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The St. Patrick's Battalion

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, I read several books about a group of deserters from the U.S. Army of Occupation during the Mexican-American War.  These turncoats were immigrants, primarily Catholic and largely from Ireland who established the St. Patrick’s Battalion[1] and fought valiantly against the Americans in five major battles. They are honored to this day as heroes in Mexico and St. Patrick’s Day is a time when their deaths in battle and by mass execution after capture by the U.S. are memorialized.  The leader of the battalion was John Riley.  He joined the U.S. Army in 1845 in Michigan and drilled at West Point using artillery skills he had learned in his prior service in the British Army. John Riley was an Irish Catholic immigrant who soon found himself taken up in the United States' war against Mexico.


[1] Note: The St. Patrick’s Battalion (the San Patricios) made up primarily of Catholic immigrants, a plurality of whom were Irish (39 percent), fought in five major battles.  George Ballentine, an English soldier in the U.S. army wrote of the St. Patrick’s Battalion that they “fought like devils” and at the Battle of Churubusco just outside Mexico City they inflicted heavy casualties on several American units and “settled old scores by seeking and killing dozens of West Point officers with the malignity of private revenge.” 

Please find my complete narrative at the link below.

St. Patricks Battalion Ballad Audio
00:00 / 01:11
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