Researchers Say Battle of the Brandywine Hero May Not Have Been Male

New information has come to light about Revolutionary War commander Casimir Pulaski.


Though there were plenty of female heroes in the annals of the American Revolution, the prevailing assumption was that the generals who lead the war’s battles were all male.

An illustration of Pulaski being mortally wounded
near Savannah, Georgia.//Photo courtesy of
Internet Archive Book Images.

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Among them, Casimir Pulaski has been known for his integral role in the Battle of the Brandywine, where he saved the life of future President George Washington before achieving a general’s rank. He later oversaw formation of the American cavalry. Pulaski Highway, which runs as Route U.S. 40 through Glasgow, Bear and New Castle, is named after him.

But new information released over the weekend and to be detailed on Smithsonian Channel’s “America’s Hidden Stories,” shows that the Polish-born general might have been intersex, rather than exclusively male. In the episode “The General Was Female?,” researchers studying what were believed to be Pulaski’s remains use DNA testing to determine the family connection, but note that his body included characteristics usually associated with the female anatomy.

Though the bulk of the Battle of Brandywine was fought just up the road from Delaware in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, the American maneuvers were planned from Delaware as British troops landed near present-day Elkton, Maryland. Washington’s Continental Army, in which Pulaski was serving, scouted the landing from Iron Hill, near Newark. Leading up to the battle, Washington’s troops were encamped near Newport before deploying to Chadds Ford to meet British forces led by Sir William Howe.

A monument to Pulaski and the Marquis de Lafayette, a French-born general in the Continental Army, stands in Birmingham Cemetery in Chadds Ford.

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