OK, so my new project is The Great Paraguayan War. So, why have I chosen to model and wargame this conflict? Well, back in the early 90s, Wargames Illustrated published a series of articles covering the conflict and the armies. It was written by John Sharples, I really enjoyed reading it and it made me think “Ooh, that looks interesting”, so why is that?
Well, firstly, the armies have a bit of colour to them! Distilled down to an over-simplification, it pits red-clad Paraguayan troops against predominantly blue-clothed Allied armies! It’s not really that simple, and in fact there is a big variation in the appearance of the combatants, even within individual national armies. That should make it easier for me to claim that my interpretation of uniforms and dress regulations is not entirely inaccurate and founded on some element of truth!
Secondly, the two sides in the conflict are quite different as far as wargaming is concerned, although this is a generalisation based on my limited research to date! The Paraguayans started the war off with an excellent cavalry arm and determined infantry, although the latter were armed predominantly with short-range smooth-bore muskets. The Allied troops opposing them were not generally as well motivated but tended to be armed with longer-range muzzle-loading rifles. However, given that the war lasted five years, the nature of the opposing armies changed over that time.
Thirdly, the most important transport routes were rivers, so there are naval and amphibious aspects to add a bit of variety. Where else am I going to get the chance to use canoe-borne infantry to attempt to board and capture ironclads (yes, it did happen and not just once)?
And finally, there was a lot of variation in the nature of the fighting, from pitched battles to amphibious operations, sieges, trench warfare and large-scale raids. So, plenty of scope for wargames! The warfare and armies share similarities with those of other contemporary conflicts, like the American Civil War and Seven Weeks’ War, whilst still managing to maintain their own characteristics! I can’t wait to get started!
As far as I know, the pictures shown here are all in the public domain!