Commemorates Brigadier General Count Casimir Pulaski (1745-1779)
Location Monterey Square
Artist Robert E Launitz
In the center of Monterey Square stands a memorial to one of Savannah’s favorite military figures, the Brigadier General Count Casimir Pulaski.
Pulaski was widely admired in post-Revolutionary America for his role in the development of its cavalry and in its War of Independence. Towns, monuments, a county and more were named in his honor nationwide.
Savannah’s claim to Pulaski, besides its ordinary stake in the commemoration of a popular and influential figure, is as his place of death. Pulaski was killed in the Siege of Savannah of 1779.
Casimir Pulaski was one of the first figures chosen by the people of Savannah to be commemorated in the city’s squares, but the construction of his monument took over two decades to come about.
The current monument was the second attempt to commemorate Pulaski in Savannah: the first attempt had resulted in the Greene Monument in Johnson Square, formerly dedicated to the memory of both Nathanael Greene and Casimir Pulaski.
Citizens originally envisaged two separate monuments to these Revolutionary War generals; two separate cornerstones were laid by their fellow officer General Lafayette in 1825, the one to Pulaski then placed in Chippewa Square. Unable, however, to raise sufficient funds to pay for both at once, they chose instead to honor both men with one memorial.
After the passage of two decades, enough money had finally been raised to construct a second monument, which would be dedicated in Pulaski’s honor. In 1852, the monument committee commissioned Polish-American New Yorker Robert E Launitz to create the memorial.
Pulaski’s cornerstone was relaid, with speeches and ceremony and an attendance reportedly unsurpassed in Savannah to that date, on October 11 1853, the 74th anniversary of Pulaski’s death in the Siege of Savannah.
Late in 1854, Launitz arrived in Savannah, with the monument ready to assemble in place. Constructed of Italian marble and granite, with a bronze statue of Liberty atop the column, it took around a month to install. Pulaski’s remains – or rather, what was believed to be his remains – were disinterred from their resting place at Greenwich Plantation, near present-day Bonaventure, and placed in the foundation. The monument was finally unveiled on January 8, 1855.
In truth, Pulaski’s burial place is not known. Some said that he had been buried in the grounds of the Greenwich house, the French having occupied that plantation during the Revolutionary War. Others insisted that Pulaski had been taken to Charleston, and, having died during the voyage, received a burial at sea.
The skeleton dug up in the grave at Greenwich did indeed fit the description of Pulaski, insofar as it was clearly the remains of a young male of medium height, which he had been. It was, of course, a description that fit a great many of the soldiers killed in the War equally well.
Recent attempts to confirm the identity of the remains using more modern methods proved inconclusive. The true burial place of Casimir Pulaski may never be known for sure.