“Saint Patrick's Battalion, "The San Patricios," a notable arm of the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.
Dubious about why they were fighting a Catholic country and fed up with mistreatment by their Anglo-Protestant officers, hundreds of Irish, German and other immigrants deserted Taylor's army and joined forces with Mexico.
Led by Capt. John Riley of Co. Galway, they called themselves the St. Patrick's Battalion (in Spanish, the San Patricios) and fought against their former comrades in all the major campaigns of the war.
The history of the San Patricios is a woeful tale of angry, bewildered, naive, or calculating young men, from varied backgrounds, who deserted for a myriad of reasons and paid a fearful price.
The San Patricios, in the words of one Mexican general, "deserved the highest praise, because they fought with daring bravery." But eventually, Mexico surrendered, ceding almost half its territory to the United States.
Each San Patricio who deserted from the US side was interned after the war in Mexico and subsequently given an individual court-martial trial. Many of the Irish were set free, but some paid the ultimate price. Roughly half of the San Patricio defectors who were executed by the US for desertion were Irish.
There are ceremonies there twice a year, on September 12 which is the anniversary of the executions, and on Saint Patrick's Day. ”
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