An excerpt from a book by Colonel F.C. Kajencki Thaddeus Kosciuszko. The Military Engineer in the American Revolution.Chapter West Point: Key to the Continent, page 101.
Gen. T. Kosciuszko
(General) Paterson’s grandson, Thomas Egleston, wrote that the general had formed a close relationship with Kosciuszko, and often from the necessity of war, sleeping in the same bed. Egleston described both men as spirited and sprightly. Kosciuszko was full of fun and sometimes played practical jokes on the general. Kosciuszko’s quarters were located on the bend of the river, where his monument at West Point now stands. General Paterson’s were opposite, at the base of the hill.
The general owned a slave, Agrippa Hull, who claimed to be the son of an African prince. Called Grippy, he became a great favourite of the officers, especially Kosciuszko. Paterson gave him Grippy. The Pole became embarrassed; he had never owned another individual. Kosciuszko hired Agrippa and treated him as a free man.
He made Grippy his confidential and head servant, and put him in charge of his wardrobe. Soon a hilarious incident occurred. Kosciuszko planned to inspect construction work on the east side of the Hudson River for two or three days. When he left, Grippy threw a big party and invited all the black servants.
He put on Kosciuszko’s formal uniform from Poland. The uniform was brilliantly adorned. Grippy added a crown-shaped cap set off with ostrich plumes. As the wine flowed freely, the voices grew exuberant. Meanwhile, Kosciuszko, not able to cross the river for some reason, returned to the plain. Before he reached his quarters, he was told about the loud party. He came up undetected and surprised the revelers, who scurried to safety, while Grippy prostrated himseld and begged forgiveness.
The scene was so ludicrous that Kosciuszko burst into laughter, and he continued the charade. Taking hold of Grippy’s hand and with ostentatious formality, he said: “Rise, Prince, it is beneath the dignity of an African prince to prostrate himself at the feet of anyone.”
Next, Kosciuszko led Grippy across the plain to General Paterson’s quarters. Seeing the gaudily-dressed servant, officers and soldiers joined the entourage. After the “prince” was toasted a few times, the charade ended.
Grippy never forgot the episode. When he grew old, he delighted in telling the story himself. For more than four years, Agrippa Hull served Kosciuszko with great devotion.
* * *
I beg Mr (Thomas) Jefferson that in case I should die without will or testament he should bye out of my money so many Negros and free them, that the restant Sum should be Sufficient to give them education and provide for their maintenance. That is to say each should know before, the duty of a Cytyzen in the free Goverment, that he must defend his Country against foreign as well internal Enemies who would wish to change the Constitution for the vorst to inslave them by degree afterwards, to have good and human heart sensible for the sufferings of others, each must be maried and have 100 ackres of land, wyth instruments, Cattle for tillage and know how to manage and Gouvern it as well to know how to behave to neybourghs, always wyth kindness and ready to help them-to them selves frugal, to their Children give good education I mean as to the heart and the duty to the Country, in gratitude to me to make themselves happy as possible.
Kosciuszko’s Testament was written in 1798. The slavery was abolished in the USA as late as 1865.
Kosciuszko's friend - Agrippa Hull
Link to an article about Colonel Kajencki in Polish.
If you wish to order the book, please contact The Polish American Center in Philadelphia: