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St Patrick’s Battalion

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Talking to Roque today, while getting one of his great carnitas in the plaza, and he is amazed I haven’t heard of Los San Patricios – the Irish who fought for Mexico in the Mexican-American War of 1846-48.

Seems a bunch of Irish soldiers deserted from the US army amid widespread atrocities by the Americans and intolerance of Catholics among the officers. Many fell in with the Mexicans, and recognized an attack by a larger more powerful neighbour when they saw one.

The Irish formed St Patrick’s Battalion, and fought bravely against the Americans in several encounters. When the US army eventually won, many of them were hanged as deserters and traitors, with ‘D’ for deserter branded on their faces. Lovely.

Others survived and stayed in Mexico – Roque tells me the current president Vicente Fox is descended from one of the San Patricios, although my quick internet search didn’t confirm that.

The battalion is still honoured in Mexico – a stamp commemorating their efforts was recently produced.

The Latin feel of New Mexico puts me in mind of Ireland a lot, so I can see how there would have been an affinity between the Irish soldiers and the Mexicans, and it’s nice to find some more connections between there and this part of the world.

More information on the battalion:

Hispanic Magazine

Crisis Magazine – a more detailed historical account.

Posted by David in • Life