Born in Poland on February 4, 1746, Kosciuszko arrived in America in 1776. He came to offer his engineering skills to the American colonies in their struggle for independence.
On October 18, 1776, Kosciuszko was commissioned as Colonel of Engineers by the Continental Congress and began fortifying battle sites, many of which became turning points in America's fight for independence against the British.
Kosciuszko help with fortifications along the Hudson and planned the defense for Saratoga. The Battle of Saratoga became known as one of military history's most famous struggles for independence and proved to be a turning point in the war.
In 1778, Kosciuszko was made chief engineer of West Point New York. This fortification became known as the American Gibralter because it was unable to be penetrated by the British Army. Eventually, West Point became a military academy.
In 1783 Kosciuszko was appointed Brigadier General and was awared the Cincinnati Order Medal by George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Washington also presented Kosciuszko with two pistols and a sword as gifts for his outstanding service to America.
After the colonies won their independence, Kosciuszko returned to Poland in 1784 to help his own country win independence from the surrounding European powers. Kosciuszko was the national hero of the 1794 insurrection.
After the successful battle of Raclawice on April 4, 1794, first Warsaw and then Wilno were liberated from enemy occupation. Kosciuszko was wounded in the revolt and taken prisoner by the Russians. Upon his release from prison, he returned to America on August 18, 1797, which he considered his "second home".
He received a hero's welcome when he reached Philadelphia. Afterward, he secured a residence at 3rd and Pine Streets, which is now the Kosciuszko House, a national memorial to this hero of the American Revolution.
Kosciuszko was admired by general and foot soldier alike, both for his technical knowledge and for his sympathetic understanding and generosity. Thomas Jefferson wrote of Kosciuszko, "He is a pure a son of liberty as I have ever known."