War of the Ragamuffins
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|War of the Ragamuffins|
Charge of the Cavalry, Guilherme Litran (Júlio de Castilhos Museum, Porto Alegre, Brazil), depicting the Ragamuffin army.
| Riograndense Republic |
|Empire of Brazil|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Bento Gonçalves da Silva |
Antônio de Sousa Neto
| Luís Alves de Lima e Silva |
Manuel Marques de Sousa
|+40.000 republicans separatists.||+60.000 imperial soldiers.|
The war was the cause of the rushed coronation of Dom Pedro II, at that time 15 years old in 1841, in direct violation of the Brazilian constitution. It is considered the second bloodiest civil war to have ever occurred in Brazil, after the War of Cabanagem.
 The WarThe uprising is believed to have begun due to the difference between the economy of Rio Grande do Sul and the rest of the country. Unlike the other provinces, the state economy focused in the internal market rather than exporting commodities, the state's main product, charque (dried and salted beef), suffering badly from competition from charque imported from Uruguay and Argentina, which had free access to Brazilian markets while the gauchos (as residents of Rio Grande do Sul are nicknamed) were charged high taxes inside Brazil.
In 1835, Antônio Rodrigues Fernandes Braga was nominated president of Rio Grande do Sul and at first his appointment pleased the liberal farmers, but that soon changed. In his first day in the office, he accused many farmers of being separatists.
On September 20, 1835, General Bento Gonçalves captured the capital, Porto Alegre, beginning an uprising against the perceived unfair trade reinforced by the state government; the state president fled to the city of Rio Grande, two hundred kilometers to the south. In Porto Alegre, the rebels, also known as farrapos (Ragamuffins), elected Marciano Pereira Ribeiro their new president.
Responding to the situation and further upsetting the Ragamuffin rebels, the Brazilian regent, Diogo Feijó, appointed a new state president, who was forced to take office in exile in Rio Grande.
Antônio de Souza Netto declared the independence of the Piratini Republic on September 11, 1836 with Bento Gonçalves as president nominee. However, Bento was arrested and jailed by imperial forces until he escaped in 1837, returning to the province and bringing the revolution to a head. Nonetheless, Porto Alegre was recaptured by the empire and the rebels never managed to regain it.
The Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi joined the rebels in 1839. With his help, the revolution spread through Santa Catarina, which adjoined Rio Grande do Sul to the north. The capital of Santa Catarina, Laguna, was taken by the Ragamuffins; but, after four months, Laguna fell back into imperial hands.
It was in this struggle that Garibaldi gained his first military experience and got on the road leading to his becoming the famed military leader of the Unification of Italy.
 PeaceIn 1840, amnesty was offered to the rebels, which they refused although it was clear that they had no chances of winning, followed by the issuing of a republican constitution by the Ragamuffins in 1842, as a last attempt to maintain power. The same year saw General Lima e Silva (soon Duke of Caxias) take office and try to find a diplomatic settlement of the situation.
On March 1, 1845, the peace negotiations led by Lima e Silva and Antônio Vicente da Fontoura concluded with the signing of the Ponche Verde Treaty between the two sides, in Dom Pedrito.
The treaty offered the rebels a full amnesty, full incorporation into the imperial army and the choice of the next provincial president. All the debts of the Riograndense Republic were paid off by the Empire and a tariff of 25% was introduced on imported charque.
As a goodwill gesture, the Ragamuffins chose Lima e Silva as the next provincial president.
- ^ It is noteworthy that the pennons flying from the cavalrymen's lances are not the Green, Red and Yellow Flag of the Riograndense Republic, but the Black, Red and Gold of the Flag of Germany, at this time a brand-new creation which got wide fame, far outside the boundaries of Germany, through the 1832 Hambach Festival. And at this time it was considered very much a revolutionary flag, standing for Liberty and Civil Rights as much as it stood for German Nationalism
- ^ The Treaty did not stay clearly if Riograndense and Juliana republics remained independent; however, they stayed in the Empire, and are nowadays two states of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina respectively.