Wars of the River Plate

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the nations of the eastern part of South America fought over Uruguay and for control of trade through the Rio de la Plata (River Plate).

Map of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Philadelphia: S. Augustus Mitchell, 1867. Historic Maps Collection, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library
The War over Uruguay

Beginning early in the nineteenth century, Argentina and Brazil competed to control the Eastern Republic of Uruguay. The struggle was motivated by rivalry over trade in the River Plate estuary, the Brazilian emperor’s concern over Uruguayan republicanism, and Argentina’s ambitions to absorb Uruguay. Political infighting in Uruguay during its first years as an independent country often led Argentina and Brazil to intervene militarily.

Uruguay, Medal for the Battle of Sarandi, 1825 (Uy2)
Brazil, Medal for the Uruguayan Campaign, 1851–1852 (Br9)
Brazil, Medal for the Naval Campaign of the Plate River, 1851–1852 (Br10) (Br10)
Brazil, Medal for the Uruguayan and Buenos Aires Campaign, 1852 (Br12)
Uruguay, Medal for the Battle of Monte Caseros (Uy4)
The Triple Alliance War

The Triple Alliance War pitted the landlocked nation of Paraguay against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay in Latin America’s bloodiest regional war. It started in 1864, when Brazilian forces invaded Uruguay in support of that country’s Colorado Party. Uruguay’s Blanco Party called on Paraguay for assistance. Paraguay declared war on Brazil in December and on Argentina three months later. The war did not end until 1870 with the death of Paraguay’s dictator, Francisco Solano López. Paraguay lost most of its able-bodied men as well as much territory to Argentina and Brazil. In addition to medals made during the fighting, the three allied armies agreed to an exchange of medals among their troops two decades later.

Brazil, Medal for Matto Grosso, 1867 (Br20)
Argentina, Medal of Buenos Aires to Its National Guard, 1869 (Ar32)
Argentina, Medal for the Victories in Corrientes, 1865 (Ar27)
Paraguay, Medal for the Campaign of Amambay, 1870 (Py6)
Brazil, Naval Medal for the Combat of Riachuelo, 1865 (Br15)
Paraguay, Commemorative Medal for General Bernardino Caballero, c. 1870 (Py7)
Brazil, Army Medal for the Combat of Riachuelo, 1865 (Br16)
Brazil, General Medal for the Paraguay Campaign, 1870 (Br22)
Paraguay, Medal for the Combat of Riachuelo, 1865 (Py1)
Argentina, Medal for the Termination of Operations against the Government of Paraguay, 1871 (Ar29)
Uruguay, Medal for the Battle of Yatay, 1865 (Uy6)
Argentina, Medal for the Allied Armies, 1889 (Ar30)
Brazil, Medal for the Siege of Uruguayana, 1865 (Br17)
Uruguay, Medal for the Allied Armies, 1891 (Uy7)
Argentina, Shield for the Battle of Curupaity, 1866 (Ar28)
Paraguay, Cross of Corrales, 1866 (Py2)
Paraguay, Medal of Tataiyba, 1867 (Py3)
Paraguay, Medal of Tuiuti, 1867 (Py4)
Uruguay, Medal for the Defense of Paysandú (Uy5a)
Brazil, Medal to the Bravest, 1867 (Br18)
Uruguay, Medal for the Defense of Paysandú (Uy5b)
Brazil, Commemorative Medal for the Battle of Umaitá, 1868 (RLR)
Uruguay, Medal for the Defense of Paysandú (Uy5c)
Paraguay, Cross of Acaiusa, 1868 (Py5)
Brazil, Medal for the Uruguay Campaign, 1865 (Br14)
Brazil, Medal for Military Valor, 1868 (Br21)
Brazil, Medal for Fort Coimbra, 1865 (Br13)
Argentina, Medal of Corrientes to Its National Guard, 1869 (Ar31)