At NPR, listen to the new recording project by the Chieftains and Ry Cooder,
San Patricio, a “cultural mashup of Mexican and Irish music.”
San Patricio tells a story: A group of downtrodden Irish-immigrant soldiers deserted the U.S. Army in 1846 to fight for the Mexican Army in the Mexican-American War (1846-48). As you’ll hear, the result pays heartfelt tribute to the soldiers of San Patricio (Spanish for St. Patrick), in the form of the Mexican music they might have heard during breaks on the battlefield, as well as Irish songs from their homeland.
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St. Patrick’s Battalion Pipes & Drums (Mexico City):
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American Heritage: “The San Patricios”
The key to the city’s defense was the fortress at Chapultepec, and as the U.S. soldiers prepared to attack it on September 13, 1847, thirty San Patricios were brought to Mixcoac to be hanged. All of them were bound at chest, hands, and knees, and the nooses set in place. Then they waited, watching the white fortress of Chapultepec Castle two miles away. Col. William S. Harney, commanding the execution detail, pointed his sword toward the fortress and told the condemned that at the very moment the Mexican flag was replaced by the Stars and Stripes—“the flag you have dishonored”—they would die. For hours they waited in the shadow of death under the broiling sun.
“As soon as the flag was seen floating in the breeze they were launched into eternity,” an artillery man remembered. “What must have been the feelings of those men when they saw that flag—for they knew their time had come! But on the other hand, a cheer came from them which made the valley ring.”