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"Poles in Haitian Service 1802/3" Topic

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Whirlwind10 Jan 2022 1:44 a.m. PST

I was re-reading an old issue of Wargames Illustrated, number 293, which contains an article about Haiti and Louverture et al. In it, it mentions that towards the end of the conflict, some Polish troops serving on the French side defected to the Haitian rebels, apparently sickened by Rochambeau's behaviour and their mission. Can anyone shed any more light on this – which units, what numbers, subsequent fate, etc.?

Durban Gamer10 Jan 2022 3:32 a.m. PST

Would also appreciate hearing about this. I know the Poles were more readily accepted by the Haitians and may have helped with artillery crewing.

Michman10 Jan 2022 3:50 a.m. PST

113e demi-brigade de la ligne (ex- 3e demi-brigade polonaise, ex- légion de la Danube) : 3e battalions : colonel Fortunat Bernard (1768-1802) faisant function de chef de brigade : 2,570 embarked 17 May 1802, brig Lodi, landed 11 September 1802
-- uniforms as per 114e de ligne but with red facings

114e demi-brigade de la ligne (ex- 2e demi-brigade polonaise, ex- 4e, 5e & 6e bataillons de la légion polonaise d'Italie ou 1ere légion polonaise) : 3 battalions : colonel Tomaz Zagorski (?- May 1803) faisant function de chef de brigade : ~2,500 sailed 27 January 1803 on several small ships, 260 sailed 27 May 1803 – arrived in March 1803 and received a few survivors of the 113e demi-brigade de la ligne
---uniform : blue czapka with black leather base & visor, white cords, red plume, brass grenade shaped plaque (later straw hats) – kurtka bleu with yellow collar, cuffs, lapels and turnbacks – silver metalwork – blue trousers

Some surviving companies given loose white clothe jackets and pantaloons with red facings in January 1804

Perhaps 300-400 Poles defected, most from the 113e de ligne. This was mostly singly or in small groups, except for the up to 100 men of the 7e compagnie du 3e bataillon de la 113e demi-brigade de ligne. Captured entire by a ruse on 18 October 1802, their commander was killed but the men were recruited into Dessalines' garde d'honneur.

Sources ….

Napoleon's Mercenaries

"Histoire Militaire de la Revolution de Saint-Domingue"

"Being Poloné in Haiti: Origins, Survivals, Development, and Narrative Production of the Polish Presence in Haiti"

"200 years away from home : Polish descendants in Haiti"

"Polish Patriots Once Fought Alongside Rebelling Slaves"

"Poland's Caribbean Tragedy: A Study of Polish Legions in the Haitian War of Independence, 1802-1803"

Comment : To the extent that any of the listed sources suggest or include any political or ideological concept in their writing, I do neither endorse nor disapprove of such concept by listing their work here.

von Winterfeldt10 Jan 2022 4:39 a.m. PST

I recommend to read the book by Pachonski and Wilson – see last link above – this volume is discussing the whole campaign very well and beyond.
In case I remember correctly – the Poles when being able to identifiy as such, were less prone to be slaughtered as POWs, the war in the Caribbean was fought very viciously from both sides and Rochambeau seemingly had a great debt that it developped into such.

Whirlwind10 Jan 2022 5:13 a.m. PST

Thanks very much, that is great

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2022 8:21 a.m. PST

Very interesting.

Merlenik Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2022 10:05 a.m. PST

The link already mentioned by Mighman, "Being Poloné in Haiti", I found to be an exceptionally interesting read.

When I saw this the last time, there was a preview section for Poles who were in Haiti and thereafter, But I can only find this link that has no preview.

There was also a mulatto Black/white mix-race Polish commander who also served as a commander on Napoleon's forces sent to Poland.

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