Wisner von Morgenstern, Franz (1800–1878)

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Wisner von Morgenstern, Franz (1800–1878)

Franz Wisner von Morgenstern (b. 1800; d. 1878), Hungarian military officer active in Paraguay. Coming to South America in 1845 after minor service in the Austrian army, Wisner was contacted by Paraguayan president Carlos Antonio López, who wished to train his rustic battalions in modern European military techniques. For a time, Wisner commanded the tiny state flotilla stationed on the Paraguay River. He later headed an expeditionary force that intervened in the Argentine province of Corrientes in 1849. During the 1850s, Wisner gained a trusted position within the Paraguayan hierarchy and played a key role in obtaining the services of British military engineers who supervised the modernizing of the national army, which later effectively resisted the Brazilians and Argentines for six years during the War of the Triple Alliance (1864–1870).

Wisner, meanwhile, wrote an official biography of the Paraguayan dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia. He also accepted a commission as chief military engineer on the state railway project, and later at the fortress of Humaitá. Captured at the 1868 battle of Lomas Valentinas (also called Pikysyry), Wisner returned to Paraguay after the war to prepare a major cartographical survey of the country; published in Vienna in 1873, it was easily the best complete map of Paraguay to appear up to that time. In his later years, Wisner, now the patriarch of a large Asunción family, was head of Paraguay's national railroad, and of the Immigration Office.

See alsoLópez, Carlos Antonio .


Harris Gaylord Warren, Paraguay and the Triple Alliance: The Postwar Decade, 1869–1878 (1978).

Carlos Zubizarreta, Cien vidas paraguayas, 2d ed. (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Amaral, Raúl. Los presidentes del Paraguay (1844–1954): crónica política. Asunción, Paraguay: Centro Paraguayo de Estudios Sociológicos, 1994.

Lewis, Paul H. Political Parties and Generations in Paraguay's Liberal Era, 1869–1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

                                     Thomas L. Whigham