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Poniatowski, Joseph Anthony

PONIATOWSKI, JOSEPH ANTHONY (1763-1813), ^ Polish prince and marshal of France, son of Andrew PoniatowskiVnd the countess Theresa Kinsky, was born at Warsaw in 1763. Adopting a military career, he joined the Imperial army when Austria declared war against the Turks in 1788, and distinguished himself at the storming of Sabac on the 25th of April, where he was seriously wounded. Recalled by his uncle King Stanislaus when the Polish army was reorganized, he received the rank of major-general, and subsequently that of lieutenant-general, and devoted himself zealously to the improvement of the national forces. In 1789, when Poland was threatened by the armed intervention of Russia, he was appointed commander of the Ukraine division at Braclaw on Bug. After the proclamation of the constitution of the 3rd of May 1791 he was appointed commander-in-chief, with instructions to guard the banks of the Dniester and Dnieper. On the outbreak of the war with Russia, Prince Joseph, aided by Kosciuszko, displayed great ability. Obliged constantly to retreat, but disputing every point of vantage, he turned on the pursuer whenever he pressed too closely, and won several notable victories. At Polonna the Russians were repulsed with the loss of 3000 men; at Dubienka the line of the Bug was defended for five days against fourfold odds; at Zielence the Poles won a still more signal victory. Finally the Polish arms converged upon Warsaw, and were preparing for a general engagement when a courier from the capital informed the generals that the king had acceded to the confederation of Targowica (see POLAND: History) and had at the same time guaranteed the adhesion of the army. All hostilities were therefore to be suspended. After an indignant but fruitless protest, Poniatowski and most of the other generals threw up their commissions and emigrated. During the Kosciuszko rising he again fought gallantly for his country under his former subordinate, and after the fall of the republic resided as a private citizen at Warsaw for the next ten years. After Jena and the evacuation of the Polish provinces by Prussia, Poniatowski was offered the command of the National Guard; he set about reorganizing the Polish army, and on the creation of the grand duchy of Warsaw was nominated war minister. During the war of 1809, when an Austrian army corps under the archduke Ferdinand invaded the grand duchy, Poniatowski encountered them at the bloody battle of Radzyn, and though compelled to abandon Warsaw ultimately forced the enemy to evacuate the grand duchy, and captured Cracow. In Napoleon's campaign against Russia in 1812 Poniatowski commanded the fifth army corps; and after the disastrous retreat of the grand army, when many of the Poles began to waver in their allegiance to Napoleon, Poniatowski remained faithful and formed a new Polish army of 13,000 men with which he joined the emperor at Lutzen. In the campaign of 1813 he guarded the passes of the Bohemian mountains and defended the left bank of the Elbe. As a reward for his brilliant services at the three days' battle of Leipzig he was made a marshal of France and entrusted with the honourable but dangerous duty of covering the retreat of the army. Poniatowski heroically defended Leipzig, losing half his corps in the attempt, finally falling back slowly upon the bridge over the Elster which the French in the general confusion blew up before he reached it. Contesting every step with the overwhelming forces of the pursuers, he refused to surrender, and covered with wounds plunged into the river, where he died fighting to the last. His relics were conveyed to Poland and buried in Cracow Cathedral, where he lies by the side of Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Jan Sobieski. Poniatowski's M es souvenirs sur la campagne de 1792 (Lemberg, 1863) is a valuable historical document.

See Stanislaw Kostka Boguslawski, Life of Prince Joseph Poniatowski (Pol.; Warsaw, 1831); Franciszek Paszkowski, Prince Joseph Poniatowski (Pol.; Cracow, 1808); Correspondence of Poniatowski (ed. E. Raczynski, Posen, 1843); Bronislaw Dembinski, Stanislaus Augustus and Prince Joseph Poniatowski in the light of their Correspondence (Fr.; Lemberg, 1904); Szymon Askenazy, Prince Joseph Poniatowski (Pol.; Warsaw, 1905). (R. N. B.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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