Thaddeus Kosciusko had fought in the American Revolutionary War as a colonel in the Continental Army. In 1783, in recognition of his dedicated service, he had been brevetted by the Continental Congress to the rank of brigadier general and had become a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Kosciusko came to America on his own, and on August 30, 1776 he presented a Memorial to Congress. He initially served as a volunteer, but on October 18, 1776, Congress commissioned him a Colonel of Engineers in the Continental Army. At the recommendation of Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski and General Charles Lee, Kosciusko was named head engineer of the Continental Army.
He was sent to Pennsylvania to work with the Continental Army. Shortly after arriving, he read the United States Declaration of Independence. Kosciusko was moved by the document because it encompassed everything in which he believed; he was so moved, in fact, that he decided to meet Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration. The two met in Virginia a few months later. After spending the day discussing philosophy and other things they shared in common, they became very close friends. Kosciusko was a guest at Monticello on many occasions, and spent prolonged visits there.
Kosciusko's first task in America was the fortification of Philadelphia. His first structure was the construction of Fort Billingsport. On September 24, 1776, Kosciusko was ordered to fortify the banks of the Delaware River against a possible British crossing. In the spring of 1777 he was attached to the Northern Army under General Horatio Gates. As the chief engineer of the army he commanded the construction of several forts and fortified military camps along the Canadian border. His work made substantial contributions to the successful American retreat from the battle of Ticonderoga and the victory at Saratoga in 1777.
After the battle, Kosciusko was regarded as one of the best engineers in American service and George Washington gave him command of military engineering works at the stronghold in West Point. Then he asked to be transferred to the Southern Army, where he also made substantial contributions to the American victories.
After seven years of service, on October 13, 1783, Kosciusko was promoted by Congress to the rank of brigadier general. He also received American citizenship and a grant of land and was admitted to the prestigious Society of the Cincinnati and to the American Philosophical Society. When he was leaving America, he wrote a last will, naming Thomas Jefferson the executor and leaving his property in America to be used to buy the freedom of black slaves, including Jefferson's, and to educate them for independent life and work. Several years after Kosciuszko's death, Jefferson pled an inability to act as executor, an action deprecated by the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and Jefferson historian Merrill Peterson. The U.S. Supreme Court awarded the estate to Kosciuszko's descendants in 1852.
Who was Thaddeus Kosciuszko?
In the United States …
He tried to buy Thomas Jefferson’s slaves and free them.
He designed the blueprints for West Point, which Benedict Arnold sold to the British.
He planned the Battle of Saratoga, the turning point of the American Revolution.
He stood up for the rights of Native Americans, and the chief of the Miami Indian tribe gave him a tomahawk/peace pipe as a sign of appreciation.
American Revolutionary War
Polish-Russian War of 1792