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TADEUSZ ANDRZEJ BONAWENTURA KOSCIUSZK...

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Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 915 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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TADEUSZ ANDRZEJ BONAWENTURA KOSCIUSZKO (1746-1817), Polish soldier and statesman, the son of Ludwik Kosciuszko, sword-bearer of the palatinate of Brzesc, and Tekla Ratomska, was born in the village of Mereczowszczyno. After being educated at home he entered the corps of cadets at Warsaw, where his unusual ability and energy attracted the notice of Prince Adam Casimir Czartoryski, by whose influence in 1769 he low degree generally. Yet the comparatively few gentlemen who joined the movement sacrificed everything to it. Thus, to take but a single instance, Karol Prozor sold the whole of his ancestral estates and thus contributed 1,000,000 thalers to the cause. From the 24th of March to the 1st of April Kosciuszko remained at Cracow organizing his forces. On the 3rd of April at Raclawice, with 4000 regulars, and 2000 peasants armed only with scythes and pikes, and next to no artillery, he defeated the Russians, who had 5000 veterans and 30 guns. This victory had an immense moral effect, and brought into the Polish camp crowds of waverers to what had at first seemed a desperate cause. For the next two months Kosciuszko remained on the defensive near Sandomir. He durst not risk another engagement with the only army which Poland so far possessed, and he had neither money, officers nor artillery. The country, harried incessantly during the last two years, was in a pitiable condition. There was nothing to feed the troops in the very provinces they occupied, and pro-visions had to be imported from Galicia. Money could only be obtained-by such desperate expedients as the melting of the plate of the churches and monasteries, which was brought in to Kosciuszko's camp at Pinczow and subsequently coined at Warsaw, minus the royal effigy, with the inscription: " Freedom, Integrity and Independence of the Republic, 1794." Moreover, Poland was unprepared. Most of the regular troops were incorporated in the Russian army, from which it was very difficult to break away, and until these soldiers came in Kosciuszko had principally to depend on the valour of his scythemen. But in the month of April the whole situation improved. On the 17th of that month the 2000 Polish troops in Warsaw expelled the Russian garrison after days of street fighting, chiefly through the ability of General Mokronowski, and a provisional government was formed. Five days later Jakob Jasinski drove the Russians from Wilna. By this time Kosciuszko's forces had risen to 14,000, of whom 10,000 were regulars, and he was thus able to resume the offensive. He had carefully avoided doing anything to provoke Austria or Prussia. The former was described in his manifestoes as a potential friend; the latter he never alluded to as an enemy. " Remember," he wrote, " that the only war we have upon our hands is war to the death against the Muscovite tyranny." Nevertheless Austria remained suspicious and obstructive; and the Prussians, while professing neutrality, very speedily effected a junction with the Russian forces. This Kosciuszko, misled by the treacherous assurances of Frederick William's ministers, never anticipated, when on the 4th of June he marched against General Denisov. He encountered the enemy on the 5th of June at Szczekociny, and then discovered that his 14,000 men had to do not merely with a Russian division but with the combined forces of Russia and Prussia, numbering 25,000 men. Nevertheless, the Poles acquitted themselves man-fully, and at dusk retreated in perfect order upon Warsaw unpursued. Yet their losses had been terrible, and of the six Polish generals present three, whose loss proved to be irreparable, were slain, and two of the others were seriously wounded. A week later another Polish division was defeated at Kholm; Cracow was taken by the Prussians on the a2nd of June; and the mob at Warsaw broke upon the gaols and murdered the political prisoners in cold blood. Kosciuszko summarily punished the ringleaders of the massacres and had 10,000 of the rank and file drafted into his camp, which measures had a quieting effect. But now dissensions broke out among the members of the Polish government, and it required all the tact of Kosciuszko to restore order amidst this chaos of suspicions and recriminations. At this very time too he had need of all his ability and resource to meet the external foes of Poland. On the 9th of July Warsaw was invested by Frederick William of Prussia with an army of 25,000 men and 179 guns, and the Russian general Fersen with 16,000 men and 74 guns, while a third force of 11,000 occupied the right bank of the Vistula. Kosciuszko for the defence of the city and its outlying fortifications could dispose of 35,000 men, of whom 1o,000 were regulars. But the position, defended by 200 inferior guns, was a strong one, and the valour of the Poles and the engineering skill of Kosciuszko, who was now in his element, frustrated all the efforts of the enemy. Two unsuccessful assaults were made upon the Polish positions on the 26th of August and the 1st of September, and on the 6th the Prussians, alarmed by the progress of the Polish arms in Great Poland, where Jan Henryk Dabrowski captured the Prussian fortress of Bydogoszcz and compelled General Schwerin with his 20,000 men to retire upon Kalisz, raised the siege. Elsewhere, indeed, after a brief triumph the Poles were everywhere worsted, and Suvarov, after driving them before him out of Lithuania was advancing by forced marches upon Warsaw. Even now, however, the situation was not desperate, for the Polish forces were still numerically superior to the Russian. But the Polish generals proved unequal to carrying out the plans of the dictator; they allowed themselves to be beaten in detail, and could not prevent the junction of Suvarov and Fersen. Kosciuszko himself, relying on the support of Poninski's division 4 M. away, attacked Fersen at Maciejowice on the loth of October. But Poninski never appeared, and after a bloody encounter the Polish army of 7000 was almost annihilated by the 16,000 Russians; and Kosciuszko, seriously wounded and insensible, was made a prisoner on the field of battle. The long credited story that he cried " Finis Poloniae ! " as he fell is a fiction. Kosciuszko was conveyed to Russia, where he remained till the accession of Paul in 1796. On his return on the loth of December 1796 he paid a second visit to America, and lived at Philadelphia till May 1798, when he went to Paris, where the First Consul earnestly invited his co-operation against the Allies. But he refused to draw his sword unless Napoleon undertook to give the restoration of Poland a leading place in his plans; and to this, as he no doubt foresaw, Bonaparte would not consent. Again and again he received offers of high commands in the French army, but he kept aloof from public life in his house at Berville, near Paris, where the emperor Alexander visited him in 1814. At the Congress of Vienna his importunities on behalf of Poland finally wearied Alexander, who preferred to follow the counsels of Czartoryski; and Kosciuszko retired to Solothurn, where he lived with his friend Zeltner. Shortly before his death, on the and of April 1817, he emancipated his serfs, insisting only on the maintenance of schools on the liberated estates. His remains were carried to Cracow and buried in the cathedral; while the people, reviving an ancient custom, raised a huge mound to his memory near the city. Kosciuszko was essentially a democrat, but a democrat of the school of Jefferson and Lafayette. He maintained that the republic could only be regenerated on the basis of absolute liberty and equality before the law; but in this respect he was far in advance of his age, and the aristocratic prejudices of his country-men compelled him to resort to half measures. He wrote Man euvres of Horse Artillery (New York, 18o8) and a description of the campaign of 1792 (in vol. xvi. of E. Raczynski's Sketch of the Poles and Poland (Posen, 1843). See Jozef Zajaczek, History of the Revolution of 1794 (Pol.) (Lem-berg, 1881) ; Leonard Jakob Borejko Chodzko, Biographie du general Kosciuszko (Fontainebleau. 1837) ; Karol Falkenstein, Thaddaus Kosciuszko (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1834; French ed., Paris, 1839); Antoni Cholonievaski, TadeuszKosciuszko (Pol.) (Lemberg, 1902); Franciszek Rychlicki, T. Kosciuszko and the Partition of Poland (Pol.) (Cracow, 1875). (R. N. B.)
End of Article: TADEUSZ ANDRZEJ BONAWENTURA KOSCIUSZKO (1746-1817)
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