Battle of Pehuajó
|Battle of Corrales|
|Part of the Paraguayan War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|200 killed, 400 wounded, 9 captured :50||88 killed, 314 wounded :50|
The Battle of Pehuajó, also known as Battle of Corrales or Battle of Itati was fought during the Paraguayan War in January 31, 1866.
Around 1,500 Paraguayan troops commanded by General Francisco Isidoro Resquín and Lieutenant Celestino Prieto engaged in a surprise attack against a couple of advanced Argentine and Uruguayan battalions with about 2,000 men led by General Emilio Conesa, under direct command of the president of Argentina, Bartolomé Mitre.
After the Brazilian invasion and bombing of Paysandú (December 1864 - January 1865) Paraguay declares War on Brasil because of the Treaty both Brasil and Paraguay signed for "defending the Uruguayan independence" (though the validity of that treaty is still controversial)  and for protecting the allied Blanco Government. After a victorious but later abandoned campaign in Matto Grosso, the troops of Paraguayan president, Field Marshal Francisco Solano López are intending to reach Uruguay through Entre Rios. While Mitre was secretly giving military support to the coup in Uruguay and allowing the Brazilian Navy and Troops the pass through Argentinian territory, he denied access to the Paraguayan Army. That led to the declaration of War from Paraguay to Argentina and the later Campaign of Corrientes.
After several defeats of the Paraguayan Army in Corrientes (where General Wenceslao Robles refused to accomplish Lopez's orders and advanced until dangerous position very far from supply lines) and in Uruguayana (where General Antonio de la Cruz Estigarribia by his own will entered in a trap, surrendering with 10.000 men), the "guarani" soldiers had to retreat from Argentina after fierce battles with general Wenceslao Paunero and his men.
Solano López declared Antonio de la Cruz Estigarribia a "traitor" and "spy of the enemies" (later, Estigarribia joined the infamous Legión Paraguaya) and replaced Wenceslao Robles for his well trusted general Resquín.
Paraguayan troops retreated to their own territory, protected by the Fortress of Itapirú. General Conesa, leader of the advanced allied forces, tried to chase the fleeing soldiers, but the attempt was very risky and allowed the Paraguayans to have good counter-attacking possibilities. Solano López understood this and sent small raiding parties of 100-200 men across the river to attack allied posts. Most notable were raid on 13, 16, 17, 19 and 25 January. On 29 January 1866, 400 Paraguayans crossed the River Parana and drove the Argentines from Corrales (Correntine Paso de la Patria.:42
President Mitre commanded Col. Conesa to recapture Corrales.:42,47 Yet, on the 31st, President Lopez sent another force of 1,200 men under the overall command of Lt. Col. Jose Eduvigis Diaz, but further organized into three units. The first, under the command of Lt. Celestino Prieto headed for Corrales, the second under Lt. Saturnino Viveros headed for the fort of Itapiru, while the third was held in reserve.:47
General Conesa, with a very intrepid action, almost ambushed with full surprise a battalion led by Lieutenant Celestino Prieto, with 250 men. But the noisy swamp and the Argentinian troops singing wrecked the surprise and the Paraguayans fled under heavy fire. After this, General Resquin ordered commander Diaz, Viveros and Prieto to place their troops in strategic positions around the swamps for ambushing and launch counterattacks on the allied armies. 200 men under command of Diaz took the center, while 700 men of Viveros and Prieto were placed in the flanks.
By nightfall, Argentinian troops tried to take the village by bayonet charges, having used up their ammunition. By 18:30, Conesa ordered a withdrawal.
Nearly 500 Paraguayans (killed and injured) were lost, while Argentinian, and some Uruguayans among them, lost around 1,000 men (mostly killed).
Despite the victory obtained by the Paraguayan Army, Lopez's troops never again crafted a similar assault against the Allied Army. The Paraguayans embarked on their boats on the night of 1 Feb., returning to Itapiru.:50
General Bartolomé Mitre praised the courage of the Argentinian soldiers (including among the deaths Juan Serrano and Bernabé Márquez) but recommended for the next time to his troops to be "in future combats, less prodigious of their generous flame and fiery courage".
The Fortress of Itapirú eventually fell on 5 April 1866. The Argentinian city of Pehuajó is named in honour of its founder, Dardo Rocha, veteran who fought this battle.
- Hooker, T.D., 2008, The Paraguayan War, Nottingham: Foundry Books, ISBN 1901543153
- Treaty of Benito Varela and Pedro Bellegarde (Paraguay-Brasil) - For the Free Navigation of Rivers and the Protection of the Uruguayan Independence - Asunción, 1850. Available in the Paraguayan Historical Files.
- O'Leary, Juan; El Libro de los Héroes; Editorial Servilibro; Asunción, Paraguay (2007)
- Zenequelli, Lilia, Crónica de una guerra, La Triple Alianza. Ed. Dunken, Bs. As., 1997
- Report of general Conesa to the commander in chief of the Vanguard Army, general Manuel Hornos.- AGM.t.II.p327.