15, two divisions of five battleships passed without incident at Curupaiti, but artillery fire forced them to stop at Humaitá.[1]:73 This news caused conflict in the Allied high command. The Brazilian commanders determined that attacking the fortress from the river would be futile, and withdrew their fleet pending a land-based attack which began on August 18.

From Tuyucuê the Allies headed north and took the villages of São Solano and Tayi, and finally laid siege to Humaitá itself, isolating it from Asunción by Nov. 1867.[1]:73–75 In February 1868 Marshal Caxias and Vice Admiral Baron de Inhauma ordered the fleet up the River Paraguay past Humaitá, which was done on the 19th. There were few casualties and minimal damage to any of the ships.[1]:80 On the 24th, the Bahia, Barroso, and Rio Grande do Sul shelled Asunción, which had been evacuated earlier.[1]:82

Paraguayan President Francisco Solano Lopez decided to evacuate Curupayti and Humaita, and he crossed the Paraguay River to the Chaco side on 3 March. Lopez left Col. Francisco Martinez in charge of a force of 3,000 men and 200 cannon. Gen. Argollo attacked Sauce on 21 March, and the Paraguayans retreated to Paso Pacu. Curupayti was abandoned on the next day. The Bahia, Rio Grande and Para bombarded Humaita on 23 and 24 March. At the end of April, then Allied force had troops on the Chaco side of the river.[1]:83-84

Battle of Acayuaza[edit]

The Allied army advanced on 16 July, when it appeared Curupayti and Humaita were abandoned. Gen. Osorio and 6,000 troops led in an attack on the northeast side of Humaita, unaware of 46 concealed Paraguayan guns and 2,000 men under the command of Col. Pedro Hermosa. At the command of Muerto a los cambas, the Brazilians retreated. The Brazilians lost 279 killed, 754 wounded, and 100 captured while the Paraguayans lost 89 killed and 104 wounded.[1]:86

Gen. Rivas ordered an attack on the Paraguayan Cora redoubt on 18 July. A mixed brigade of Argentinian and Brazilian infantry entered an ambush led by Col. Caballero. The Argentinian losses amounted to 90 killed, 87 killed and 35 captured, while the Brazilians had 67 killed, 221 wounded and 2 captured. The Paraguayans suffered 120 casualties.[1]:86


Col. Martinez asked Lopez for permission to start evacuating Humaita on 19 July. Lopez ordered Martinez to hold out five more days, but the first wave of Paraguayan withdrawal started on the 24th with 1,200 men. The remainder left on the 25th after spiking their guns. The Allied force entered Humaita ten hours later.


Col Martinez with 1,228 men and 96 officers, plus women and children were caught trying to cross Laguna Vera. He finally surrendered on 5 Aug. Lopez branded Martinez a traitor and sought vengeance by murdering his wife.[1]:86-87


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Hooker, T.D., 2008, The Paraguayan War, Nottingham: Foundry Books, ISBN 1901543153
  • Donato, Hernâni. Dicionário das Batalhas Brasileiras. São Paulo, Editora Ibrasa, 1987.