On September 13th Mexico celebrates the heroism and patriotic values of six young cadets of the Heroic Military College of Mexico that demonstrated such heroism at the battle of Chapultepec in 1847. But this event, as told by teachers and the government, most likely did not happen…
Castillo de Chapultepec
The legend (considered to be a truthful historic episode by a vast majority) says that six cadets defended with their lives the Castle of Chapultepec when the United States army besieged the place in their advance towards Mexico City. In fact there's no real evidence of this taking place and it's considered by historians to be another of the many myths of the official history of our nation.
What it really happened on September 13th 1847 was one of the last battles of the Mexican-American War that started the previous year.
Several years before, the state of Tejas proclaimed independence from Mexico in order to be free from the thigh state control that President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna tried to exert through the Seven Laws of the Conservative Party, and also to practice Protestantism and slavery at large. In 1835 the texans obtained their independence but Mexico never recognized it and threatened to ignite a war if the United States incorporated the texan territory to that country; of course Santa Anna's army was destroyed and had no resources to start a war but anyways he taunted America.
Remember the Alamo
In 1845 the Republic of Tejas became the new State of Texas, part of the Union and the following year American president James Polk sent the federal army to protect his new acquisition but he ordered the troops to cross Nueces River (natural frontier) and occupy the territory above Rio Grande, which was part of Mexico (territorial heir of the Viceroyalty of New Spain). When the Mexican troops found the Americans, some minor battles took place and the war began.
The war was a failure for Mexico from the beginning. The US swiftly occupied Nuevo Mexico and California while conducting a blockade in the Gulf; the Mexican government dispatched a battalion led by General Mariano Paredes to confront the invaders, but before fighting with the Americans he returned to Mexico City with the excuse of not having enough ammunition and overthrew the president. The country was in chaos while General Zachary Taylor advanced from the north, he was stopped only at the Battle of Angostura but then he resumed the march towards the capital. In early 1847 Polk sent another army by sea from New Orleans, led by Winfield Scott, who landed at Veracruz and advancing towards the capital following the same route used by Cortez to reach Tenochtitlan in 1519 before the Conquest of Mexico. When the Americans were close to the capital they knew where the defenses of the city were being prepared because the Mexican press announced that information… It was clear that a Mexican victory was impossible.
On September 13th General Winfield Scott was attacking the castle of Chapultepec, an entrance to Mexico city. The place was defended by the Battalion of San Blas led by Colonel Felipe Xicotencatl and some volunteer cadets of the Heroic Military College with Generals Nicolas Bravo and Mariano Monterde at the lead; but the American Army was much bigger, better prepared and heavily armed. The castle was taken, Xicotencatl perished among the majority of the soldiers from the Battalion of San Blas; Monterde and Bravo were taken prisoners along with most cadets who did not die in the battle.
It is said that Xicotencatl died wrapped on the flag of his battalion and the legend says that one of the cadets Juan Escutia, the most famous, wrapped the flag that fluttered atop of the castle on him and then threw himself in order to die, thus preventing the enemy from desecrating the ensign.
This of course is a no more than a myth as it has been recorded that the US army did lower the Mexican flag and appropriated it. The US flag was raised atop the castle and this served as a signal to kill the captured soldiers of Saint Patrick's Battalion, who defected from the US army to fight side by side with Mexicans against the invaders, so the last thing they saw was the American flag fluttering before being hanged.
Juan Escutia jumps
The next day, Scott took Mexico City, president Valentin Gomez Farias surrendered and Mexico was forced to give the half of its territory to the Union in exchange for 15 million dollars of that time. The imperialist flag of stars and stripes waved above Palacio Nacional, the hearth of the nation. 166 years have passed since then.