Hercule Poirot, I am not.
When I moved to Mexico, I assigned myself one research project: Is there any connection between the name of the main village (San Patricio) where I live and the San Patricio Battalion of the Mexican-American War?
My local research revealed nada. That even overstates the case, I could not even find a place to begin the research.
An "academic" asserted online that he had seen a deed for a local hacienda awarded to a member of the San Patricio Battalion. When I asked for details to support his theory, he simply disappeared.
My only other lead was a book -- The Rogue's March: John Riley and the St. Patrick's Battalion 1846-48.
I started reading it in the hope that I might find some clues for my project. I didn't.
But I refreshed some memories about a period that established long-standing feelings between Americans and Mexicans -- a time when Mexico lost 60% of its claimed territory to the United States of America.
The Mexican-American War had as many causes as any war. And each historian has his own axe to grind.
- An ambiguous border between Texas and Mexico, unresolved in The Republic of Texas' War of independence.
- The United States' 1845 admission of Texas into the union to thwart a power play by Great Britain -- even though the admission broke an implicit promise to Mexico that Texas would not be admitted.
- The presence of a small-town country lawyer in the White House, who thought he could buy over half of Mexico's territory -- territory that Mexico could not adequately occupy -- as if he were buying Tennessee farm land.
- A Mexican government, so weakened by decades of internal warfare, that believed it could default on millions of dollars in debt to American citizen without consequence.
- Pro-slave American politicians who dreamed of new slave-holding territory, but feared the acquisition of acquiring a non-slave California.
- Mexican politicians who believed their war-hardened army could easily snatch away Texas from a militarily weak United States -- because God was on their side.
- American politicians who believed in the Manifest Destiny of the United States as a continent-wide nation -- because God was on their side.
And it all went wrong right from the start -- for both sides.
The Americans naively insulted Mexican pride by trying to buy the territory -- am offer that resulted in the collapse of the only effective Mexican government in three decades. Both governments were euchred by one of the wold's first-class schemers: General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
On paper Mexico should have wiped out the American invaders. The Mexican army was battle-hardened and outnumbered the green American forces. Luck and hubris worked in favor of the Americans.
And artillery. The Americans easily outgunned the Mexicans.
That is where the tale of the San Patricio Battalion begins.