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Postby shipstamps » Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:56 am

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I have been told by official sources that this paddlewheeler is the Tacuari, before she was converted into a warship. She was, from the inscription on the stamp, "one of the units of the national merchant marine before the tragedy of 1865-70." The tragedy referred to was the war between Paraguay and Brazil, in which the Tacuari played a major part.
The description of the Tacuari as a merchant ship before the war is perhaps a little misleading, for in 1858—seven years before its outbreak—she was referred to as a Paraguayan warship when she was detained in Buenos Ayres as she was leaving the port carrying General Lopez, who had just acted as mediator in the civil war in the Argentine Republic.

On November 10, 1864, the Tacuari was again in the news. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay were not exactly the best of good neighbours and it needed little to start hostilities between them. The Tacuari supplied the match to the gunpowder. It appears that on that day the Brazilian steamer Marquez de Olinda called at Asuncion, Paraguay, on her way from Rio de Janeiro to the upper reaches of the Paraguay River, where she would be again alongside Brazilian soil. Senor Carneiro Campos, the new Governor of the Province of Matto Grosso, was a passenger aboard the Marquez de Olinda.
He seems to have made a courtesy call at Asuncion before proceeding on his voyage. Shortly after leaving Asuncion his ship was chased by the Tacuari, "captured ", and made to return, while the passengers were taken "prisoners". There seems to have been no justification for this act.
Three weeks later, the Paraguayan dictator, Francisco Solana Lopez, sent his troops to attack the Brazilian fort at Coimbra. The war that followed did not cease until March 1, 1870, and it was estimated that no fewer than 450,000 men, women and children—about half of the Paraguayan population—lost their lives.
The Tacuari was originally a passenger ship of about 600 tons, as were a number of the Paraguayan war vessels, and these ships were converted into men-of-war by the simple expedient of arming them with field guns. These vessels attacked the more heavily armed Brazilian warships with great courage, but stood no chance against the trained naval crews and were annihilated.
Sea Breezes November 1949
Paraguay SG591
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