New College of the Humanities

Latin America’s Total War

Peter H. Wilson revisits the War of the Triple Alliance, Latin America’s bloodiest conflict.

A Paraguayan soldier late in the war on sentry duty at López' headquarters. Copied from Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 40 (1870).While Europeans and North Americans forged nations through international and civil wars in the mid-nineteenth century, much of Latin America was embroiled in a ferocious struggle that pitted the small land-locked state of Paraguay against the combined might of the Brazilian empire and the Argentine and Uruguayan republics. The suffering it caused was immense but compared to the American Civil War or the wars of Italian and German Unification, this War of the Triple Alliance of 1864-70, or Lopez’ War, is virtually unknown outside the countries involved. If remembered at all it is for the romantic figure of Elisa Lynch (1835-86), the charming but unscrupulous Irish mistress of the Paraguayan president, Francisco Solano Lopez (1826-70), and the subject of several racy novels and implausible biographies.

To read this article in full you need to be either a print + archive subscriber, or else have purchased access to the online archive.

If you are already a subscriber, please ensure you are logged in. 

Buy Subscription | Buy Online Access | Log In

Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week

The world's finest history magazine 3 for £5