On This Day

Tadeusz Kościuszko

Military Leader and Statesman Tadeusz Kościuszko

Full Name: Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko
Profession: Military Leader and Statesman

Nationality:
Lithuania
Lithuanian
Poland
Polish

Why Famous: The Polish soldier and stateman fought in both his native land and in colonial America, becoming a hero in both.

Of noble birth, Kościuszko was educated in Poland and Paris, studying as a military architect. After a failed elopement, Kościuszko fled to America, joining the colonial forces again the British in the American Revolutionary Wars. Appointed an engineer colonel he built fortifications in 1877 along the Hudson River, contributing to the British surrender at Saratoga.

Later, serving under Nathanael Green, Kościuszko helped rescue the army by directing river crossings. For his war efforts he was made a brigadier general and given American citizenship.

Returning to Poland in 1784 he became a central figure in fighting to preserve Polish independence against Russia. He fought as a commander in the Battle of Dubienka and was made a general lieutenant by the Polish King Stanisław II.

Heading the Liberal cause in 1794 Kościuszko sore an act of national uprising and assuming military leadership of the cause. He led a peasant army to victory in the Battle of Racławice before being forced back to defend Warsaw. After successfully holding back Russian forces from the city he was eventually defeated at the battle of Maciejowice and taken prisoner.

After a period of imprisonment Kościuszko returned to America in 1797, become a friend of Thomas Jefferson. During Napoleon's reign the French emperor tried to recruit Kościuszko for his Russian campaign but Kościuszko remained suspicious of his motives and refused. Throughout his life Kościuszko believed in liberty for all and on his final departure from the US left a will with instructions for his assets to be used to free slaves and provide them with an education.

Born: February 4, 1746
Birthplace: Mereczowszczyzna, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (now Belarus)
Star Sign: Aquarius

Died: October 15, 1817 (aged 71)
Cause of Death: Fell from a horse, developed a fever and suffered a stroke

Historical Events

  • 1776-10-18 Tadeusz Kościuszko receives a commission from US Congress as a colonel of engineers in the Continental Army
  • 1794-03-23 Lt-general Tadeusz Kościuszko returns to Poland
  • 1794-04-04 Battle of Racławice, part of the Polish-Lithuanian uprising led by Tadeusz Kościuszko with a tactical Polish victory

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