Polish Revolutionary Wars
Part of Polish Revolution
Date 1793 - 1816
Location Europe
Result Peace of Copenhagen
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Polish Republic
Great Britain
Other European revolutionary movements


Ottoman Empire
Polish counter-revolutionaries

Commanders and leaders
Stanisław II Augustus

Tadeusz Kościuszko
Jan Henryk Dąbrowski
Józef Poniatowski
Tomasz Wawrzecki
Christian VII of Denmark
Charles O'Hara
Duke of York
Horatio Nelson
George Washington

Alexander Suvorov

Pyotr Bagration
Charles, Duke of Teschen
Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Dagobert von Wurmser
Duke of Brunswick
Prince of Hohenlohe

The Polish Revolutionary Wars were a series of conflicts between the Polish Republic and multiple other European powers from 1793 to 1816.


Poland 1794

The uprisings and campaigns to 1794


  • 23 January - After victory in the War of 1792 against Poland, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Russian Empire sign a treaty. They agree that the Polish Constitution of 1791 will be revoked, and that both countries will receive portions of Polish territory.
  • 28 January - Prussian and Russian forces begin to take formal control of their claimed territories. The Polish army, being all but wiped out, does not offer any resistance.
  • 15 March - Jacob Sievers, the new Russian Ambassador to Poland, orders that a new Sejm be held to ratify the partition. It is to be held in the city of Grodno, where Russian troops can control the proceedings.
  • 4 April - Józef Poniatowski, former minister for war, denounces the ambassador's actions as illegal. He narrowly escapes the Russian troops sent to arrest him and escapes into hiding.
  • 17 June - The Grodno Sejm begins. Only a small minority of eligable deputies are present, and of those none are permitted to speak save for the few who are known to be Russian sympathisers.
  • 25 June - A protest against the Partition in Lublin is broken up when Russian troops fire into the crowd, leaving fifteen unarmed civilians dead. News of the massacre quickly spreads, despite the attempts of the occupying authorities to suppress it.
  • 8 August - A second protest is broken up by force, this time in Vilnius. This time, however, many of the survivors escape and are able to fort up in the Jewish quarter of the city. Despite suffering severe casualties, with the aid of the Jewish residents they are able to repel multiple assaults by the Russian garrison.
  • 28 October - A Russian soldier rapes a Lithuanian barmaid in Vilnius, and when her father and brothers try to complain they are arrested and hanged on the spot. That night, the discontent that has been brewing for months finally erupts to the surface, and the entire city rises up against the occupiers. The Russian garrison retreats to within the castle.
  • 29 October - In the early hours of the morning the defenders in the Jewish quarter of Vilnius march out, to a hero's acclaim. One of them suggests that they try to burn the castle to force the Russians out. When fire takes hold in the gunpowder store of the castle, the Russians try to sally forth to escape, but are butchered to a man by the furious townsfolk.
  • 7 November - The citizens of Białystok rise up and force out the Russian garrison.
  • 9 November - The citizens of Warsaw rise up and force out the Russian garrison.
  • 13 November - The citizens of Zytomierz rise up. At first they manage to capture most of the city centre, but the Russians retain control of the eastern gate. Within a week the Russians have received reinforcements and proceed to assault the city, subjecting it to a horrific sack comparable to that of Magdeburg nearly two hundred years earlier.
  • 23 November - On the final day of the Grodno Sejm, the marshal asks if anyone present objects to the terms of the Partition. Szymon Skarżyński speaks out and is dragged away by Russian troops. After a moment of silence, dozens of other deputies, including Szymon Szydłowski, Dionizy Mikoreski and Antoni Karski, stand up and furiously denounce the terms of the proposed treaty. When they resist arrest, most of the remaining deputies join them, and a massacre ensues in the Sejm Chamber as the troops use force to try and keep control.
  • In the streets outside, the townsfolk of Grodno hear of the ongoing fight and are inspired to join in. After overpowering the garrison and storming the Sejm Chamber they, together with the surviving deputies, pronounce the establishment of a National Assembly and call upon all loyal citizens of Poland and Lithuania to resist the occupying powers with all their strength.
  • 1 December - King Stanisław August Poniatowski, having escaped his Russian guards, issues a decree recognising the National Assembly as the legitimate representatives of the Polish people. He then abdicates the throne and places all its powers and responsibilities into the care of the Assembly. As news of the events of the past month spreads, more and more towns and cities rise up against the Russian and Prussian occupiers, and thousands of young men begin assembling themselves into the core of a new army.


  • 5 March - Over the winter, the Russian army in Poland and Lithuania has withdrawn to the city of Minsk, where it has been gathering reinforcements. Now, the army begins marching back into Poland, hoping to resubdue the country to its will.
  • 9 March - The Russian army reaches Nowogródek, the first important town in its path. The city surrenders after three days and its leaders are arrested and deported to Siberia.
  • 16 March - The Russian army reaches Grodno. Its first assaults are repelled, so after several days it settles down for a siege of the city.
  • 5 April - Prussian troops, which so far have not played an important role in the Revolution, capture the city of Toruń. Although they don't commit any major atrocities on the inhabitants, this perceived betrayal by Poland's apparent ally infuriates the people and galvanizes popular opinion in favour of the National Assembly and against the great magnates.
  • 7 April - Under the leadership of Józef Poniatowski, the Army of the Polish Republic defeats Russia at the Battle of Zaračanka and raises the siege of Grodno. The surviving Russians fall back to Nowogródek.
  • 12 April - Tadeusz Kościuszko launches an uprising in Lwów. Thousands from all across the Ruthenian lands flock to join his regiments.
  • 27 April - Józef Poniatowski bypasses the Russian fortifications in Nowogródek and instead launches a surprise attack to seize the key supply depot at Minsk. Starving, the Russians have no choice but to surrender.
  • 8 May - A Prussian column advancing on Warsaw is ambushed and destroyed near Zychlin. Hearing the news, the main Prussian army halts and bases itself at Płock where it can control the traffic along the Vistula.
  • 11 May - Lodz allies itself with the National Assembly and expels the Russian and Prussian consuls there. The city and the surrounding countryside send five regiments to join the assembling army at Warsaw.
  • 12 June - Polish militiamen take control of Włocławek on the Vistula, downstream and on the opposite bank from Płock. From here they are able to cut the supply line to the Prussian army at Płock. The Prussians make several attempts to dislodge them, but to no avail.
  • 19 June - In Toruń, the bridge across the Vistula is blown up by saboteurs - just in time to foil the Prussian column that had intended to cross there. The Prussians continue to the next bridge at Bydgoszcz, but arrive to find that the crossing is held against them. By this time the Prussians are starving, and surrender soon after.
  • 5 July - Tadeusz Kościuszko begins a lightning campaign throughout Ruthenia. With the aid of the Zaporizhian Cossacks, he manages to capture Kiev without a fight and then circles north to join with Józef Poniatowski.
  • 14 August - The Prussian army at Płock begins its retreat. Forcing the Bydgoszcz crossing, it arrives back in Brandenburg and safety by mid-September. King Frederick William II asks for, and is granted, a truce.
  • 9 October - General Mikhail Kakhovsky, commander-in-chief of the Russian army in Poland and Lithuania, requests a truce and begins withdrawing his last troops back to Smolensk.
  • 28 October - Tadeusz Kościuszko, Józef Poniatowski and the other leaders of the war host a victory parade in Warsaw. Afterwards, they return to the army to prepare for the next year's campaigns.


  • 1 January - The National Assembly, having been expanded by the election of representatives from all parts of Poland-Lithuania and all social classes, votes to ratify a new constitution. Among its clauses is the abolition of the monarchy, the promotion of Ruthenia to be a federal constituent equal in status to Poland and Lithuania, the abolition of serfdom and the creation of a Bill of Rights to apply to every citizen regardless of age, gender or social status. The powers of the great magnates are sharply curtailed and the estates of those who collaborated with the Russian invasion are confiscated. Sovereignty is vested in the National Assembly as representatives of the people, which is led by the six members of the Consular College - two from each realm of the Republic.
  • 17 January - Corsica becomes the first independent country to recognise the new Polish Republic, offering it an alliance.
  • 5 February - Denmark recognises the Polish Republic, in return for which it is promised trade concessions once the port of Gdansk is regained.
  • 14 February - The Russian ambassador to Copenhagen demands that Denmark withdraw its recognition of Poland. The regent Prince Frederick refuses, and Russia declares war on Denmark.
  • 2 March - Tadeusz Kościuszko begins a new campaign against Russia. His first target is the major city of Smolensk, which he besieges. On the same day as the campaign begins, Danish naval forces begin a blockade of St Petersburg.
  • 24 March - Kościuszko's army, swelled by hundreds of thousands of new recruits, defeats the Russian army at the Battle of Katyn. Shortly afterwards, Smolensk surrenders.
  • 6 April - A joint Polish-Danish expedition takes the port of Riga by surprise and captures it on the same day. Soon gold, armaments and volunteer revolutionaries are pouring into Poland via Riga, and grain is flowing out to feed Denmark and its allies.
  • 7 April - Tadeusz Kościuszko defeats the Russian army at the Battle of Rzhev. With this victory, his path is cleared to march on Tver, which sits astride the main route between Moscow and St Petersburg.
  • 11 April - Great Britain recognises the Polish Republic and declares war on Russia.
  • 29 April - While the bulk of the Polish army is away in Russia, Prussia takes the opportunity to attack once more, this time taking and holding everything west of Włocławek and Kałisz. Prussia declares war on both Great Britain and Denmark, Minor skirmishes are fought at the border between Prussia and Hanover.
  • 16 May - Kościuszko captures Tver. However, surrounded by hostile enemies, he realises that he cannot hold the city without reinforcements. Instead he destroys the city walls, all the bridges and the wharfs on the banks of the Volga, then retreats to the south. The bulk of the Russian army, trapped on the north bank of the Volga, cannot pursue him and, after overwhelming the few Russian units to the south, Kościuszko is free to head straight for Moscow.
  • 18 May - British ships arrive at Copenhagen to help the Danes enforce the blockade of the straits. Only friendly ships heading to a Polish-controlled port are allowed through. When a French ship bound for Stettin is sunk trying to run the blockade France, under popular pressure, declares war on Great Britain and Denmark.
  • 30 May - King Charles IV of Spain and Louis XVI of France agree to a treaty of alliance. France is to support Charles' shaky rule with soldiers and subsidies, in return for which Spain will declare war on Great Britain and return the vast Louisiana territory to France. Soon after, Spain begins to prepare for an assault on Gibraltar.
  • 9 June - The Mediterranean Fleet of the British Royal Navy bombards Ottoman shore batteries on the Dardanelles after Sultan Selim III refuses a demand to close the straits to all foreign warships. 
  • 18 June - Kościuszko reaches Moscow, only to find the city deserted. That night, a fire breaks out and spreads rapidly across the mainly wooden buildings. Surrounded by ashes and with Russian troops closing in on all sides, Kościuszko makes the decision to fall back to Smolensk. Morale is still high among the Poles, who have achieved all their objectives in having kept the Russians distracted for another year.
  • 2 July - French and Spanish forces begin simultaneous attacks on the key British naval bases of Gibraltar and Minorca.
  • 4 July - A French squadron lands troops on Corsica.
  • 19 July - Although Austria has so far been tacitly supportive of the Polish revolutionaries, agitation in Galicia-Lodomeria and the encouragement of radicals in Austria itself eventually forces Emperor Francis II to end his support and declare war on Poland. Within days, however, the army that he had gathered to prepare for an invasion becomes swamped by an uprising in the Austrian partition.
  • 21 July - Tadeusz Kościuszko arrives back in Smolensk. By this time, the city fortifications have been improved somewhat by his engineers, but Kościuszko throws his energies into making them almost impregnable. A large part of his army remains in the region to guard the city, while the rest disperse to watch the rest of the eastern frontier.
  • 26 July - Józef Poniatowski leaves Warsaw with several regiments to support the uprising in Galicia-Lodomeria. When he reaches Krakow, whose Austrian garrison is in fact made up largely of ethnic Bohemians and Silesians, the city throws its gates wide open and welcomes him as a liberator.
  • 12 August - The city councillors of Lwow resign en masse. The ensuing elections replace them with Polish radicals and nationalists, who promptly swear allegiance to the Polish Republic.
  • 17 August - Poniatowski faces an Austrian army near the city of Tarnow. The Austrians however withdraw without a fight after receiving orders to relocate to Upper Hungary to discourage unrest.
  • 18 August - French forces capture the port of Bastia in Corsica, enabling them to dominate the entire northern coast. However, President Pasquale Paoli retains control of the south as well as the interior of the island, and the guerrilla tactics of the Corsican light infantry prevent French patrols from penetrating inland.
  • 28 August - At the Battle of Cape Palos the British Royal Navy defeats a combined Franco-Spanish fleet, but at heavy cost. Forced to withdraw to Gibraltar for repairs, it is unable to accomplish its original mission of relieving the siege of Minorca. Shortly afterwards, Minorca surrenders to Spain.
  • 1 September - A British squadron, newly arrived in the region, raids New Orleans.
  • 17 September - Józef Poniatowski enters Lwow in triumph, having faced no significant Austrian opposition during his conquest of Galicia-Lodomeria. Soon afterwards, he sends Brigadier Jan Henryk Dąbrowski on a secret mission to Prague...
  • 1 October - The Austrian governor of Galicia-Lodomeria, Józef Szekely, surrenders to Poniatowski in a ceremony at Lwow. He and his men are permitted to leave the region for Hungary, but Szekely is arrested by the Austrian military police for treason the moment he crosses the border.
  • 12 November - A British fleet, carrying troops for an invasion of New Spain, is caught in a violent hurricane at sea. Many ships are sunk, while the remainder are scattered all over the coast of North America. After this disaster, the British government begins to consider radical new plans to recruit colonists and Indian allies into the regular army.


  • 4 January - The newly-formed 1st Royal Virginian Regiment and the Queen's Own West Indian Regiment of Foot begin recruiting. For the first time, soldiers of the regiments will serve as part of the regular British Army, as opposed to the colonial militias, thus entitling them to equal pay, a uniform, and a veteran's pension upon retirement. Both regiments prove to be hugely popular, and three more are created the following month.
  • 17 January - In the Netherlands, a popular protest in the Hague turns into a riot which culminates in the storming of the stadtholder's palace. William V escapes the city and flees to Groningen, where he tries to organize a reaction. When that fails, he seeks refuge in France, leaving the Netherlands to be transformed into the Batavian Republic.
  • 3 February - A meeting of revolutionaries in Prague is raided by the authorities. Those arrested are tried and sentenced to death for treason. However, Emperor Francis II commutes the sentence to life imprisonment when the mob threatens to launch an uprising.
  • 17 February - The Estates of the Kingdom of Bohemia meet, for the first time in decades, to protest several of Francis II's policies - namely, the restoration of aristocratic privileges and the enforced Germanization of political and academic life.
  • 25 February - General Jakub Jasinski is authorised to attack Prussia with three divisions. His first target is the lower Vistula valley and the port of Gdansk, which would offer Poland a second outlet to the Baltic Sea. After defeating the Prussians at the Battle of Chelmno, he proceeds on to Gdansk and places it under siege, with the assistance of a Danish fleet.
  • 2 March - A French army led by the Prince of Condé crosses through the Austrian Netherlands into the Batavian Republic, ostensibly to restore William V as stadtholder. Not wishing to see a powerful French puppet state across the North Sea, Britain prepares an expeditionary force to come to the aid of the Batavians, and orders a blockade of all French Atlantic ports.
  • 8 March - After an uprising in Gdansk, the Prussian garrison surrenders to Jasinski. The Polish army, taking a few days to recuperate and resupply, soon moves on into East Prussia with the aim of seizing Königsberg.
  • 14 March - Józef Poniatowski marches into Silesia, taking Breslau and Liegnitz. Leaving a large force at Liegnitz in order to delay any Prussian counter-attack, he proceeds with the bulk of his forces into Austrian Bohemia, where Jan Henryk Dąbrowski has been busy stirring up trouble.
  • 18 March - British marines capture New Orleans, thus preventing the flow of supplies and reinforcements to French and Spanish forces farther up the Mississippi. 

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