Faced with the marching US army, Mexico recruited people from nations far and wide, inviting them to join their fight for freedom.
This call resulted in people from nations all over the world joining the Mexican army - primarily Irish and German immigrants and African Americans.
The 'Legion of Foreigners' was quickly established and fought in the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. Simultaneously, Jon Riley and manned Mexican artillery at the Siege of Fort Texas with other Irish deserters. These two groups then came together at the Battle of Monterrey on September 21st 1846, under the name Battalón de San Patricio.
During the battle, the Battalion provided artillery support for the Mexican army. Proving to be the backbone of the Mexican artillery efforts, the Battalion rapidly grew in numbers following the battle - inspiring fellow immigrants to join the Mexicans' cause.
On February 23rd, the San Patricios were given the three heaviest cannons to man in the Battle of Buena Vista. Positioned overlooking the battlefield, the Battalion began the battle by firing on US infantry and soon destroyed an artillery battery directly opposite.
The Patricios started to get ambitious. A small company was dispatched to capture the an American cannon, which was far better designed. Relentless in this pursuit, the company battled US artillerymen hand to hand and hauled away two six-pound cannons, which would be used by the Mexican army in later battles - such as the Battle of Contreras, where they covered a Mexican retreat. After this battle, many Irishmen were awarded the War Cross and given field promotions.
Their Last Breath
The Battalion's final battle was fought at Churubusco - a vital strategic holding for the Mexican army. If Churubusco fell to the US, the War would quickly be over. The San Patricios used between three and five heavy cannons to hold off advancing US troops. As the battle raged on and the Mexican ammunition ran low, chaos quickly ensued and the Mexican lines were broken. The battle was nearing its end, and Mexican troops began raising white flags. But for the San Patricios, defeat would not only cost them the war, but may also cost them their lives. They passionately continued to fighting, preventing others from surrendering and engaging the US army hand to hand, willing to dedicate their last breath to this dream of freedom.
However, as the chaos erupted further, the remaining San Patricios raised the white flag and accepted their fate. Once again their future was no longer in their own hands.
Those who were not killed in battle marched to trials. The punishment for deserters was death by hanging, which most of the San Patricios were sentenced to. Although they never knew the freedom they fought for - much like Patrick Sarsfield - the San Patricios have been remembered by Mexico. Streets, plazas and public buildings have been named after them. The Battlion's name is also written in gold letters in the chamber of Mexico's House of Representatives and both Ireland and Mexico have jointly issued commemorative stamps in honour of the Battalion.