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Kosciuszko, Thaddeus

Kosciuszko, Thaddeus (1746–17), Polish patriot, Revolutionary War general.Revered for his role in Poland's political struggles, Thaddeus Kosciuszko was also a significant figure in the Revolutionary War, principally for his expertise as a military engineer. Born in the province of Polisie, Kosciuszko was educated in Poland's finer schools, and enlisted in its Corps of Cadets before departing for advanced training in artillery and engineering at Paris. Returning to Poland in 1774, he found his country divided, his family finances in disarray, and opportunities in North America appealing. In mid‐1776, he sought a Continental army commission.

The Polish captain stood out in an army bereft of military engineers, a shortage of immense concern to Washington and Congress. On 18 October 1776, Congress commissioned Kosciuszko a colonel and later authorized an Army Corps of Engineers, long delayed by the dearth of qualified candidates. The arrival of Louis Le Bègue de Presie Duportail with a coterie of French veterans hastened the Corps' formation but slowed Kosciuszko's ascent, for the two men distrusted one another. Nevertheless, Kosciuszko served with distinction throughout the war, most notably in laying out West Point's defenses, fatally slowing Gen. John Burgoyne's 1777 expedition below Ticonderoga, and selecting the battlefield for the American victory at Bemis Heights.
[See also Engineering, Military; Revolutionary War: Military and Diplomatic Course.]

Bibliography

Miecislaus Haiman , Kosciuszko in the American Revolution, 1972.

J. Mark Thompson

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Kościuszko, Thaddeus

Kościuszko, Thaddeus (1746–1817) Polish soldier and statesman. After the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, he led a revolutionary movement to regain Polish independence. It was initially successful, but the invading armies of Russia and Prussia proved too strong, and Kościuszko was imprisoned (1794–96) and then exiled.

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