Tacuarí, Battle of
Tacuarí, Battle of
Battle of Tacuarí (9 March 1811), a major engagement in the Paraguayan struggle for independence. The January 1811 defeat of a porteño invasion force near the town of Paraguarí brought a sense of great pride to the defending Paraguayan militiamen. Led by colonels Juan Manuel Gamarra and Manuel Antanacio Cavañas, these men were normally more accustomed to subsistence farming than to fighting professional soldiers. Once victorious, however, they were more willing to see themselves as masters of their own destiny, even to the point of questioning the instructions of their peninsular governor, Bernardo Velazco, as they pursued the porteños southward beyond the Río Tebicuary. Despite orders to the contrary from Velazco, they started to fraternize with their porteño opponents. General Manuel Belgrano, chief of the invasion force, sent gifts to Cavañas and Gamarra, as well as political missives outlining the goals of the patriots' cause, while his troops took up defensive positions along the shallow Río Tacuarí in the extreme south of Paraguay.
In the end, prodded by Velazco, Cavañas ordered a general assault against the porteño position on 9 March 1811, after which Belgrano immediately sued for peace. In turn, he received generous terms from Cavañas and was allowed to depart Paraguay with his army intact. Velazco arrived at the Tacuarí ten days later expecting to preside over Belgrano's surrender and was much abashed to learn of Colonel Cavañas's actions. The majority of Paraguayans, however, knew better. The militia's resistance to Belgrano was less an act of servility to Spanish authority than it was an affirmation of localism. Two months after the victory at Tacuarí, this sentiment was reenacted in a cuartelazo (barracks revolt) that brought national independence to Paraguay.
Harris Gaylord Warren, Paraguay: An Informal History (1949), pp. 145-147.
John Hoyt Williams, Rise and Fall of the Paraguayan Republic, 1800–1870 (1979), pp. 24-27.
Thomas L. Whigham