Saint Patrick’s Battalion were proud and doomed, Irish rogue cannoneers under a green silk banner, fighting against their former comrades-in-arms to defend Catholic Mexico against the invading U.S. Army. Their choices were to win, die in battle, or hang as deserters. To the Mexicans they were heroic saviors, but they were seen as despicable traitors by the West Point officers who faced their grapeshot and cannonballs on every major battlefield Matamoros to Mexico City. Survivors of the Irish battalion’s deadly gunnery would later lead armies against each other in Civil War, many of them – Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Braxton Bragg – ironically deemed the same sort of traitors. This astonishing true tale from an almost forgotten war is told through the eyes of two boys who know and admire the idealistic Irish leader John Riley: an Army camp errand boy who keeps a diary, and a Mexican military school cadet whose widowed mother becomes the Irishman’s tragic lover.
“A hell of a book… a world class writer.” Kurt Vonnegut, New York Times bestselling author
“Not only a striking (and often horrific) account of pre–Civil War army life, Quinn’s narrative beautifully conveys the boy’s coming of age against a backdrop of eerily familiar war and rebellion.” – Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“With its eerie parallels to modern-day warfare, this fine novel makes for gripping reading.” – Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
James Alexander Thom is the author of Follow the River, Long Knife, From Sea to Shining Sea, Panther in the Sky (for which he won the prestigious Western Writers of America Spur Award for best historical novel), Sign-Talker, The Children of First Man, and The Red Heart.