Czech Genealogy – Original Translation of 1881 Amerikán Národní Kalendář article “Experiences of one Bohemian in the Mexican War”
Onward To Our Past® is proud to announce the publication of our newest original English translation from the Czech-American genealogy goldmine of Amerikán Národní Kalendář. This article takes the reader farther afield than our previous translations as we find ourselves transported, courtesy of Bohemian Josef Lebeda, to Mexico at the time of The Second Franco-Mexican War and the reign of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, a Habsburg.
We trust you will find this story as interesting. Enjoy the first (of two) installment of this amazing story. The second installment will be published here tomorrow.
Onward To Our Past®
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
EXPERIENCES OF ONE BOHEMIAN IN THE MEXICAN WAR
“Lavaca, Texas –
I am sending to the Kalendář the story of one soldier’s experiences in the Mexican War.
I am a native from Dobric, Prague kraj, Bohemia, and my name is Josef Lebeda.
When they started recruiting in Bohemia to go to fight for Maximilian in Mexico in 1864, the promise was made that each volunteer would receive 25 Austrian guilders and after six years of service a yoke of oxen and six acres of land. I joined the armed forces and we had to swear fidelity to the Mexican Emperor while on land and at sea, too.
After taking the oath I was sent to Ljubljana (Ed: the capital of Slovenia) for military training. There I had to wait for five whole months until they recruited a larger number of volunteers who came from all parts of the Austrian Empire. In total there were about 7,000 of us, and we were sorted to be: riflemen, sappers, or artillerymen. I was sent with the riflemen.
In the beginning of December we arrived at the harbor of Trieste to go aboard a ship and finally we put out to sea on 15 December in four ships.
On 29 January we reached Vera Cruz where we received uniforms and guns. Each man also received 60 cartridges and we were told to start to sharpen our bayonets and sabers. Four days later we moved out to the battlefield. On the seventh day we fought a battle. We won there, fortunately and then we marched to the capital city of Mexico, the seat of Maximilian. We camped outside of the city, and next day at noon we were visited by the Emperor along with the Empress. Accompanying them were three musical bands. One was Bohemian, the next was French and the third band was Belgian. After the parade, the Emperor told us that he was satisfied with us and that we were good warriors. Also that he would finally reward us.
We lived at that place for a whole month and later we were sent out into the forests to chase bandits there. We spent the next month in the forests, but without any success. We only found two old women and two French refugees.
When we returned to Mexico City, we stayed there for seven months without any assignments. Later we were sent to Orizaba for the captured rebel officers and we took them to Pueblo. Several days later we watched as all the prisoners were freed. It was said to us that the officers ransomed themselves and promised that they would never fought against the Emperor again. But they went back to the rebellion forces where they received their money back. They then stayed with the rebels and led them in their next battles.”
Tomorrow we finish the story of Josef Lebeda and his experiences in the Mexican War and his life after the War.
Onward To Our Past®