Battle of Tuyutí

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First Battle of Tuyutí
Part of the Paraguayan War
Painting by Cándido López
Date May 24, 1866
Location Tuyutí, a few miles north of Paraná River

Decisive Allied victory

  • Paraguayan attack repelled.


 Empire of Brazil


Commanders and leaders
26,000 men[1]:53 35,000 men
*22,000 Brazilians
*11,800 Argentines
*1,200 Uruguayans
Casualties and losses
6,000 killed
370 captured[1]:54
977 killed
3,165 wounded[1]:54

The Battle of Tuyutí was a Paraguayan offensive in the Paraguayan War. The allied victory added to the Paraguayan troubles that began with earlier failed offensives and the loss of its fleet in the Battle of Riachuelo. Another attack on the allied camp was made in November 1867.

Strategic situation[edit]

Map of the Battle of Tuyutí.

In this phase of the war the Allies' strategic objective was to take the Fortress of Humaitá, the gateway to Paraguay. They intended to launch an amphibious operation, which required their land forces to take the fortress from the rear. After crossing the Paraná River from Argentina and landing in Paraguay, they had a long march across country studded with lagoons and carrizal (reed beds growing in marsh). The Fortress was defended by the extensive earthworks of its Polígono or Quadrilateral design. It was in this context that the Battle of Tuyutí occurred.


In early May 1866, the Paraguayan attack at the Estero Bellaco marsh failed. 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.[1]:53 After learning that the Allied army planned to attack on the 25th, Lopez ordered a surprise attack on Tuyutí, "a swampy, scrub-brush savannah".[2][page needed] on May 24.

The 24th May 1866 battle of Tuyutí is known as the First Battle of Tuyutí; the second Battle of Tuyuti (1867) occurred on 7 November 1867.[3]


Battle of Tuyutí: Atack of the Paraguayan army on the Argentine lines (Painting by F. Fortuny.).

The Paraguayans attacked in three columns at 11:55 after a Congreve rocket signaled the attack. Gen Vincente Barrios, with 8,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry attacked the Allied left, which were 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 Alled center, Gen. Flores' Vanguard Division. Col. Hilario Marco with 7,000 men and 48 cannons was held in reserve at Estero Rojas[1]:53–54

The attack began in the center, where the Uruguayans were forced back along 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.[1]:54

Lt. Col. Salustiano Jerônimo dos Reis of the 14th Brigade at the Battle of Tuyuty sees his son, Alférez Salustiano Jeronymo Fernandes Reys, a young man of 17 years old, being hit by a Congreve rocket.

Soon the battle turned into "a series of charges and countercharges, a Latin American version of Waterloo".[2][page needed] The Paraguayan columns continued to attack, but could not overcome the allied firepower.[1]: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."[4]


Entrenched troops and their backing artillery were devastating in the battle of Tuyuti

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".[5]

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.[1]:57[6]

The Allied forces stayed in their camp until Sept.[1]:54 Starvation and disease struck the Allied camp, claiming some 10,000 victims.[1]: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!".[1]:54


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hooker, T.D., 2008, The Paraguayan War, Nottingham: Foundry Books, ISBN 1901543153
  2. ^ a b Williams 2000.
  3. ^ Farwell, Byron (2001), The Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Land Warfare: An Illustrated World View, New York: WW Norton, p. 831 .
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Thompson, The War in Paraguay, p.149.
  6. ^ 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 


  • 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 .

Coordinates: 27°12′16″S 58°32′53″W / 27.20444°S 58.54806°W / -27.20444; -58.54806