Today’s exclusive translation contains some truly amazing details regarding the conscription of Bohemian men into the armies of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Sent to fight their wars, it is no wonder so many Bohemians wanted to flee. All too often they were seen as little more than cannon fodder.
This is an amazing story to learn from and enjoy!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Year: 1904, Volume: XXVII, Pages: 256-266
“The Memories of Czech Settlers in America”
“JAN ČERNOCH is one of the settlers of the Czech-Moravian settlement of Dubina, Tex.
He was born on the 17th of March 1837 in Tichá in Moravia to poor parents and so after two years of school attendance he had to go find his own loaf of bread.
From shepherd he advanced to herder and then farmhand until the time when he was drafted into the armed forces, which was the 3RD Regiment of Infantry of Charles Buchner in Kroměříž. From there the whole regiment was taken by train to the Italian border up to Nabresina and from there they went on foot to Venice, Verona, Brescia and Milan. In the year 1850 the Austrian Army was preparing for a decisive battle in Piedmont. In it he went through the Battle of Montebello, Magenta, and even the memorable one at Solferino. After the end of the Italian campaign he was given leave, however, during the campaign of Schleswig-Holstein he was called back to the regiment. Meanwhile the foreboding clouds of the Austro-Prussian War were gathering.
It was a war in which Jan Černoch also took part, though not as successfully as in the Italian campaigns. He stood in the first ranks of the Austrian Army near Trutnov where it intended prevent one of the Prussian forces from entering Bohemia and in the ensuing battle our friend Jan Černoch was wounded in the thigh so he remained lying on the battlefield. The care for the killed and the wounded and was so pitiful that some of the wounded were collected and driven away only after two days and that was by the Prussian helping units by which it happened that the wounded Austrian soldiers found themselves in Prussian captivity.
From there the wounded were transported carelessly along miserable roads, first to Breslau, then to Berlin; and from there, after the conclusion of the peace, back to Austria, primarily to Vienna and to the military camp in Bruck an der Leitha. Jan Černoch lived through all kinds of torture by those transports, moved from place to place, and also in the camp where more wounded succumbed to the cruel fellow traveler of the Austro-Prussian War – cholera, than to their wounds.
Partially cured fighters were sent to nearby Bratislava (Pressburg) from where they were sent individually to their homes. “Me too” says Mr. Černoch, “I was transported to Olomouc where a glorious commission examined me, recognized me as an invalid and awarded me a daily pension or graciál pension in the amount of 10 kreutzers (4 cents) a day. So it is understandable that I could not bring myself to exclaim with pleasure about this graciál pension; and when they released me I hurried off home.
I did not find mother still alive. She died during my last tour of duty and only my father was left to me. And even though I was not completely healthy yet, I joined the bricklayers.
Then a year later I got married. I was working at one of the farmsteads in our village until the year of 1872 when, together with my wife and three small children, I set off on the road to America.
I landed on American soil in Columbus, Texas with 20 dollars. The first year in America brought me deep sorrow with the death of my wife a short time after our arrival in Dubina. My three children were now my responsibility and even though I tried as much as I could to provide properly for them, I recognized nevertheless that the most beneficial thing would be for me to bring them a new mother, whom I found in the person of my present-day wife Marie, born Petrová.
Together then we were farming and working, putting money aside with the future hope of buying our own farm for ourselves and our ever increasing family. Our hope was fulfilled 8 years later when we bought 150 acres, and then added another 58 acres.
I have worked and am working, to this day, surrounded by my numerous family which by now, except for 3 sons, has been provided for.”
Come back tomorrow for another, equally compelling story of an early Czech immigrant in the United States!
Onward To Our Past®