Silvado, a Monitor of Brazil, and its Role in the Paraguayan War

was a monitor of the Imperial Brazilian Navy, serving during the reign of Pedro II, that played an important role in the Paraguayan War. Pedro II, the last reigning monarch of Brazil, modernized his navy by replacing its wooden sailing vessels with steamships that were propelled by paddle-wheels or screws. It would be necessary, also, to arm these modern fighting vessels with the latest weapons while the emergence of the ironclad raised the prospect of warships that were impervious to the blows of enemy artillery. Ironclads, which received their baptism of fire during the Crimean War, represented the pinnacle of naval technology in the middle of the nineteenth-century and were named after the thick plates of wrought iron that protected their hulls from explosive shells and solid shot. Rising tensions in South America persuaded the Brazilian government to equip the navy with protected fighting vessels, whether constructed at the naval arsenal at Rio de Janeiro or purchased from foreign shipyards, and to arm them with modern naval guns. Ironclads either installed their batteries in a traditional broadside arrangement, such as that seen on Gloire and HMS Warrior, or housed their guns within one or more turrets. Turreted ironclads were known as monitors and were named after USS Monitor, the first ironclad to have its guns installed in a revolving tower, which was able to operate on rivers and coastal waters due to its shallow draft. Silvado, too, drew a small amount of water and the flat underside of its hull made it well suited to riverine operations or to actions in littoral waters. The main thrust of the War of the Triple Alliance, as the Paraguayan War was also known, was along the inland waterways and these conditions favoured vessels that displaced a minimal amount of water. Silvado, while absent during the Passage of Humaitá, participated in the First Passage of Curupayty and various other naval actions along the rivers and streams that wound their way through the Republic of Paraguay.

Arman Sells Nemesis, Intended for Paraguayan Service, to Brazil.

The first installation of Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, providing a listing of naval vessels that were built between the years 1860 and 1905, sheds light on the circumstances in which Silvado entered Brazilian service. The first volume of this international history of naval vessels, which was edited by Robert Gardiner, states that the ironclad was built in France and completed in either 1865 or 1866. It is stated, on page 406, that Paraguay placed the original order for the monitor before it was bought by Brazil. It is possible, therefore, that the ship was built for Paraguay in 1865 and sold to Brazil in 1866. Francisco Solano López, who ruled Paraguay as a dictator, had sought to purchase ironclads from private shipyards in Europe and placed such an order with Lucien Arman. The French industrialist, who owned a shipyard in Bordeaux and had built CSS Stonewall for the Confederacy, constructed the armoured ram for Paraguay but did not receive full payment for the vessel. The War of the Triple Alliance made it difficult for Paraguay, which was under naval blockade, to pay for the military hardware that it had ordered before the war. Nemesis, as the ship was known while it awaited purchase by López, had to be sold to another buyer or Arman would suffer financial losses. Brazil, seeking to enlarge its navy and to deprive its adversary of fighting ships, was able to buy the vessel from Arman and and renamed it in honour of the late Américo Brasilio Silvado. Naming ships after military commanders or state dignitaries, whether living or dead, was a common practice in Brazil at the time. Artur Jaceguai, a Brazilian naval officer who shares his experiences of the Paraguayan War in Reminiscências da Guerra do Paraguai, explains that Silvado had been the commanding officer of Rio de Janeiro at the time in which it struck a torpedo near Curuzú and sank as a result. The torpedo, Jaceguai recalls, exploded near the stern of the ironclad and half the crew perished along with its commanding officer.

Armour, Armament and Power Plant of Silvado as well as other Technical Details.

Gardiner outlines the general characteristics of Silvado in the second volume of Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships and refers to the vessel, on pages 406 and 418, as either a coast defense battleship or an armoured turret ship. The monitor, which spent most of its wartime career on the system of rivers that drain into the Río de la Plata, was propelled by twin screws. A steam engine, that was capable of generating 947 indicated horsepower, drove the shafts which turned the screws. The length of the ship, which drew 10-foot and 5-inches of water, was 190-feet in length while the beam was 36-feet. Iron plates, that were between 4 1/2-inches and 3-inches in thickness, covered the twin turrets as well as the sides of the ship. The monitor, Gardiner claims, was armed with four Whitworth muzzle-loading rifles that possessed a bore of 5.8 inches and fired 70-pound projectiles. Rifling, causing the projectile to spin, increased the range and accuracy of artillery fire. A pair of these guns, designed by Joseph Whitworth, was installed in each of the turrets. The 70-pounder Whitworth gun, remarkable for its hexagonal bore, is mentioned in the first chapter of A Treatise On Ordinance and Armour by Alexander Lyman Holley. A single hoop of hammered or rolled steel, Holley explains of page 31, fastened the 70-pounder gun and was screwed together rather than welded. Larger guns, Holley explains, were fashioned from a single ingot of low-carbon steel. The steel, which was melted in crucibles and annealed for three or four weeks, was manufactured from Swedish iron that was combined with minute quantities of carbonaceous material. Whitworth, who is reported as saying that his guns were so ductile that they would stretch  rather than crack under the pressure of explosive gasses in the chamber, used the built-up method to fabricate the heavier guns that he had designed. George Thompson, on page 196 of The War in Paraguay, states that Whitworth guns fired bolts and shells.

Silvado, Joining the Brazilian Reserve Squadron in Montevideo, Draws the Attention of American Diplomats. 

On the 15th of December, 1866, a letter was sent to William H. Seward that informed him of a reserve squadron of the Brazilian Navy forming in Montevideo. William H. Seward was, at that time, the Secretary of State of the United States of America. The letter appears in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Part 2 and states that Silvado joined the reserve squadron that included two frigates, a man-of-war as well as another ironclad. It is speculated, on page 112 of the document, that the purpose of this reserve squadron was to protect and control Venancio Flores. Flores, who ascended to the presidency of Uruguay with Argentinian and Brazilian assistance, was one of the three heads of state of the Triple Alliance and ruled his country as a dictator.  A November decree, reported in the diplomatic papers, had suspended the constitutional elections of the legislative branch of government for a year and this would have been a source of political unrest within the country. The presence of the Brazilian reserve squadron, therefore, could be interpreted as a type of gunboat diplomacy. Political instability in Uruguay would detract from the Allied war effort and it may have been necessary to remind Flores, as he conducted the business of government, of the coercive power of the Brazilian state. It is suggested, also, in the letter that the reserve squadron may have been awaiting an opportunity to occupy the Argentinian island of Martin Garcia. This island, the document claims, would have allowed the Brazilian Navy to control the Río de la Plata and the River Uruguay. Control of the Río de la Plata, formed by the confluence of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, enabled the Triple Alliance to prevent maritime trade between Paraguay and the rest of the world. Silvado, after its brief stay in Montevideo, entered the Paraguay River via the Paraná River. Most of the fighting, after the March of 1866, occurred on the Paraguay River and its tributaries.

Manoel Antônio Vital de Oliveira, Commanding Officer of Silvado, Dies Near Curupayty.

Thompson, on Chapter XIV of The War in Paraguay, claims that the commanding officer of Silvado was killed in the February of 1867 while the warship was in range of the batteries at Curupayty. The officer in question is not named, however, and neither is the specific date of his demise. Herbal, the author explains on page 185, also lost its commanding officer during this engagement while the sides of Cabral were pierced by a Paraguayan shot. Francisco Felix Pereira da Costa, author of Historia Da Guerra Do Brasil Contra as Republicas Do Uruguay E Paraguay, claims that Manoel Antônio Vital de Oliveira died while he was in command of Silvado during an engagement at Curupayty. Oliveira, da Costa explains on page 191, was killed by a piece of shrapnel as he stood on the deck of his ship. The shrapnel, da Costa continues, had ricocheted off a turret. Thompson, a British engineer who placed himself in the service of López and oversaw the construction of Paraguayan fortifications, explains that there was a rotating vanguard of ironclads that were within range of Curupayty but hidden from view of the batteries by a projecting spit of land that was shrouded by trees. The vanguard, Thompson continues, was changed every fortnight and the ironclads became visible to the gunners during these procedures. Papers Relating to the Diplomatic Relations of the United States, Part 2 names Bahia, Mariz y Barros, Tamandaré and Columbus as the ships in the vanguard while Silvado is identified as the flagship of a separate detachment of ironclads that included Herval, Barroso as well as Cabral. The diplomatic papers state that the army and the navy bombarded Curupayty on the 2nd of February, 1867, in a combined operation. This date is confirmed by da Costa on page 291 of his memoir and, on page 190, it is explained that a mass was said for Oliveira. Da Costa states that the slain commander was taken aboard Onze de Junho, a hospital ship, and buried at the Cemitério da Cruz. 

The First Passage of Curupayty, Which Exposes Humaitá, Occurs on Assumption Day.

On the 15th of August, 1867, Silvado was one of ten ironclads to pass the batteries of Curupayty in an operation that began in the early morning. Thompson, on page 213 of The War in Paraguay, states that the monitor had to tow Tamandaré to safety after the ironclad suffered from mechanical failure and lay helpless before the Paraguayan batteries. A shot, entering an open porthole, damaged the engine and the French-built monitor was compelled to rescue the stricken vessel. Thompson explains that Herbal, which was also known as Herval, assisted Silvado in towing Tamandaré away from the hostile batteries while a wooden dispatch boat followed the iron-plated vessels from behind. Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Part 2 reports that Silvado was present for the engagement and names Brazil, Mariz e Barros, Tamandaré, ColomboCabral, BarrosoHerval as well as Lima Barros as among the ironclads that participated in the operation. The papers state, on pages 238 and 239, that the protected warships received the fire of thirty-three cannons during the passage and that they moved upstream to bombard the London battery. London, or Londres as it was known to the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking participants of the conflict, was the first of seven batteries that greeted any vessel that proceeded towards Humaitá from the lower river. Richard Burton, on page 316 of Letters from the Battle-fields of Paraguay, states that London mounted sixteen guns and possessed a bomb-proof roof. George Frederick Masterman, on page 121 of Seven Eventful Years in Paraguay, claims that these guns were housed within a brick casemate. Jeronymo Francisco Gonçalves, da Costa relates on page 380 of Historia Da Guerra Do Brasil Contra as Republicas Do Uruguay E Paraguay, commanded Silvado during the action of the 15th and was included in the letter of thanks that was given to the commanding officers of the squadron by Vice-Admiral Inhauma.

George Thompson Describes a Raid on the 1st of March, 1868, in which Ironclads are Attacked by Canoes.

Thompson, on pages 253 and 254 of The War in Paraguay, describes a canoe attack on a squadron of seven ironclads that lay between Curupayty and Humaitá. A different squadron of six ironclads had moved upriver of Humaitá on the 19th of February, 1868, in an attempt to blockade the fortress while the protected vessels that remained continued to perform operations on the stretch of river between the two fortresses. The attack is reported to have occurred on the 1st of March, 1868, while Herbal and Cabral are identified as the targets of the raiding party. Silvado, while not mentioned in the source, was attached to the squadron that lay between Curupayty and Humaitá. The squadron in question had not passed the batteries of Humaitá on the 19th of February, after all, and Silvado was among the vessels that had forced the batteries of Curupayty in the August of the previous year. Twenty-four canoes, all of which were bound together in pairs by 20 yards of rope, are reported to have participated in the raid. It is claimed that each canoe contained twelve men, armed with grenades and rockets, who had undertaken special training in preparation for the event. Canoes, since the early stages of the war, had been used by the Paraguayans to ferry troops along the inland waterways and now they would be used in a form of asymmetric warfare against the modern vessels of the Imperial armada. The purpose of the canoe attacks, Thompson continues, was to capture an ironclad. If the Paraguayan Navy possessed an ironclad, the theory went, it would drive the Allied fleet from the river. Seizing such a prize, however, was no easy task.. The crews of the boarded vessels, retreating below the decks of their ships, battened the hatches when the raiders climbed onboard. Two unnamed ironclads fired murderous volleys of grapeshot at the Paraguayans, who are reported to have been commanded by Captain Xenes, as they stood on the decks of the besieged ships.

A Canoe Attack Occurs on the 2nd of March, 1868, According to Andrew James Kennedy.

Andrew James Kennedy mentions a similar canoe attack on an ironclad squadron in La Plata, Brazil and Paraguay that occurred near Curupayty. The book, published in 1869, narrates this course of events on pages 165 and 166. Kennedy, a Royal Navy officer who served on the South America squadron during the Paraguayan War, states that the Brazilian squadron possessed eight ships instead of the seven that Thompson mentions. Brasil, Colombo, Silvado, Mariz Barros, Herval, Lima Barros, Cabral and Piaby are identified as the eight vessels in the squadron. Admiral Inhauma, Kennedy claims, commanded this unit while Commodore Delphim controlled the squadron that had passed the batteries of Humaitá in the previous February. The assault is reported to have occurred on the 2nd of March, 1868, and it is claimed that forty-eight canoes were involved in the attack. López, in this version of events, sent twice the number of boats than the amount that Thompson describes. A similarity between the accounts of Kennedy and Thompson, however, is that the canoes were tied together in pairs. It is claimed that the assailants, who covered their canoes with the branches of trees in order to give them the appearance of floating islands, were separated into eight divisions. Cabral and Lima Barros, who were caught unprepared, are identified as the intended victims of the raiding party. Kennedy and Thompson, therefore, agree that Cabral was attacked by the canoes but contradict one another in regards to the identity of the second ship. Other ironclads in the squadron, having kept their boilers in steam, are reported to have come to the assistance of the boarded vessels and Silvado may have been among their number. Kennedy states that the Paraguayans suffered 200 casualties, both killed and wounded, while thirteen of the invaders were taken prisoner. Brazilian casualties, in comparison, are reported to have numbered thirty-two killed and wounded.

Thomas Joseph Hutchinson, Quoting a Report by Admiral Inhauma, Describes a Canoe Attack on the 7th of March.

Thomas Joseph Hutchinson, on Chapter XXXIX of The Paraná; With Incidents from the Paraguayan War, claims that Silvado and Herval thwarted an attack on three ironclads by a fleet of forty-eight canoes. Herval, therefore, is reported to have come to the rescue of its comrades while Thompson claims that the ship was one of the targets of the canoe raid. LimaBarrios and Cabal are named as the three ships that were boarded by the canoeists. Hutchinson, therefore, concurs with Thompson and Kennedy that Cabral was invaded by the canoeists but disagrees with them on the number of ships that were attacked. Lima and Barrios, instead of being the two separate vessels, may have been the same Lima Barros that Kennedy claims was assaulted during the raid. It is also possible, however, that Lima Barros and Mariz Barros were the ships that Hutchinson was referring to. The canoes, the author explains, were tied together in pairs and this is the same practice that Thompson and Kennedy describe. Each boat, in contrast to the complement of twelve that Thompson describes, contained twenty-five men. This would mean, if Hutchinson was accurate in his reporting, that 1,200 canoeists participated in the raid. The crews of the Brazilian ships, which the author describes as being of the monitor type, went below decks and bolted the hatches while Silvado and Herval came to the assistance of their besieged compatriots. Hutchinson states that grapeshot, which Thompson claims was used in combination with canister shot, was fired at the attackers who were gathered on the decks of the ships. Hutchinson derives his information from the Baron of Inhauma, whose report serves as a primary source, and repeats the claim that the invaders refused to surrender after the attack had failed. The date of the report is given as the 7th of March, 1868, but it is probable that the document refers to the earlier attack that Thompson and Kennedy describe.

Alberto Amerlan, Corroborating Certain Details that are Found in other Sources, States that the Canoe Assault Occurred on the 1st and 2nd of March.

Alberto Amerlan, writing on pages 109 to 112 of Nights on the Rio Paraguay, describes how Silvado thwarted a raid upon Cabral and Lima Barros by the bogabantes. The bogabantes, handpicked by López, were an elite unit of 300 fighting men that were tasked with capturing an ironclad. Captain Cespedes, an officer of the Paraguayan Navy, was placed in command of these specialist troops and tasked with training them for the coming raid. Amerlan, whose account of the war was translated by Henry Ferdinand Suksdorf, states that Cabral and Lima Barros were anchored near Humaitá at the time of the attack. The raid occurred between the 1st and 2nd of March, 1868, during the hours of darkness. Picket boats, situated a hundred feet upstream of the ironclads, were on the lookout for any lurking threats on the water or along the riverbank. Visibility would have been low, however, on that black and starless night. Jose da Silva, on sentry duty in one of the guard boats, noticed a large number of camelotes drifting towards the ironclads at two 'o clock in the morning. Camelotes, which are described as floating islands, are natural rafts that are formed by vegetation that has become entangled with driftwood and heaped with earth. It became apparent, upon closer inspection, that the camelotes were a disguise concocted by the Paraguayans. Twenty-four canoes, shrouded by darkness and disguised by tree branches, were approaching the squadron and were bound together in pairs. The ropes, measuring sixty feet in length, enabled the bogabantes to attach their canoes to the bows of the ironclads and climb onboard. Grenades and rockets were thrown into the smokestacks of the ships while the crews, having barred themselves inside the vessels, fired at the boarding parties on the decks. Captain-Lieutenant Jeronima Golcalvez, commander of Silvado, steered his monitor between the besieged ironclads and swept the attackers from their decks with grapeshot.

Were Thompson, Kennedy, Hutchinson and Amerlan Providing Different Accounts of the Same Canoe Attack on the Brazilian Ironclads?

The canoe raid of the 1st and 2nd of March, 1868, is well-documented but the source materials raise as many questions as they provide answers. There is disagreement, for example, on the number of canoes that participated in the attack and how many ironclads were assaulted while the names of the ships that the Paraguayans attempted to seize remains uncertain. Thompson and Amerlan, who disagree over the name of the commanding officer, claim that there were twenty-four canoes while Kennedy and Hutchinson state that there were forty-eight. Hutchinson claims that three ironclads were boarded during the assault while Thompson, Kennedy and Amerlan maintain that there was two. Thompson, Kennedy, Hutchinson and Amerlan all agree that Cabral was targeted by the canoeists but disagree on the identity of the other vessels. Thompson states that Herbal, which other sources refer to as Herval, was the second victim of the canoes while Amerlan and Kennedy agree that Lima Barros was the second  target. Hutchinson regards Lima Barros as being two ships, which he refers to as Lima and Barrios, and implies that only a fraction of the canoes managed to reach their intended targets. Fourteen canoes, for example, are said to have attacked Lima and Barrios while Cabral was assaulted by fourteen vessels. Hutchinson is claiming, therefore, that a total number of twenty-six canoes attacked the ironclads and this is a similar number to that reported by Thompson and Amerlan. Silvado is named as the rescuing ship in the accounts of Thompson, Hutchinson and Amerlan while Thompson provides no name. It is probable that the canoe attack of 7th, as reported by Admiral Inhauma and quoted by Hutchinson, was the same event that was described in the other sources. It may have been that Admiral Inhauma did not report the raid, occurring on the 1st and 2nd, until the 7th. In conclusion, then, the four sources all provide different accounts of the same event.

Three Ironclads, Forcing the Batteries of Humaitá, Fail to Notice that the Fortress is Being Evacuated. 

Three ironclads passed Humaitá on the 21st of July, 1868, at a time in which the fortress was in the process of being evacuated. Thompson, on page 274 of The War in Paraguay, explains that Silvado joined Cabral and Pianhy in forcing the batteries. The ironclads, Thompson continues, failed to detect the withdrawal of Paraguayan forces. Thompson explains, on pages 253 through to 255, that López had made a decision to leave the fortress as early as March. The failed attempt to capture an ironclad, during the actions of the 1st and 2nd of March, meant that the Paraguayan Navy could not lift the blockade of the rivers. Thompson explains that a pair of ironclads forced the batteries of Timbó on the 22nd of March, 1868, and sank a Paraguayan supply vessel. Amerlan, on page 113 of Nights on the Rio Paraguay, explains that Timbó was a vital supply base for Humaitá. Closing the river between Humaitá and Timbó, therefore, severed the line of communication between the two forts. By the middle of July, Thompson explains on page 273 and 274 of his memoir, supplies within the fortress became so low that a decision was made to abandon it. The evacuation of Humaitá, Thompson continues, was achieved by means of canoes that ferried the inhabitants of the fortress to an escape route that ran through the Chaco. These procedures lasted for several days and, Thompson contends, were completed by the 24th of July. Kennedy writes on page 164 of La Plata, Brazil, and Paraguay that the Paraguayan lines of communication moved further inland after the ironclads forced the Timbó batteries. General Rivas, Amerlan states on page 113 of his account of the war, was sent to the Gran Chaco with 4,000 Argentine soldiers to break the remaining line of communications on land. Silvado, Amerlan reports on the following page, moved upriver of Humaitá with Cabral and Pianhy on the day after the Paraguayans tried to capture Rio Grande at Tayí. 

The Island of Fortín, Fortified Against the Brazilian fleet, is Bombarded by Four Ironclads.

Masterman, on Chapter XVI of Seven Eventful Years in Paraguay, explains that López withdrew to the Tebicuary River on the 21st of March and set up camp at the village of San Fernando. Thompson, on Chapter XX of The War in Paraguay, describes how a series of batteries were installed at the mouth of the Tebicuary River. The Island of Fortín, situated at the confluence of the Tebicuary River and the Paraguay River, was chosen as the site of this new defensive position. Burton, who writes about the Tebicuary River in Letter XXI of Letters from the Battle-fields of Paraguay, describes the fortifications on the island after they had been abandoned. Da Costa, on page 610 of Historia Da Guerra Do Brasil Contra as Republicas Do Uruguay E Paraguay, mentions the that the defensive works at the mouth of the Tebicuary River were intended to hinder the progress of the Brazilian fleet. Thompson recalls, on pages 259 through to 261 of his memoir, that López ordered him to move the batteries at Monte Lindo to the Island of Fortín. The construction of defensive works on the island was hidden by fox tail, a type of grass, that was six feet tall and flowering. Gun platforms, constructed from timber that was sourced from nearby forests, were raised three feet in anticipation of the rivers flooding. A telegraph cable, allowing electronic communication with San Fernando, was installed on the island. Seven 8-inch and two 32-pounder guns were installed at the mouth of the Tebicuary River, another battery of two eight-inch and three 32-pounder pieces were deployed on the banks of the Paraguay River while a third battery of two 32-pounder rifled howitzers was established near a potential landing place on the Tebicuary River. Silvado may have been among four ironclads, which Thompson does not name, that bombarded and reconnoitered the Paraguayan positions after the batteries were established. It is certain, however, that Silvado was one of three monitors to force the batteries on the 24th of July. 

The Batteries on the Island of Fortín, Commanded by George Thompson, are Forced by Three Monitors.

On the 24th of July, 1868, three Brazilian monitors steamed past the Paraguayan batteries that were installed on the Island of Fortín. Bahia, Thompson reports on page 263 and 264 of The War in Paraguay, was first in the procession and had another monitor tethered to its side while Silvado was the third vessel to proceed past the batteries. Amerlan, on page 121 of Nights on the Rio Paraguay, names Rio Grande as the monitor that was bound to the side of  the larger vessel. All three ships, which Thompson claims had appeared on the evening of the 23rd, received blows at pointblank range from the Paraguayan guns. Amerlan, echoing Thompson, notes that the solid projectiles which were fired from the island batteries broke into a multitude of fragments against the iron plates that protected the ships. Thompson claims that López, who was born on the 24th of July, was accurate in his prediction that the ironclads would force the batteries on his birthday. A member of the Paraguayan Legion, who Amerlan identifies as Lieutenant Luciano Recalde, is reported to have waved a handkerchief from the turret of Bahia and shouted a shouted a message at the garrison. Thompson, aware of a growing number of political prisoners being held at San Fernando, claims that he telegraphed López as soon as the ironclads passed the batteries. López, whose paranoia seemed to increase with each military setback, asked Thompson if the defectors had been allowed to pass the batteries in silence and the British-born engineer replied in the negative. Thompson, who López criticized for allowing the ironclads to pass the batteries, was now a target of suspicion due to the presence of Paraguayan dissidents in the Brazilian squadron. Damage done to the monitors, however, and the verbal abuse directed at the defectors proved sufficient to appease the dictator. One of the ironclads, Thompson continues, required repairs at Monte Lindo while the remaining pair attacked Paraguayan supply vessels in the Riacho Recodo.

Criollo, a Ten-ton Gun that Fires 150-pound Projectiles, Strikes Silvado as it Passes the Angostura Batteries.

Thompson, on Chapter XXII of The War in Paraguay, states that the batteries on the Island of Fortín were sent to Angostura after the fall of Humaitá. It is explained that Angostura resides at the confluence of the Pikysyry River, which drains Lake Ypoá, and the Paraguay River. López, having ordered Thompson to survey the topographic and hydrographic features of the region during the middle of August, decided to withdraw from the Tebicuary River to the Pikysyry River. It was thought that the Pikysyry River, which ran through marshes and woods, would be an easier position to defend than the Tebicuary River. Angostura, which served as a river port, was protected by a series of batteries that were installed on a horseshoe bend in the river. The Brazilian Navy, no longer restrained by the guns of Humaitá, threatened the Paraguayan lines of communication that ran along the waterways. Criollo, Thompson explains, was transported from Asunción to Angostura and placed in the left-hand battery. Paraguay, which lacked guns of large caliber, had manufactured its own heavy artillery pieces at Asunción. Whitworth guns, firing 150-pound projectiles, are known to have been used by the Brazilian Navy and spent shells were collected by the Paraguayans and sent to Asunción. Criollo, Thompson explains on page 193 of his book, was made to fire appropriated 150-pound Whitworth projectiles. The brass gun, Thompson continues, had been cast from requisitioned metals at Asunción. It is explained that appropriated church bells, copper boilers and saucepans were smelted down to create the 10-ton weapon. Thompson, again on Chapter XXII of his memoir, claims that Criollo struck Silvado with a steel bolt as it passed the Angostura batteries. The blow, which landed at the waterline, is reported to have inflicted significant damage on the ship. Silvado, half an hour after it first passed Angostura, is reported to have received a second blow from Criollo as it returned from its position further up the river. 

The Manduvirá River Expeditions and the Arrival of Silvado in Asunción.

An article in the Morning Advertiser that was published on the 30th of August, 1869, states that Silvado arrived in Asunción after participating in an expedition along the Manduvirá River. A flotilla of canoes and small boats, according to the article, had been captured during the expedition and the ironclad towed them to the city. A consignment of prisoners, the article claims, accompanied the captured vessels on the return leg of the journey. On the 4th of September, 1869, The Broad Arrow repeats the claims that are made in the Morning Advertiser almost word-for-word. It is unclear whether the prisoners, the number of which is not disclosed, had been captured on the land or on the water. These events occurred at a late stage in the war when López, who had withdrawn to the Chaco, was fighting a guerrilla war against the forces of the Triumvirate. Masterman, on page 295 of Seven Eventful Years in Paraguay, states that Manduvirá River expeditions involved two ironclads with a light draft but does not name either of the fighting ships. The Manduvira River, Masterman explains, is a tributary of the Paraguay River that joins the main stem at Emboscada and drains the valleys that are situated to the north of the Cordillera. Thompson, on page 316, mentions that López had five small steamers in the Manduvirá River but does not mention the presence of ironclads in that body of water. Masterman, in contrast, claims that López possessed three small steamers on the Manduvirá River. The Cordillera, according to Thompson, was a low range of hills that was situated around forty of fifty miles from Asunción. López, Thompson continues, possessed twelve small field pieces but lacked ammunition and muskets while the remainder of his army consisted of 6,000 wounded men. The lack of heavy batteries on the Paraguayan side, that had opposed the Brazilian armada along the Paraguay River and its tributaries, meant that the ironclads could operate along the rivers with impunity.


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