Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Polish, the Revolution and That Danged Troublemaker Archibald Campbell

Casimir Pulaski was a Polish nobleman by birth and a military commander who fought against Russian domination of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. When this uprising failed, he emigrated to North America as a soldier of fortune. During the American Revolution, he saved the life of George Washington and became a general in the Continental Army. He was a cavalryman. He died of wounds suffered in the Battle of Savannah. Pulaski is one of only seven people to be awarded honorary membership in the United States.

The Seige of Savannah was an encounter of the American Revolutionary War in 1779. The year before, the city of Savannah, Georgia had been captured by a British expeditionary corps under Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Campbell. The siege itself consisted of a joint Franco-American attempt to retake Savannah from September 16, 1779 to October 18, 1779. On October 9, 1779, a major assault against the British siege works failed. During the attack, Polish Count Kazimierz PuĊ‚aski, fighting on the American side, was mortally wounded. With the failure of the joint American-French attack, the siege failed, and the British remained in control of Georgia until July 1782, close to the end of the war.

The battle is much remembered in Haitian history; the Fontages Legion, consisting of over 500 gens de couleur—free men of color from Saint-Domingue—fought on the French/American side. Henri Christophe, who later became king of independent Haiti, is thought to have been among these troops.

In 2005 archaeologists with the Coastal Heritage Society and the LAMAR Institute discovered portions of the British fortifications at Spring Hill. The brunt of the combined French and American attack on October 9, 1779, was focused at that point. The find represents the first tangible remains of the battlefield. In 2008 the CHS/LAMAR Institute archaeology team discovered another segment of the British fortifications in Madison Square.

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