Count Casimir PulaskiCount Casimir Pulaski, for whom our county was named (Click here to see how we pronounce it, and why.), was born in the province of Podolia, Poland of aristocratic parents on March 4, 1748
While he was a young man, his native land was overrun by Russian troops during the reign of Catherine the Great. During extended fighting against the invaders, his father and a brother were killed, another brother was banished to Siberia, the family home was burned and his mother and sister were forced to flee for their safety.
At twenty-four, Pulaski was a hero as a leader of forces seeking to wrest Poland from Russia, but his honor was short-lived. Falsely accused of an attempt on the life of the king, he secretly disbanded his troops and fled his country in disgrace.
Through Benjamin Franklin, then a minister to France, Pulaski was granted permission to go to America. Franklin advised General Washington that Pulaski was famed for his “bravery in defense of the liberty of his country” and that he “may be highly useful to our service.” He arrived in Boston in July, 1777.
After some delay, Pulaski received a commission as brigadier general of the cavalry. Although he fought well at the Battle at Brandywine where he was Washington’s aide-de-camp, he resigned after a dispute with other officers. Congress then authorized him to form a legion of cavalry and infantry, which became known as “Pulaski’s Legion.” He supported the unit with personal funds which he obtained from his sister. Following action in New Jersey and New York, the unit was ordered south. In May 1779, Pulaski’s forces saved Charleston, S. Carolina, from the British and he was acclaimed a hero.
Pulaski was mortally wounded on October 9, 1779 in an effort to recapture Savannah, Georgia from the British. He died two days later aboard the U.S. brig Wasp in Savannah Harbor. A deserter had tipped off the British and the attack by combined American and French forces failed. Following Gen. Pulaski’s death, the governor of South Carolina proclaimed a day of universal mourning and Charleston had a procession and service in his honor.
Count Pulaski, who died a hero at the age of thirty-one, left this posthumously published tribute to the American Experiment in liberty:
May Pulaski Countians forever enjoy the heritage of liberty and freedom for which the namesake of their county gave his life.
On one side of the banner are the letters U.S., and, in a circle around them, the words Unitas Virtus Forcior: “Union makes valor stronger.”
This banner was created by a group of Moravian women of crimson silk with embroidered designs. He carried it until he fell in battle, in 1779.