A Traitor’s Justice: The Execution of the St. Patrick’s Battalion in the Mexican-American War, 1847
Despite overtures to the Catholic Church by American political and military leaders during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), the need to enforce discipline in theater was paramount to the U.S. Army’s success. When more than seventy Irish-American deserters, known as the Saint Patrick’s Battalion (San Patricios), were captured by U.S. forces in late August of 1847 following the Battle of Churubusco on the outskirts of Mexico City, they were summarily court-martialed. The former U.S. soldiers had been induced by Mexican incentives of free land and money to switch sides and fight for Mexico. Eventually their numbers reached a few hundred. They also fought well and were therefore doubly hated by U.S. Army officers. In contrast, the San Patricios are remembered as heroes in Mexico.