Krzyżanowski, Włodzimierz (1824–1887)

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Włodzimierz-Bonawentura Krzyżanowski was born on 8th July 1824 in Rożnowo. He attended ‘Maria Magdalene’ Grammar School in Poznań. To avoid being arrested for his independence-oriented activity, he left for Hamburg but did not stay there long and sailed to the other hemisphere, arriving in the United States of America.

As an immigrant, he joined engineering works and married General Burnett’s daughter Caroline. Having got financially and socially elevated, he settled in the capital town where he took up a dealership activity. He joined in 1854 the then newly established National Republican Party which had on its agenda condemnation of the institution of slavery. As he learned of the outbreak of a war in 1861, having secured his family business, he enlisted himself with the starry standard. He set up a foreigners’ regiment which was named the Polish Legion. He was also member of the Central Committee for Poland, established once the outbreak of the January Insurrection was reported (1863) and tasked with determining the opportunities of assistance to the compatriots in combat on the other side of the Pond.

He took part in several important battles of the Civil War; during the battle of Gettisburg in July 1863, he carried out a reckless attack on the enemy’s bayonets, the move which saved the Union Army against encirclement and infallible defeat. As the war ended in 1865, Krzyżanowski was released from the military service in Nashville, Tennessee, on a honorary basis, the Congress corroborating his appointment as a General (previous attempts at granting him the appointment were frustrated by the U.S. Senate). Contrary to his own statement (“once [Alaska was] purchased from Russia, I was establishing the Government of the United States there”), Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski was not the first Governor of Alaska – his name is not disclosed in the list of Governors. His memories, once published in Kłosy periodical, were subject to modification and thus cannot be an irrefutable source on this famous man from Wielkopolska. His service as a customs office inspector is a fact, for a change.

Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski died on 31st January 1887 in New York City. Fifty years later, his remains were transferred, with military honours paid to them, to the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

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