Historical Markers
Casimir Pulaski Historical Marker
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Casimir Pulaski

Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
US 1 E of Chadds Ford near entrance to Brandywine Battlefield State Park

Dedication Date:
September 13, 1975

Behind the Marker

Oil on canvas of Casimir Pulaski, by Julian Rys, c.1897
Casimir Pulaski, by Julian Rys, circa 1897.
Born in Poland in 1747, Casimir Pulaski was the son of a Polish count who became a professional soldier early in life. Pulaski came of age when the relatively weak Polish nation was being partitioned and briefly destroyed by stronger central European powers – Austria, Prussia and Russia. In 1768, his father, Jozef, joined in an insurrection known as the Confederation of Bar, and became the military leader of the confederation. Casimir Pulaski also participated in the uprising, commanding a military detachment that battled Russian forces for nearly four years. His father died in the struggle against the First Partition of Poland in 1773. The younger Pulaski only escaped death by fleeing first to Turkey and then to France.

In Paris, he met markerBenjamin Franklin, then attempting to negotiate an alliance between France and the United States, and won his friendship. Noting the young Polish soldier's experience as a military officer, Franklin urged Pulaski to join George Washington's Continental Army as a volunteer and provided him with a letter of introduction. Washington quickly assigned Pulaski to the cavalry following his arrival in July 1777. During the Battle of Brandywine, his first military action in the American Revolution, Pulaski served General George Washington as part of his personal bodyguard and gathered battlefield intelligence. Immediately after the engagement, he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the small force of Continental cavalry. 
Faded fringed banner
Casimir Pulaski's original cavalry banner, circa 1778.

In his new role, Pulaski participated in a strange follow up to the Battle of Brandywine known as the Battle of the Clouds. On September 16, 1777, his cavalry forces encountered Howe's troops marching northward from Brandywine. They retreated and reformed with other American units preparing to square off against the British near the White Horse Tavern, where the Lancaster Road crossed the road leading from Chad's Ford. Both sides soon abandoned the fight, however, when a torrential downpour made it difficult for troops to light the flints for their muskets. A fierce wind also made bayonet charges unlikely. The two sides maneuvered briefly but no significant fighting occurred.

Pulaski went on to play a significant role in the military during the American Revolution. His experience and valor earned him the command of his own cavalry unit, and in 1779 he journeyed to South Carolina to help defend the southern Continental Army, which was under fierce attack from the British. After participating in a successful defense of Charleston, South Carolina, Pulaski was mortally wounded in the siege of Savannah and died on October 11, 1779. In his first letter to General George Washington, after arriving in America, Pulaski had written, "I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it."
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