"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Friday, August 20, 2021

Casimir Pulaski

This 1910 statue of Casimir Pulaski (Kazimierz Michał Władysław Wiktor Pułaski) by Kazimierz Chodzinski  stands in Pulaski Square on Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, DC.

A bronze plaque on the base of the statue tells us who this is.

Brigadier General
Casimir Pulaski
1748 - 1779
The Bronze Equestrian Statue of Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski, Portrays the Revolutionary War Hero in the Uniform of a Polish Cavalry Commander. Born in Winiary, Poland on March 4, 1748 to a Noble Family, Pulaski Gained Prominence in Europe for His Role In Defending Liberty in Poland. Excited By the Struggle of the Emerging American Republic, Pulaski Joined in Its Fight for Independence, Arriving in Boston in July, 1777.

Pulaski Was given a Commission as Brigadier General and Chief of Cavalry in Command of All Cavalry of the American Forces. He Was Present at Germantown, Pennsylvania and Led His Legion at Haddonfield, New Jersey; Egg Harbor, New Jersey; Charleston, South Carolina; and Savannah, Georgia.

At Savannah, Pulaski Was Mortally Wounded and Was Taken Aboard the American Brig, Wasp, Where He Died and Was Buried at Sea, on October 11, 1779. He Was 31 Years Old.

The Statue Was Designed by the sculptor Kazimierz Chodzinski and Architect Albert R. Ross. It Was Erected in 1910.

Photo by APK (Wikimedia)
Kazimierz Chodzinski

Here, Pulaski appears on an Allen & Ginter tobacco card. This one belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The plaque  on the statue in Washington says that after dying at sea on the Wasp, he was buried at sea. This story was attested to by several contemporaries and until very recently was the most plausible story of the ultimate disposition of Pulaski's body. In 1854, a man named Bowen found what he claimed were Pulaski's remains buried on his family's plantation, Greenwich, near Savannah. These remains were interred in the Pulaski Monument in Savannah. In 2019, a Smithsonian Channel documentary came out supporting Bowen's identification of Pulaski's  remains with DNA evidence. But in a surprising wrinkle, the body found in the monument appeared to be that of a woman.  The current conclusion seems to be that Pulaski was intersex, genetically female (XX), but may have suffered from Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, which produces anomalous genitalia and masculine traits like facial hair.   

In 1931 Pulaski appeared on a 2¢ stamp.

Pulaski became an honorary U.S. Citizen in 2009. 

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