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War of the Southwest


First Global War

Rio de la Plata War
Battle of Chacabuco Battle of Helvecia

May 24, 1846


August 17, 1849


South America


Return to Status Quo



Central American Republic


Juan Manuel de Rosas
Justo José de Urquiza




Casualties and Losses



The Rio de la Plata War (1846-1849), in English known as the War of the River Plate, and also popularly known as the First Latin American War was a major conflict fought between the the three major powers of South America; Brazil against Argentina and, later, the Central American Republic. The war ended with a return to the status quo, although tensions between all three nations and their allies reached higher levels after the war.

Causes of the War

The three major powers of South America, Brazil, Argentina and the Central American Republic were trying to do their best to out maneuver the others and dominate the continent. The three continued to expand their armies with newer weapons, conscription and European military officers that wished to find a new life and a seat of power, which was easy in the corrupt and constantly shifting political landscape of South America. Spies were rumored to running in the major cities of South America, trying to find secrets that would give their nation an edge over the others.

But, it was in the Capital of Peru, Lima, were the tensions came to a head. The shooting of an Argentine businessman (who, it was later revealed, was on the payroll of the Central American Republic and Argentina at the same time as an espionage agent) on March 6, 1846, sparked an uproar in both Medellin and Buenos Aires. Brazil was quick to announce it wasn't them, but the investigation by Peru found that the Empire was behind the attack. Argentina broke off relations with Brazil on April 6, with the RCA doing so the next day. But when a bomb went off in the Rio de Janeiro Naval Facility on May 6, Brazil responded with a military mobilization two days later, with Argentina calling her reserves on May 12 and the Central American Republic sent her navy to sea on May 16. War was right around the corner.

Outbreak of War

Argentina declared war on Brazil on May 24, 1846, and launched an invasion over the Rio de la Plata, and captured the town of Salto on June 14, and advanced toward Montevideo. However, at the Battle of Durazno, the Brazilian Army managed to hold the Argentinian's from advancing, and forced them to retreat to the north west. Brazil recaptured Salto on August 17, and continued to advance, and captured the Argentinian town of Vera on August 29. A counterattack on September 2 forced the Imperial forces further to the north, and Vera was abandoned. The Argentine Army followed behind, but was stopped at the Battle of Goya on September 16. Both armies withdrew to try to recover their losses and rebuild their strength.

Brazilian Offensive

The Brazilian Army was reinforced quicker, and a two pronged invasion was begun on November 15, 1846; the northern prong toward Corrientes, while the Southern attack will, hopefully, capture Buenos Aires, and end the war. However, the Northern attack, designed to lure the Argentinians away from the capital, was delayed by an outbreak of Yellow Fever, so the Southern attack was stopped by Argentina at the Battle of Rosario on December 2. The Brazilian army was forced back, but the Northern force, with a subsequent reinforcement of troops, was able to march to the south, and at the Battle of Helvecia, was able to stop the Argentinian Army.

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