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Battle of Acosta Ñu
Part of the Paraguayan War
Batalha de Campo Grande - 1871.jpg
Battle of Campo Grande, by Pedro Américo.
DateAugust 16, 1869
LocationEusebio Ayala, Paraguay
Result Allied victory
  •  Paraguay
  •  Empire of Brazil
  •  Argentina
Commanders and leaders
Paraguay Bernardino Caballero Empire of Brazil Count d'Eu
6,000 Paraguayans 18,000 Brazilians
2,000 Argentines
Casualties and losses
  • 3,300 killed
  • 1,100 wounded
  • 1,200 captured
  • 46 killed
  • 259 wounded

The Battle of Acosta Ñu or Campo Grande was a battle during the Paraguayan War, where, on August 16, 1869, 20,000 men of the Triple Alliance fought Paraguayan forces made up of 6,000 soldiers, most of them children.


In the middle of 1869, the Paraguayan Army was on the run and Asunción was under allied occupation. Francisco Solano López, the Paraguayan president, refused to surrender and fled, vowing to keep fighting to the end. The Brazilian commander Duque de Caxias suggested that the war was militarily over, but Dom Pedro II, the Brazilian Emperor, refused to stop the campaign until López surrendered. Caxias resigned due to illness and was replaced by the Emperor's son-in-law, Luís Filipe Gastão de Orléans, Count d'Eu. Under the new command, the Brazilian Army continued the campaign in Paraguay until finally killing López in 1870.

With most adult Paraguayan males already killed or captured, López started to use children and elderly in the Army to keep the fight against the Alliance.

The beginning

Count d'Eu and the main Allied troops advanced and took Caacupé on August 15, where López was supposedly hiding (he had actually fled to Caraguatay some days before). To block the Paraguayan Army from retreating to Caraguatay, d'Eu sent a Brazilian cavalry division to the passage at Campo Grande. The division was reinforced later by the 2nd Brazilian Army Corps, along with Argentinian troops commanded by colonel Luis María Campos.

The battle

The Allied troops met the rearguard of the Paraguayan forces at Acosta Ñu on August 16. The battle started at 08:30 in the morning, with the 6,000 Paraguayans commanded by General Bernardino Caballero facing 20,000 Brazilian and Argentinian troops. Acosta Ñu (which means "Acosta's Field", Acosta being a surname) is a vast plain of roughly 12 km2 (4.6 sq mi), ideal for the Brazilian cavalry. However the cavalry was at the rear guard of the forces, and the initial charge was led by the Allied infantry.

The battle would last eight hours, with the outnumbered Paraguayans providing a fierce resistance. After the first shots, the troops of General Caballero retreated to the other side of river Juquerí, where they had eight cannon and coverage. They set fire to the grass to hide their movements with smoke.

The Allied infantry made the first charge to cross the river but was repelled. Count d'Eu then ordered his artillery to open fire, which caused huge losses on the Paraguayan side. By then the Brazilian cavalry had finally reached the battlefield, and was able to cross the river and make a devastating charge against the Paraguayan position. General Caballero's troops defended using a classic infantry square formation with bayonets, but his troops still suffered huge losses.

The Allied infantry charged again with bayonets, taking the eight cannon and the Paraguayan position. At the end 2000 Paraguayans were dead and 1200 captured. The Allied forces suffered 46 dead and 259 wounded. General Caballero fled along with part of his troops.

The Battle in history

The battle of Acosta Ñu/Campo Grande was the last major battle in the war, which would finally end months later with the death of López. The battle is depicted in the famous painting Batalha de Campo Grande by Pedro Américo, and in the book Recordações de Guerra e de Viagem by famous Brazilian writer Visconde de Taunay, who took part in the battle.

Caballero would surrender later, and like many other Paraguayan officers in this situation was taken prisoner to Rio de Janeiro, where he lived for some years at a family house. He later went on to be President of Paraguay (1880–1886). Manoel Deodoro Da Fonseca led one of the Brazilian infantry battalions and was later the first President of Brazil (1889–1891).

In Paraguay, Children's Day is celebrated on August 16. It is a national holiday to commemorate the memory of the children who lost their lives in the Battle of Acosta Ñu/Campo Grande.

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