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Mexico - Batallón de San Patricio

The "San-Patricios", "Los Colorados", San Patricio Company

Last modified: 2005-12-24 by juan manuel gabino villascán
Keywords: mexico | batallón de san patricio | saint patrick | san patricio | colorados (los) | us invasion |
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[Batallón de San Patricio flag (side A)] [Reverse side of the Batallón de San Patricio flag]

by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, March 14, 2002

The Batallón de San Patricio: Historical background

The San Patrcio Battalion, also known as Irish Volunteers, "Los Colorado's" (because of the disproportionate number of red-headed soldiers): San Patricia Guards; San Patricio Company; Foreign Legion; Legion of strangers and other designations, was mainly made of immagrants to America (some of them US-Army desserters) that fought on the Mexican side in the Mexican/American War).
Sherrie Goff January 17, 2000.

The Batallón de San Patricio: One flag, several versions

Here there are four versions about the San-Patricios' flag.

    "The Batallón de San Patricio used an emerald flag emblazoned with the Irish harp and shamrock was due to a Sean Riley's whim."
    "John Riley said the emarld green ensign had an imagew of St. Patrick emblazoned on one side, with a shamrock and the harp of Erin on the other."
    Quoted in: Robert R. Miller, Shamrock & Sword, pp. 33, 38.

    "A beautiful green silk banner waved over their heads; on it glittered a silver cross and golden harp..."
    Quoted in: Samuel E. Chamberlian My Confession

    "The banner is of green silk, and on one side is a harp, surmounted by the Mexican coat of arms, with a scroll on which is painted 'Libertad para la República Mexicana' (Liberty for the Republic of Mexico). Underneath the harp is the motto 'Erin go Bragh'. On the other side is a painting made to represent St. Patrick, in his left hand a key and in his right a crook or staff resting upon a serpent. Underneath is painted 'San Patricio'".
    Quoted in: George Wilkins Kendall, New Orleans Daily Picayune, 9 Sept 1847

    "The flag of the San Patricio unit was embroidered or painted with representations of St. Patrick, the harp of Erin and the shamrock, upon a green field"
    Quoted in: Smithsonian Magazine, March 1978.

Sherrie Goff January 22, 2000.

I have seen various reconstructions of this flag on television and in print but no two of them were the same. One history of the Batallón de San Patricios is that by Michael F.X. Hogan entitled 'The Irish Soldiers of Mexico' (Guadalajara, 1997). I have not read the book, but in an article by the same author in the magazine 'History Ireland' in 1997 he wrote as follows:

    "They fought under a green silk flag emblazoned with the Mexican coat of arms, an image of St Patrick, and the words 'Erin go braugh' (sic)."

The exact appearance of the flag may remain a matter of speculation.

Vincent Morley, April 30, 2002.

To talk about another version of such Batallion's flag is that used in the movie "One Man's Hero (Batallón de San Patricio)" (1999) stared by Mexican singer and actress Daniela Romo, Tom Berenger (Sean O'Reilly), and Joaquim de Almeida; Directed by Lance Hool, and Produced by Tom Berenger, Conrad Hool and Lance Hool.
Here, the flag of the historic "Batallón" is green, proportioned aprox. 1:2, the reverse side is plain green, while the anverse side bears an expanded eagle, a golden harp, a shamrock, and two scrolls (one of them taken by the eagle [?]). On one scroll is written: "Batallon de San Patricio", while the other in unreadable. I could not see any Saint Patrick's depiction.

Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán April 30, 2002.

There is another version on the Batallón de San Patricio's flag:

    "Helped by Isabel (...) the flag was ready: over a green silk field on one side a Saint Patrick's depiction embroidered in silver thread; and in the other side, a harp superimposing a shamrock, both Irish emblems, embroidered in gold, and bellow them the motto: 'Erin Go Bragh' (Ireland forever) also in gold.
    Quoted in: Roberto Brown, El águila y la cruz: La historia del Batallón de San Patricio y su comandante John O'Reilly, July 1999.

Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán May 01, 2002.

Three flags for the Batallón de San Patricio?

We have just been asked to replicate this flag, an in order to do so we have contacted Robert Ryal Miller the author of the already mentioned Shamrock and Sword. Professor Miller has indicated that the unit must have had at least three flags.

    1. San Patricio as a Mexican Artillery Company

      A flag from their service as a Mexican Artillery Company. (Perhaps the one illustrated in the painting "The Capture of O'Brians Guns.)
      NB: This flag could also have had two sides, one with Irish devices.

    2. San Patricio as an infantry company

      The Infantry flag made by the nuns at San Luis Potosi (previously described as "The banner is of green silk, and on one side is a harp, surmounted by the Mexican coat of arns, with a scroll on which is painted 'Lebertad por Republica Mexicana". Underneath the harp is the motto "Erin go Bragh'. On the other side is a painting made to represent St. Patrick, his left hand a key and in his right a crook or staff resting upon a serpent. Underneath is painted "San Patricio'" -George Wilkins Kendall, quoted in Shamrock and Sword p. 38)

      This is the flag captured at Churubusco by the 14th US Infantry and later apparently taken to West Point and placed in the chapel. But, it did not survive because when President Truman returned the captured Mexican War flags it was not returned. The chapel was replaced sometime in the 1930's and by then the flag seems to have vanished.

    3. San Patricio as a reconstructed unit

      Their Mexican Infantry color of the reconstituted unit after the capture of Mexico City. A flag which could have also had two sides!
      It would seem that this unit carried a variety of colors during there service.

James J. Ferrigan III, February 8, 2000.