Historian/ educator Michael Hogan enthralled listeners at a standing-room-only presentation at the Lake Chapala’s Open Circle Sunday, March 11 with tales about his research for his book “The Irish Soldiers of Mexico,” published two decades ago.
When Hogan spent six years researching and writing his book in 1991-1997, little was known about the Soldiers of St. Patrick (Los San Patricios), who deserted the U.S. Army to fight on the Mexican side. The only work about them was by Robert Ryal Miller, who portrayed them as drunks and misfits. Forty-eight of them were hanged by the American forces after they were captured in Mexico City.
Hogan’s historical study, however, used Mexican documents and other sources to show that they were motivated by sympathy for the Mexican cause, a reaction to the violent anti-Catholicism at the time, and the mutual history they shared with Mexico of invasion by an Anglo-Protestant Army. He used Mexican documents to prove that several were awarded medals for bravery and promoted to the officer ranks. In his book he also shows the high esteme in which the Irish were held in Mexico throughout the 19th century.
Hogan revealed to the crowd of 350 how he discovered a cache of rifles hidden in the basement of the Ex-Convento de Churubusco where the arms had been hidden 171 years ago by defeated Mexican soldiers. The United States had already won the Mexican American War and occupied Mexico City. But the story of the rifles, with the brass disk on the stocks proclaiming “Harper’s Ferry-1847,” indicated that they were robbed by Guatemala gunrunners who passed through the Veracruz blockage and smuggled into Mexico a few months too late to be of use. There they were buried for more than a century and a half.