The War of Paraguay: Chapter XXII, The Minister of War. — The May 12th Cabinet’s Part in the Paraguayan War.

The Olinda Cabinet’s Minister of War, tireless, always at his post, consuming himself in it, fighting against the prejudices of party, military pretensions, and the general inertia that irritated him and increased his fatigue, keeping himself in perpetual excitement, is a figure of grand proportions. Just as before in 1860 he had, according to Nabuco, been entirely dominated by the fiscal spirit, now he was absorbed completely by the war.

The opposition holds it against him that he forgot past offenses in order to figure in the same ministry as Saraiva. Whenever he speaks one takes note of the mysterious intuition of a near end, the shadow of another life. The emperor, now quite practiced in the treatment of ministers, appreciates Ferraz’s qualities so much that he keeps him at his side, as will be seen later on, having him pass from one ministry to another.

Ferraz’s error, if there was error in him, was not having thought of Caxias, or not having withdrawn, as he later did, if it was Caxias that did not enjoy his company. But would Caxias, who after Curupayty (1)  became indispensable, and acquired the status in the campaign that he deserved, would he have had the same authority at Paso la Patria and Curuzú if he had found himself at the orders of Mitre like Osório, Porto-Alegre, and Polidoro (2)? What’s certain is that whenever Mitre was in Paraguay, or, as it occurred at the time we refer to, in Corrientes, the May 1st Treaty would withdraw that highest title from Caxias, the only man who could grant it the full extent of its merit, leaving him without freedom of action and without responsibility. As well, until Curupayty the operations of war did not give cause for discontent or division.

The military action of the Cabinet of 12 May can be summarized in this way: it annihilated the Paraguayan Army in Rio Grande; it made the army in Corrientes cross back over the Paraná; it brought the war to enemy territory and in so doing destroyed the army of Paso la Patria. If the honor of Riachuelo and even of Yatay can and must still be attributed to the Furtado Cabinet, the glory of Uruguaiana and Paso la Patria, and even the 2nd and 24th of May, must be accorded to the Olinda Cabinet. At the time of its resignation, our military is left dressed in glory, the alliance has had nothing but victories, and with better luck, the campaign could be practically decided in that same year of 1866. It cannot be made responsible for the discord that arose between the generals of the alliance, which resulted in the profound disaster of Curupayty. When this occurred on September 22nd, the Olinda Cabinet was no longer in power.

What the cabinet did was unite the elements that, with different direction, could have broken López’s lines in that same month and cut off the retreat of his army, giving the Paraguayan dictator’s military power the coup de grâce that he came to fear after Curuzú. Its policies concerning the war could be nothing other than leaving to the generals the responsibility of operations.

Translator’s Notes

1. The battle of Curupayty was a major military defeat for the allies, costing heavy casualties and halting the steady progress they had been making for months afterward.
2. Polidoro da Fonseca Quintanilha Jordão, Viscount of Santa Teresa, general in the Brazilian army during the Paraguayan War.

The War of Paraguay: Chapter XXI, Military Measures

Absent the emperor, the ministry endeavored to begin recruiting volunteers all over the country. The foundation had to be the National Guard, and the government appealed to this organization. For the war in the south, Furtado had raised from the different corps 14,796 national guards (decree of 21 January 1865) and for Mato Grosso 9,000 from the corps of Minas and São Paulo. But it was necessary to find those men and organize battalions. The ministry resolved to draw on all the means of attracting the National Guard to service. Nabuco drafted every decree from the Council of ministers given with such goal, namely: making the volunteer corps equal to those of the National Guard (4 August 1865); conceding to the national guards the same favors as the volunteers received (30 August); exempting from recruitment and active service any national guard that could be replaced (12 September); extending the enlistment of volunteers until the end of the war with Paraguay (4 August).

Except in Rio Grande do Sul, where there were counted 23,574 men on campaign (1863), and in Bahia, which sent a battalion and later 2,000 men in loose detachments, the National Guard showed itself generally resistant to the war. On paper it was a force of 440,000 men; in reality it was a nuisance. Nabuco tests the waters of the National Guard of the court, addressing the following communication to its commander in chief, which gave rise to a curious incident:

“Minister of Justice, — Rio de Janeiro 10 August 1865. — Most illustrious and excellent senhor. — Sending Y.E. the attached decree, number 3,505, dated 4 August, regarding the National Guard, I should recommend Y.E. to make the greatest efforts in its execution. The decree says: ‘The corps of the National Guard that, with its current organization, with its officers and soldiers, march voluntarily to war, will be on the same level as the volunteer corps and will enjoy all the advantages conceded to those.’ Y.E. will make the National Guard understand that its cooperation is critical for our army to save and avenge our invaded and defiled country; that the empire’s constitution and its very institution impose this duty on it; that no national guard can, without dishonoring the Brazilian name, cease to follow its emperor, who finds himself in Rio Grande do Sul amidst the dangers of war, making a great sacrifice to give a great example. In effect, it is essential to defeat Paraguay and defeat it soon, so that the victory is not, being late, as disastrous as a defeat; so that the victory is not, being late, attributed to the time and resources of the Empire, instead of the patriotism and spirit of the Brazilian nation. Y.E. will give the commanders of the corps under your orders information of said decree, and propose to the government the conducive measures to make the National Guard, for its own honor and glory, and that of the country, the army’s true and effective aid in time of war. — God protect Y.E. — José Tomás de Araújo. — Senhor commander in chief of the National Guard of the court.”Read More »

State of the Blog, 2019

As of a few days ago, this blog has been going for four years now (basically), and has racked up 222 posts! Wow! And now it’s over! Done! No more blog! Okay not really, but going forward the blog won’t be updating weekly. Except for the next several months.

TL;DR The War of Paraguay will go up weekly for the next few months, then the blog will update only irregularly for the rest of time.

For a more detailed explanation, let me just start from the beginning.

Past

I started this blog with very clear goals: create a “platform” that would allow people who had already read my work to know when I had a new publication, and that would pull in other people who had never heard of me and present them with a whole bunch of past publications. Each post would act as advertisement for my fiction writing, which I guess, if the blog was the platform, was the thing standing on the platform.

I also wanted to update at regular intervals, to get in the habit of producing content at a consistent rate. For the first year or so, I aimed for weekly updates, though I never explicitly said that’s what I was trying to do on the blog. I pulled from a lot of different blog post genres—some travel writing, some writing about writing, some book reviews—really doing anything that grabbed my interest. Pretty soon I realized how difficult it was to come up with something completely new every week. I’d originally envisioned the blog as being primarily focused on writing and reading—that is, posts about writing advice, and posts about books I was reading. Posts about books were easy enough, though I didn’t read enough to post weekly about them. Writing posts were much more difficult, because so much about writing has already been said. I didn’t want to retread well-worn advice—and even if I did, each post would essentially be its own little essay, requiring it’s own unique structure and planning.

Spring of 2016 I started posting my political analysis notes to the blog. The fact that these were in series made it easy to lay out several weeks of content ahead of time, and the fact that they were just repurposed notes that I polished up a bit made them very easy to produce. That was how I was ultimately able to achieve my goal of weekly updates—by figuring out series of blog posts, and working on them ahead of time. Since those political analysis notes, there’s been The Absolute at LargeThe Only Series that MattersPlay TimeThe War of Paraguay, and most recently Last Year Comic Chronicle. I sometimes felt that this was kind of cheap, turning notes or honors projects into blog content for the sake of having regular weekly updates. But, as I’ve come to care less and less about an indefinite weekly blog, my perspective has shifted.

Future

At this point, I see the blog not as a platform for my writing, but as a platform for any weird project I don’t know what else to do with, which can comfortably fit a serial format. The platform isn’t built of weekly updates, but of all the posts that I’ve already written. Less a platform, more a ziggurat of odd, incongruous scaffolding, reaching up ever higher. The only mainstays are the book reviews, and I guess Recommendation Dumps as well. I still post whenever I have a new publication, but at this point I don’t see the blog as a commitment that I have to keep up for the sake of my fiction writing, but rather a potential home for all kinds of different projects—writing, comicking, translating, etc.

And a big part of that is the fact that, going forward, I have no intention to try and maintain weekly updates. Obviously, in the past I’ve had hiatuses, but in those cases I always specifically stated when the end of the hiatus would be ahead of time (and even stuck to it??! What the hell?!). This is different. After The War of Paraguay is finished, the blog will go on an indefinite hiatus.  As with past hiatuses, I will still have little one off posts that go up irregularly. And the hiatus may last a month, or a year, who knows. I actually have a lot of ideas for series of blog posts, or projects that could fit the serial format—I just don’t want to commit to anything specific.

In the past year I’ve been trying to free myself from indefinite commitments, and I’ve been wary of starting any new projects without first determining a set end.  Last Year Comic Chronicle was limited to a year for a reason. So with the blog. I want as much flexibility as possible going forward, and having a chunk of my life intractably dedicated forever and ever to one thing is limiting, to say the least. In the end, I may just happen to want to write enough posts, and have enough time to write them, that there is actually no discernible difference in how frequently the blog updates from the outside. Even if that’s the case (highly unlikely, but still:), there would be a world of difference on my end, in clearing up mental space by not always having to figure out how to keep the blog going, and in not feeling like the posts I write are an obligation (I think you can actually see this mindset change in the second half of LYCC, but now I’m making it official.)

So, thank you followers who have come with me this far. I’m sure a lot of you only started following my site for one kind of post, be that comics or travel writing or writing writing, and even if you ignore all my other posts, I’m happy to have your support nonetheless, and I’m thrilled you’ve been able to get something out of my work.

Like I said, my War of Paraguay translation will be posted here weekly, probably wrapping up sometime around the end of 2019, and then the indefinite hiatus will begin. There will definitely be plenty more posts this site in the future, but beyond TWOP I make no promise of when, what, or how much.

Oh! And if you enjoyed Last Year Comic Chronicle, know that some time in the near future I will be putting out an ebook version of it conveniently collecting all the comics in one file, with some bonus black-and-white comics and other stuff thrown in! So, be on the lookout for that.

Alright, that’s all, xoxo -Francis

The War of Paraguay: Chapter XX, Uruguaiana

On 17 August the Battle of Yatay was fought. Receiving news that Duarte’s column, which operated on the right side of the Uruguay (3,220 Paraguayans against 8,500 allies, of which 1,450 were Brazilian) had been completely destroyed, Estigarribia tried to pull back by way of the Itaquy road, but with Canavarro’s division having closed the pass he did not dare to attack it. That very day (19 August) Flores, who was still in Correntino territory, made the first offer of capitulation to him, which, although honorable, was rejected. From the 25th on, with Flores’s and Pauneros’s troops, as well as Tamandaré’s fleet, having arrived, the siege begins to tighten in the presence of Porto-Alegre, who takes command of the Brazilian army.

On 2 September the allied generals renew their proposition offering Estigarribia free escape for him and his officers with all the honors of war and liberty to go wherever they want, and on the 5th Estigarribia responds in the manner of Leonidas at Thermopylae: “All the better; the smoke of the artillery will give us shade.” The motives for this second proposition were that the allies wanted to avoid destroying Uruguaiana by bombardment, not to mention the fear that Estigarribia could be aided by the Paraguayan army if the siege was prolonged. The forces at our disposal were still not enough for an assault on the enemy trenches. A little while later (10 September) Ferraz and General Mitre (with whom Tamandaré, having gone to Concórdia in search of more infantry, returned) arrive, as does the emperor the following day. The situation of the besieged was desperate: they could not expect aid from Paraguay; they lacked provisions, were beginning to suffer hunger, and were under the fire, from land and from ships, of 54 cannons.

The military forces brought together by the three nations, that allied army which the emperor of Brazil looked over, must have seemed even greater than it really was in the eyes of those 5,000 some men, wearied, poorly equipped, starved, besieged, and in an unfamiliar country, the final remains of the army of Itapúa and Candelaria. And even the compensation of making the ultimate sacrifice, the only thing to which they could aspire, depended on the generosity of the enemy, since the enemy could reduce the intensity of their attacks, and defeat them through starvation.Read More »

Review: Chernobyl

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Promotional image courtesy of HBO.

Lately, I’ve found myself very attracted to stories about massive mobilization to prevent some existential threat (mostly sci-fi stories about sci-fi threats.) Organizations, especially governments, doing what needs to be done, surviving by the skin of their teeth, saving the world from crisis through collective, concerted action. (Gee I fucking wonder why that would be so appealing to me anyway its hot out here.) So yeah, I liked Chernobyl a lot.

Chernobyl is an HBO miniseries created by Craig Mazin and starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, and Emma Watson, about the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the effort to contain the catastrophe. So it’s not really a story about stopping a catastrophe, but rather stopping a catastrophe from becoming a thousand times worse. Before watching this show, I had no idea how bad the Chernobyl incident was, much less how bad it threatened to become, but holy shit. Essentially, the show has built-in escalating stakes. First they have to just stop the fire, but once they’ve done that they’ve got to keep the meltdown from setting off a thermonuclear explosion, then they’ve got to keep it from reaching the groundwater that millions of Ukrainians drink from—there’s always another crisis around the corner, each problem causes its own problems, and so does each solution. An unending parade of “no, and” and “yes, but.”Read More »

Last Year Comic Chronicle 34: Afterword

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This is the last one! More info on what’s next for the blog below!cover-2

Want a more convenient way to read this comic? Want to monetarily support this comic and more things like it? Want to read some brand new, previously unpublished Francis Bass scribbles? Great! You can buy a downloadable, PDF version of L.Y.C.C. at Gumroad or Itch.io. In addition to all of L.Y.C.C., this book includes “Last Summer,” a shorter series of comics made over the summer following my graduation, as well as older proof-of-concept comics and a quick step-by-step description of my process for creating L.Y.C.C.

Transcript

This is the last Last Year Comic Chronicle comic. I really can’t outdo the thematic weight of L.Y.C.C. 32 and 33 here, so I won’t try. I have no big concluding revelation for you.
All I can say is, first, I think L.Y.C.C. has been successful. Everything important from this past year of my life, from college in general, has made it in here somehow. Wait.
Okay there, now its all in here.
And second, thank you for reading! This is the most transparently personal work I’ve ever published, and I’ve cherished all the support and enthusiasm you’ve shown me.
So let the last words of the Last Year Comic Chronicle be, yay!, thanks!, and The End.

Blog housekeeping: Whew! That was a lot, huh! I may end up releasing an ebook version of LYCC with some extra stuff, or this may be its final form. Regardless, what’s online now will always be available for free, and I will hopefully do more sequential art stuff sometime in the future. That could mean a year from now, or five, but it’s definitely something I’ve enjoyed, so yeah. This isn’t the last of my comicking! I may also post sort of doodley little one-off autobio comics and drawings on twitter from time to time? so maybe follow me there? And in case you missed it, I posted the proto-version of LYCC up there a couple months ago, so you can check that out if you want a little more autobio comic content right now.
As for the blog itself, it will be on hiatus for the next couple months, and will return August 2nd with the project we’ve all been waiting for: the second half of The War of Paraguay! A heads up, finishing TWOP is the last major series I have planned for this blog, after which weekly updates will stop and new posts will only show up sporadically for the indefinite future. So yeah, that’s what’s coming down the pipeline. Thanks again for reading, and stay tuned for some 19th century Rio de la Plata war and diplomacy content!

Last Year Comic Chronicle 32: AAAAA

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Want a more convenient way to read this comic? Want to monetarily support this comic and more things like it? Want to read some brand new, previously unpublished Francis Bass scribbles? Great! You can buy a downloadable, PDF version of L.Y.C.C. at Gumroad or Itch.io. In addition to all of L.Y.C.C., this book includes “Last Summer,” a shorter series of comics made over the summer following my graduation, as well as older proof-of-concept comics and a quick step-by-step description of my process for creating L.Y.C.C.

Transcript

LISA: Well, with that said. This is the last class.

LISA: I know it feels like, it feels like the first class was just days ago, doesn’t it?

LISA: It has been wonderful …

LISA: … to go. Go see New Play Festival shows, and I will see you all at the reading!

Last Year Comic Chronicle 31: Crush

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Want a more convenient way to read this comic? Want to monetarily support this comic and more things like it? Want to read some brand new, previously unpublished Francis Bass scribbles? Great! You can buy a downloadable, PDF version of L.Y.C.C. at Gumroad or Itch.io. In addition to all of L.Y.C.C., this book includes “Last Summer,” a shorter series of comics made over the summer following my graduation, as well as older proof-of-concept comics and a quick step-by-step description of my process for creating L.Y.C.C.

Transcript

TEXT: me:

TEXT: also me:
FRANCIS: Whoa! What is he doing? What is that? He’s not gonna hurt himself, is he?

Last Year Comic Chronicle 30: Closing Tabs

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Want a more convenient way to read this comic? Want to monetarily support this comic and more things like it? Want to read some brand new, previously unpublished Francis Bass scribbles? Great! You can buy a downloadable, PDF version of L.Y.C.C. at Gumroad or Itch.io. In addition to all of L.Y.C.C., this book includes “Last Summer,” a shorter series of comics made over the summer following my graduation, as well as older proof-of-concept comics and a quick step-by-step description of my process for creating L.Y.C.C.

Last Year Comic Chronicle 29: The Month to Come

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Want a more convenient way to read this comic? Want to monetarily support this comic and more things like it? Want to read some brand new, previously unpublished Francis Bass scribbles? Great! You can buy a downloadable, PDF version of L.Y.C.C. at Gumroad or Itch.io. In addition to all of L.Y.C.C., this book includes “Last Summer,” a shorter series of comics made over the summer following my graduation, as well as older proof-of-concept comics and a quick step-by-step description of my process for creating L.Y.C.C.

Transcript

FRANCIS: Alright, since I’m feeling stressed out by all the things I have to do, let me just draw out the month to come and see what I’m really looking at. Maybe its not so bad.

FRANCIS: There!

FRANCIS: Yeah, that makes me feel much better.

 

Last Year Comic Chronicle 28: Enjoy

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Want a more convenient way to read this comic? Want to monetarily support this comic and more things like it? Want to read some brand new, previously unpublished Francis Bass scribbles? Great! You can buy a downloadable, PDF version of L.Y.C.C. at Gumroad or Itch.io. In addition to all of L.Y.C.C., this book includes “Last Summer,” a shorter series of comics made over the summer following my graduation, as well as older proof-of-concept comics and a quick step-by-step description of my process for creating L.Y.C.C.

Transcript

GRACE: What are you doing? Are you drawing?

FRANCIS: Yes.
GRACE: I knew it!

GRACE: …
Do you enjoy drawing the comic?

FRANCIS: …

FRANCIS: Less and less!

Last Year Comic Chronicle 26: Zeno’s Paradox

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Want a more convenient way to read this comic? Want to monetarily support this comic and more things like it? Want to read some brand new, previously unpublished Francis Bass scribbles? Great! You can buy a downloadable, PDF version of L.Y.C.C. at Gumroad or Itch.io. In addition to all of L.Y.C.C., this book includes “Last Summer,” a shorter series of comics made over the summer following my graduation, as well as older proof-of-concept comics and a quick step-by-step description of my process for creating L.Y.C.C.

Transcript

TEXT: Dichotomy Paradox: If something is to move 1 meter, it must first reach 1/2 a meter, then 3/4, then 7/8, then 15/16, and so on.
That’s how I feel about the end of college.
After 17 years in school, I’m finally leaving. And I keep thinking, damn, it’s really almost over, and yet it’s still not over. I keep reaching new halfway points, and it feels like the end will never arrive, and I’ll go floating through this parade of ever more awkward fractions forever.

TEXT: But Zeno’s paradox is solved. And though I don’t understand the solution, I know how to walk 1 meter.
I don’t understand the solution to reaching graduation. I have trouble imagining myself as a 30-year-old, a 25-year-old, a 22-year-old. And yet, I know, with factual certainty, that that’s where I’m going.

TEXT: I made it to the start of junior year, to the start of senior year, the 2nd semester, and now to Spring Break, which I’m guessing will be followed by a rapid drumroll of weeks I can hardly get a handle on until graduation.

TEXT: Last year last year last year.

TEXT: I don’t even know how to end this comic see how bad at endings I am hahahahaha.
Heh.

Last Year Comic Chronicle 25: Prove

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Want a more convenient way to read this comic? Want to monetarily support this comic and more things like it? Want to read some brand new, previously unpublished Francis Bass scribbles? Great! You can buy a downloadable, PDF version of L.Y.C.C. at Gumroad or Itch.io. In addition to all of L.Y.C.C., this book includes “Last Summer,” a shorter series of comics made over the summer following my graduation, as well as older proof-of-concept comics and a quick step-by-step description of my process for creating L.Y.C.C.

Transcript

MOTION SENSOR: Hmm.

MOTION SENSOR: I see no movement.

MOTION SENSOR: No humans in sight. LIGHTS OUT!

FRANCIS: God damn it. Again?

MOTION SENSOR: Ah! Hello human! Would you care for some light?

FRANCIS: I am so tired of proving I still exist to a robot.

Last Year Comic Chronicle 22: All Lover the Pace

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Want a more convenient way to read this comic? Want to monetarily support this comic and more things like it? Want to read some brand new, previously unpublished Francis Bass scribbles? Great! You can buy a downloadable, PDF version of L.Y.C.C. at Gumroad or Itch.io. In addition to all of L.Y.C.C., this book includes “Last Summer,” a shorter series of comics made over the summer following my graduation, as well as older proof-of-concept comics and a quick step-by-step description of my process for creating L.Y.C.C.

Transcript

TEXT: I’m kind of all over the place right now.

Last Year Comic Chronicle 21: Workshop

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Want a more convenient way to read this comic? Want to monetarily support this comic and more things like it? Want to read some brand new, previously unpublished Francis Bass scribbles? Great! You can buy a downloadable, PDF version of L.Y.C.C. at Gumroad or Itch.io. In addition to all of L.Y.C.C., this book includes “Last Summer,” a shorter series of comics made over the summer following my graduation, as well as older proof-of-concept comics and a quick step-by-step description of my process for creating L.Y.C.C.

Transcript

TEXT: I HAD MY WORKSHOP THIS WEEK.

NIKKI: I love how theatrical this is!

ELIN: It could be just me, but I didn’t expect this to be so soft.

STUDENT: What if this turned counter clockwise?

TEXT: IT WENT PRETTY WELL.