Tadeusz Kościuszko

Thaddeus Kosciuszko (Tadas Kosciuska in Lithuanian) was an officer of Lithuanian descent who finished his education in France

 and gained recognition for helping the United States of America to become independent from Britain.

Kosciuszko was born on February 12, 1746 in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He received his training in the military and warfare at the Royal Knight School in Warsaw.

In 1769, Kosciuszko received a scholarship for advanced studies in Paris. There he learned the war strategies for building and besieging forts. He also studied architecture and acquired the French engineering knowledge of constructing bridges, roads, flood gates, dams and canals.

Kosciuszko also acquired the new philosophy called "physiocracy," which opposed the use of serfs or slaves for labor. This was the beginning of his opposition to slavery.

He also traveled to Holland, England, Switzerland, Saxony and Rome.

When Arthur Lee, a Virginia diplomat, pleaded to the French for "arms, powder and engineers," Kosciuszko answered the call.

In June, 1776, Kosciuszko sailed with the group of first foreign officers sent to America by the French.

Upon arrival in Philadelphia, Kosciuszko went to Ben Franklin's home. Kosciuszko introduced himself and told Franklin that he wanted to offer his services to the new nation.

Kosciuszko was given a geometry exam by David Rittenhouse, an expert surveyor who was working with Franklin on the Delaware River defenses.

Franklin recommended Kosciuszko to Congress.

On August 30, 1776 Kosciuszko presented his credentials to Congress in Independence Hall.

Congress had already purchased land at Billingsport in Gloucester County on July 5, 1776, from Margaret Paul, widow of John Paul. This purchase was the first act of business by the Continental Congress after adopting the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Ben Franklin put Kosciuszko to work designing fortifications along the Delaware River.

Kosciuszko drafted plans for a 180-foot square redoubt with parapets for soldiers and stations for 18 cannons at Billingsport. To protect Fort Billings from an inland assault, Kosciuszko laid out breastworks and a deep moat with a row of abatis (sharpened logs) facing outwards.

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Authors: Bill and Mary Kephart

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Keywords: Tadeusz Kościuszko,Military Engineer,Fortifications,American War of Independence


Bill and Mary Kephart

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