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Book Review
Triple Alliance Armies 1864–70
Armies of the War of the Triple Alliance 1864–70 Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay & Argentina
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
Historicus Forma

Osprey Publishing Ltd brings us Armies of the War of the Triple Alliance 1864–70, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay & Argentina, Men-at-Arms 499. Authored by Gabriele Esposito and illustrated by Giuseppe Rava, the book is 48 pages long, available in softcover, PDF and ePUB. Osprey's short code is MAA 499 and the ISBN of the softcover is 9781472807250.

Osprey tells us
    The War of the Triple Alliance is the largest single conflict in the history of South America. Drawing Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay into conflict the war was characterized by extraordinarily high casualty rates, and was to shape the future of an entire continent - depopulating Paraguay and establishing Brazil as the predominant military power. Despite the importance of the war, little information is available in English about the armies that fought it. This book analyzes the combatants of the four nations caught up in the war, telling the story of the men who fought on each side, illustrated with contemporary paintings, prints, and early photographs.

I have friends who are missionaries in Paraguay. While this book covers a war outside of my usual interests, their explanation of how that horrific conflict still impacts the culture of the country piqued my interest in this title. So it was with interest that I cracked the cover.

Mr. Esposito brings us a concise narrative of the war and colorful artwork of the combatants through 48 pages of 11 chapters and sections:
      • First phase: Paraguayan incursions into Brazil, winter 1864-65 - Uruguay enters the war, January 1865 - Paraguayan incursions into Argentina, March 1865
      • Second phase: the Triple Alliance - operations in 1865 - April-September 1866: Estero Bellaco, Tuyutí and Curupaytí - pause in major operations
      • Third phase: maneuvers before Humaitá, August-November 1867 - Siege of Humaitá, February-july 1868 - Caxias's December 1868 campaign: 'the Pikysyry maneuver' - totoro, Avay, Ypacarai and Lomas Valentinas - fall of Asunción
      • The 1869 Cordillera campaign: Peribebuy and Acosta Ñu - death of López
      • Naval operations
      • Aftermath

    • Organization – tactics and performance - weapons
    • Organization – tactics and performance - weapons
    • Organization – tactics and performance - weapons
    • Organization – tactics and performance - weapons
    Colour plate commentaries

Mr. Esposito writes in a clear and well organized manner. The text begins with an overview of a chaotic post-colonial South America, a region wracked by border disputes concurrent with local revolts within regional civil wars during national civil wars. Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay all took different paths into independence and self-rule, with different factions and strongmen trying to consolidate power. How neighboring states sought provocations to interlope into another country's affairs is explained. Thence explored is why the small but somewhat industrialized Paraguay, hoping that external rivalries would fragment the opposition, took the plunge into invading their neighbors.

The book continues to narrate the campaigns and counter-campaigns. Important battles are explored in fair detail considering the size of the battles and the constraint of the book format. Finally, the affect of denuding Paraguay of men for several generations.

Mr. Esposito then studies the cultural, ethnic, economic and foreign influences behind the composition of each army. Included are regular, volunteer, and national guard units.

That war, begun while the United States' unity tore itself asunder in civil war and continuing as America healed, saw some of the same technological benefits of railways and ironclads as used in America. It also suffered the same horrors of an undeveloped medical and sanitation system. That lends pause to an otherwise fascinating story of a New World fighting a major war with one foot in the burgeoning industrial age and one in the Napoleonic era.

photographs, artwork, graphics
No doubt these are what most people will buy the book for. There are very few photographs in the book. Probably half are of presidents and generals. They reflect the quality of the era - grainy, under or over exposed, faded. Most were staged and thus vary in focus. They are useful. Many of the images are etchings and other artwork of the period. These are better for showing some detail.

Of benefit to modelers, artists, historians and enthusiasts are the excellent line drawings and color plates of the soldiers. No doubt these are what most people will buy the book for and no doubt the illustrations of Mr. Rava will be pleasing. They are colorful, detailed, clear, and dynamic, showing several soldiers of each subject in interesting situations. These illustrations are,
Paraguayan Foot Troops
    Infantryman, 1865
    Infantryman, 1866
    Infantry officer, 1865
    Gunner, Horse Artillery, 1867

Paraguayan Cavalry
    Cavalryman, 1865
    Militia cavalryman, 1867
    Trooper, Aca Vera, 1866

Brazilian Infantry
    Cacador, 1865
    Fusilier, 1866
    Infantry officer, 1867
    Cacador, 1868

Brazilian Cavalry
    Trooper, 1868
    Cacador, 1869
    Gaucho, 1865

Brazilian National Guard & Volunteer Infantry, 1865
    Zouave, Zuavos da Bahia
    Fusilier, Nat Gd

Argentine Infantry
    Fusilier, Line Infantry
    Cazador, Line Infantry
    Fusilier, "Legion Militar"
    Fusilier, Nat Gd

Argentine Cavalry
    Trooper, regular cavalry, service dress
    Trooper, Nat Gd
    Trooper, regular cavalry, campaign dress

Uraguayian Army
    Fusilier, Florida
    Infantryman, campaign dress
    Fusilier, Voluntarios de la Libertad
    Major, Cav Reg Soriano

Additionally, 16 line art illstrations by Benedetto Esposito provides further uniform details, with descriptions of uniform and insignia colors.

Several gray scale maps orient the reader to the region and specific battles.

This topic is outside of my usual interest yet I enjoyed Armies of the War of the Triple Alliance 1864–70, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay & Argentina. I enjoy the lavish and even garish uniforms of antiquity and grew up with many of the romanticized pop culture stereotypes of era. However, the realization of terrible casualties and conditions of that appalling conflict deglamorizes the war; yet that does not remove the interest in the subject.

I consider the paucity of quality photographs as the only drawback to the book. Unfortunately, these may be the best available to the author.

For whatever the reason is that a modeler or artist may be interested in the armies of the War of the Triple Alliance, this book will be a useful primer. Recommended.

We thank Osprey Publishing for providing this book for review. Please tell them and vendors that you saw it here - on Historicus Forma.
Highs: Excellent artwork. Clear and well organized text.
Lows: I consider the paucity of quality photographs as the only drawback to the book. Unfortunately, these may be the best available to the author.
Verdict: For whatever the reason is that a modeler or artist may be interested in the armies of the War of the Triple Alliance, this book will be a useful primer.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472807250
  Suggested Retail: $17.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 28, 2015

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.



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