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Mutiny of Antoni Madaliński’s Brigade – a forgotten prelude to the Kościuszko Uprising


The Kościuszko Uprising is generally considered to have started with Tadeusz Kościuszko’s oath sworn in the Market Square in Kraków on 24 March 1794. However, its outbreak was precipitated primarily by a mutiny of the 1st Wielkopolska Cavalry Brigade commanded by Antoni Madaliński.

Poland’s defeat in the war with Russia in defence of the 3rd May Constitution led to the Second Partition of the country by Russia and Prussia in 1793. At the same time, preparations began for an armed uprising against the partitioning states. The insurrection was led by the hero of the American War of Independence and the recent battles with Russia, General Tadeusz Kościuszko.

In 1793, he attempted to persuade the authorities of the French Republic to join Poland in an armed uprising against Austria and Prussia. Unfortunately, he did not find approval for these plans in France. At the same time, following the partition, the occupying authorities decided on a significant reduction in the Polish army. This was communicated to the Polish authorities by the new Russian ambassador to Poland, Otto Igelström. According to Russian decisions, the total number of troops had to be reduced from around 36,000 to 17,000-18,000. The dismissed soldiers were to be conscripted into the Russian and Prussian armies simultaneously. The Polish authorities acceded to this demand, approving it on 24 February 1794.

The implementation of this decision would have had a very negative impact on the armed uprising under preparation. One of the persons involved in the conspiratorial work was Antoni Madaliński, who commanded the 1st Wielkopolska National Cavalry Brigade. It was stationed in the Ostrołęka area. Unwilling to allow the forces of the unit under his command to be reduced, on the night of 12-13 March 1794, Madaliński began the march of his subordinate units through northern Mazovia, destroying single outposts of the Prussian army along the way. His appearance hastened the decision to launch an uprising. Madaliński joined Tadeusz Kościuszko’s main forces literally on the eve of the victorious battle with the Russian army at Racławice.



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