#Onthisday in 1766, American War of Independence Officer Tadeusz Kosciuszko graduates as a Chorazy (an Ensign or First Lieutenant) from a Polish military academy.
Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko was a Polish-Lithuanian military engineer and a military leader who became a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and the United States.
Kościuszko was born in 1746 in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in a village that is now in Belarus. Kościuszko decided upon a career in the military. He enrolled in the newly formed Szkoła Rycerska (Academy of Chivalry), a school created by King Stanislaw II to train a well educated cadre of officers and state officials. There, Kościuszko received a classical liberal arts education, studying, apart from the strictly military subjects, Polish and world history, philosophy, Latin, German, French, law, economics, geography, arithmetic, geometry, and engineering. Upon graduating in 1765 with the rank of Chorazy, Kościuszko was granted a royal scholarship and departed for Paris. He spent the next four years studying military engineering and absorbing pre-revolutionary France.
In 1776, Kościuszko moved to North America, where he took part in the American Revolutionary War as a colonel in the Continental Army Kościuszko is known in our community because of the Battles of Saratoga. In September, 1777 American General Gates tapped Kościuszko to survey the country between the opposing British and American armies. Kościuszko chose the most defensible position, a raised area a few miles south of Saratoga, known as Bemis Heights, to build their fortifications and stop the British advance to Albany. Bemis Heights overlooked the Hudson River and the road to Albany at a natural “bottleneck” in the river valley. The heights gave a commanding view north, where the British would be advancing from. Dense woodland and difficult ravines prevented the British from traversing the land just east of the river. Swampland and ravines directly beneath Bemis Heights restricted Burgoyne’s advance to the river and the road, both of which were highly visible and vulnerable to American forces. These imposing defenses forced Burgoyne’s army to take the only safe route open to them and move inland, away from the Hudson, a few miles north of Bemis Heights. Kościuszko’s judgment and meticulous attention to detail frustrated the British attacks during the Battles of Saratoga. The results of Kościuszko’s actions was that American General Gates accepted the surrender of British General Burgoyne’s army on October 17, 1777.
Saratoga has been defined by the people who by choice or by chance make up this community. There are many individuals like Tadeusz Kosciuszko that help define this country and our community. It is the determination of our forefathers, in surmounting overwhelming odds that help define the American spirit – the will and ability to shape a better future. It is the people it is that define this community by choice or by chance have changed this country and even the world political development. That is why studying the people of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the condition of being human.