Researchers noticed the Polish officer's delicate bone structure after the skeleton was extracted from the Pulaski monument in Savannah, Georgia.
By Corky Siemaszko April 5, 2019
|Polish soldier and military commander
Casimir Pulaski, circa 1775
Researchers who used DNA to identify Pulaski’s bones are convinced the gallant Pole who died fighting for America’s freedom was either a biological woman who lived as a man, or potentially was intersex, meaning a person whose body doesn’t fit the standard definitions of male or female.
That’s the eye-opening takeaway from a new Smithsonian Channel documentary titled “The General Was Female?,” which premieres Monday and is part of the “America’s Hidden Stories” series.
“One of the ways that male and female skeletons are different is the pelvis,” Virginia Hutton Estabrook, an assistant professor of anthropology at Georgia Southern University, told NBC News. “In females, the pelvic cavity has a more oval shape. It’s less heart-shaped than in the male pelvis. Pulaski’s looked very female.”
While the Pulaski skeleton showed tell-tale signs of extensive horseback riding and a battle wound on the right hand that the general is known to have suffered, the facial structure and jaw angle were decidedly female, Estabrook said.
Estabrook said her team is not the first to suspect that Pulaski might not have been a man. Others also noticed the delicate bone structure after the skeleton was extracted from the Pulaski monument in Savannah, Georgia. The general was only between 5-foot-2 and 5-foot-4 inches tall.
Told of the revelations about Pulaski, Richard Zawisny, president of the annual Pulaski Day parade, admitted, "I'd heard something about this before, but I'm a little shocked by this."
"But in this day and age, I don't think it will matter to most people," he said. "I really believe that the majority won't care, and it doesn't take away from the fact that Pulaski was a Polish-American hero."