Class Notes

With so much justifiable worry about the Corona Virus, I thought I might change the subject a bit and give an interesting story in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Being this is the favorite day of the year for the Irish and the fact that I am currently in Mexico, I thought I would combine the two into one post and talk about the San Patricio Battalion. When the Mexican/American War began a good percentage of the troops were immigrants, many of them being Irish Catholics. Neither the Irish, nor the Catholics were well received in this nation and in many ways were treated as second class citizens. The officers being Protestants would not allow the Catholics in the army to attend mass while in Texas and Mexico and this treatment of Catholic troops began to bother some. They were fighting a war to oppress fellow Catholics for a Protestant nation claiming equality but gave none.

During this time a group led by an Irish West Point artillery teacher decided to switch sides and fight for Mexico. The Leader of Mexico even put out a curricular inviting all Catholics to join the Mexican cause and offered them ranks, money, and land. Many took them up on their offer. The group began small but more joined their ranks, especially after the Battle of Monterrey, after American forces slaughtered Mexican soldiers and civilians.

The men of San Patricio’s artillery fought bravely in losing efforts in Both the Battle of Buena Vista and Cerro Gordo (which Robert E. Lee was the hero of) but lost many men. Their final battle was at Churubusco where about 74 were captured. Most of those captured would be hung for desertion, some being saved to be hung as the American flag was hoisted above Mexico City.

I have always been taught that today Mexico celebrates the San Patricio soldiers and especially the Los Ninos Heroes. However, here in the beautiful city Puerto Vallarta, I have asked a few of our amazing hosts and they know nothing about them. Its an interesting story that I know most Americans have never heard of, but its sad to see that the Mexican people with such a rich heritage have forgotten as well. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day or San Patricio’s Dia.

Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at or Facebook at

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