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Włodzimierz B. Krzyżanowski
July 8, 1824(1824-07-08) – January 31, 1887 (aged 62)
Wlodzimierz Krzyzanowski.jpg
Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski
Place of birth Rożnowo, Grand Duchy of Posen
Place of death New York City, New York
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Union Army
Years of service 1861–65
Rank Brigadier General
Unit Army of the Potomac
Army of the Cumberland
Commands held Krzyżanowski's Brigade, XI Corps
Battles/wars 1848 Polish Uprising
American Civil War
Relations cousin to Frédéric Chopin
Other work civil engineer, military territorial administrator, Treasury Department clerk, customs agent

Włodzimierz Bonawentura Krzyżanowski [vwɔˈd​͡ʑimjɛʂ kʂɨʐaˈnɔfski] (Wladimir Krzyzanowski; July 8, 1824 – January 31, 1887) was a Polish military leader and a brigade commander in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He played a role in the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg in helping push back an evening assault by the famed Louisiana Tigers on the Union defenses atop East Cemetery Hill.


Early life

Krzyżanowski was born in Rożnowo, Grand Duchy of Posen, into an old Polish noble family that bore the Świnka coat of arms, and whose roots reached back to the 14th century and ownership of the village of Krzyżanowo near Kościan. Krzyżanowski's father and both uncles had fought for Polish independence under Napoleon's banners, and his brother fought in the November 1830 Uprising.

Krzyżanowski was a first cousin to Frédéric Chopin, whose mother Justyna Krzyżanowska's brother was Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski's father. Krzyżanowski took part in the 1846 uprising against Prussia and fled from Poland to avoid arrest. He went to Hamburg, Germany, and sailed from there to New York Harbor.

Krzyżanowski worked as a civil engineer and surveyor in Virginia and was instrumental in pushing America's railroads westward.

Civil War service

In Washington, D.C., Krzyżanowski enlisted as a private two days after President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers in early 1861. He recruited a company of Polish immigrants, which became one of the first companies of Union soldiers. Krzyżanowski then moved his company to New York City and enlisted more immigrants and soon became colonel of the 58th New York Infantry regiment, listed in the official Army Register as the "Polish Legion".[1][2]

Krzyżanowski participated in the battles of Cross Keys in the Shenandoah Valley, Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg in the Eastern Theater. At Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, his men were pushed back through the town as the Union XI Corps retreated. However, Krzyżanowski led a counterattack on July 2 on Cemetery Hill that helped stabilize the faltering Union line.[1]

Later in the year, the XI Corps was sent to the Western Theater to help relieve the Confederate siege of Chattanooga. Krzyżanowski played a role in the Battle of Wauhatchie, where he followed Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's orders very literally; and he was present at the Third Battle of Chattanooga.[1]

When the XI Corps was dissolved, much of it being added to XX Corps, Krzyżanowski was assigned to command at Bridgeport, Alabama, to guard the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, and later to Stevenson, Alabama, both commands within the Department of the Cumberland.[1] Krzyżanowski also commanded the 3rd Brigade of the Defenses of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, reporting to Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy.[2] He led this brigade into action at the Third Battle of Murfreesboro defeating the renowned Nathan Bedford Forrest.

President Lincoln promoted him to brevet brigadier general on March 2, 1865; previous temporary promotions to general in 1862 and 1863 were rejected by the U.S. Senate.[2]


After the war, Krzyżanowski was given governing duties in Alabama.[3] He later served as the appointed governor of several Southern states (Florida, Georgia, and Virginia.)[3] Supposedly, he also served as the first American administrator of the Alaska Territory. However, the Anchorage Daily News was unable to find any conclusive information to support or disprove this claim.[4] This posting was a reward for his performance as the personal representative of Secretary Seward during the negotiations for the Purchase of Alaska.[5]

He served in Treasury Department and later in the customs service in Panama and New York.

Krzyżanowski died in New York City. On October 13, 1937, the 50th anniversary of his death, his remains were transferred with military honors from Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, to Arlington National Cemetery. President Franklin D. Roosevelt broadcast his tribute to the nation via radio, and Poland's President, Ignacy Mościcki, transmitted his esteem from Warsaw.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Warner, p. 274.
  2. ^ a b c Eicher, p. 337.
  3. ^ a b Gen Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski: Memoirs from the stay in America of Gen Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski during the War 1861-1864, page 43, Polish Museum of America, Chicago, 1963 (Polish).
  4. ^ Ruskin, Liz (December 17, 2002). "Poland honors second 'ski' to lead Alaska". Anchorage Daily News.  
  5. ^ Web page of Świat Polonii (World of Poles living outside of Poland).


  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Krzyzanowski, Wladimir, The Memoirs of Wladimir Krzyzanowski, translated by James S. Pula, San Francisco, R&E Research Associates, 1978, ISBN 0882474928.
  • Tagg, Larry, The Generals of Gettysburg, Savas Publishing, 1998, ISBN 1-882810-30-9.
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders, Louisiana State University Press, 1964, ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.

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