In February 1846, the Independent Na-tion 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. Believing that it was its manifest destiny to stretch to the Pacific Ocean, the United States previously had offered to purchase the Mexican territories of California, New Mexico, and Arizona for $15,000,000. Mexico indignantly refused the offer.
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 claimed the Rio Grande as the new Southern Border of Texas (and new Northern Border of Mexico). President Polk sent troops into the area, now known as Brownsville, which was located at the mouth of the Rio Grande, well within the disputed territory that both Mexico and Texas had claimed since the time of the Texas revolution some 10 years earlier. Mexico repeatedly warned the United States to remove its troops from the disputed territory. Not only did Polk refuse to do so, he dispatched a Naval Force to the California Coast with instructions to prepare for war.
In April 1846, Mexican troops attacked a small contingent of American soldiers, across the river from Matamoros, Mexico, which, each day, had been taunting the Mexican forces by raising the American flag to the fife and drum. President Polk advised Congress that American troops had been attacked by Mexico. Congress believed his assertions and declared war. The Mexican War had begun.
One of the most interesting episodes of the Mexican War, to modern day Mexican Americans, surround the St. Patrick’s Battalion entry in the war between Mexico and the United States. Among the American troops was a contingent of Irish-born soldiers that had been “drafted” to participate in the ensuing war. After the war commenced, 200 Of the Irish Citizens 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, as they were. They still remembered why they had left their Country that was under the control and rule of the English Crown! 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 Vera Cruz, they accepted the surrender of Mexican officials. In the process, they captured the St. Patrick soldiers and decided to make an example of them and send a message back to America ... They hanged 50 of the Catholic Irish soldiers, without any mercy! Mexico, on the other hand, had a different opinion.
To this day there is a Mexican Memorial that was constructed in memory of the brave Irish Catholic soldiers. On it, for all to see to this day, is Mexico’s true feelings for the “Soldados Irlandeses. It states:
En Memoria De Los Soldados Irlandeses Del Heroico Batallon De “San Patricio”
To The Memory of Captain John Riley of the Clifden Area, founder and leader of the Saint Patrick’s Battalion, and to Those Men Under His Command ,Who Gave Their Lives for Mexico During The U.S. Mexican War of 1846-1848”.
On this March 17, of 2006, we whose ancestry is rooted in Mexico and America, join in celebrating with our compatriots, the Irish Americans in honoring Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland and the Irish Catholic population. We share a bond with our Irish citizens that we are proud to have.