Pulaski Square in Savannah Georgia
Pulaski Square is considered to be one of Savannah’s hidden gems. Though no monuments or fountains adorn this particular square, Pulaski Square is mostly known for the stunning and haunting live oak trees that provide shelter and shade for all who wander through.
In Commemoration of a General
Pulaski Square was designed in 1837 in honor of the great Polish General Casimir Pulaski. Pulaski hailed from Poland, but during a stay in Paris during the latter eighteenth century, he happened to meet one of America's most esteemed founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. Franklin urged Pulaski to move to the colonies; urged him further to take up the cause of liberty, which he had tried so hard to do in his mother country of Poland, and fight for the Continental Army.
It seems that Benjamin Franklin must have struck a chord with the Polish General, because he agreed to do so. He arrived in Savannah, ready to fight alongside the French allies against the invading British. But on October 9, 1779, Pulaski would reach the end of his fight for freedom and liberty. He was killed during the Siege of Savannah.
Though Pulaski had only been recently arrived in the United States, his fellow comrades-in-arms, and the local citizens of Savannah, adored the general and wished to honor the man who had fought so bravely to earn the budding nation its freedom. They agreed to name a square after him. Nearby in Monterey Square, a bronze monument was erected in Pulaski’s honor in 1855; a county and town in Georgia was similarly also named after him.
Architectural Flare on Pulaski Square
Although Pulaski Square is not the oldest or the largest in Savannah, when the Historic Savannah Foundation issued a major redevelopment plan during the mid-twentieth century, it is said that the houses situated on Pulaski Square could not have sold anywhere for more than $2,000 a piece. Reportedly the grey Georgia bricks used for the homes’ construction were worth more than the houses themselves or the properties on which they sat.
Today, it is difficult to imagine that the houses seated around the Square could be anything less than opulent. The neighborhood surrounding Pulaski Square is full of row houses, and center-halled and five-bay homes (which is this author’s particular favorite style of Southern architectures). Most of the architectural features lean towards Italianate and Greek Revival influences, which are especially pleasing to the eye. And unlike many of the other neighborhoods within Savannah’s Historic District, the buildings settled around Pulaski Square are made of brick, with very few wood frames dotted around the area.
The House of a Confederate Army Hero: Francis S. Bartow
Also located on Pulaski Square, is the former home of the Confederate Colonel, Francis Bartow. Bartow was very much a Renaissance man of the day: he was a leading attorney, politician and a soldier. He owned a large plantation along the Savannah River with 89 enslaved persons. When Bartow entered the Civil War, he was very much on the side of the Confederate Army—he had even previously proposed a new nation in which slavery would not be abolished.
Bartow fought in many different battles in the War, but in 1861 he was elected colonel of the Eighth Georgia Infantry Regiment. He arrived in Virginia with high hopes to win another battle against the Union troops, although this hope would never come full-circle. At the First Battle of Manassas on July 21 of 1861, Bartow attempted to rally his brigade as he stormed toward the Union soldiers. He held the regimental colors high up in the air and charged forth—as he raised his arm up high in a rally call, he was shot right in the heart. Bartow barely lasted minutes after being fatally shot, but he reportedly whispered the famous lasts words right before his heart ceased to beat: “They have killed me boys, but never give up the field.”
Bartow’s last words were inscribed on his tombstone, and today a bust of Bartow remains on the northern end of Forsyth Park in Savannah’s Historic District.
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