[REVOLUTIONARY WAR]. PULASKI, Casimir (1748-1779), General, Continental Army. Letter signed ("C Pulaski Gl") to an unidentified correspondent (the Board of War in Philadelphia?), "Little Harbor" (Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey), "Sunday, 11: a.m.." [October 1778?]. 1 full page, folio, closely written, top edges a bit browned, neatly backed. In French.
PULASKI RATTLES THE SWORD: "IF I CAN ONLY MEET THE ENEMY, I ASSURE YOU ALL WILL BE OVER!" A characteristically bellicose report from the fiery Polish cavalryman, charged with the difficult defense of the Jersey coast. The letter, undated, was evidently written just before the devastating British surprise attack on Pulaski and his camps at Little Egg Harbor, October 7, 1778. Here, Pulaski vents his frustration at the British tactic of mounting quick raids from boats, evading direct confrontation. "I am very sorry...but it is not my fault if I can find no way to meet and engage the enemy. Since I got here I have been constantly rushing back and forth, always getting there too late, as I am not promptly informed and the enemy keeps debarking and embarking. Yesterday the enemy burned two houses of some poor farmers, embarking again as soon as I got there. From the spot I have selected...I can easily see the enemy who are in five ships...I am still in position to move up or down the coast at the first word I have of the enemy. As I am still afraid that the enemy may come down on Barnegat, I have taken the measures mentioned here."
"I have ordered Colonel Samuel Forman to keep the whole militia there are guard the coast....The militia of 'a Little Arbour' [Little Egg Harbor], is guarding my right....I have ordered all the Philadelphia militia to stay at Forks and Batsto [the American ironworks] and give all necessary reinforcement in case of a raid in that direction. If I can only meet the enemy, I assure you all will be over. I have reason to hope that if the enemy should land at Barnegat or farther up, towards New York, he will be somewhat less evasive and will give me time to engage him, perhaps with more reinforcements. I should like to have been followed by a party of the Philadelphia militia, but as you have ordered them to keep a watch on the Forks [the Mullica River], I shall do nothing about this until you order otherwise...."
Pulaski, a Polish nationalist, was forced to flee in 1772 upon the Partition of Poland. By late 1775 he was in Paris, where he met Benjamin Franklin, who recommended him to General Washington. Pulaski served as Washington's aide-de-camp until the fall of 1777 when he was made "Commander of the Horse," and initially commanded four regiments of dragoons, later a corps of light infantry and lancers known as Pulaski's Legion. His command was rife with controversy, made worse by his difficulty with the English language, but his gallant death at Savannah on 9 October 1779 redeemed him in the eyes of most of his subordinates. Due to his untimely demise, PULASKI'S LETTERS--ESPECIALLY THOSE RELATING TO THE WAR--ARE RARE.