Casimir Pulaski was a Polish-born military commander who was known as the “Father of American Calvary.”
This article will tell you more about his passion for freedom, service to our Nation and his legacy of fighting for liberty.
Life in Europe
Pulaski was born on March 6th, 1745 in Warsaw, Poland and was involved in war at an early age. He first fought in the Confederation of Bar, a failed attempt by the Polish to rid themselves of Russian control and influence. Pulaski was only nineteen when he became a leader in the Confederation of Bar and led hundreds of men against Russia. Pulaski was later accused of treason — after an attempt to abduct Stanislaus II — and to protect himself and escape the accusations he left Poland and took refuge in France.
The Revolutionary War
While in France, Pulaski met the well-known American political philosopher Benjamin Franklin. Franklin persuaded Pulaski to come to America and help the colonies fight against the British. Franklin wrote a letter to George Washington, describing Pulaski as “an officer famous throughout all of Europe for his bravery and conduct in defense of the liberties of his country.” Pulaski could sympathize with the colonies wanting their independence and went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in December of 1777 to help them fight for freedom.
Pulaski joined Washington’s forces and fought in the Battle of Brandywine. It is during this battle where Pulaski is said to have saved George Washington’s life by figuring out the British’s plans and leading the Army to safety. His skills in cavalry and leadership caused Washington to quickly promote Pulaski as a brigadier general in the Continental Army and the “Commander of the Horse.”
Death and Legacy
Pulaski was later sent to the southern United States and it is here that Pulaski fought his last battle. He fought for Charleston and Savannah but was wounded during the Second Battle of Savannah and died a few days later from his injuries. The exact date and location are unclear, but many believe his death took place on October 11, 1779.
Pulaski is remembered for his determination to fight for liberty and is memorialized throughout the United States including:
- Pulaski Skyway in New Jersey
- Pulaski Skyway in Massachusetts
- Pulaski Bridge in New York City
- Casimir Pulaski Monument in Monterrey Square, Savannah, Georgia
- General Casimir Pulaski statue in Washington, D.C.
- Pulaski Park, Northampton, Massachusetts
- Pulaski Park in Manchester, New Hampshire
October 11th serves as General Pulaski Memorial Day to honor his service to our newly declared country, and the important role he served in protecting the life of our nation’s first president.