James K. Polk, President of the United States, had a problem. The year was 1846 and the US was at war with Mexico, a Catholic nation. A large fraction of the American army was Catholic, usually fairly recent Irish immigrants. Mexican propaganda portrayed the war as a wicked onlslaught by Protestants against a Catholic people and appealed to Catholics in the US army to desert to them, promising them land and a position in the Mexican army. Some troops took them up on their offer, with deserters eventually forming the San Patricios Battalion and fighting for Mexico during the war. To stem such desertions, Polk wanted to appoint Catholic chaplains to the US Army. Although Catholic chaplains had served informally in prior American wars, none had served officially in that capacity. To remedy that, Polk had a quiet private meeting with Archbishop John Hughes of New York. While Dagger John suspected Polk’s political motivations, he agreed to recommend two priests to serve as chaplains: Father Anthony Rey, vice-president of Georgetown and a Jesuit, and Father John McElroy, also a Jesuit, who went on to found Boston College and who will be the subject of a future post.