Casimir Pulaski (Pol. Kazimierz Pulawski), count, a Polish soldier, born in Lithuania, March 4, 1747, died from a wound received in the attack on Savannah, Oct. 11, 1779. He was the son of a Polish nobleman, the starosta of Wareck, who was the chief organizer of the confederation of Bar, which was signed by his three sons (1768). Casimir, who had acquired military experience in the service of Duke Charles of Courland, entered heartily into the war for the liberation of his country. Forced to cross the Dniester, he took refuge after the storming of Bar in the monastery of Berditchev with 300 men, and after sustaining a siege of several weeks capitulated on the condition that the garrison should be set at liberty. He himself was not freed until he had pledged himself to bear proposals for a reconciliation to the chiefs of the confederates; but as soon as he was set at liberty he refused to keep a promise extorted by force. Joining his father in Moldavia, he made incursions across the Dniester, and attacked the Russians and fortified posts within the Polish borders.
He carried on a desultory warfare in various parts of. the country, until an unsuccessful attempt to gain possession of the person of King Stanislas Augustus, in 1771, caused a sentence of outlawry and death to be passed against him, on the ground that it was his intention to assassinate the monarch. The coalition of Austria, Russia, and Prussia for the conquest and division of Poland was soon after completed, and resistance became hopeless. Pulaski, who had lost his father and brothers in the war, made his way to Turkey, and afterward went to France, where he offered his services in the American cause to Franklin. With high recommendations to Washington he arrived at Philadelphia in the summer of 1777. . He at first served in the army as a volunteer; but four days after the battle of Brandy wine, in which he distinguished himself, he was appointed by congress commander of the cavalry with the rank of brigadier general. After five months he resigned his command, and entered the main army at Valley Forge in March, 1778, where he proposed to organize an independent corps of cavalry and light infantry, to which congress assented. By October 330 men were in this corps, which was called Pulaski's legion.
With this he marched, in February, 1779, to South Carolina, reached Charleston May 8, and vigorously opposed the project of surrendering the place to the British army then before the city. On May 11 he attacked with his legion the British advance guard, and was repulsed with considerable loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners, he himself escaping with difficulty to the American lines. In September the French under Count d'Estaing and the Americans prepared to besiege Savannah. On Oct. 9 it was determined to carry the town by assault. Pulaski was placed at the head of the French and American cavalry, and during the engagement received a mortal wound. He was taken on board the brig Wasp, which lay in the Savannah river, died after lingering two days, and was buried in the river. A monument to his memory voted by congress has never been erected, but one was raised by the citizens of Georgia in Savannah.