Sunday, February 1, 2009

Polish and American Revolutionary War Heroes

Kosciuszko is shown on the top in black and white and Pulaski is shown on the bottom in color.

Whenever someone hears the term “war heroes” they often think of old men sitting in the VFW remembering the nights they fought in the war when they were young. Old men rambling on about their rites of passage during the most trying times of their lives. War heroes go beyond American veterans still alive today. In fact, some of the greatest war heroes date back to the American Revolution and Civil War. Two very important soldiers fought in the American Revolution war yet they were not American. Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski were Polish war heroes who greatly shaped the outcome of the American Revolution.

Thaddeus Kosciuszko is best well-known for his contributions in engineering during the Revolutionary War. Thaddeus was born into a family of noble background but was not considerably wealthy. Thaddeus’s father was a dignified man and would not allow Thaddeus to play war games with the peasant children. Thaddeus often pondered his father’s reasoning and he came to believe that all people are created equal and should be treated equally. Kosciuszko supported the rights of Negroes, serfs and peasants. Thaddeus thought that Negroes should have the right to an education, serfs should not be bound to the land upon which they worked and peasants should have more roles in society. After his death, Thaddeus left a sum of his money to be used to build a school for Negroes in the United States where African-Americans could be educated in trade and business. This school was the first Negro school to be built in the United States and was named after Thaddeus Kosciuszko in remembrance. In addition to his nobility, Thaddeus was also very well educated. He used his education and talents to help George Washington, the first president of the United States, to defeat the British troops for the independence of the thirteen colonies. In fact, Thaddeus Kosciuszko was the first “of all the distinguished military men who came from abroad to fight for the independence of the thirteen colonies,” says Robert H. Wilson, author of “Thaddeus Kosciuszko and His Home in Philadelphia”. After Thaddeus arrived in America, he was put to work designing several forts to be used as American bases. One of his best known projects was the fortifications at West Point on the Hudson River in New York. Thaddeus was named the chief engineer of West Point because of his military expertise in design. In effect, West Point is considered to be one of Kosciuszko’s greatest built defenses considering that the British forces never attempted to capture it. Kosciuszko was praised by both George Washington and Congress for his great accomplishments. Many historians and Polish people today consider Thaddeus Kosciuszko to be the “George Washington” of Poland. Thaddeus Kosciuszko greatly contributed to the victory of the thirteen colonies in their fight for freedom and currently has several memorials in his name including West Point and Cracow, Poland. Not only was Thaddeus Kosciuszko a hero and leader in his own country but also in America.

Like Thaddeus Kosciuszko, Casimir Pulaski aided George Washington during the Revolution and is referred to “a hero on horseback”. Casimir Pulaski was born on March fourth 1747 and was a very determined and eager boy throughout his youth. Casimir was born into a very noble and wealthy family and grew up with many opportunities to be able to make a difference in the world. At a young age, Casimir learned how to ride a horse and became very skillful while mounted. Casimir and a few of his friends used to play war games while on horseback and speared apples off of fences with lances they had constructed themselves. By the time Casimir was twenty years of age, Russian soldiers had begun to invade Poland. Russia sought Poland’s fertile land and came to conquer. Casimir’s father began to act out and tried to make his fellow Poles aware of the situation. Despite this, many Polish people went about their daily lives yet Casimir’s father continued to create armies. Casimir joined his father’s army and soon began to teach his men things such as how to ride a horse properly and how to shoot a musket at the same time. Not long after, Russians kidnapped the Polish King and accused Casimir of the crime and he fled his country. Later in his life, after escaping from country to country, Casimir was arrested and put in prison by the French because he could not pay his debts. After Casimir was released from prison he went to speak with Benjamin Franklin, the American ambassador located in France. There, Casimir talked about his desire to fight for General George Washington for the independence of the colonies. It was in 1777 that Casimir came to America to help fight in the Revolutionary War. Casimir was a man who sought liberty as a personal goal so that all people may be free. Despite the fact that he failed to expunge the Russians from Poland, Casimir brought his military knowledge to the colonies and realized that George Washington and the Congress did not have a thorough understanding of cavalry forces. Even though Casimir was an exceptional fighter and commander, he was strongly disliked by Americans. This factor led to Casimir resigning and the creation of the Pulaski Legion that battled in the South primarily. Essentially, Casimir’s beliefs and ideas were advanced compared to the Americans and were put to use during the American Civil War. To this day Casimir Pulaski is referred to as “an experienced and accomplish cavalry commander,” says author Francis Casimir Kajencki, and will be remembered as a true hero on horseback.

These two men, Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski, were great war heroes. Not only did they fight for Poland’s freedom and liberty but for America’s as well. I find it very disappointing that students today do not learn of these two Polish men. Considering all of their contributions to American history, the tales and life stories of Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski should be taught in schools nationwide. My knowledge of Kosciuszko and Pulaski comes solely from my experiences and learning outside of school.

Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski were exceptional heroes and greatly contributed to America's victory and played key roles in American history. Both Kosciuszko and Pulaski will be remembered by Poles and Americans as two men who fought passionately for liberty and freedom in two countries.
Word Count: 1,056


  1. Your blog entry was really informative and had a lot of interesting facts in it. The only thing I would reccommend is that you try and put a little more personality in your writing. You had a little personality at the end, but it lacked personality for the first few paragraphs

  2. Very nice intro! I like the image of the sabre-rattling old men reliving their glory days round the VFW bar. You wrote a good generic intro there!

    I feel very lucky to have you in my class. I am learning so much about Polish history from your blog!

    Be careful with the use of the semicolon--they are used to separate two sentences that can stand independently. In this case "By the time Casimir was twenty years of age; Russian soldiers had begun to invade Poland." you'll want to use a standard comma because "by the time Casimir was twenty years of age" cannot stand on its own as a complete sentence.

    Great entry! I had no idea about the men that all those cities, towns, bridges, and monuments honor!