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Poster Worthy People - The Engineer

Created On: 5/12/2024

A man walked into Ben Franklin's print shop.

His name was Thaddeus Kosciuszko.

He looked like this.

He had just gotten off a boat from Europe.

He was born in Poland to a wealthy family.

But his father died.

Then his brother squandered the inheritance.

So he got a job as a tutor for a rich governor.

He soon fell in love with the Governor's daughter.

He talked her into eloping with him.

But the governor got wind of his plans.

The governor did not want his daughter to marry a poor man so he sent a gang of thugs to beat Thaddeus and run him out of town.

That is how he ended up at Ben Franklin's print shop ready volunteer for the Continental Army.

He was an engineer and he wanted to prove his skill.

So Ben Franklin gave him a geometry test.

He aced the test and Ben Franklin got him a position in the Army.

His first task as a colonel of engineers was to survey Fort Ticonderoga and shore up it's defenses.

He found a high point overlooking the fort and told the commander that they needed to setup canons there and defend the position.

The commander disagreed.

Sure enough, as soon as the British attacked, they went right to the high point and took Fort Ticonderoga without firing a shot.

The patriots left the fort and scrambled south with the British nipping at their heels.

The men were exhausted and the British were gaining ground.

A general ordered Thaddeus to slow them down.

Thaddeus got to work.

He cut down big trees, dammed rivers, and destroyed bridges to slow the British supply train.

It worked and the patriots put enough distance between the armies to get some rest.

But a big battle was coming.

The General asked Thaddeus to survey the land a pick a spot to meet the British in battle.

He found a perfect spot in Saratoga.

And he fortified it so well that it deemed nearly impregnable.

The patriots delivered such a crushing defeat at Saratoga that the British commander surrendered.

At this point Thaddeus had gained a name for himself an an engineering wizard.

So they sent him to West Point to design the defenses of the fortress - which never fell during the war.

Then he was transferred to North Carolina.

And in the south he did the exact same thing he did in the North.

Once again he was tasked with engineering a hasty retreat.

The British General Cornwallis was chasing the southern army across 200 miles of North Carolina back country.

Thaddeus had built many small boats to get across rivers quickly and escape Cornwallis's attack.

While they fled, Thaddeus was again asked to pick a spot where the army could reengage in battle. 

Thaddeus chose a spot near Guilford Courthouse.

At Guilford Courthouse the southern army decimated Cornwallis's troops.

The patriots maintained an advantage in the south for the rest of the war.

Then Thaddeus was bayonetted in the butt cheek during a siege in South Carolina and was almost killed in the very final armed skirmish of the war.

But he survived, and went on to become good friends with Thomas Jefferson. 

Later in life he returned to Poland and negotiated with Napoleon on Poland's behalf. 

When he died, he willed all of his American assets to be used towards freeing and educating African American slaves.

And a man that passes Ben Franklin's geometry test, engineers multiple victories for the Continental Army, becomes friends with Thomas Jefferson, and wills his money to end slavery is definitely a poster worthy person.

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