The Battle of Piribebuy was one of the last actions of the War of the Triple Alliance. This was a war Paraguay had been fighting against and alliance of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay since 1865.

By 1869 Asuncion had been lost and the Paraguayan forces under President Mariscal Lopez were making a fighting withdrawal across the country.

As the seat of presidential power shifted so did the capital of the country. This is how Piribebuy came to be the capital of Paraguay for several months during 1869.

All the while the Paraguayans were being pursued by the Brazilians who were doing the bulk of the fighting for the alliance.

Each time the Brazilians thought they had cornered Mariscal Lopez he slipped away with an ever diminishing army to fight another day. The Brazilians were all the time becoming more and more frustrated by their failure to bring the war to a conclusion.

So it was that through July and August 1869 whilst Mariscal Lopez and his entourage set down to the business of running what remained of the country from Piribebuy to Brazilian forces drew closer and closer.

Finally on the 10th August the Brazilian army arrived in the vicinity of Piribebuy. From their they settled down to the preparations for taking the town.

At some point after the arrival nearby of the Brazilians Mariscal Lopez and the bulk of his army slipped out of Piribebuy and further into the interior. Behind he left Lt Col Pedro Pablo Cabellero to defend the town with the local civilians.

The Paraguayans were completely out numbered and out gunned by the Brazilian forces in front of them. They numbered just 1600 and were made up of the old, the women and even the children of Piribebuy. Facing them the Conde d’Eu headed a battle hardened force of 20,000 men.

In terms of artillery the Paraguayans were also lacking. They held just 12 cannon against the 47 of the Brazilians.

Over the next two days requests to surrender were twice sent to the Paraguayans. Twice these were rejected by defenders determined to not give in without a fight.

And so a battle became unavoidable.

It began at 4am on the 12th when the Brazilians opened up on the town with an artillery bombardment.This continued for four hours before the infantry advanced upon the town.

The Paraguayans had withstood the bombardment and put up a fierce resistance. It took five hours to finally over come the last of the defenders.

In years to come Piribebuy would gain the title The Heroic City. This was down to the valor and ferocity the women of Piribebuy fought to defend their home town.

Another hero of the day was the school teacher Firmin Lopez. He lead a unit comprised of his pupils in the battle. Later the principal school in Piribebuy would be named Firmin Lopez in his honour.

The majority of the fighting took place in and around the central plaza where the town church stood. Until this day the church still bares a few scars caused by bullets fired on that day.

During the fighting in order to escape danger many of the towns folk took refuge in the local hospital. They were still hiding there after the Brazilians had put down the last of the Paraguayan resistance.

However by them the Conde d’Eu was so furious the Mariscal Lopez had once again escaped that was in no mood to let anyone, not even innocent children walk away unpunished.

Accordingly the hospital doors were barricaded. The building set on fire and the six hundred who had sought sanctuary inside were killed.

The toll was equally heavy on those who had fought to defend the town. Of the original 1,600 730 Paraguayans were killed, 700 injured and a further 100 captured.

On the Brazilian side causalities were much lighter. Just 68 killed and 542 injured out of their force of 20,000.

Once the killing was over and it was clear that Mariscal Lopez was nowhere to be seen the Brazilian army soon moved on in an attempt to catch up with him before he could retreat still further beyond their grasp.

Behind they left Piribebuy devastated and ruinous.

The town though did eventually recover and is now a tourist center famed for the natural beauty of its quiet countryside.

Within Piribebuy and across Paraguay the battle is though not forgotten.

The town museum is dedicated in a large part to the events of the battle and contains a large number of artifacts.

Additionally during the battle the town archives were lost and so was the date of the founding of Piribebuy. The 12th August was accepted as a substitute date and the town parade was held every year on that date to recall both the battle and the founding of the town.

A few years ago copies of the documents were found in an Asuncion archive and these showed that the town had actually been founded in March. It was though decided to keep the parade to the 12th August. So Piribebuy is now possibly the only town in Paraguay whos annual parade does not mark its foundation.

This then is how Piribebuy earned the name Heroic a title that is know all across the land.