South America 1864: Outbreak of the Paraguayan War
In 1864 Brazil intervened in Uruguay in support of the liberal Colorado Party, prompting Uruguay's governing Blanco Party to call on Paraguay for support. Confident in his larger and better-equipped military, and desirous of settling his country's numerous unresolved border disputes, Paraguayan President Solano López declared war on Brazil in December.
Patagonia was regarded as terra nullius by Britain and France until 1881 (and thus shown as a separate state in most maps of the period). Their main concern, shared with the United States, was to prevent any nation restricting navigation through the Straits of Magellan.
14 Apr 1864 Chincha islands occupation▲
In retaliation for Peru’s refusal to pay an indemnity, Spain landed 400 marines to occupy the Chincha Islands—at the time the principal source of Peruvian guano and responsible for almost 60% of the government’s annual revenue. Meeting little opposition, the invaders quickly arrested the islands’ Peruvian governor and raised the Spanish flag. Spain also initiated a blockade of the major Peruvian ports, disrupting commerce and causing resentment across Latin America.
10 Aug 1864–20 Feb 1865 Uruguayan War▲
On 10 August 1864, after negotiations failed to resolve cross-border lawlessness with Uruguay, the Empire of Brazil announced that it would intervene in Uruguay to resolve matters. Brazilian warships were immediately deployed up the Uruguay River, but it was not until October that the Brazilian army was organized enough to launch its invasion, capturing the eastern town of Melo in support of Uruguay’s exiled former-president Venancio Flores and his Colorado Party. Crossing the country, the Brazilians took Paysandú after a month-long siege, then advanced on Montevideo. In February Uruguay’s governing Blanco Party agreed to capitulate, restoring Flores to power.
13 Dec 1864 Outbreak of Paraguayan War▲
In response to Brazil’s invasion of Uruguay in the face of Paraguayan objections, President Francisco Solano López of Paraguay ordered the seizure of Brazilian shipping on 11 November 1864, severing diplomatic relations with Brazil three days later. The next month, on 13 December, Paraguay formally declared war on Brazil, beginning the 6-year-long Paraguayan War, also called the War of the Triple Alliance. Despite the huge population imbalance—Brazil had 9 million people vs Paraguay’s 1 million—Paraguay started the war with over 60,000 trained troops, far greater than Brazil’s 18,000 (or Argentina’s 8,500).