To the Bitter End: Paraguay and the War of the Triple Alliance

By Chris Leuchars | Go to book overview

15
The Funnel of Death:
July 1866

In the three months following the allied invasion in mid-April, the war ground virtually to a halt. In all this time, the Allies made only one minor advance—that of 20 May, when they moved their armies approximately two miles north to the positions at Tuyuty. Other than this, they took no initiative to hasten the end of the war, nor to carry on their invasion, and whatever activity there was came courtesy of López and the Paraguayans. In retrospect it is clear that time was on the Allies' side and that they would grow stronger while the Paraguayans would consequently become weaker as the blockade took effect. However, it was certainly not the intention of Mitre to delay and starve the Paraguayans into surrender, and it would have been dangerous to assume that financial backing for the Allies, which came mainly from Brazil, would hold out for any length of time and that the political will at home, especially in Argentina, would remain firmly behind the war.

It was a mixture of incompetence on the part of the allied leadership, particularly from Mitre and Tamandaré, as well as the failure of the supply system, that caused the long and frustrating delay. The allied armies had become too settled in their positions, and the impetus to take risks and try to take on the Paraguayans became less with every day that passed. For the squadron, the defenses at Curupaity and Humaitá seemed dangerous, if not impregnable, and the admiral was loath to move without any backup from the army. Mitre, who had always shown unwillingness in gathering intelligence about the enemy positions, made no attempt to discover any weak spots. He claimed that the shortage of horses had been the reason why he could not launch patrols and reconnaissances further to the east and north, around the edges of the Paraguayan defenses. In fact, while

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To the Bitter End: Paraguay and the War of the Triple Alliance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Maps vii
  • 1: The Country at the Heart of the Continent 1
  • 2: The Man Who Would Be King 10
  • 3: The Other Players in the Drama 15
  • 4: Political Relations in the Plate Region 22
  • 5: The Invasion of Brazil 31
  • 6: The Triple Alliance 38
  • 7: The Military Balance 47
  • 8: Conscripts and Volunteers 54
  • 9: The Invasion of Argentina 60
  • 10: The Rio Grande Campaign 71
  • 11: The March to War 85
  • 12: The Invasion of Paraguay 90
  • 13: Conflict in the Esteros 109
  • 14: The Battle of Tuyuty: May 1866 117
  • 15: The Funnel of Death: July 1866 129
  • 16: The Attack on Curupaity 140
  • 17: The Long Pause 155
  • 18: The Fall of Humaitá 169
  • 19: The December Campaign 191
  • 20: Endgame 213
  • Conclusion - Securing the Spoils 233
  • Notes 239
  • Selected Bibliography 245
  • Index 249
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