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Casimir Pulaski (1745-1799), a Polish soldier and commander, was recruited for the American Revolution, where he made his mark as a cavalry officer and came to be known as "The Father of American Cavalry." Pulaski was mortally wounded in battle at Savannah, Georgia.

General Pulaski, Warrior for Liberty on two Continents

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Casimir Pulaski

Casimir PulaskiCasimir Pulaski NPSCasimir Pulaski is remembered in many ways. In Poland, he is remembered as a man who fought for freedom on two continents, and is given the title “Soldier of Liberty.” In the United States, numerous streets, bridges, counties, and towns are named for him in honor of his aid to American forces. In Savannah, Georgia, a large monument commemorates his sacrifice fighting for the city during the American Revolution. Above all, he is the man who provided the American colonists with their first true legion on horseback, cementing his place as “The Father of the American Cavalry.”Born on March 6, 1745, at Warka on the Pilica, Poland, he was the middle of the three sons of Josef Pulaski. He came from a family of knightly traditions.

The Pulaskis took part in the victorious wars by King John III Sobieski against the Turks in the 17th century.By age 21, Casimir Pulaski proved to be a true military talent, fighting in battles across the European continent. By 1776, Pulaski learned of America’s struggle for independence and offered his services to the cause.

Pulaski arrived in Boston in July 1777. Pulaski would serve next to George Washington who appreciated Pulaski’s vast military experience. On September 15, 1777, the American congress promoted Pulaski to the rank of Brigadier General in command of cavalry.

Pulaski quickly distinguished himself at Brandywine, where he covered the retreat of Washington’s troops, preventing a total rout. Pulaski gained more success at Germantown.In May, 1778, Pulaski began to form an independent cavalry unit that would be known as the Pulaski Legion.

Comprised of Americans, German, Frenchmen, Irishmen, and Poles, the legion would see immediate action in October along the New Jersey coast. The Pulaski legion would later guard the northern border of Pennsylvania before heading south.In May 1779, the Pulaski Legion helped defend Charleston, South Carolina against the British.

The following months the legion engaged in reconnaissance and guerrilla warfare in South Carolina.By the fall of 1779, the Pulaski Legion headed toward Savannah, Georgia in an effort to join other French and American troops in an attempt to retake Savannah from the British. In the attack on October 9, 1779, American and French forces fell short of retaking the city.

Pulaski was mortally wounded by grapeshot and would die two days later aboard the American ship Wasp on route to Charleston. Pulaski was then reported to have been buried at sea near the place where the Savannah River flows into the Atlantic.In 1833, the new fort being constructed on Cockspur Island outside of Savannah was christened Fort Pulaski in honor of Casimir Pulaski.

Was Taken Aboard the American Brig, Wasp, Where He Died and Was Buried at Sea, on October 11, 1779. He Was 31 Years Old.

White House: On General Pulaski Memorial Day, we honor Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski, a Polish-born hero of the American Revolution, who gave his life 242 years ago in defense of our cause to establish a free and independent Nation.  Known as the “Father of the American Cavalry” for his leadership and military skills, General Pulaski’s service and sacrifice remain a shining example of the countless contributions that immigrants have made to help build our great Nation. 

Today, General Pulaski’s legacy and contributions to our democracy are honored by more than 9 million Polish-Americans in communities across our country.  Polish-Americans have played an integral role in the growth of our Nation — defending our country in uniform, protecting our communities as first responders, starting new businesses and growing our economy, educating the next generation of American leaders, working on the front lines of the pandemic, and creating art that inspires us, to name just a few examples. 

In 1929, the Congress recognized General Pulaski’s enduring impact on American society by declaring October 11, “General Pulaski Memorial Day.”  Eighty years later, the Congress granted him honorary United States citizenship.  Today, States, cities, and communities all across our Nation celebrate the memory of General Casimir Pulaski at parks, schools, and landmarks that bear his name — serving as a reminder of his heroism and the sacrifice he made in defense of our newly formed Nation. 

On this day, we celebrate the life of General Casimir Pulaski and the ideals and democratic values for which he bravely gave his life — values shared by the United States and Poland, which underpin the enduring bond of friendship between our countries. 

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