A map showing the approaches to Mexico City
Scott, coming from the West after the landing at Vera Cruz, marched South through the gap between the lakes Chalco and Mochimilco to attack Mexico City from the South after scouting reports showed it to be the least defended
During this period, Lieutenant U.S. Grant was involved. Grant was Irish; there was a Kelly on his father's side and many Irish on his mother's side. Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant received a thorough tongue lashing from Captain Robert E. Lee for his shabby appearance. The next time the two met was at Appomattox. Grant later became the U.S. Army's first four star general. After the Civil War, Grant became President of the United States.
< Lieutenant Grant.................. Captain Lee>
The American approach to the convent at Churubusco
The next battle of the Mexican War was the Battle of Churubusco. It was fought at the convent of San Deigo just outside Mexico City. The convent stood on a high hill which was fortified with several guns. Around the convent were ditches and dikes for irrigation from the nearby Churubusco River. The crop in the adjacent fields was corn which, during the battle, stood high on its stalks. The road to the convent crossed the Churubusco River. On the bridge which led to the convent was a fortified Mexican position with five guns, a classic tete de pont (fortified bridgehead).
Among the defenders of the bridgehead were the San Patricio Companies. They were now a part of a unit created by Santa Anna known as the Foreign Legion. It was made up of foreign residents of Mexico City. The San Patricio Companies were redesignated as Infantry companies to fill out the unit. The definitive source book for the San Patricio's is Robert Miller's Shamrock and Sword.
A contemporary drawing of the tete de pont at Churubusco >
The bridge at Churubusco today
Another view of the Convent at Churubusco at a more peaceful time, the West side where the nuns could contemplate, pray or relax
THE SAN PATRICIOS
The San Patricios first saw action as a unit in the Battle of Monterrey. Some of them, as individuals were among the Mexican gunners pounding Fort Texas from Matamoros at the start of the war. The San Patricios were commended for their bravery at La Angostura (Buena Vista) and their Irish leader, John Riley, was made a Captain. It was the San Patricios who supported the Infantry charge with their guns against O'Brien's battery. General Taylor, during the battle, ordered troops to "take that damned battery". More than a third of the San Patricios where killed during the battle. General Francisco Mejia, in whose brigade the San Patricios fought, reported the San Patricios were "worthy of the most consumate praise because the men fought with daring bravery.
The San Patricios also participated in the Battle of Cerro Gordo.
The Irish commander of the San Patricios, John Riley, was born in Clifden, County Galway. His name was variably spelled in English and Spanish. In English documents it is seen as John Reily, Riely, Reilly, O'Reily and O'Reilly. In Spanish documents, his name is shown as Juan Reyle, Reley, Reely and Reiley. John Riley joined the British Army and deserted in Canada. Between 1843 and 1845, Riley worked as a laborer in Mackinac, Michigan for Mayo born Charles M. O'Malley. In September of 1845, Riley joined the United States Army at Fort Mackinac. Two days later his regiment was on their way to Texas. On April 12, 1846, Riley's unit was camped opposite Matamoros. He requested a pass to attend Catholic Mass. He never came back. Riley was thought by his evaluators in the U.S. Army to be officer material, his desertion was a shock.
Riley's next in command was Patrick Dalton, who was born near Ballina in County Mayo, Ireland. He too, was a deserter from the British Army. When he enlisted in the U.S. Army in August of 1845 at Madison Barracks, New York, he told recruiters he was born in Quebec. Dalton left the U. S. Army and crossed into Mexico at Carmargo. Other officers included Captain Saturnino O'Leary and Matthew Doyle. Doyle fought with distinguishment in several battles. There is a story told by the O'Leary family that when he arrived in America and was walking down the gang plank he found two U. S. Army recruiters at the bottom who told him "Welcome son, here is your uniform and your gun!". O'Leary commanded a Company of the San Patricio Batallion.
The uniform of the San Patricios included a coat of turkish-blue with yellow lapels and crimson-red cuffs as well as piping. The trousers were sky-blue with red piping. Officers wore black or blue Kepis and privates wore dark-blue cloth barracks caps, with red tassels similar to a Fez, also with red piping.
There is some confusion as to the flag(s) of the San Patricios. This is refelected in the following quotes:
John Riley, in a letter stated - In all my letter, I forgot to tell you under what banner we fought so bravely. It was that glorious Emblem of native rights, that being the banner which should have floated over our native Soil many years ago, it was St. Patrick, the Harp of Erin, the Shamrock upon a green field"
- John Riley
"The Batallón de San Patricio used an emerald flag emblazoned with the Irish harp and shamrock was due to a Sean Riley's whim."
"John Riley said the emerald green ensign had an image of St. Patrick emblazoned on one side, with a shamrock and the harp of Erin on the other."
Quoted in: Robert R. Miller, Shamrock & Sword, pp. 33, 38.
"A beautiful green silk banner waved over their heads; on it glittered a silver cross and golden harp..."
Quoted in: Samuel E. Chamberlian My Confession
"The banner is of green silk, and on one side is a harp, surmounted by the Mexican coat of arms, with a scroll on which is painted 'Libertad para la República Mexicana' (Liberty for the Republic of Mexico). Underneath the harp is the motto 'Erin go Bragh'. On the other side is a painting made to represent St. Patrick, in his left hand a key and in his right a crook or staff resting upon a serpent. Underneath is painted 'San Patricio'".
Quoted in: George Wilkins Kendall, New Orleans Daily Picayune, 9 Sept 1847
"The flag of the San Patricio unit was embroidered or painted with representations of St. Patrick, the harp of Erin and the shamrock, upon a green field"
Quoted in: Smithsonian Magazine, March 1978.
an article by the author F. X. Hogan in the magazine 'History Ireland' in 1997 he wrote as follows:
"They fought under a green silk flag emblazoned with the Mexican coat of arms, an image of St Patrick, and the words 'Erin go braugh' (sic)."
the flag was: over a green silk field on one side a Saint Patrick's depiction embroidered in silver thread; and in the other side, a harp superimposing a shamrock, both Irish emblems, embroidered in gold, and bellow them the motto: 'Erin Go Bragh' (Ireland forever) also in gold.
Quoted in: Roberto Brown, El águila y la cruz: La historia del Batallón de San Patricio y su comandante John O'Reilly, July 1999.
Professor Robert Ryal Miller has indicated that the unit must have had at least three flags.
1. San Patricio as a Mexican Artillery Company
A flag from their service as a Mexican Artillery Company. (Perhaps the one illustrated in the painting "The Capture of O'Brians Guns.)
NB: This flag could also have had two sides, one with Irish devices.
2. San Patricio as an infantry company
The Infantry flag made by the nuns at San Luis Potosi (previously described as "The banner is of green silk, and on one side is a harp, surmounted by the Mexican coat of arns, with a scroll on which is painted 'Lebertad por Republica Mexicana". Underneath the harp is the motto "Erin go Bragh'. On the other side is a painting made to represent St. Patrick, his left hand a key and in his right a crook or staff resting upon a serpent. Underneath is painted "San Patricio'" -George Wilkins Kendall, quoted in Shamrock and Sword p. 38)
This is the flag captured at Churubusco by the 14th US Infantry and later apparently taken to West Point and placed in the chapel. But, it did not survive because when President Truman returned the captured Mexican War flags it was not returned. The chapel was replaced sometime in the 1930's and by then the flag seems to have vanished.
3. San Patricio as a reconstructed unit
Their Mexican Infantry color of the reconstituted unit after the capture of Mexico City. A flag which could have also had two sides!
It would seem that this unit carried a variety of colors during there service.
Here are pictures of what some represent as the flag of the San Patricios, it did not help that most descriptions point out there were two sides tothe flag with different designs
Other Irish in the U. S. Army as well as men born in Germany, England, Italy, France, Scotland and Poland deserted the U. S. Army and crossed over to the Mexican Army. These men were eventually combined into the San Patricios. On August 20, 1847 at Churubusco, they found themselves defending a Catholic convent from the American Army. The San Patricios definitely slowed the American advance. Several times the Americans were stymied because of the fire from the guns of the San Patricios. Brigadier General David Twiggs led a U. S. charge through the high corn in an attempt to break through. It was repulsed. After a time, the San Patricios withdrew into the convent and the fighting became more desperate.
The American forces kept up the pressure, at a high cost of life. Three times the Mexicans tried to raise a flag of surrender and three times the San Patricios pulled it down. One time they killed a Mexican in the process. The high point of the battle came when 100 U. S. dragoons led by Lieutenants Kearny and McReynolds charged the 6,000 men of the Mexican Army defending the convent and gained entry. The Battle of Churubusco ended when an American officer saw that the defenders were out of ammunition and raised a cease fire that led to the end of the fighting.
Detail of a painting by Don Troiani showing the fierce resistance of the last San Patricio standing at the convent at Churubusco
It was a terrible fight. Over a thousand Americans were killed, among them 72 officers. The Mexicans suffered casualties of over 20,000. More than 3,000 Mexican prisoners from the battle were ordered paroled by General Scott.
With the United States troops at Churubusco was George Kendall, the founder and a reporter for the New Orleans Picayune and the chronicler of the Santa Fe Expedition. Kendall was the first American correspondent to accompany an American army in battle. He filed his reports via a pony express system.
From Kendall we learned almost half of the San Patricios were captured, the rest were killed or escaped. Of the Eighty five San Patricios captured, Seventy two of them were deserters from the U.S. Army; the others were residents of Mexico. Twenty nine of the deserters were tried at Tacubaya and 43 at San Angel on the 28th of August, eight days after the battle. The 29 were all sentenced to hang. The 43 at San Angel were divided into: 36 to be hung, two to be shot, and three to be lashed and branded. One man was discharged from the service with forfeiture of pay. The remaining San Patricio, Edward Ellis, would receive no punishment. It seems no one bothered to sign his enlistment papers, so he was technically never in the U. S. Army.
The rationale for the hangin was that they had entered Mexican military service following the declaration of war. Another reason was to send a message to any soldiers contemplating desertion. However, hanging was in violation of the Articles of War for the time which clearly stipulated that the penalty for desertion and/or defecting to the enemy during a time of war was death by firing squad, regardless of the circumstances. In fact more than 9,000 U.S. soldiers deserted during the Mexican-American War, and only the San Patricios were punished in this way.
The Americans securing the convent
General Scott reviewed each and every case. David McElroy was the San Patricio who was discharged from the U. S. Army with forfeiture of pay and released because of his age (15). Five of those sentenced to hang, Scott remitted. One of these was 60 year old Edward McHerron who was released because his son fought with distinction in the same battle, but on the American side. Other men scheduled to hang were instead, branded and lashed as they deserted before war was actually declared. John Riley was one of these. There is a listing of all who served in the San Patricio Battalion in the Appendix V, Section L.
The storming of Chapultapec Castle
Colonel William S. Harney pictured to the left, himself of Irish heritage, supervised the execution of 30 San Patricios. One of these San Patricios, Francis O'Conner was in a field hospital because he was wounded in the fight at Churubusco. Even though he was dying and both his legs were amputated, Harney had him propped up with the others facing Capultapec Castle, the last important American objective in the valley of Mexico. The final battle for Mexico City was still underway when he ordered them to stand with the noose about their necks, facing Chapultepec Castle for the moment when the Stars and Stripes replaced the Mexican tricolor. This took several hours in the hot Mexican sun.
Water color painting of the scene by eyewitness Samuel Chamberlain
Detail from a painting by Don Troiani on the same subject
When the American flag was in view and Colonel Harney was giving the preliminary signals for the execution, the San Patricios gave a cheer that rang through the valley. It was quite a contrast with the solemn mood of the Americans. Just after that, the trap doors were sprung.
The sentence of the court, according to the Articles of War, should always be carried out promptly. "To prolong the punishment beyond the usual time would be highly improper, and subject the officer who authorized or caused such to be done to charges." In the case of the last of group of 30 San Patricios to be hanged, this Article of War was cavalierly ignored. Harney's violation of the Articles of War requiring prompt execution did not result in charges being brought against him. Rather, his behavior was rewarded. A month later Harney was promoted to brigadier general and accompanied the commander in chief in a triumphal march in Mexico City.
There stands in the San Angel district of Mexico City today, a monument to the San Patricios.
It reads, in Spanish:
In memory of the Irish soldiers of the heroic Battalion San Patricio, martyrs who gave their lives for the Mexican cause during the unjustified North American invasion of 1847.
The image to the right is detail of the round device at the top of the plaque.
A Mexican historian reported, "Their deportment deserves the greatest eulogies..." Santa Anna is reported to have said that he would have won, had he more fighters like the San Patricios.
The men of the San Patricio Battalion were not all Irish nor were they all Catholic. Of the 72 deserters captured: 27 were Irish, 15 American, 3 German, 3 Scotch, 2 Quebecians, 2 English, 2 French, and one from Messina (in Sicily before it was part of Italy). See the listing in Appendix V, L of known San Patricos. Of those known San Patricios listed (127) 40 were from Ireland and another 11 had Irish surnames but shown as coming from the U.S., Canada or Great Britain;31 from the United States or unknown; 14 were from Germany and there were 7 each from Great Britain/England, Scotland and Mexico. Contrary to some published reports, there was no connection between the San Patricio, Texas Irish and the San Patricio Battalion.
The Irish soldiers that joined the San Patricios noticed many similarities between their treatment by England and what the United States was trying to do to Mexico. Additionally these Irish soldiers were treated poorly by their Protestant officers and never really liked the idea of fighting a Catholic country like Mexico. The US army would not allow Irish soldiers to attend mass and many began to cross over into Mexico on Sundays to attend religious services. Soldiers who had fought against each other all week quickly became friends after realizing their common religious bond and struggle from oppressive actions of primarily English countries.
"The San Patricios were alienated both from American society as well as the US Army," says Professor Kirby Miller of the University of Missouri, an expert on Irish immigration. "They realized that the army was not fighting a war of liberty, but one of conquest against fellow Catholics such as themselves."
As Irishmen and Catholic they were appalled and shocked at the behavior of the Texas Rangers and other volunteers who Gen. Taylor admittedly could not control. Among their rimes were murder, rape, robbery and the desecration of Catholic churches. The intense prejudice of many of the American soldiers, especially the volunteers, has been commented upon by at least one careful historian. According to K. Jack Bauer, author of The Mexican War: 1846-48, the majority of American soldiers were products of a militantly Protestant culture that still viewed Catholicism as a misdirected and misbegotten religion. Although the regulars included a significant number of Catholic enlisted men, the volunteers did not. This strengthened the tendency to ignore the rights and privileges of the Church in a Catholic country as well as increase the harassing of that Church. Some of the volunteers' acts, like the stabling of horses in the Shrine of San Francisco in Monterrey, so upset the Mexicans that they still mention it in modern works.
While held prisoner in Mexico City, Riley wrote to a friend in Michigan: "Be not deceived by a nation that is at war with Mexico, for a friendlier and more hospitable people than the Mexicans there exists not on the face of the earth."
One of the many pamphlets distributed by the Mexican Army during the war stated -
"Can you fight by the side of those who put fire to your temples in Boston and Philadelphia? Did you witness such dreadful crimes and sacrileges without making a solemn vow to our Lord? If you are Catholic, the same as we, if you follow the doctrines of Our Savior, why are you murdering your brethren? Why are you antagonistic to those who defend their country and your own God?"
While religion may have played a part in some of the desertions, Miller points out that many of the Irish were not gallant soldiers of the romantic era troubled with pangs of religious and conscience concerns but trouble makers in the U.S. Army who had escaped from guard houses where they had been confined for various offenses before they found the need to desert. The real draw, he argues, was the freedom from prosecution not persecution, as well as money, land, rank and senoritas or all of them. He also pointed out the ferocity of some their fighting had more to do with not wanting to be recaptured and face charges than valor and bravery. That is his opinion, to me valor and bravery in battle, for whatever the motive, deseves to be recognized. To keep things in perspective, more Americans deserted their army during this war than any other. Those who deserted and joined the San Patricios was a very small percentage of those Celts who chose to serve the United States of America and many of them fought gallantly with valor and bravery that deserves a mention in any discussion of the San Patricios.
The Irish deserters of the Saint Patrick's Battalion were in no way representative of the Irish-born soldiers who made up one-fourth of all enlisted men in the US Army during the US-Mexican War. There were seventeen totally Irish companies who saw action in this war; many were highly decorated units such as the Emmet Guards from Albany, New York; the Jasper Greens of Savannah, Georgia; the Mobile Volunteers of Alabama; and the Pittsburgh Hibernian Greens.
Part of the reason for the lack of more concrete information regarding the San Patricios and the distortion of their reasons for deserting the American army may lie in that the whole affair was an embarrassment to the United States. Continued Catholic persecution in the United States after the war may have also contributed to the distorted record. "Some newspapers in San Francisco cite that affair to prove that Catholics are disloyal," wrote a private citizen in a letter to the Assistant Adjutant General in 1896 requesting information on the San Patricios. Because of sentiments against Catholicism and the harsh treatment by American forces of the San Patricios, the American Army seemed reluctant to discuss the affair publically. In 1915, the American War Department was finally forced to acknowledge the existence of the San Patricios and their treatment of them at the end of the war. Ordered by Congress in 1917 to turn over the records to the National Archives the army complied. The documents detailed one of the most embarrassing episodes for the American Army. For the San Patricios, their story could finally be told truthfully for all to know what was true in their hearts.
The public commemorations of the San Patricios did not come until more than a hundred years had passed. This was mostly because of the U.S. Army's refusal to admit they existed until 1915. The story of the San Patricios was not taught in American history classrooms, but, it was taught in Mexican history classes. Mexicans celebrated and continue to celebrate the San Patricios two times each year, on September 12th , the anniversary of the hangings, and on Saint Patrick's Day (Dia de San Patricio). There are parades and events in many Mexican cities, towns and villages.
There are five towns or villages in Mexico named San Patricio in Sonora, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Coahuila and the Distrito Federal. The street in front of the Irish School, in suburban Monterrey, is named Batallón de San Patricio ("Battalion of Saint Patrick").
This school is located in Monterey
A boulevard from Mexico City that runs by the former convent at Churubusco, now a museum, is named in honor of the Irish fighters - Mártires Irlandeses ("the Irish Martyrs").
O'Farrill, Foley, Berrigan (Barragan) are example sof Irish place names in Mexico. Only a few towns in Mexico lack a street named O'Brien, which, later on, became the Spanish "Obregón." There's also an "O'Brien City," better known as Ciudad Obregón, in the northern state of Sonora.
In 1959, a plaque was erected in Mexico City commemorating the Irish Heroes of Mexico. The inscription of the plaque reads, "To the memory of Captain John Riley of the Clifden area, founder and leader of the Saint Patrick's Battalion and those men under his command who gave their lives for Mexico during the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-1848." The plaque is located in San Jacinto Plaza, now known as Villa Obregón.
In 1960 a commemorative medallion was struck in honor of the San Patricios-"con la gratitud de Mexico a los 113 años de su sacrificio""-with the thanks of Mexico on the 113th anniversary of their deaths." On its face are the escuda national, Mexico's eagle and serpent, and an Irish cross and is decorated with sea horses and wolfhounds, and it is inscribed "Al Heróico Batallón de San Patricia-1847."
On the reverse "un soldado irlandes con la vista fuera" ("a grim-faced Irish soldier")leads his men to the stockades at the Río Churubusco. In the background are a heavy cannon and the walls of the Convento de San Pablo.
In 1993, In honor of Jon Riley, and to commemorate the Saint Patrick's Battalion, a bronze sculpture was erected in the town center of his birthplace of Clifden, Ireland, as a gift from the Mexican government. The people of Clifden are proud that John Riley fought and led the San Patricios. The Mexican flag is flown daily from the town's center. A five-day San Patricio Mexican-Irish Festival in Clifden celebrates the life of John Riley and the San Patricio Battalion each year.
In the ceremony that year Mexican president, Ernesto Zedilllo, remarked - "Members of the St. Patrick's Battalion were executed for following their consciences. They were martyred for adhering to the highest ideals ... we honor their memory. In the name of the people of Mexico, I salute today the people of Ireland and express my eternal gratitude."
President Zedillo went on to state - "Al conmemorar la gesta heroica del Batallón de San Patricio honramos la memoria de todos los hombres y de todas las mujeres que han luchado y siguen luchando por construir un mundo más justo, más incluyente y más democrático, independientemente de su origen étnico, su condición social, su herencia cultural y su filosofía de vida." (As we commemorate the heroic gesture of the St. Patrick's Battalion, we honor the memory of all men and all women who have fought and are still struggling to build a world more just, more democratic and inclusive, regardless of their ethnic origin, social status, cultural heritage and philosophy of life)
In 1997, Irish dignitaries where invited to Mexico to celebrate the issue of a 32 peso stamp honoring the St. Patrick's Brigade. Irish President Mary Robinson placed a wreath at the base of the San Patricios' Memorial. Ireland issued a similar stamp to join with Mexico's 150th celebration of the San Patricios.
In, 2002 the LVII Mexican Congress held a ceremony where the inscription "Defensores de la Patria 1846-1848 y Batallón de San Patricio" or "Defenders of the Fatherland 1846-1848 and the San Patricio Battalion" was inscribed in gold letters on the Wall of Honor in the Chambers of the Congress. Three hundred and ninety-four Mexican congressmen, along with Irish Ambassador to Mexico attended the ceremony recognizing the sacrifices made by the young Irish soldiers.
In the 2004 ceremonies, Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada, who is of Irish descent, stated- "The affinities between Ireland and Mexico go back to the first years of our nation, when our country fought to preserve its national sovereignty... Then, a brave group of Irish soldiers... in a heroic gesture, decided to fight against the foreign ground invasion.",
" "St Patrick's Battalion" - by David Rovics
" "San Patricio Brigade" - by Black 47
" "The San Patricios" - by The Fenians
" "San Patricios" - by Street Dogs (State of Grace)
" "San Patricios" - by Ollin (song and EP)
" "Pa Los Del San Patricio" - by Charlie O'Brien
""March To Battle(Across The Rio Grande) - by Paddy Moloney
" "The Men That God Made Mad" - by Niamh Parsons with Graham Dunne
" "San Patricios" - by The Plankrunners
" "St Patrick's Battalion" - by The Wakes
" "San Patricio" - by The Chieftains
" "John Riley" - by Tim O'Brien
Examples of song lyrics:
The first verse of the Chieftains "March To Battle", music by Paddy Moloney and lyrics by Brendan Grahamfollows -
San Patricios March To Battle
We are the San Patricios, a brave and gallant band
There'll be no white flag flying within this green command
We are the San Patricios, we have but one demand,
To see the Yankees safely home across the Rio Grande...
We've disappeared from history like footprints in the sand
But our song is in the tumbleweeds and our love is in this land
But if in the desert moonlight you see a ghostly band
We are the men who died for freedom across the Rio Grande
Lyrics to David Rovics song about St. Pat's Battallion.
St. Patrick Battalion
My name is John Riley
I'll have your ear only a while
I left my dear home in Ireland
It was death, starvation or exile
And when I got to America
It was my duty to go
Enter the Army and slog across Texas
To join in the war against Mexico
It was there in the pueblos and hillsides
That I saw the mistake I had made
Part of a conquering army
With the morals of a bayonet blade
So in the midst of these poor, dying Catholics
Screaming children, the burning stench of it all
Myself and two hundred Irishmen
Decided to rise to the call
From Dublin City to San Diego
We witnessed freedom denied
So we formed the Saint Patrick Battalion
And we fought on the Mexican side
We marched 'neath the green flag of Saint Patrick
Emblazoned with "Erin Go Bragh"
Bright with the harp and the shamrock
And "Libertad para Mexicana"
Just fifty years after Wolfe Tone
Five thousand miles away
The Yanks called us a Legion of Strangers
And they can talk as they may
We fought them in Matamoros
While their volunteers were raping the nuns
In Monterey and Cerro Gordo
We fought on as Ireland's sons
We were the red-headed fighters for freedom
Amidst these brown-skinned women and men
Side by side we fought against tyranny
And I daresay we'd do it again
We fought them in five major battles
Churobusco was the last
Overwhelmed by the cannons from Boston
We fell after each mortar blast
Most of us died on that hillside
In the service of the Mexican state
So far from our occupied homeland
We were heroes and victims of fate
Another San Patricio Ballad this time from the Mexican view -
The Ballad of the Batallón San Patricio
By Armando Rendón
'Tis the ballad of Irishmen seeking a dream;
They had come to America crossing the sea,
Yet were branded and hanged for devotion to truth
And the right as they saw it for men to be free.
You'll remember forever the fabulous name,
Batallón San Patricio, and their well renowned fame.
For forsaking the arms of the tyrant, they instead
Chose the banner of liberty rather than shame.
It was eighteen hundred and forty six when first
to the battlelines went the green Irish recruits,
But they questioned at whom their long rifles were aimed
But the captains just said, don't ask questions, just shoot.
They had all left their homes due to hunger and blight.
The dire poverty ravaging Ireland, you see,
Could be traced to relentless injustice and hate
that had tortured the people and forced them to flee.
So these valiant young men had believed what they'd heard,
But instead of the freedom they expected to find,
They soon learned that the war against Mexico stank
From the gangrenous greed that can rotten the mind.
Politicians and judges and lawyers and such
Had contrived an excuse to attack and to force
Into war an ill-prepared country, itself
In the midst of dissension, turmoil and worse.
It was Manifest Destiny, rallying cry of thieves,
That they shouted in unison, urging on war
to avenge a slight, but 'twas a lie they blared;
it was land they sought, that fact was clear.
Those fine Irish lads knew naught of this historical web,
But they, when an injustice was rearing its head
went over to Mexico, shed America's flag,
raised their own banner, and fought for Mexico instead.
When the battles were over and surrender was made
The courageous San Patricios' luck had changed
They had sided with justice, chosen right from wrong-
Yet were branded for treason while dozens were hanged.
In the towns and the villages dotting the land
In the hearts and the minds of the people still,
San Patricios are known for their valor and faith;
They are honored as heroes and warriors all.
There's a lesson that history often will tell,
Of the value of honor that's measured in blood,
The Patricios shed their full measure of truth
When they gave up their lives in witness of good.
For what we now all call the American dream,
Thousands of laddies crossed over the sea.
Hundreds paid a priceless coin for their valor:
They were willing to die so we could be free.
Enshrined on a simple plaque in Mexico City-
No other mark than their names is needed-
Their sacrifice someday will be known to all,
And their own battle cry for justice be heeded.
Éire go Brách
Copyright 2009 Armando Rendón
Films and Fiction
" 1962 - Saint Patrick's Battalion by Carl Krueger
" 1996 - The San Patricios, Directed by Mark R. Day
" 1997 - In the Rogue Blood, Winner of Los Angeles Times Book Club Prize for Fiction, by Jame Carlos Blake
" 1999 - One Man's Hero (1999), film directed by Lance Hool, written by Milton S. Gelman
" 1999 - St. Patrick's Battalion, Directed by Jason Hool
" 1999 - The Rogue's March: John Riley and the St. Patrick's Battalion 1846-1848 by Peter F. Stevens
" 2001 - Gone for Soldiers, novel by Jeff Shaara
" 2006 - Saint Patrick's Battalion, novel by James Alexander Thom published by Blue River Press of Indianapolis
" 2012 - Country of the Bad Wolfes, novel by James carlos Blake published by Cinco Puntos Press, El Paso
" Ballentine, George. Adventures of an English Soldier in the United States Army, New York: W. A. Townsend & Company, 1860
" Grant, Ulysses S. Personal memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, Volume I, 1885
" Ramsey, Albert C. The other side; or, Notes for the history of the war between Mexico and the United States, New York: John Wiley, 161 Broadway and 13 Paternoster Row, London, 1850
" Chamberlain, Samuel. My Confession: Recollections of a Rogue, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1853
" Bauer, K. Jack. The Mexican War, 1846-48, Bison Books, 1992 ISBN 0-8032-6107-1.
" Callaghan, James. "The San Patricios". American Heritage Magazine. Volume 46, Issue 7, November 1995. http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1995/7/1995_7_68.shtml. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
" Connaughton, Michael G. "Beneath an Emerald Green Flag: The Story of Irish Soldiers in Mexico". The Society for Irish Latin American Studies. September 2005. http://www.irlandeses.org/sanpatriciosA.htm. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
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" The San Patricios: Mexico's Fighting Irish
" Roy Cook, "St. Patrick's Battalion, Battallón San Patricio: Mexican War Heroes", American Indian Source
" Musical tribute by folk singer David Rovics
Most of the illustrations and pictures used in this section and the one previous were provided courtesy of the website of the Descendants of the Mexican War Veterans and include the paintings of Carl Nebel, Marcus J. Wright and Samuel Chamberlain. All of these men were contemporary artists of the period. The color paintings of the San Patricios are from works done by the highly respected artist Don Troiani. Mr. Troiani's attention to detail and authenticity are well documented and appreciated. Full size and other sized lithographs of his works are available for sale via the internet. Simply due a search of his name. The long vertical maps of the Mexican campaigns were from originals by Edward D. Mansfield.
The music, if you hear it- I have had trouble getting it to play, is from the Chieftains and titled March To Battle. Music by Paddy Moloney, lyrics by Brendan Graham and narrated by Liam Neeson. The song can be purchased at Amazon.com.