As US troops invaded Mexico City, the August 20, 1847 battle of Churubusco marked an important turning point in the city’s defense. Today the results of that war are known to many (but, not surprisingly, not to all). In its aftermath the territory comprising the current states of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and other regions (about half of Mexico’s territory) was ceded to the United States.
A lesser known chapter of this war is the role played by a battalion of Irish soldiers, recent immigrants to the United States, who deserted the US army to fight on the side of their fellow-Catholic Mexicans. As the references embedded in this post indicate, religion was not the only reason for these Irish to change sides. Questioning of the Polk administration’s expansionist and racist policies was also central to their defection.
In recent years, a series of works have been produced to commemorate and explain the role of these soldiers. On a more academic sense, Michael Hogan has written The Irish Soldiers of Mexico (1997), a book that sold out four editions in English and two in Spanish. The book has a Facebook page, and an article-length study of the soldiers by the author is available here.
One of my favorite commemorations of these men is The Chieftains album, “San Patricio”, released in 2010, a great celebration of the friendship ties between Irish and Mexicans.
The 1995 documentary “The San Patricios” by Mark R. Day has been recently digitized and released in YouTube. It also provides a good overview of this chapter in Mexican, US and Irish histories.http://youtu.be/dUBQVXnmFmg
I thank Shaun Arron Cassidy for some of the references in this post.