Pulaski Square in Cleveland Ohio
General Kazimierz (Casimir) Pulaski was born March 4, 1747 in Warka, Poland and died October 15, 1779 in Savannah, Georgia.
Pulaski was the son of the founder of the Confederation of Barr, Joseph Pulaski. Together they vowed to save Poland from the Russians. Even after his father's death he continued his campaign, even bringing about a revolution in Lithuania.
He was forced into the fortified monastery of Czenstichova and it was from there that he finally forced the Russians to withdraw. Although he was accused of planning the abduction of King Stanislas Poniatowski he has been cleared of any participation in the event by modern day historians.
Pulaski at Battle at Czenstichova
The allegation was enough, however, to have his estates confiscated and turn him into a fugitive with a bounty for his life. He fled to Turkey and eventually France where he met Benjamin Franklin. Franklin piqued his interest in what was happening in the States and in March, 1777 Pulaski came to America.
He found his way to Philadelphia and became part of the staff of George Washington. He became part of the Battle of Brandywine, originally as an observer. However, he received Washington's permission to organize a group of scattered troops into a unit of his own, to be used at his discretion.
As a result he kept Washington's army from marching into an ambush and took an active part in the battle of Germantown. Washington was so impressed that he commissioned him to Brigadier General. In 1777-78 he was a major contributor in the defeat of the British at Haddonfield, New Jersey.
Problems arose among the ranks including the Cavalry officers' reluctance to take orders from a man who could barely speak English and who employed strategies quite different that what they were used to. Pulaski left his command and returned to Washington's service at Valley Forge.
With Washington's nod of approval, Pulaski approached Congress with an idea to form a corps of light infantry, allowing even deserters and prisoners of war to enlist. Congress gave their approval and Pulaski's army proceeded to recruit, especially in the Baltimore area. There were 3 Infantry Companies and 3 Calvary Companies and numbered over 300.
Pulaski Square in Cleveland Ohio After fighting many successful battles he became disillusioned with his band and considered leaving and returning to Europe. General Washington persuaded hi to stay and sent him to Charleston South Carolina in 1779. The city was overcome with British. Non-stop assaults and attacks forced the British to leave South Carolina.
Through all of this Pulaski suffered from malaria, but it never kept him down. He joined General McIntosh in Augusta and moved with him to Savannah where he eventually commanded both the French and American armies.
He was shot in the thigh on October 9 and taken to the American ship "The Wasp" for medical care. He died before the ship had a chance to leave the river.
It is said that Pulaski was buried at sea, with his funeral taking place in Charleston. However, historians are now almost certain that he was buried in Greenwich Plantation. The remains of the person thought to be Pulaski were exhumed by Colonel William Bowen and interred in the Pulaski monument which was dedicated in 1825 by General Lafayette.
In 1985, The Ohio Legislature officially declared October 11th to be General Pulaski Memorial Day in honor of his contributions to Poland and the United States.
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