General Tadeusz Kosciuszko

When we arrived at our hotel in Philadelphia, we saw this beautiful statue and wondered – who is this man? Then when we were in Washington, DC, another statue of him existed in Lafayette Park. Why does this man have a statue in Philadelphia and in Washington, DC?

His name is Tadeusz Kosciuszko.

Tadeusz Kosciuszko was born in Poland on February 4, 1746.  He was a colonel in the Continental Army. Because of his dedication, he was promoted to Brigadier General. He also became a United States citizen before he returned to Poland to fight in the Uprising of 1794.  He came to America and volunteered to fight on October 18, 1776.  He was made a Colonel of Engineers. Soon he was the head engineer.  After reading the Declaration of Independence he met Thomas Jefferson. They became great friends and he visited Jefferson many times during his life.

His first task was to fortify Philadelphia. He helped build Fort Billingsport and then fortified the banks of the Delaware River. His ingenious work kept the British from capturing Philadelphia by water. Unfortunately, Philadelphia was lost in a land battle. (they should have enlisted his help fortifying the land around Philadelphia, too.) Later he was sent to General Gates and worked on building camps along the Canadian border.  He helped restore Fort Ticonderoga. He made several suggestions to place artillery on Sugar Loaf Hill that General St. Clair ignored.  When Burgoyne captured the fort, he did exactly what Kosiuszko suggested and had complete control of the area.  The Battle of Saratoga proved to be a turning point in the war. France later joined forces with the Patriots because now they believed the Patriots had a chance of winning.

When Gates took over, he enlisted Kosciuszko to fortify Albany. He made the area nearly impregnable in every direction. This helped turn the tide in the Patriot’s favor.  He next worked on West Point. It became known as the American Gibraltor. It was his plans that Benedict Arnold tried to sneak to the British when he turned traitor. But like any good tactical genius, he destroyed the original plans so Arnold actually had a fake. He was the one who suggested to General Washington that West Point become a military academy.

When Green took over for Gates, Kosciuszko was called to assist in the Southern campaigns. He fortified positions, scouted river crossings, siting camps, constructing bateaux, and developed contacts. His work helped the Patriots beat the British. If not for him, the Patriots would not have crossed the River Dan and rescued them from Cornwallis who could not follow. General Greene said he “was the most helpful and congenial companions.” He was injured during the Ninety Six campaign. His only wound during his years of service. After helping to recapture Charleston, South Carolina, he remained there for the remainder of the war.

On October 13, 1783 he was raised to the rank of Brigadier General. He also received citizenship, $15,000 and a grant of 500 acres near Columbus, Ohio.  He was admitted into the Society of the Cincinnati and the American Philosophical Society.  When he returned to Poland, he wrote a will and left it with Thomas Jefferson.  When he died, his land was to be sold and the money was to be used to buy the freedom of black slaves and then educate them. Unfortunately, none of this occurred, his estate was squandered by a man using it for his own purposes.

So, now you know information about an important man from the American Revolution. Without his expertise, we might not have won those important battles. If you travel across these great United States, you will find many tributes to Kosciuszko - statues, buildings, schools, bridges - all named after him.

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