Gaspar Tochman JJ-25

Historical Marker Text
A mile south is the unmarked grave of Gaspar Tochman (1797-1880), a major in the Polish army who participated in the failed 1830 revolt against Russia. Exiled, in 1837 he immigrated to the United States, where he practiced law, wrote, and lectured. During the Civil War he recruited the Polish Brigade (14th and 15th Louisiana regiments) of Jackson’s Corps. A colonel in the Confederate army, he sought unsuccessfully the rank of brigadier general. Tochman settled here in 1866 and served as the European agent for the Virginia Board of Immigration. [1992]

Extended Research
gaspartochmanhm.jpgEarly Life
Gaspar (called Gaspard in most texts) Tochman came from a family of upper-class lineage and was related to General Jan Skrzynecki, one of the leaders of the Polish Army during the revolution of 1830. Tochman was well educated, graduating from the prestigious University of Warsaw, and went on to become a lawyer. When the Polish Revolution of 1830 occurred he led many rebels against the oppressive Russian rule. For his valorous activities Poland bestowed upon him the Gold Cross of the Polish Legion of Honor (Allardice 222).

After participating in the failed revolt in Poland, Gaspard Tochman and many other politically active Poles were exiled from Poland and ended up in countries all over Europe and in the Americas. Tochman migrated to France, where he resided for a few years, and then moved to the United States in 1837 (Kowalczyk).

Coming To America
After coming to the United States, Tochman acted as an advocate for Polish situation and tried to help answer the Polish question of the time. He gave over five hundred addresses on Poland’s behalf (Kowalcyzk). A book of one of his lectures before several state legislatures was published in 1844. After he was naturalized in 1841 he was admitted to practice law, serving in New York and Washington, D.C., where he took on cases against the government for his fellow Poles (Allardice 222).

Civil War
When the potential for war first started Tochman remained neutral, but after Lincoln called for the northern troops to suppress the rebellion Tochman changed his mind (222). Feeling sympathy for those being oppressed, Tochman sided with the Confederacy to be loyal to his naturalized state, Virginia. Tochman was close friends with Jefferson Davis and approached him about forming a Polish brigade in the state of Louisiana, where there was a large population of foreigners (Jones 6). Eventually Tochman raised two regiments, and even though the first one was called the “Polish Brigade” there were less than 200 Poles in the Louisiana at the time, so the majority of the regiment consisted of other nationalities (7). Tochman was promised by Davis’s secretary of war that if he raised more than one regiment he would be elevated from the rank of Major to Brigadier General. After Tochman did raise more than one regiment Davis did not honor his secretary’s promise (Allardice 223). Despite this, Tochman continued to support the rebel cause and even offered to go overseas to recruit Polish exiles from the revolution, to prevent them from joining with the northern cause (223). Throughout the rest of the war Tochman still pursued what rank and money was rightfully his, and when the end of the war came and the Confederacy was dying, his chance to obtain the rank and money was lost (Lonn 164).

After The Civil War
When the Civil War concluded, Tochman went back to practicing law and was appointed the “state’s European agent for the Bureau of Immigration,” and he planned on starting a settlement from Polish immigrants near Spotsylvania. The program started well initially, but because of lack of proper funding the program was not sustainable and eventually Tochman left his post and retired (Allardice 223). Tochman died on December 20, 1880, and is buried on a hill overlooking his house.

Photo Credit
“Gaspar Tochman Marker,” http://www.dhr.virginia.gov (accessed April 17, 2008).

For Further Reference
Allardice, Bruce S. More Generals in Gray. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1995.

Jones, Terry L. Lee’s Tigers: The Louisiana Infantry in the Army of Northern Virginia. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987.

Kowalczyk, Edmund L. “A Polish Family In The South.” http://www.polishroots.com/paha/poles_south.htm (accessed April 13, 2008).

Lonn, Ella. Foreigners in the Confederacy. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1940.

Tochman, Gaspar. Lecture on the social, political and literary condition of Poland, and her future prospects. Baltimore: J.D. Toy, 1844. Also available online at http://www.archive.org/details/lectureonsocialp00tochrich (accessed April 20, 2008).

Department of Historic Resources map and directions

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