Meet Thaddeus Kosciusko, the Polish Engineer Fought Both in the American Revolution and for His Homeland

The Angry Staff Officer
Credit: Kosciuszko Foundation

The Angry Staff Officer

History, Americas

America needed men like him.

Meet Thaddeus Kosciusko, the Polish Engineer Fought Both in the American Revolution and for His Homeland

He arrives at Fort Ticonderoga in the spring of 1777 and conducts an inspection of the fortifications as well as those on Mount Independence, a fortified point across the strait of Lake Champlain on the Vermont side. Although an artist, Kosciusko is no dummy and asks why no one is fortifying nearby Mount Defiance, which basically controls both Ticonderoga and Independence.

So, we know all about the heroes of the American Revolution, right? George Washington, John Adams, Paul Revere – OK, well, not him, he was a good silversmith, an average errand rider, and a godawful general. But odds are you probably haven’t heard of Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kosciuszko. Nor can you spell it or pronounce it; join the club, but we’re working on it.

Thaddeus Kosciusko was born in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (long story, don’t ask) in 1746, the youngest son of a member of the nobility, aka, “not going to inherit anything, might as well join the army.” Accordingly, he popped off to Warsaw in 1765 to go be a cadet, commissioning in 1766, and made captain by 1768. Which was an awkward year to make captain, because the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth decided to celebrate his promotion with a civil war to overthrow the king. Kosciusko decided that discretion was the better part of valor and headed off to France in 1769.

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