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Thaddeus Kosciuszko
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Military Personnel
    (February 4, 1746-October 15, 1817)
    Born in Kosava, Belarus
    Birth name was Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kosciuszko
    Joined the Continental Army during the American Revolution
    Named head engineer of the Continental Army (1776)
    Promoted to brigadier general and received American citizenship and a land grant in Ohio (1783)
    Named a major general in the Polish army (1789)
    Led an uprising against Russian and Prussian influence over Poland (1794)
    Pardoned by Tzar Paul I (1796)
    When the Bar Confederation revolted against the Polish monarchy, he avoided taking sides by emigrating to France (1768).
    While working as a tutor, he tried unsuccessfully to elope with one of his students.
    His only battlefield command during the American Revolution, at James Island, South Carolina, was a complete rout (November 14, 1782).
    After his unsuccessful revolt against the Russians and Prussians, Poland was completely wiped off the map in the Third Partition of the country.
    After a meeting to discuss Polish independence, Napoleon dismissed him as a 'fool.'
    After the Battle of Saratoga, American General Horatio Gates wrote 'The great tacticians of the campaign were hills and forests, which a young Polish engineer was skillful enough to select for my encampment.'
    His skills in building batteaux and scouting river crossings were credited with saving General Nathaniel Greene's southern army from being captured by Lord Cornwallis' forces.
    He was lifelong friends with Thomas Jefferson, who called him 'as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known.'
    During the Polish-Russian War of 1792 and the Kosciuszko Uprising, he repeatedly defeated much larger armies.
    He freed the serfs of his estate two years before his death and in his will asked that his properties in America be used to purchase the freedom of slaves and pay for their education.
    He composed a polonaise that, after lyrics were added, became a theme song of Polish patriots.
    He was considered such a potent symbol of Polish freedom, the occupying Russians would flog peasants just for mentioning his name.

Credit: C. Fishel


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