Saint Patrick’s Battalion Was A Group Of Mainly Irish Soldiers Fighting Against The U.S. During The Mexican-American War
It’s Saint Patrick’s Day and while everyone wants to be Irish, Mexicans are celebrating the Irish. That’s right. Every year on Saint Patrick’s Day, a group of Irish soldiers are remembered for their sacrifice on behalf of Mexico during the Mexican-American War. Here’s a brief history about the group of soldiers that made Saint Patrick’s Day an important day in Mexico.
This Saint Patrick’s Day, let’s discuss the Saint Patrick’s Battalion.
Tension between the United States and Mexico reached a peak in 1846 after the U.S. annexed Texas the year before. The decision to take the land from Mexico led to the Mexican-American War that took place from 1846 to 1848. By the end of the war, the U.S. took one-third of Mexico’s territory including California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.
Also leading up to 1846, Irish citizens were fleeing to the U.S. to escape famine and poverty that had plagued Ireland. During that time, Irish immigrants to the U.S. were facing relentless discrimination, both in and out of the military.
The discrimination and dehumanization some Irish immigrants felt in the U.S. led them to flee south to fight along the Mexican armed forces.
Mexican military officials who were preparing for a war against the U.S. learned about their circumstances and began recruiting the Irish immigrants. They were promised land and money to leave the U.S. and join their army.
Unhappy with the discrimination in the U.S., some Irish Catholic immigrants joined the Mexican army.
According to The Texas State Historical Association, the Irish soldiers were first called the Battalion of Foreigners. The name was later changed to Saint Patrick’s Battalion and they had their own flag, pictured above. The battalion, comprised mainly of Irish Catholics, was led by John Patrick O’Riley. They saw battle in Monterey, Saltillo, Buena Vista and, most importantly, Churubusco in 1847.
The Battle of Churubusco took place outside of Mexico City and was a victory that shed light on the end of the two-year war. According to TIME, Mexican military officials tried to raise the flag of surrender multiple time. However, Saint Patrick’s Battalion kept taking the flag down. They were outnumbered, running out of ammunition and over half of the battalion had been killed or captured.
The official day to celebrate the battalion is Sept 12, but why not celebrate them twice?
The U.S. won that battle and entered Mexico City. Shortly after they declared victory and began prosecuting the captured Irish deserters. Many were hanged for the crime of desertion. According to TIME, Mexican citizens were outraged by the hangings and attempted to attack the American prisoners. They were stopped by Mexican authorities.
The Saint Patrick’s Battalion is remembered to this day throughout Mexico as a valiant group of soldiers.
“In memory of the martyred Irish soldiers of the heroic Saint Patrick’s Battalion who gave their lives for Mexico during the unjust North American invasion of 1847.”
What a touching tribute to a group of Irishmen, angry at the American society, willing to take up arms for the Mexicans. Honestly, there is something heroic about fighting to preserve someone else’s liberties when you feel like yours are under attack.
The Irish soldiers died protecting an adopted country from the U.S.’s idea of Manifest Destiny.
“Saint Patrick’s Battalion Plaza. In memory of the Irish soldiers killed during the American Intervention in Mexico of 1847.”
Their contribution in the war meant so much to Mexican society that they have a Plaza dedicated in their honor. The offered a foreign country the ultimate sacrifice. Their life in exchange for being able to stand up to their enemies.
That’s why a holiday with Irish roots has a place on the Mexican calendar.
That’s a very brief story about Saint Patrick’s Battalion who fought for the Mexican side of the Mexican-American War.