Warships at the Battle of Riachuelo

In yet another apparent example of synchronicity*, a copy of William Eugene Warner’s WARSHIPS AT THE BATTLE OF RIACHUELO arrived in the post today.

The book was written in 2008 (ISBN 9781456314682) and printed to order by Amazon UK. The blurb on the back cover of the book states that:

The Battle of Riachuelo, which took place in June 1865, is almost completely forgotten by naval historians, who usually see naval history as a developmental path and look at this period in light of the introduction of the ironclad at Hampton Roads (1862) and Lissa (1866). However, these two battles, though important in the history of naval development, are mostly uninteresting and consist of cannon balls bouncing off the armored hulls of ships and large lumbering ironclads blundering into one another. The Battle of Riachuelo is the largest non-armored, steam power battle in naval history and pitted the professional modern Brazilian Navy against the improvised Paraguay squadron. Riachuleo consists of many complex and improvised tactics and maneuvers; some have become controversial among the naval historians that analyze the battle.’

An interesting – if not slightly contentious – description of the book’s topic!

The book describes each of the ships used by both Paraguay and Brazil at the Battle of Riachuelo in some detail. At least one plan and side view of each ship is included as well as any relevant illustrations or photographs. The book also:

  • Explains the background to the war
  • Gives a brief history of the Paraguayan and Brazilian Navies up until battle in June 1865
  • Describes the armament available to the combatants
  • Contains a narrative and maps of the battle
  • Contains a short list of suitable wargame rules that could be used to re-fight the battle

Although it was not particularly cheap, this volume fills a glaring gap in my collection of nineteenth century naval history books.

* Yesterday I made the SEEMS version of the Portable Naval Wargame (1860-70) rules available via my blog, forgetting that I had so recently ordered this book.

6 Comments on “Warships at the Battle of Riachuelo”

  1. So you should have the ships made, and the game played, by when … ? 😉

  2. Very interesting! I'm currently starting a Battlefleet 1900 campaign, reading Lawrence Sondhaus' book on Naval Warfare 1815 – 1914, it will be interesting to see if this is covered!

  3. Kaptain Kobold,

    The thought had crossed my mind …

    All the best,


  4. Colonel Scipio,

    I suspect that if the battle is covered, in will not be in great detail.

    All the best,


  5. Chris,

    Thanks for the link. I am sure that I am not the only person who will follow it.

    All the best,


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