Thaddeus Kosciuszko

 

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Thaddeus KosciuszkoKosciuszko, TADEUSZ (THADDEUS), patriot; born in Lithuania, Poland, February 12, 1746; was of noble descent, and was educated at the military academy at War-aw; also in France, at the expense of the Polish government. He entered the Polish army as captain, but a passion for the daughter of the marshal of Lithuania caused him to leave his country and offer his services to the Americans. He arrived in 1776, with a note of introduction and recommendation to George Washington by Dr. Franklin. " What do you seek here?" inquired the chief. "I come to fight as a volunteer for American independence," answered Kosciuszko. "What can you do?" asked Washington. "Try me," was the quick reply. He entered Washington's military family, October 18, 1776, as colonel of engineers. He planned the fortified camp of General Gates at Bemis's Heights, in 1777, and was the principal engineer in constructing the works at West Point, on the Hudson. Attached to Greene's army in the South, he was the engineer in the siege of NINETY-SIX, in June, 1781. For his services in the Continental army he received the thanks of Congress, the Order of the Cincinnati, and the brevet of brigadier-general. Returning to Poland, he fought against the Russians, under Poniatowski, in 1792; but the Polish patriots were defeated, and Kosciuszko retired to Leipsic. Another rising of the Poles occurred in 1794, when Kosciuszko was placed at the head of the insurgents as dictator; and, with 5,000 peasants, armed mostly with scythes, he routed nearly twice that number of Russians at Raclawice, April 4. Committing the conduct of a provisional government to a national council, he marched against his enemies. In Warsaw he was besieged by a combined army of Russians and Prussians. These, after several bloody conflicts, were compelled by the Polish chief to raise the siege. Austria had joined the assailants of the Poles, and, with an army of 150,000 men, fell upon and crushed them (October 10) at Macieowice. Kosciuszko fought gallantly, and fell covered with wounds, uttering the sadly prophetic words, afterwards fulfilled, "Finis Poloniae!" He was made captive, and was imprisoned at St. Peters-burg until the accession of the Emperor Paul, who set him at liberty, and offered Kosciuszko his own sword. It was refused, the Polish patriot saying, "I have no need of a sword, since I have no country to defend." In 1797 he visited the United States, where he was warmly welcomed, and received, in addition to a pension, a grant of land by Congress. He resided near Fontainebleau, in France; and when Bonaparte became Emperor, in 1806, he tried to enlist Kosciuszko in his schemes in relation to Poland. Kosciuszko refused to lend his services, except on condition of a guarantee of Polish freedom. He went to live in Solothurn, Switzerland, in 1816, where he was killed by a fall from his horse over a precipice, October 15, 1817. The remains of this true nobleman of Poland lie beside those of Sobieski and Poniatowski in the cathedral church at Cracow. An elegant monument of white marble was erected to his memory at \Vest Point by the cadet corps of 1828, at a cost of $5,000.

 

 

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