- Town:Washington D.C.
Year of creation:2003
- Rider(s):Kovats de Fabriczy, Michael
Like other Hungarian volunteers, as well as the many other foreigners and immigrants who aided the cause of American freedom, Kovats brought years of previous military experience to the forces of General George Washington. A cavalryman by age 20, he already served in the Hapsburg army during the war against Prussia, then in the French army, and also in the Austro-Hungarian army. After 18 years of military service, he retired around 1776 as a hussar, or light cavalry, major and lived in Upper Hungary (present–day Slovakia). There he trained troops who were organizing for Polish independence. He met and trained a young Casimir Pulaski, who would go on to become his superior in the American army. Thanks to a letter of introduction from Major General Joseph Spencer of Rhode Island, Kovats met Washington at his headquarters in Philadelphia. His initial application for service was rejected because of translation difficulties. However, Kovats eventually joined the newly formed military unit of the German community of Philadelphia. He soon met Brigadier General Pulaski, whom Washington had charged with the establishment of a cavalry. Kovats became the cavalry’s training officer in January 1778, teaching them Hungarian hussar tricks. In February 1778, Pulaski recommended that Kovats become commander of a permanent legion. On April 18, 1778, Congress appointed Kovats colonel of the Cavalry Legion, to be headquartered in Baltimore. He thus was the first commander of what would eventually become the U.S. Cavalry. For the rest of the year, the cavalry served successfully in numerous battles along the East Coast. In February 1779, the legion was ordered south to the defense of Charleston, S.C. Despite losing some horsemen to smallpox along the way, the legion arrived to meet up with General Benjamin Lincoln on May 8, 1779. On the battlefield, riding ahead of his troops, Kovats and his horse were both mortally wounded and died on May 11, 1779. They were buried where they fell.
- Sculptor(s):Takacs, Paul
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