Soldiers of the East Bank of the Plata

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Two men in uniform are talking together, one on horseback, the other drinking maté with a straw
Paolistas, soldiers of the east bank of the Plata.
(Facing p. 107.)




The Getty Research Institute, The Internet Archive


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Hand-colored aquatint showing two men in makeshift uniforms talking together, one on horseback equipped with a gun and a feathered hat, the other drinking maté with a straw (bombilla) and carrying a sword. The author describes these soldiers as follows:

The protracted war maintained by these soldiers against both the Portuguese and the troops of the Buenos Ayres Union, renders them objects of interest. They are, in fact, nothing more than gauchos in another dress, and scarcely more formidable for having added to the knife, lazo, and balls, the auxiliaries of carbine and sabre. These two last are generally carried under the seat across the saddle, as represented in the engraving.

Thus armed, living habitually in the open air, sleeping with their horses, requiring no food but beef, for which they drive the living animals before them, leaving a desert to their enemies, these soldiers carry on a desultory warfare, flying before their opponents, and renewing the attack when least expected. Incapable of acting together in numbers, they never present a head to their enemy, whom they nevertheless keep constantly on the alert, and tease and harass, be his force what it may. In short, they may not unaptly be denominated the Cossacks of America. …

These soldiers are represented at the door of a pulperia at Monte Video. One of them is taking matte.

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