Tadeusz Kosciuszko

Facts about Tadeusz Kosciuszko

We found 52 facts about Tadeusz Kosciuszko

Hero of the North

Tadeusz Kosciuszko (Andrew Thaddeus Bonaventure Kosciuszko) is considered a national hero of Poland, the United States, and Belarus. He was an excellent engineer and military commander, one of the most famous figures in the history of Poland and the United States.

Tadeusz Kosciuszko
Tadeusz Kosciuszko was born in 1746 in Mereczowszczyzna near Kosovo in Polesia.

In the first half of the 18th century, the Mereczowszczyzna manor was owned by the Sapieh family. In 1733 it was pledged to Ludwik Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who possessed the grange until it was bought out in 1764. The Kosciuszko family then moved to the family estate of Siechnowicze.

The Kosciuszko family descended from Konstantin Fedorovich, a grand ducal courtier of Alexander Jagiellon and Sigismund I.

Konstantin Fedorovich was diminutively called "Kostyushka," which years later became a family name. In 1509, Sigismund I the Old, as Grand Duke of Lithuania, granted Konstantin (by a privilege written in Old Belorussian) ownership of the Siechnowicze estate, which still included neighboring hamlets. Over time, the family became Polonized.

Tadeusz, who was given the name Andrzej Tadeusz Bonaventura Kosciuszko at his baptism, was the fourth child of Ludwik Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Tekla Ratomska Kosciuszko, coat of arms Roch III.

Tadeusz's father was a court official (swordsman) and the Lithuanian field roll regiment colonel.

Piarist College in Lubieszow.

He interrupted his studies in 1760, with both brothers returning home due to financial troubles following the death of their father.

Joseph became the heir to a small estate, so Tadeusz chose a military career.

With the support of the Czartoryski family, he entered the Cadet Corps of the Knights' School on December 18, 1765. The Knights' School was established on the initiative of Stanislaw II August (King of Poland, 1764-1795), and its purpose was to prepare a cadre of officers, enlightened, progressive people, and good citizens.

He was a very talented, outstanding student.

He studied Polish history and general history, philosophy, Latin, Polish, French, German, law, economics, arithmetic, geometry and surveying.

As an able student, he attended a special engineering course for outstanding students.

He remained at the school as an instructor sub-brigadier with the rank of ensign and graduated with the rank of captain.

In 1769, he traveled to Paris as a Royal Scholar.

During this stay, he deepened his knowledge at the Military Academy of the Cavalry of the Royal Guard in Versailles, where he learned about modern fortifications. He also studied at the Academy of Painting and Sculpture.

Kosciuszko's stay in Paris lasted five years.

Pre-revolutionary France at the time made a huge impression on him, translating into his political and social beliefs.

Upon his return to Poland, which had been partitioned by Russia, Austria, and Prussia three years earlier, he found no employment in the army (the Polish army at the time was reduced to 10,000 soldiers).

He had no property (his brother ran the family farm), which was an obstacle to his marriage plans linked to Ludwika Sosnowska, daughter of Lithuanian Field Hetman Jozef Sylvester Sosnowski.

Faced with this state of affairs, he left for Dresden but did not find a position there either - he sought to enter service at the Saxon court or the Elector's army.

He left again for Paris and learned about the war in America - the war for American independence - the American Revolution. It was an armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and its thirteen colonies in North America, lasting from 1775 to 1783.

Kosciuszko decided to set sail for North America.

He set sail in June 1776, probably from Le Havre, on a voyage that lasted more than two months. He arrived in Philadelphia in September and was tasked with developing a section of the city's fortification in the Delaware River area. He later worked on fortifying the entire city.

During the American Revolution, volunteers from several European countries took part in the colonies' side.

In addition to Kosciuszko, these included Marie Joseph de La Fayette (French politician), Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau (French general and marshal of France), Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (Prussian officer), and Casimir Pulaski (one of the leaders and marshal of the Confederation of Bar).

In the spring of 1777, Kosciuszko was sent north to the Canadian border, where he fortified various Continental Army military camps for months under General Horatio Gates.

He became famous after the Battle of Saratoga, where he performed his fortification work. His engineering skills were recognized, and he was entrusted with constructing the strong fortress of West Point on the Hutson River, which U.S. Army Commander-in-Chief George Washington approved.

Kosciuszko also assisted the southern army, where he was sent at his request.

For his services, by a resolution of Congress, he was promoted to brigadier general of the U.S. Army in 1783. He was also given some 250 acres of land and a substantial sum of money to be paid later in annual installments.

When Congress paid him the outstanding money, even though his financial situation was not the best, he used the entire amount he received to buy freedom and educate the colored population.

Kosciuszko entrusted the rest of his estate to Thomas Jefferson. The latter was the executor of his will, which dealt mainly with the problem of abolishing slavery and related human trafficking (abolitionism).

Also of great distinction was Kosciuszko's admission (as one of three foreigners) by fellow combatants to the Society of the Cincinnati, founded by the most distinguished officers.

The Society of the Cincinnati was an association formed by veterans of the American Revolution on May 13, 1783, at a camp near the town of Newburgh, bringing together the most distinguished officers who, like the Roman Cincinnatus, "left everything for the defense of the fatherland." Society is still active today.

Kosciuszko's orderly was an African-American from western Massachusetts, Agrippa Hull.

While Kosciuszko was in Philadelphia, he was visited by Indian chief Little Turtle, to whom Kosciuszko gave a pair of pistols, with the message to use them against "anyone who would seek to conquer you or your people."

In 1784, Kosciuszko returned to Poland.

He went to his hometown of Siechanowicz, where his brother-in-law administered his part of the estate. The estate was not in debt and even brought in a small profit to cover necessary expenses. Despite the negligible amount of income, Kosciuszko decided to limit the peasants on his estate to serfdom for two days a week and exempted women from work altogether. This decision did not please the local nobility.

In the political life of Poland at the time, a group of activists pushing the need for reform played an increasingly important role.

Great political writers, such as Stanislaw Staszic and Hugo Kollataj, called for strengthening the central government and granting more rights to the bourgeoisie and peasants. Some of the patriotic nobility also joined these demands. Sitting in 1788-1792, the Four-Year Sejm (also known as the Great Sejm) undertook the work of repairing the Republic.

An opportunity arose for Kosciuszko to pursue a military career in the army of the Republic, as one of the first resolutions of the Four-Year Sejm was to raise the army to 100,000.

In October 1789, Kosciuszko received an appointment signed by the King as a major general of the crown army. It also entailed a hefty salary of 12.000 zlotys a year, which would put an end to his constant financial troubles.

Unfortunately, these aspirations caused unrest among Russia and Prussia, as well as the Polish magnates, with ties to foreign powers.

Magnate conspirators (Szczęsny Potocki, Seweryn Rzewuski, Franciszek Ksawery Branicki) formed the Targowica Confederation abolishing the provisions of the May 3 Constitution. The guarantor of the old laws' return was Tsarina Catherine II. At the request of the Targowica Confederation, the Russian army entered Poland.

Prince Jozef Poniatowski became the commander of the Polish crown army of 17.000 soldiers, and Tadeusz Kosciuszko became the commander of one of the three divisions.

In May, the Russian army, with a strength of about 100.000 soldiers, entered the territory of the Republic, and the Polish-Russian War of 1792 began.

Despite the enemy's overwhelming strength, the Polish army managed to achieve victory at the Battle of Zieleniec.

To commemorate this victory, the King established the Order of Virtuti Militari. The first list of awarded includes, among others, the name of Major General Tadeusz Kosciuszko.

Kosciuszko distinguished himself in the battles of Zieleniec, Vladimir, and Dubienka.

His high command competence was recognized in the battles, which was reflected in his nomination as a lieutenant general. However, before this nomination reached Kosciuszko, it was announced that all hostilities against the Russian army had been halted, as King Stanislaw August Poniatowski had joined the Targowica Confederation.

Like many other activists, Kosciuszko decided to leave the country and go into exile in Saxony, as an emigration center of opponents of the Targowica Confederation was being formed in Leipzig and Dresden.

He only stayed in Leipzig for two weeks, then went to Paris to try to obtain French assistance there for the uprising planned in the Republic.

In August 1792, the National Legislative Assembly of revolutionary France awarded Kosciuszko the honorary title of Citizen of France.

It was awarded in recognition of his activities and struggle for the ideals of freedom.

After returning from Paris to Dresden in June 1793, Kosciuszko developed the concept of organizing a national uprising.

The official date of the start of the insurrection is considered to be March 24, 1794. After a briefing by officers of the Krakow garrison, Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Jozef Wodzicki went to mass at the Capuchin church, after which they laid their sabers at the foot of the altar to be consecrated. After taking the sabers in their hands, they vowed readiness to give their lives for the defense of the homeland.

Kosciuszko then appeared in the Krakow Market Square, where he took the oath after the reading of the act of uprising.

The act of the uprising gave Kosciuszko the title of Supreme Chief of the National Armed Forces and placed total authority in his hands.

During the uprising, Kosciuszko reformed the Polish army, introducing many innovations.

Due to the lack of sufficient weapons, he ordered the formation of peasant troops armed with war scythes - they went down in history as Scythemen. He also set up units of sharpshooters, precursors of snipers (Kosciuszko used his American experience here - he recruited hunters, foresters, as well as Kurpies, who were famous in the Republic for their shooting skills). Thanks to the attack of the Kosynierzy on the Russian cannons, Kosciuszko's army achieved victory at Raclawice on April 4. To mobilize the peasants to fight, Kosciuszko promulgated the so-called Proclamation of Połaniec, which limited peasants' serfdom and granted them personal freedom.

The Kosciuszko Insurrection, also known as the Kosciuszko Uprising, was a Polish national uprising against Russia and Prussia in 1794, including the Warsaw, Vilnius, Kurland, Greater Poland, and several other insurrections.

It lasted eight months, from March 24 to November 16, 1794. It ended in total defeat, followed by the Third Partition of Poland.

On October 10, 1794, a battle took place near Maciejowice between Polish troops commanded by the head of the insurrection Tadeusz Kosciuszko, and Russian troops under General Fyodor Denisov.

The battle ended with the defeat of the insurgent army and the imprisonment of wounded Kosciuszko in the Petropavlovsk fortress in St. Petersburg.

After the death of Catherine II, Kosciuszko was freed from captivity by her successor, Tsar Paul I Romanov.

The price he had to pay for freeing 20.000 Poles from Russian prisons and gulags was to take an oath of allegiance and pledge not to return to Poland.

He left Russia via Finland, Stockholm, and the United Kingdom for the United States.

In the United States, he met with his friends from the American Revolution, including Thomas Jefferson, who helped him obtain a passport under a false name. In America, he was received as a Polish national hero and a great soldier fighting for freedom. Thomas Jefferson called Kosciuszko "as pure a son of liberty, as I have ever known, and of that liberty which is to go to all, and not to the few or the rich alone."

He spent several months in the United States, after which he returned to Europe and settled first in Paris and then in Switzerland.

In France, he took part in the formation of the Polish Legions and the founding of the Society of Polish Republicans.

He also met with Napoleon, whom he was skeptical about, not trusting him.

He was opposed to the idea of tying the Polish cause to him. Napoleon called Kosciuszko a "hero of the north."

In 1808, he published a book, "Manoeuvres of horse artillery."

Probably the same year he left for Switzerland. He settled with Franz Xavier Zeltner in Solothurn, a town in the northwestern part of the country, on the Aare River. There he spent the last years of his life.

In 1815, Tsar Alexander I Romanov invited Kosciuszko to Vienna.

The Tsar wanted to gain approval for the creation of the Kingdom of Poland in this way. Learning that the planned Kingdom of Poland was to be smaller than the Duchy of Warsaw, Kościuszko left Vienna after unsuccessfully attempting to contact the Tsar by letter.

Tadeusz Kosciuszko died in Solothurn on October 15, 1817, at age 71, and was buried in nearby Zuchwil.

A year later, a coffin with Kosciuszko's embalmed body was brought back to the country and ceremoniously deposited in the crypt of St. Leonard in Wawel Castle. In 1832, the coffin was placed in a sarcophagus.

According to the will, the heart extracted from Kosciuszko's body was placed in an urn and given to Emilia Zeltner, the daughter of Franz.

In 1819, Emilia took the urn containing Kosciuszko's heart to Vezia near Lugano and in 1829 to Varese, Italy. Finally, in 1895, the urn was donated to the museum in Rapperswil, where it was decided to place it in the local church of St. John the Baptist.

In 1921, the Polish Sejm decided to bring Kosciuszko's heart to the country, which was realized on October 15, 1927.

Since June 13, 1983, the urn containing Tadeusz Kosciuszko's heart has been kept at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

In 1792, Stanislaw August Poniatowski wanted to award Kosciuszko the Order of the White Eagle.

Kosciuszko, however, as a republican by conviction, was said to have refused to accept.

Kosciuszko was the first person in 1792 to be awarded the Virtuti Militari gold medal.

He later replaced the medal with the Knight's Cross of the Virtuti Militari.

He received the Order of the Cincinnatus from the hands of George Washington in Philadelphia on May 5, 1784.

The Order of Cincinnatus is an American decoration established in 1783, awarded to members of the Society of Cincinnatians.

American astronomer Edward Bowell named Kosciuszko for one of the asteroids he discovered.
Tsarina Catherine the Great called Kosciuszko a "beast."

General Nathanael Greene (General of the Continental Army during the War of American Independence) called him "a master of his profession."

When patriotic celebrations of Kosciuszko's death anniversary were to be held in 1861, Russian governor Charles Lambert imposed martial law in the Kingdom of Poland.

The anniversary celebrations were violently suppressed by the Russian army, including the desecration of churches.

Tadeusz Kosciuszko is a revered figure in the United States.

He has been honored with several monuments, including a monument in Washington, D.C., erected in 1910 to a design by Antoni Popiel, funded by the Polish-American National Committee. The monument is set up in Lafayette Park. A copy of it is located in the Saxon Garden in Warsaw. Another monument is located on the Saratoga battlefield and in Detroit.

The United States Military Academy at West Point has a statue of Kosciuszko and a commemorative plaque.

The academy is located in a former U.S. Army fort in West Point, New York, on the Hudson River. It is the oldest military institution in the United States. George Washington chose the site for the fort, and Tadeusz Kosciuszko designed the fortifications in 1778.

Between 1820 and 1823, Kosciuszko's mound was raised in Krakow.

The Kosciuszko Museum operates at the mound.

The National Tadeusz Kosciuszko Memorial Museum is located in Philadelphia.

It is located in the house where Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Juliusz Ursyn Niemcewicz (the friend with whom Kosciuszko went into exile after leaving the Petropavlovsk fortress) lived for six months in 1797-1798.

Kosciuszko was depicted in many paintings.

He was painted, among others, by Jan Matejko - "Battle of Racławice", as part of the Racławice Panorama by Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak, et al.

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