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The Polish Legions were Polish military units that served with the French Army, mainly from 1797 to 1803, although some units continued to serve until 1815. The legionaries were recruited from among soldiers, officers and volunteers who had emigrated to Italy and France after the Third Partition of Poland in 1795. Many Poles at that time believed that Revolutionary France and her allies would come to Poland's aid, as France's enemies included Poland's partitioners: Prussia, Austria and Russia. With Napoleon Bonaparte's support, Polish military units were formed, bearing Polish military ranks and commanded by Polish officers, such as Jan Henryk Dąbrowski, Karol Kniaziewicz, and Józef Wybicki. Serving alongside the French Army, Polish Legions saw combat in most of Napoleon's campaigns, from the West Indies, to Italy, to Egypt. When the Duchy of Warsaw was created in 1807, many veterans of the Legions formed a core around which the Duchy's army was raised under Prince Józef Poniatowski, which went on to fight alongside the French army in several campaigns, culminating in the disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812.
Jan Henryk Dąbrowski (1755–1818) was a Polish military officer and a national hero. He served in the Royal Saxon Army before joining the Polish–Lithuanian army in 1792, not long before the Second Partition of Poland. He was promoted to the rank of general in the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794. After the Third Partition of Poland he became actively involved in promoting the cause of Polish independence abroad. He founded the Polish Legions in Italy serving under Napoleon since 1797, and as a general in Italian and French service he contributed to the brief restoration of the Polish state in the form of the Duchy of Warsaw after the Greater Poland Uprising of 1806. He participated in subsequent Napoleonic Wars, including the Polish–Austrian War and the French invasion of Russia. After Napoleon's defeat, he accepted a senatorial position in the Russian-controlled "Congress" Kingdom of Poland, and helped organize the new kingdom's army. In 1797, Józef Wybicki wrote Poland Is Not Yet Lost, a mazurka to be sung by Polish legionnaires in Italy, with the chorus "March, march, Dąbrowski, from Italy to Poland!" The song later became Poland's national anthem.
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