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Casimir Pulaski

Who was Casimir Pulaski?

Kazimierz Pulaski (in the USA referred to as Casimir Pulaski) (March 4/6, 1745 – October 11/15, 1779), born near Warsaw (Winiary-Warka area), Poland.

, was a Polish nobleman (szlachcic) of Slepowron Coat of Arms, soldier and military commander who fought against the Russian (tsarist) Empire in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. From 1768 to 1772, he took part in a confederation against the Russians called the Confederation of Bar (Konfederacja barska).

Kazimierz Pulaski monument at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC.From 1777 to his death, he fought for independence of the United States in the American Revolution under the command of George Washington. Pulaski was a noted cavalryman and played a large role in training Revolutionary troops, creating Pulaski’s Legion, one of the few cavalry regiments in the contemporary US army. He took part in the Siege of Charleston (Charleston, South Carolina) and siege of Savannah (Savannah, Georgia).

On October 9, 1779, during a cavalry charge, while probing for a weak point in the British lines at the battle of Savannah, Pulaski was mortally wounded by a grapeshot. He was carried from the field of battle by several comrades, including Colonel John C. Cooper. He was wounded in the groin and was taken aboard the privateer merchant brigantine Wasp. Two days later, on October 11, 1779, he died of wounds without regaining consciousness.

According to several contemporary witnesses, including his aide-de-camp, he was buried at sea, however a long standing rumor persists that the wounded Pulaski was actually taken to Greenwich plantation near Savannah where he later died and was buried. An eight year long examination of the remains buried at the plantation ended in 2004 having failed to reach a definitive conclusion.

Tribute

Perhaps one of the first tributes was paid by George Washington, who on 17 November 1779 issued an order to identify friends and foes when crossing military lines: “Query: Pulaski, Response: Poland.” Fort Pulaski National Monument of the American Civil War is named so in honor of Kazimierz Pulaski.

The state of Kentucky has by law recognized General Pulaski’s Day since before 1942. The State of Illinois has celebrated Casimir Pulaski Day on the first Monday of March since 1977, no doubt due to the large Polish population of the city of Chicago; Pulaski Road, one of the city’s major arteries, is named after him. The first official celebration of Pulaski Day was in 1978. Likewise, Grand Rapids, MI hosts a “Pulaski Days” celebration over three days during the first full weekend of October, which includes among other things a flag-raising ceremony at the General Pulaski monument. You can view pictures taken during the celebration at “PulaskiDays.com” A bridge on Interstate 65 over the Kankakee River in Indiana is named after him. American singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens titled a song “Casimir Pulaski Day” on his album, “Illinois,” in which the singer’s love dies of cancer on Casimir Pulaski Day.

The Pulaski Skyway in northern New Jersey and the Pulaski Bridge in New York City are dedicated to him. By Presidential Proclamation, every October 11 is “General Pulaski Memorial Day”, dedicated to Pulaski’s memory and the heritage of Polish-Americans. A US Navy submarine, USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633), was named after him.

There are counties named after Pulaski in various states including Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Virginia.