Pulaski at the Moland House
Casimir Pulaski Joins the American Revolution
NOTE – There are a few ambiguities below in the progression of Pulaski’s rank and assigned duties during 1777. These will be addressed. However in the interim, you can use the links in EXPLORE yOUR PAST to clarify those matters for yourself. — Ed Greenawald —
By the time Count Casimir Pulaski met with Silas Deane and Benjamin Franklin in Paris to accept their offer and journey to America to fight for the freedom of the colonies, he already was famous in Europe as a top cavalry commander and an indomitable soldier.
The opportunity to join the American Revolution was a chance to continue the fight for liberty in another land, and Pulaski eagerly seized it. In August of 1777 he presented his credentials to General George Washington in camp at Moland House, in Warwick, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Here he also made the acquaintance of the young Marquis de Lafayette for whom he brought letters from France. Wishing to take advantage of Pulaski’s experience, Washington nominated him to take command of the Continental Cavalry, a force then used mostly for reconnoitering and messenger duty. Yet, before the appointment was confirmed by Congress, Pulaski proved his worth by using an improvised cavalry formation to cover the colonials’ retreat at the Battle of Brandywine. He is credited by some historians with saving the American forces from annihilation. Later, he participated in the battles at Germantown and Haddonfield.
He spent the hard winter of 1777 at Valley Forge organizing and training his cavalry units and shaping them into a strike force. Possibly, because he did not know the English language and American customs well, he ran into disagreements with other officers of the Continental Army. This, and constant wrangling with the army accounting office about receipts for fodder and supplies, tired and disillusioned him. He longed to be in action and requested permission to form an independent mixed unit of cavalry and infantry whose purpose would be to harass the enemy and act as a supporting formation to regular forces. Washington backed this initiative and it was approved by Congress. Soon, the Pulaski Legion, as the unit came to be called, was assembled under its own banner.
While Pulaski was visiting the wounded Lafayette who was recuperating near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, he ordered an embroidered banner for his legion from the Moravian Sisters, a religious community of women that had settled in the area. The banner bore in its center the letters US — possibly the first such use — and the Latin inscription for “United Valor Is Stronger” in gold on a red background.
* * * * * EXPLORE yOUR PAST * * * * *
Visit Casimir Pulaski 1747-1779: A Short Biography
Bibliography: Casimir Pulaski 1747-1779
A Chronology of Casimir Pulaski’s Life 1745-1779