Greater Poland Uprising (1794)

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For other uprisings in Greater Poland, see Greater Poland Uprisings (disambiguation).

The 1794 Greater Poland Uprising (Polish: Powstanie Wielkopolskie 1794 roku) was a military insurrection by Poles in Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) against Kingdom of Prussia which had taken possession of this territory after the 1793 Second Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Józef Niemojewski, leader of the uprising

The outbreak of Kościuszko Uprising in central Poland in March 1794 served as the spark for the formation of Polish military units in the Prussian partition, as Poles in Wielkopolska hoped to liberate their region.[1] Initially, Tadeusz Kościuszko, who had initiated the fight against Russians in central Poland did not want to support the Greater Poland Uprising in the hope of avoiding a two front war (at the time, Kingdom of Prussia was nominally in an alliance with Poland against Russia).[2] As a result the planned insurrection in Wielkopolska almost ended before it could start. However, the situation changed in June 1794 when the Prussians declared their support for Tsarist Russia and offered them military support in suppressing Kościuszko (after his victory at the Battle of Racławice).[1] As a result the Supreme National Council issued a proclamation To the Citizens of Greater Poland calling them to arms.[1]

The initial center of the uprising was the Kujawy region. The command was given to Józef Niemojewski, although many of the units in the field operated independently.[1] Initial clashes took place on the 20th of August.[3] On the 22nd of August the insurrectionists took Gniezno. Soon after, general Paweł Skórzewski took Konin and other towns in the area.[1] As a result, the King of Prussia, Frederick William II was forced to withdraw some of his forces from central Poland which were besieging Warsaw.[4]

General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski, one of the leaders of the uprising

A Polish corps under Jan Henryk Dąbrowski captured Bydgoszcz on October 2, and entered Pomerania almost unopposed.[1][4] Dąbrowski planned to winter in Bydgoszcz and then move through Toruń but because of Kościuszko's defeat at the Battle of Maciejowice he decided instead evacuate Wielkopolska and make his way into central Poland.[1] Although thanks to the mobility of his forces he evaded being encircled by a much less mobile Prussian army, the Prussians recaptured most of the gains made by the insurrectionists in the previous few months.[1]

Dąbrowski unsuccessfully tried to convince Kościuszko's successor, Tomasz Wawrzecki to move the insurrection from central Poland to the Prussian partition.[1] On November 17, 1794, the last Polish units in central Poland capitulated to the Russians at Radoszyce.[5] In Wielkopolska sporadic guerrilla fighting continued until mid-December. The uprising almost got a second life when a hero of the fighting in Warsaw and one of Kościuszko's colonels, the shoemaker Jan Kiliński (who had been born in Trzemeszno), arrived in Wielkopolska to try to reorganize the Polish forces.[1] However, he was soon captured by the Prussians and handed over to the Russians.[1]

With the end of the uprising, Dąbrowski was offered commissions in the Russian and Prussian armies but turned these down and emigrated abroad.[6] He went on to organize the Polish Legions in Italy which fought alongside Napoleon in subsequent wars.[7] Niemojewski also emigrated to France and served in Napoleon's army where he eventually attained the rank of Brigadier General.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Marek Rezler, "Powstanie Wielkopolskie", Rebis, Poznan, 2008, pg. 12-15
  2. ^ Marek Rezler, "Powstanie Wielkopolskie", Rebis, Poznan, 2008, pg. 12 "Insurrectionist units were formed, however, initially these did not have the support of Tadeusz Kościuszko, who wished to avoid a war on two fronts"
  3. ^ Jerzy Topolski, "An outline history of Poland", Interpress, 1986, pg. 144, [1]
  4. ^ a b Hugh Chisholm, "The Encyclopædia britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information, Volume 15", The Encyclopædia Britannica Company, 1911, pg. 915, [2]
  5. ^ William Fiddian Reddaway, "The Cambridge history of Poland: from Augustus II to Pilsudski (1697-1935), Volume 1", CUP Archive, 1950, pg. 172, [3]
  6. ^ Piotr Stefan Wandycz, "The lands of partitioned Poland, 1795-1918", University of Washington Press, 1974, pg. 25, [4]
  7. ^ Norman Davies, "God's playground: a history of Poland in two volumes", Oxford University Press, 2005, [5], pg. 216
  8. ^ Henry L. Gaidis, "Napoleon's Lithuanian Forces", Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences, Volume 30, No.1 - Spring 1984, [6]