March 16, 2001

Editorial

On Saint Patrick's Day We Honor the Brave Men of the San Patricio Battalion

Every March 17th we celebrate St. Patrick's Day. We wear the Green and join our Irish friends at the local pub for some mutual bonding. We take pride in being called their "smoke-Irish" friends.

The bond that brings us together is our shared belief in the Catholic faith. Many of us remember with fondness the Catholic Irish Priests that served in our local churches. Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, Marriages, and yes, even at the end, our lives were in their hands. Who can forget the Irish nuns? The strings of history tie us together.

Our ties go back to the Mexican-American War of 1846. The independent nation of Texas was annexed as a state in the United States of America. The citizens of Texas were now American citizens. However, there was one major glitch. Mexico still considered the Texas territory to be part of Mexico. It threatened war over the annexation of Texas, which it refused to recognize.

After the Texas annexation, U.S. President James Polk decided to send troops into south Texas. But the troops did not stop at the Nueces River, which had been the southern boundary of the Texas territory when it had been under Mexican and Spanish rule. Texas (and now the United States) claimed the Rio Grande as the new southern border of Texas (and new northern border of Mexico.) Mexico repeatedly warned the United States to remove its troops from the disputed territory. President Polk refused to do so. Congress declared war. The Mexican War had begun. Support for the war, however, was not unanimous.

St. Patrick's Battalion was part of the armed forces that invaded Mexico. Two hundred of these soldiers concluded that they were fighting on the wrong side. They didn't like the fact that the United States was using its overwhelming might to invade and conquer a much weaker nation - a nation that was also predominantly Catholic. They deserted the American army and began fighting for the Mexican army.

When U.S. Gen. Winfield Scott and his troops reached Mexico City, after invading at Vera Cruz, and accepted the surrender of Mexican officials, they captured the St. Patrick soldiers... and hanged 50 of them. Mexico, on the other hand, took a different perspective. Today, there is a Mexican memorial that states:

"TO THE MEMORY OF CAPTAIN JOHN RILEY OF THE CLIFDEN AREA, FOUNDER AND LEADER OF 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."

To this day we also remember the sacrifices that the Irish battalion made for our ancestors.

To Our Brothers "May the Irish Green Forever Wave"

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