Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mexico's Fighting Irish

The website reports, "As the Irish and would-be Irish raise a glass for St. Patrick today, in San Antonio, the Southwest and Mexico, there's reason to remember a long-forgotten chapter of 19th-century history that has received new life this month.

"It involves St. Patrick's Battalion, also called the San Patricios and Los Colorados, whose members deserted Gen. Zachary Taylor's army in the late 1840s and took up arms for Mexico in the Mexican American War."

Fierce anti-Catholic prejudice within the ranks fueled their desertion.

According to the Los San Patricios website, "By the 1840s a significant proportion of the enlisted men in the United States Army were Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Germany. The Mexican government, aware of prejudice against immigrants to the United States, started a campaign after the Mexican War broke out to win the foreigners and Catholics to its cause.

"The Mexicans urged English and Irish alike to throw off the burden of fighting for the 'Protestant tyrants' and join the Mexicans in driving the Yankees out of Mexico. Mexican propaganda insinuated that the United States intended to destroy Catholicism in Mexico, and if Catholic soldiers fought on the side of the Americans, they would be warring against their own religion. Using this approach, the Mexicans hoped to gain 3,000 soldiers from the United States Army."

Reporter Elaine Ayala writes, "During various campaigns of the two-year conflict, from which the U.S. gained half of Mexico's territory, the San Patricios served as an artillery unit. Long honored in Mexico on St. Patrick's Day and Sept. 12, the anniversary of many of their executions, they've received little attention in the U.S."

Shown above, 1997 Mexico/Ireland joint issue honoring the 150th anniversary of Mexico's fighting Irish.

To read Elaine's entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM