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 The End of the War 

 

 

 

The son-in-law of the emperor Dom Pedro II, Luís Filipe Gastão de Orléans, Count d'Eu, was nominated to direct the final phase of the military operations in Paraguay. He sought not just a total rout of Paraguay, but also the strengthening of the Brazilian Empire. In August 1869, the Triple Alliance installed a provisional government in Asunción headed by Paraguayan Cirilo Antonio Rivarola.

Solano López organized the resistance in the mountain range northeast of Asunción. At the head of 21,000 men, Count d'Eu led the campaign against the Paraguayan resistance, the Campaign of the Mountain Range, which lasted over a year. The most important battles were the battles of Piribebuy and of Acosta Ñu, in which more than 5,000 Paraguayans died.

The death of Solano López

 

 

 The death of López, from the film Cerro Cora 1978

Made during the Strossner dictatorship

 

Two detachments were sent in pursuit of Solano López, who was accompanied by 200 men in the forests in the north. On March 1, 1870, the troops of General José Antônio Correia da Câmara surprised the last Paraguayan camp in Cerro Corá, where Solano López was fatally injured by a spear as he tried to swim away down the Aquidabanigui stream. His last words were: "Muero por mi patria" (I die for my homeland). This marks the end of the war of the Triple Alliance.

The Paraguayan people had been fanatically committed to López and the war effort, and as a result they fought to the point of dissolution. Paraguay suffered massive casualties, losing perhaps the majority of its population. The war left it utterly prostrate.

 

 

 

Paraguayan soldiers and families taken as prisoners

The specific numbers ofcasualtiesare hotly disputed, but it has been estimated that 300,000 Paraguayans, mostly civilians, died; up to 90% of the male population may have been killed. According to one numerical estimation, the prewar population of approximately 525,000 Paraguayans was reduced to about 221,000 in 1871, of which only about 28,000 were men. Definitively accurate casualty numbers will probably never be determined.

Of the around 123,000 Brazilians that fought in the War of the Triple Alliance, the best estimates say that around 50,000 died. Uruguayan forces counted barely 5,600 men (some of whom were foreigners), of whom about 3,100 died. Argentina lost around 18,000 of its 30,000 combatants.

The high rates of mortality, however, were not the result of the armed conflict in itself. Bad food and very bad hygiene caused most of the deaths. Among the Brazilians, two-thirds of the killed died in hospitals and during the march, before facing the enemy. In the beginning of the conflict, most of the Brazilian soldiers came from the north and northeast regions of the country; the changes from a hot to cold climate and the amount of food available to them were abrupt. Drinking the river water was sometimes fatal to entire battalions of Brazilians. Cholera was, perhaps, the main cause of death during the war.

 

 

 

 

 

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