Daily Diary of Private Frank Smrcek


Because of the war between the North and the South both sides needed soldiers. In the North meetings took place and the speakers encouraged people to take up arms. They were successful and many young men who were qualified for military service joined the army and pledged allegiance to the flag. Several months went by. Finally August 18, I too (Frank Smrcek), touched by the words of one of the speakers, joined the volunteers.

On September 3, I bade farewell to my home and left with other young men for Milwaukee.

September 1862

On the 8th of September, we were sent to Camp Sigel where we joined the 26th regiment of volunteers from Wisconsin.

On the 17th, we were inspected and attached to the 26th regiment. We stayed at Camp Sigel for one month and received our basic training.

October 1862

Finally, the day of our departure from Milwaukee arrived and we left for the war against the enemy. It was the 6th of October. From the early morning the Camp was busy. Many people from Milwaukee poured into the camp, both to witness our departure, and to bid farewell to their beloved ones. Eyes were filled with tears. And how could they not be? There was a father parting with his son, a brother with his brother, a wife with her husband, a friend with a dear friend. Nobody was ashamed of his tears.

This scene was interrupted by the roll of the drums announcing our departure. Our files marched to the sound of the band to the Chicago railway station, escorted by many bystanders. Here we boarded the train and, taking leave from Milwaukee, we headed toward Racine. In Racine the local population bade farewell to their beloved ones. After this scene we rushed away, and on October 10, we arrived in Washington where we stayed over night. On the 11th we crossed the Potomac River and proceeded into Virginia. We stopped at Arlington Heights and spent the first night in a soldier's way, i. e., in the open.

On the 14th we left Arlington Heights and proceeded to Fairfax where we arrived in the evening and pitched a camp.

On the 16th, General Sigel inspected our camp; on the 20th we had the first maneuvers; on the 27th, we received ammunition.

On the 29th, we moved approximately 1/4 of a mile south of Fairfax and were attached to Sigel's11th Corps, the third division under the command of Carl Schurtz (Schurz), the 2nd brigade under the command of Krizanovsky (Krzyzanowski).

On the 31st, our division was inspected.

November 1862

2nd. The campaign began. This very day we moved via Centerville to Bull Run and spent the night there.

On the 3rd we reached Thoroughfare Gap.

We left this place on the 7th and proceeded to New Baltimore.

On the 9th, we proceeded to Gainsville where we stayed several days.

On the 18th we returned to Centerville and pitched a camp.

December 1862

On the 10th, we marched toward Fredericksburg. We reached Fairfax the same day.

On the 11th, we continued and marched far into the night.

On the 12th, we arrived in Dumfries where we rested the entire following day.

On the 14th we attacked Stafford Courthouse.

On the 15th we reached Fallmouth. The battle at Fredericksburg raged for 5 days, but just when we attacked it was ended and our division was withdrawn and we returned to Stafford Courthouse on the 17th, where we broke camp.

Year 1863

22 January 1863

On the 27th we approached Beria Church.

February 1863

On the 5th we marched to Stafford Courthouse for winter quarters.

March 1863

On the 10th our company was reviewed by President A. Lincoln.

On the 19th we were visited by Wisconsin Governor Edward Solomon. Following our stay at Stafford Courthouse we were assigned General Howard as the head of our corps.

On the 27th we started our summer campaign under General Hooker. After 2 days of marching we arrived at the river.

April 1863

We crossed the Rappahanock the same evening and marched on the other side the entire night until morning.

On the 29th, we stopped for a rest. Here our cavalry had a skirmish with the enemy and put him to rout. At 9 o'clock we proceeded and in the evening we reached the river Rappid Ann and crossed it the same night.

On the 30th, we arrived at Wilderness Church.

May 1863, The Battle at Chancellorsville

At noon on the 1st of May the shell fire began at Chancellorsville. We formed up into battle lines; our regiment moved straight to Wilderness Church; our front was in the south, our division defended the right flank. On our side the firing continued throughout the night, whereas the enemy responded only sporadically.

On the 2nd, our division moved the front to the west, our regiment on the right flank. Vanguards were sent into the forest which stretched approximately 100 feet in front of us. Around 6 o'clock they were attacked by the rebels and heavy shooting began. The arrays of enemy stormed forward, following close upon the heels of our vanguards. The latter gradually began forming battle lines. Hard on their heels the enemy wallowed from the forest throwing in our lines the deadly fire. We paid them back in their own coin. At first it seemed as if the rebels were giving in, but then they attacked us so violently that we could not hold against their attacks. Three times we retreated and then again faced them. Finally disorder broke out in our weakened lines and we began to run in full flight. But soon we rallied again and formed into lines at Chancellorsville. We had lost approximately 200 men [dead, wounded, taken prisoner].

On the 3rd, at 4 o'clock in the morning, we were transferred to the left flank at U.S. Ford and stayed there until the 6th. Then we marched back to Stafford Courthouse where we arrived in the evening.

On the 15th, we moved our camp closer to Brook Station.

June 1863 We are marching toward Gettysburg.

On the 12th, we left Brook Station and reached Weaversville on the creek Cider Run in the evening. Here we spent the night.

On the 13th, we crossed the creeks Broad Run and Bull Run and reached Centerville in the evening. Here we rested three days.

On the 17th, we proceeded and arrived the same day at Goose Creek and stayed there for six days.

On the 24th, we marched to Edwards Ferry.

On the 25th, we crossed the Potomac, proceeded into Maryland and turned to a hill not far from the Potomac River. At noon we crossed the Monocacy River at Nollance Fort and, toward evening, arrived in Jeffersonville.

On the 26th, we marched to Middletown and rested there the entire following day.

On the 28th, we arrived in Fredrick City.

On the 29th, we proceeded via Utica and Creagerstown and arrived in the evening at Emittsburg. Here we spent the 30th resting.

July 1863 The Battle of Gettysburg

On the 1st, early in the morning, our corps left Emmitsburg and marched to Gettysburg where our army met the enemy. We fought a bloody battle. I and Jozef Smrcek did not participate in this first encounter. On the 30th of June, we were on outpost duty. Because of the speedy departure of our brigade the outposts remained behind and we joined the regiment not until evening. At that time the encounter was over. Jozef Zbytovsky was wounded in this battle.

Our lines moved to the eastern part of the town, our regiment formed the right flank of the division. At this time the latter was marching on the main street through the town.

On the 2nd, we had to endure a violent shell fire. It began at 2:30 and lasted far into the night. The shells fell like peas on our heads. During the night the rebels stormed the first division which was standing to the right of us but were driven back at great casualties.

In the morning of July 3rd, the enemy resumed the shell fire which lasted until 10 o'clock. Then there was only scatters of shooting. The outposts were under permanent fire. At noon the cannonade began again and lasted until 4 o'clock. At the same time the rebels stormed our entire line but were driven back. They suffered heavy casualties; many were taken prisoner. The night was quiet and the enemy retreated. Thus, the next day we had command over the battlefield.

On the 4th, our cavalry began to pursue the enemy and we followed on the 5th in the afternoon. Retreating, we arrived in the afternoon of the 6th of July in Emmitsburg.

On the 7th we marched toward Middletown but we left this place already on the 8th at noon, and marched toward Bronsbors. During the whole day our cavalry had skirmishes with the rebels, but we remained in reserve.

On the 10th we advanced, and on the 12th we reached Hagerstown where we entrenched.

On the 14th our corps was reinforced with new regiments, and the same day we moved toward Williamsport where we stayed overnight.

On the 15th we returned via Hagerstown to Middletown which we reached in the evening.

On the 16th we proceeded via Jefferson to Berlin. There we had two days of rest.

On the 19th we crossed the Potomac into Virginia and reached Goose Creek where we again had a rest of two days.

On the 23rd we marched toward New Baltimore but left this town on the 25th in order to continue to Warrentown Junction.

On the 28th we moved to Weaversville and on the 30th we concentrated several miles south of it next to Cider Run.

August 1863

On the 3rd we moved back to Weaversville and took our old positions.

On the 6th I was promoted to corporal.

On the 27th we moved in the vicinity of Cattlett Station.

September 1863

On the 7th we moved our camp in the vicinity of Warrentown Junction and our assignment was to guard the railroads.

On the 16th we moved toward Rappahanock Station. While there we worked in the fort called Jacobs.

On the 23rd we undertook an expedition to the Army of the Cumberland. The same evening we left our camp and marched the whole night and on the 24th we arrived at Manasas Junction where we boarded the train; the Ohio Central and Baltimore Railroad. In Belair we changed into another train, then again in Indianapolis. From Jeffersonville, Ind. we went by steamboat on the Ohio River to Louisville and from there by railroad to Nashville.

October 1863

On the 2nd we arrived at Bridgeport and pitched a camp.

On the 4th the guerrillas burned a bridge in the rear. That cut off our entire food supply.

On the 8th another band attacked the railroad and blocked the tunnel near Murfreesboro.

On the 9th order was given to pursue the guerrillas. Our brigade boarded the train and drove up to the tunnel. Here we searched the surroundings but found nothing. We cleared the tunnel so that trains could pass it and returned to our camp.

On the 14th we made an exploratory military survey of the enemy territory on the other side of the Tennessee River. We captured 4 bushwhacks, 3 rifles and 2 saddled horses. Late at night we returned to our camp.

On the 19th we changed the camp.

On the 27th we left the camp and proceeded to Chattanooga.

On the 28th we arrived at the mountain Lookout which was occupied by the rebels. Approximately at 2 o'clock in the afternoon our vanguard ran into the rebel outpost and heavy gunfight began. The rebels retreated to the mountain. When 5 passing the mountain the artillery opened heavy bombardment from the top of the mountain but no one was injured. We stopped at Lookout Valley. At 11 o'clock at night the rebels sneaked out and attacked the 12th corps. Our corps quickly formed battle lines and rushed to the rescue of the 12th corps. The rebels were defeated and chased into the mountains. Our regiment had 2 casualties. We remained in battle line until the 6th of November. The enemy bombarded us every day but did not cause any casualties.

November 1863

On the 12th we went on a forage expedition.

On the 22nd we left Lookout Valley and moved to Chattanooga where we spent the night.

On the 23rd the battle of Missionary Ridge began. At noon we formed battle lines at Missionary Ridge where the bulk of rebels had taken position.

On the 24th we advanced several feet. The same day Mount Lookout was seized.

On the 25th the center of the rebels was defeated. At noon our corps moved to the left flank to aid Sherman. There the enemy had concentrated his forces. The enemy was defeated everywhere and, on the 26th, put to rout. We pursued him for 2 days.

On the 29th we marched to Knoxville in order to reinforce Burnside against Longstreet.

December 1863

On our march we passed through the following towns: Cleveland, Charlestown, Athens, Sweetwater and Philadelphia.

On the 5th we reached Louisville. This was the destination of our campaign. Since Longstreet retreated and Burnside did not need our support any longer we moved back to Lookout Valley where we arrived on the 16th. Here we spent the rest of the year 1863 peacefully.

January 1864

On the 25th our corps was ordered to defend the railroad between Bridgeport and Chattanooga. At that time our corps was again attached to the 2nd brigade which was stationed at Whiteside Station. The 3rd brigade was discharged.

April 1864

On the 13th the 11th and 12th corps merged into the 20th corps under the command of General Hooker. Our regiment was attached to the 3rd division under the command of General Butterfield, to the 3rd brigade under the command of Colonel Wood.

On the 22nd we moved over to Lookout Valley where our division took up formation.

May 1864

On the 2nd the summer campaign began. This day we arrived in Gordensville, Georgia, and rested the entire next day.

On the 4th we marched to Ringold. We left this town again on the 6th.

On the 7th we reached Buzzard Roost where we had 2 skirmishes with the rebels on two following days.

On the 9th we were relieved and moved back.

10th, we rested.

On the 11th we marched to Snake Creek Gap.

On the 12th we marched a few more miles.

On the 13th we marched up to Resaca. There we formed battle lines and remained in this position until the next day. We had no encounter but our outposts had one dead and 8 wounded.

On the 14th we moved to the left flank and from here, on the 15th, stormed the trenches and artillery of the enemy. During this encounter I was wounded in the left leg. Approximately one hour after the injury I was brought to the divisional field hospital and from there, on May 22nd, to the General Field Hospital in Resaca, Ward 7, Section 3.

On the 26th of June I was transferred to the General Field Hospital No. 2, Ward 19, in Chattanooga.

On the 10th of July I was transferred to Nashville, Tennessee, hospital No. 14, ward No. 2.

On November 12, I traveled by boat to New Albany, Indiana.

On the 3rd of December I was sent to Springfield, Illinois.

On the 13th my lower leg healed.

On the 30th of December I received furlough until the 23rd of February, 1865.

On the 23rd I returned to Harvey Hospital, Ward E, in Madison, Wisconsin.

On January 2nd I signed for the duration of the war.

On the 22nd of January, 1865, I left Camp Butler in Springfield and left for Madison, Wisconsin.

On the 23rd I stayed in Chicago, and arrived in Madison on the 24th.

On the 30th we were inspected.

On March 12th I received a letter from Lenka.

On March 24, I was discharged from the service of The United States by reason Surgeon Certificate of Disability

Information by Peggy Keck