Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

home, and the supreme command of the forces that remained devolved on the Marquis de Caxias.

But now a new enemy appeared,- the cholera. The insalubrity of the country was increased by the carelessness of the troops and their utter ignorance of sanitary precautions; and the thousands of the slain, left unburied, contributed to corrupt the atmosphere. There were 7,500 sick at once in the three hospitals of the allies, and half of the number died. At length, thanks to the increasing coolness in April and May, 1867, “thanks also,” it is added, “ to the zeal and charity of the Capuchin fathers," they were delivered from this plague ; when they found another obstacle in the rise of the rivers. For sixteen years the Parana and the Paraguay had not reached so great a height. The Brazilians encamped around Curuzu were obliged to crowd into the fort, which itself was besieged by the rising waters and exposed to a cannonade from Curupayti. Curuzu was at length abandoned with great loss; and with its abandonment ceased all communication between the camp at Tuyuti and the Paraguay River.

The Brazilian army was with difficulty recruited, principally by the enlistment of slaves. The Argentine government sent 4,000 regular soldiers, and 400 convicts from the prisons of Buenos Ayres. Caxias now attempted, and with great labor executed, a change of base, intending to attack Humaitá. By marching far into the interior, he came upon that fortress with little opposition, but not until the length of his journey had given bis enemy ample time for preparation. Before anything could be effected, the arrival of President Mitre caused, according to the terms of the treaty, a change in the command. The army, mainly Brazilian, received its Argentine commander with an ill grace. Officers sent in their resignations; a land attack on Humaitá appeared impracticable ; and although the new camp was better situated than that at Tuyuti, the cholera again made its appearance about the end of September.

During these events the fleet had not been idle. It succeeded in passing Curupayti, though it suffered considerable damage from the fire of the fortress ; but with reduced strength it was now shut in between Curupayti and Humaitá, and apparently was not in a condition either to advance or retreat.

Meantime the United States had by its ministers offered its mediation, which was rejected. An attempt was now made in the direction of peace, and Mr. Gould, secretary of the British embassy at Buenos Ayres, visited the head-quarters of Lopez, and conveyed to him the proposals of the allies. These were highly favorable to Paraguay so far as they related to its independence, its boundaries, and the mutual restoration of prisoniers; but, compelled by their treaty, the allies demanded that Lopez should, immediately on the conclusion of peace, depart for Europe. Another requirement was that of secrecy in regard to the conditions of the treaty. It would have been a noble act if the Marshal President had been willing to sacrifice his power for the good of the country ; but the demand was made at a time when it seemed not justified by the state of affairs. The fleet of his enemies appeared to be entrapped between two forts, and their army separated by a wide desert from the river, on which for six hundred miles their supplies must be transported from Buenos Ayres. He rejected the proposal in a reply in which the real strength of his reasons was obscured by the vanity with which they were expressed.

An expedition against Paraguay from the north had met with no better success than the attacks on the south. A Brazilian force of about two thousand men was collected in September, 1866, at the village of Miranda in Brazil, to the north of Paraguay. Thence, in the following February, they marched, under Colonel Camisão, to enter the country between the rivers by which it was bounded. Their march was through a country deserted except by the cavalry of the enemy, who never offered regular battle, but harassed them constantly, till, worn out with fatigue, hunger, and disease, the remnant were glad to reach again their own frontier. Another force, under Señor Magalhães, retook the fortress of Corumba, which the Paraguayans had occupied since the beginning of the war; but were by the appearance of some Paraguayan steamers obliged to leave it.

In Paraguay the enthusiasm of the people grew with their dangers and their successes. Patriotic gifts poured in from every side for the supply of the army. Among other marks of public spirit, the ladies of Assumption determined to give their

On the resump

jewels of gold and silver to the cause of their country, and the example was followed far and wide. Brooches and ear-rings came in, we are told, by bushels; and the patronesses of the undertaking made a public offering of this treasure. President Lopez, however, accepted only one twentieth part, to be used for a new gold coinage, to commemorate the patriotism of the ladies of Paraguay. Such is the account given in the Revue des deux Mondes. An eye-witness, however, who looked on the Paraguayan cause less favorably, tells us that the whole matter was ordered by the government.

But the fortune of war was now to change. tion of hostilities, advantage after advantage was gained by the allies. The town of Pilar, taken by them September 20th, they were indeed compelled to abandon; but the engagements at Potrero Ovella, October 27th, and at Tayi, November 2d, opened to them the way to the land side of Humaitá. November 3d, the Paraguayans attacked the camp of Porto Alegre at Tuyuti, obtained temporary possession of it, and destroyed much of the army stores, but were driven back after a severe action, in which that Brazilian general distinguished himself by his personal bravery. With these events the campaign of 1867 closed.

That of the following year commenced with an achievement of great importance. An attack was made on the outworks of Humaitá by the land force, at the same time that the Brazilian iron-clads attempted to force a passage. The undertaking succeeded both by land and water. The vessels passed the fort beneath a storm of balls from the heaviest artillery, and Fort Establicimiento, an important outwork of Humaitá, was taken.

The next event to be noted is a political crime in the turbulent Oriental Republic. The despatch of the American Minister to Brazil, which relates it, conveys an idea of the critical condition of affairs at that period of the war:

" A revolution has broken out in the Republic of Uruguay, and General Flores, the Dictator, who had just abdicated in order that a president might be elected by the people, was assassinated in the streets by the leaders of the Blanco party. The outrage was followed by the slaying of one hundred an VOL, CIX. - NO. 225.

34

[graphic]

eighty of the Blancos; and thereupon order was restored in the city of Montevideo, where the Blancos are in a minority. In the country, however, they are in a large majority; and it would be idle to predict the final termination of this proceeding. The success of the allies against Lopez will go far towards restoring order in Uruguay. That success was most timely. Had it been delayed another three weeks at furthest, both Uruguay and the Argentine Republics would have withdrawn from the alliance with Brazil.” (Mr. Webb to Mr. Seward, March 9, 1868, in Senate Doc. No. 5, p. 35.)

No action of great importance appears to have taken place, from the successes near Humaitá until the month of August. Then, after some engagements, seemingly unfavorable to the allies, it was discovered by them, on the 25th, that Humaitá had been evacuated, and possession was taken of it, with great rejoicing at the capitals of the allies. The taking of Humaitá was followed by other successes. Assumption at length fell into the hands of the allies. Lopez retreated to the interior of the country, where, defended by mountains and morasses, he still offers resistance.

Recently the chief management of the war has passed into new hands. The Marquis de Caxias has been succeeded by the Count d'Eu,- Gaston d'Orléans, eldest son of the Duke de Nemours, and grandson of King Louis Philippe. This prince, who is about twenty-six years of age, is the husband of the Princess Isabella of Brazil, eldest daughter of the Emperor, and heiress presumptive to the crown. The Count embarked from Rio Janeiro for the seat of war on the 30th of March of the present year. Since his arrival, the allied army has advanced up the country, cutting off the Paraguayan leader from the valley of the Tebicuari and the fertile plains of the South. A correspondence, conducted with formal courtesy on both sides, has taken place between the Prince and the President, occasioned by the use of the Paraguayan flag in the Brazilian camp, where it was displayed by a native legion in the service of the allies. Lopez complains of this, and threatens to requite it by executing the prisoners of war who may be in his power. The Count d'Eu defends his use of the flag on the ground that the allies are fighting, not against

[ocr errors]

Paraguay, but its ruler. According to recent information, Lopez has been prevented from carrying out his threat by a noble protest on the part of Mr. McMahon, the Minister of the United States. (“The Standard,” Buenos Ayres, June 11th.)

During the month of May of the present year, General Mena Barreto, or O'Barrett, an officer of Irish descent in the Brazilian service, advanced into the interior, and brought back with him a number of Paraguayan families, amounting to about twelve hundred persons, mostly women and children. On his return through a dangerous defile, Barreto was attacked by the Paraguayans, whose artillery was posted on the hills around. The families under his charge were between two fires, and hundreds perished. The Brazilians succeeded at length in driving off their assailants and resuming their march toward the river.

In the course of events upon the La Plata and its tributaries, during the last few years, questions have sometimes arisen between the various governments there and the representatives of the United States. The documents relating to these questions, which we have had occasion to examine, occupy more than four hundred pages. The representatives of our country to whom they chiefly refer are the late General Asboth, Minister to the Argentine Republic, Mr. James Watson Webb, Minister to Brazil, and Mr. Charles A. Washburn, Minister to Paraguay. These gentlemen, by direction of the State Department, repeatedly endeavored to bring about a termination of the war; but their efforts were entirely unsuccessful, and the Argentine Republic even entered a formal complaint against General Asboth, alleging that he had, in his correspondence, “ thought it proper to enter into appreciations with regard to the war, to home politics, to the state of public opinion and of the finances of the country, which, he ought to have supposed, had been duly studied and taken into consideration by the Argentine government.” To this Mr. Seward very properly replied, “ that it is difficult to conduct a correspondence of mediation between belligerents without inadvertently giving offence to one or other of the parties, and that, considering that every care has been taken by the United States government to avoid misapprehension, the Secretary of State begs to be excused from entering unnecessarily into collateral discussion.” Mr. Asboth was in

« VorigeDoorgaan »