The War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870) was fought between Paraguay and an alliance of Argentina, Uruguay and the Empire of Brazil. It was a conflict with more deaths than any other in the history of Latin America, with estimates of 90,000-100,000 deaths on the alliance and circa 300,000 Paraguayans, both soldiers and civilians.There are a lot of speculations of the war’s motives, including British economic interests in the region, after-colonialism effects and expansionist goals of Paraguay’s dictator Francisco Solano López.
Brazil was getting too involved in Uruguay’s internal politics and eventually invaded it, making Paraguay declare war on Brazil. When López tried to pass through the province of Corrientes, Argentina declared war on Paraguay and the three countries forged an alliance to fight López’s regime. This turned the tide of the war; Paraguay's army, despite having some victories against Brazil in the beginning, devolved into guerrilla warfare in its own territory. The war only ended with López’s death.
The war ended catastrophically for Paraguay, having lost almost 90% of the male population, territory and had a political vacuum filled by military governments (Paraguay had its first democratic elections in 1993, more than a century later). Brazil and Argentina had an increase of public debt that took decades to pay, but it brought Brazilians slaves’ freedom (they were freed to fight in the war). Uruguay, on the other hand, was finally free of its neighbors’ meddling (kind of), but still had its own internal problems.
Badass Beard: Practically everyone. The main ones being: Paraguayan ruler Francisco Lopez, Paraguayan warhero Pedro Diaz, Argentinian commander Bartolomé Mitre, D. Pedro II Emperor of Brazil, The Duke of Caxias, Deodoro Fonseca,
Badass Family: The Fonseca Family was a renowed military family, remarkable for more than ten members of that family fighting in the war.
Badass Grandpa: The Duke of Caxias was pushing 65, but still leading his soldiers from the front lines.
Bad Boss: Solano Lopez towards the end of the war at least, since he started putting old men and boys into the military with even less adequate supplies than the other combatants, began acting erratically in command, and started shooting anybody who so much as voiced that Paraguay's only chance to survive was to make peace.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Firstly deployed by the Paraguayans on the Brazilians on the first year of the war, but from the moment The Alliance was formed onwards, the Paraguayans suffered a lot of those.
Decisive Battle: The aforementioned Battle of Riachuelo: It was the most important water route on that region, whoever won the battle, controlled the river and so gained the nautical advantage. With the absolute destruction of the Paraguayan fleet, the Allied Forces had total control over the river and pretty much won the War on the nautical side.
On land, the Battle of Tuyuti: The devastating losses of men and the strategic defeat sealed the fate of the paraguayan army, and what followed was a string of defeats.
Didn't See That Coming: Lopez suffered from this a lot in the later stage of the war. In particular, The "Piquissiri Maneuver" executed by The Duke of Caxias, which managed to perfectly avoid the bulk of the paraguayan forces and emerge straight on its rear. This lead to disastrous defeats that only further solidified the Paraguayan defeat.
Enemy Mine: Argentina and Brazil were very antagonistic toward each other, but they decided to forge an alliance to fight their common enemy.
Four-Star Badass: On the paraguayan side, José E. Diaz was known for his bravery and heroics on the War (and for being responsible for one the few Paraguayan victories in the latter stage of the war), while on the Allied side, The Duke of Caxias.
Follow the Leader: Lopez was greatly inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte's campaigns, and modelled both his war politics and himself after the man.
General Failure: Col. Camisao of the Allied Forces, responsible for the absurdly badly plotted initial invasion of Paraguay, which resulted in numerous casualties and the known Retreat from Laguna where the Allied Forces were forced to retreat.
Honor Before Reason: Lopez had a serious case of this. Refusing to surrender even though his country was going to Hell in a handbasket and his defeat was certain, and when he was finally cornered by soldiers (see Last Stand for more details) he refused to surrender and charged to his death, even though he was absurdly outnumbered AND he was assured he would be spared if he surrendered.
Hopeless War: From the point of view of the Paraguayans. Things looked promising at first, but got worse in ridiculous proportions. Historians agree that Paraguay had no chance to win this war in any way whatsoever.
I Ate What?: At one point, the Paraguayans had to eat their horses to survive.
Only You Can Repopulate My Race: After the war male Paraguayans were in high demand. The Catholic Church in Paraguay even allowed men to take multiple wives to rebuild the population.
Orcus on His Throne: A great deal of mocking by the Allied forces was aimed at Lopez' tendency to basically stand in Humaitá giving oders through the entire later stage of the war, instead of leading his troops like the Allied leaders.
Out-Gambitted: One could say the entire latter stage of the War was a Battle of Wits between Lopez and The Allied Command: He was trying to make the war as costly as possible for them (both in econonic and men terms), forcing them to back off and let him keep the territory he invaded. However, The Duke Of Caxias caught up on his strategy and developed maneuvers (Like the Piquissiri Maneuver mentioned above) to avoid every single drawback he designed, avoiding as much losses as possible and increasing the costs for the Paraguayan side. Result: It was still a very costly war, but not nearly as Lopez hoped. And doubly as costly for him.
The Purge: While this had been a fixture of Paraguayan political life for decades, Solano Lopez started it in earnest towards the end of the war. Which unsurprisingly did not do his already failing war effort or his country any favors...
Ramming Always Works: The Amazonas, the Brazilian Flagship, during the Battle of Riachuelo, used its bow to ram Paraguyan ships (even though the ship wasan't designed for ramming).
Reasonable Authority Figure / The Good King : Dom Pedro II tried to conduct the war as honorably as he could, ordered surrender when the losses were too great and had multiple diplomatic meetings with Lopez (all of them resulted in failure, but he gets points for trying). He was also the one who proposed freeing slaves who fought in the war (he was campaigning for their freedom for a few decades).
Red Baron: Duke Of Caxias, The Iron Duke. He was also known as "The Peacemaker".
Dom Pedro II, Emperor of Braazil, also went to the battlefront with his troops, and while he did not see any battles, he personally coordinated the troops, stood within firing range of the paraguyan forces and slept in the campaign tents.
Sanity Slippage: The war wasn't good for Lopez's mental health. As the war went on, he became increasingly more paranoid and suspicious of betrayal among his peers (which, to be fair, is not a entirely unlikely assumption, since he was losing badly), and had a lot of his men executed out of sheer paranoia. Including his two brothers and his two brothers-in-law.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In the final year of the war, the Marquis (Later Duke) of Caxias left Paraguay without warning, disobeying the orders of his commanders. According to Caxias, he'd have died if he stood there any longer, considering his age and health, one can understand why.
The Siege: The Paraguayan fortress of Humaitá (Nicknamed the "South American Sevastopol") was sieged by Allied forces for two whole years.
Smug Snake: Argentine president Bartolomé Mitre. He was convinced that Paraguay would be defeated in less than a year because their army was made of mostly mestizos (mixed-race people), believed that Brazil could never win the war without his help because of their large black population and had plans to invade and annex the weakened Uruguay after defeating Paraguay, but could never carry them out because the war extended beyond his presidency and because of the mounting debt.
Tired of Running: Lopez, after spending the entire later stage of the war in what can be described as a game of cat and mouse with the allied forces (him being the mouse), suddenly decided against escaping his country, and stopped at Cerro-Corá with his forces, making there his Last Stand.
Undying Loyalty: Most of the Paraguyan army had this towards Lopez, and so did the population at first, but as the war dragged on, he became much less well-seen.
War Is Hell: Both sides endured Hell. Paraguayans were driven to near extinction by the bloody conflicts, Allied Forces were plagued by numerous painful diseases in Paraguayan soil besides the battles itself.
War Is Glorious: Not from the point of view of the soldiers, but the legendary heroics of the Brazilian army renewed the brazilian patriotism and gave the military a much stronger role into politics, which eventually led to a revolution that installed the first Republic. Tropes Are Not Bad ?
The Woobie: If you know something about the region’s history, you’d know Uruguay was bullied by its neighbors all the time. In this war, it was almost a puppet state for Brazil.
Young Future Famous People: Several Brazilian military officers who fought in the conflict would play a greater role in national politics in the late 19th century.
You Shall Not Pass: Attempted by the paraguayan commander Pedro Duarte at the Battle of Jataí, he led one last cavalry charge in a last-ditch effort to stop the Allied forces from advancing, but his horse was shot from underneath him, his forces slaughtered and he was eventually convinced to surrender.
Zerg Rush / We Have Reserves: Employed by both sides in different periods of the War, with varying results. In Paraguay's case, this could be seen as a Deconstruction: The War ended with 90% of the male population wiped out, proving why this strategy can be devastating.