Formed and led by John Riley, was a unit of 175 to several hundred immigrants (accounts vary) and expatriates of European descent who fought as part of the Mexican Army against the United States in the Mexican–American War of 1846–8. El Batallón de San Patricio, The Saint Patrick’s Battalion, deserted to fight on the side of Mexico.
Los San Patricios fought in five major battles from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon to Churubusco in Mexico City.
Thirty San Patricios were later hung for treason by the United States Army at the steps of El Castillo de Chapultepec. In total, forty-eight San Patricios were sentenced to hanging.
El Batallón de San Patricio is commemorated annually in Mexico and Ireland. In Mexico, on both 17 March and 12 September, the anniversary of the US Army’s execution of the San Patricios. On this same date, the town of Clifden, Co Galway, home of the Battalion’s Major John Patrick Riley, flies the Mexican flag over its city hall.
In Mexico’s Museo Nacional de las Intervenciones, a bagpipe band named after Los San Patricios honours their legacy in a monthly ceremony.
¡Que Vivan Los San Patricios!
Featured Photo: Commemorative plaque placed at the San Jacinto Plaza in the district of San Ángel, Mexico City in 1959: “In memory of the Irish soldiers of the heroic St. Patrick’s Battalion, martyrs who gave their lives to the Mexican cause in the United States’ unjust invasion of 1847.”
Liam Neeson adds a poetic tribute to the San Patricios: