Portrait from the Poles in America Foundation Collection
Portrait by: Edward Lis
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Brig. Gen. Karge's grave at Princeton Cemetery of the Nassau Presbyterian Church, Est. 1757
Photo by: Frank Langer, Trenton, NJ (1938)
General of the Civil War, educator. Born July 4, 1823 in Oledry Terespolskie near Posen, Poland. Graduated from universities in Breslau and Berlin, Germany and Paris, France. Served in the Prussian Army. Son of a cavalry colonel under and with Napoleon in his Russian campaign, after his advanced academic educational training, advanced into military leadership during a Polish revolt against Prussia in 1848.
Following a series of military encounters, captures, imprisonments and escapes (1848-1851), Karge finally fled to London and came to New York in 1851. In 1856 became a citizen of U.S. Teacher in New York, 1851-1861 and organizer of the schools in New York and Danbury, Conn. When the Civil War broke out, Karge offered his services to the Union's cause. Joined the First Cavalry of New Jersey in 1861 as lieutenant-colonel. At Barnets Fort on Aug. 7, 1862, he helped save the Army of Virginia from possible annihilation by the famed Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, and aided in the Defense of Washington from Confederate attack. Wounded at Brandy Station, Aug. 20, 1862, Karge was compelled to retire from army service on Dec. 22, 1862, because of his wounds. In 1863, reentered service and immediately organized the Second Regiment of Cavalry of New Jersey, of which he became colonel on Sept. 25, 1863.
When Gen. Lee threatened to invade the North, the governor of New Jersey, Joel Parker, appointed Gen. Karge supreme commander of the cavalry within the state. Defeated Gen. Lee at Gettysburg; regained the states of Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas and Louisiana. Universally praised for his valorous work, Karge was commissioned by Congress a brigadier-general, March 13, 1865. Discharged with honors on Jan. 1, 1871. Following the war, returned to his profession as professor of continental languages and literature at Princeton University, Princeton, N. J., 1870-1892.
The National Encyclopedia of American Biography says of him, "by reason of his fine scholarship, his amiable qualities, and his rare gift as a teacher, he became one of the best educators of his time." In 1863 honorary member of the Polish Committee in New York to support the Polish cause in U.S. during the Polish insurrection against Russia in 1863. General Karge died on Dec. 27, 1892 enroute from New Jersey to New York. His grave was discovered in a Princeton Cemetery on April 2, 1938 by Victor A. Wojciechowski, president of the New Jersey Polish Historical Society in Trenton, N. J.
Source: "Who's Who in Polish America" by Rev. Francis Bolek, Editor-in-Chief; Harbinger House, New York, 1943
155th Anniversary of the Birth of Joseph Karge (Biography)
Epilogue, Rev. Ignacy Karge