Kazimierz Pułaski

For things named to honor Kazimierz Pułaski, see: Pulaski.
Kazimierz Pułaski of Clan Ślepowron (often written Casimir Pulaski in English in the USA (March 4, 1746October 11, 1779), was a Polish soldier, member of the Polish-Lithuanian szlachta and politician who has been called "the father of American cavalry".

A member of the Polish landed nobility, he was a military commander for the Bar Confederation and fought against Russian domination of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. When this uprising failed, he immigrated to North America, where he became a General in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He died of wounds suffered in the Battle of Savannah.


JMP Kazimierz Michał Wacław Wiktor Pułaski herbu Ślepowron was born March 4, 1746 (some sources cite March 6) in Winiary, near Warka. His father, Józef Pułaski, was the Starost of the area and one of its most notable inhabitants of the time. Early in his youth, Kazimierz Pułaski was sent to Warsaw, where he studied at the local college of Theatines.

In 1762, he started his career as a page of Charles Christian Wettin, Duke of Courland and a vassal of the Polish king. However, soon after his arrival at Mitau, the ducal court was expelled from the palaces by the Russian forces occupying the area. Pułaski returned to Warsaw, where in 1764 he took part in the election of the new Polish monarch, Stanisław II August.

A skilled military commander and a son of one of the notable families, Pułaski became one of the co-founders of the Bar Confederation, together with his father, on February 29, 1768. The confederation, aimed to curtail Russian hegemony over the Commonwealth, was actively opposed by the Russian forces stationed in Poland. As the Marshal of Nobility of the Land of Łomża, Pułaski became one of the best commanders of the confederate forces. That year he was besieged in a monastery in Berdyczów, which he defended for two weeks against overwhelming odds. Taken captive by the Russians, he was set free after being forced to pledge that he would not return to the confederates.

However, he did not consider such a forced pledge binding and fought against the Russian forces for four more years. In 1769, he was again besieged by numerically superior forces, this time in the old fortress of Okopy Świętej Trójcy. However, after a brave defense, he was able to break through the Russian siege and defect with his men to the Ottoman Empire, from where they returned to Lithuania. There Pułaski incited yet another revolt against Russia, with many local nobles joining the Confederation.

Between September 10, 1770, and January 9, 1771, Pułaski also commanded the Polish forces in the siege of Jasna Góra monastery, which he successfully defended. In November 1771, he was also the main organizer of an attempt to take the king hostage. However, the attempt failed, and the Confederation was disbanded soon afterwards. Pułaski was made a public enemy and sentenced to death in absentia for attempted regicide. He fled the country, but no European state accepted him. After a brief stay in Turkey, he moved illegally to France, where he was recruited by Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette for service in America.

He was a Polish soldier and military commander who fought in the American Revolution under the command of George Washington. Pulaski was a noted cavalryman and played a large role in training Revolutionary troops, with Congress naming him "Commander of the Horse". He was, however, infamous for his arrogance, and demanded that his only superior be the commanding general. Undoubtedly brave, his imperious personality and lack of English caused him to resign his general command, but he was allowed to subsequently organize an independent corps. He took part in the sieges of Charleston and of Savannah. From 1777 until his death, Pułaski fought in the American Revolutionary War for the independence of the United States. He was a noted cavalryman and created Pulaski's Legion, one of the few cavalry regiments in the American Continental Army. He took part in the Battle of Brandywine, the Siege of Charleston (South Carolina), and the Battle of Savannah (Georgia).

On October 9, 1779, Pułaski — during a cavalry charge, while probing for a weak point in the British lines at the Battle of Savannah — was wounded in the groin by grapeshot. He was carried from the field by several comrades, including Colonel John C. Cooper, and taken aboard the privateer merchant brigantine Wasp. Two days later, without having regained consciousness, he died of his wounds.

According to several contemporary witnesses, including Pułaski's aide-de-camp, he was buried at sea. A long-standing rumor, however, has it that the wounded Pułaski was actually taken to Greenwich plantation near Savannah, where he died and was buried. In 2004, an eight-year examination of remains buried at the plantation ended inconclusively. According to "Find A Grave" {below} Pulaski was buried in Savannah, Georgia.


One of the first tributes to Pułaski was paid when George Washington on November 17, 1779, issued a challenge-and-password set for identifying friend and foe when crossing military lines: "Query: Pulaski, Response: ''Poland".

The United States has long commemorated Pułaski's contributions to the American War of Independence, but Polish immigration in the 20th century accelerated the interest. By presidential proclamation, every October 11 is "General Pulaski Memorial Day," dedicated to Pułaski's memory and to the heritage of Polish-Americans. Each October Grand Rapids, Michigan, celebrates () "Pulaski Days". There is also a statue of Pułaski in Detroit, Michigan, in the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Michigan Avenue.

The State of Kentucky has by law, since before 1942, recognized General Pulaski's Day. The State of Illinois has since 1977 celebrated Casimir Pulaski Day on the first Monday of March, doubtlessly due to the large Polish population of Chicago. Wisconsin and Indiana extend similar recognition, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, also holds an annual parade and school holiday. Pulaski County, Indiana is also named in his honor. On his day there is a Pulaski Day parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City ().

"Pulaski Park" sits on Main Street between City Hall and the historic Academy of Music Theater, in the town of Northampton, Massachusetts. Northampton and the surrounding area is home to many Polish American immigrants and their descendants.

The Pulaski Bridge connects the neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, one of the largest Polonias in America, to Long Island City, Queens.

In his honor

The American Civil War Fort Pulaski National Monument is named in honor of Kazimierz Pułaski.

A US Navy submarine, USS Casimir Pulaski, has been named for him, as was a 19th-century Revenue Marine (Coast Guard) cutter.

Several cities and counties in US states are named after Pulaski, including the city of Pulaski, Tennessee, counties in Arkansas (of which Arkansas' state capital is the county seat), Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and Virginia, as well as villages in Wisconsin and New York. There are also Casimir Pulaski elementary schools in Detroit, Michigan, New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Meriden, Connecticut, Pulaski High School in Milwaukee, and an industrial park is named for him in nearby Wallingford, Connecticut. Within the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, Pulaski House is the name for a student residential building. Additionally, there is Pulaski Square in downtown Savannah and Fort Pulaski National Monument outside Savannah. In McGlachlin Park, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, stands a statue of Count Casimir Pulaski. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, there is a Pulaski Days Festival the first weekend of October, including a parade and celebration at local Polish Halls honoring his contribution to the Revolutionary War. There is a Small park named in his honor in Northampton, Massachusetts and in South Bend, Indiana. Streets named for Pulaski, in various cities including Hamtramck, Michigan,South Bend, Indiana, and Columbia, South Carolina. Interstate 65 through Lake County, Indiana is designated as Casimir Pulaski Memorial Highway.

In the movie Year of the Dragon, a drug-smuggling ship crucial to the finale is called the Kazimierz Pułaski.

American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens titled a song "Casimir Pulaski Day" on his album Illinois, in which the singer's adolescent love succumbs to cancer on Casimir Pulaski Day. Similarly, but using a different spelling, heavy rock band Big Black include a song, "Kasimir S. Pulaski Day."

There is a technical university in Poland known as Casimir Pulaski Technical University of Radom.

On March 19 2007, the United States Senate agreed unanimously to posthumously recognize Pulaski as an Honorary Citizen of the United States. If the United States House of Representatives follows suit and the President of the United States signs the resultant bill into law, Pulaski will become only the seventh person so honored.

Pulaski Day is also celebrated in Illinois on the first Monday in March, which is treated as a full holiday and all government buildings are closed. School districts have the option of taking Pulaski Day as a holiday.


See also

External links

Search another word or see Kazimierz_Pułaskion Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature