Written by Martin S. Nowak Tuesday, 21 August 2012 09:47
Born in Minsk, Lithuanian Poland in 1811, Aleksander Bielaski was trained to be a topographical engineer. When the uprising of 1831 against the Russians began, young Bielaski took part with the Polish forces in the defense of Warsaw. After the rebellion, he was exiled to France. From there, he made his way to the U.S. with thousands of other dispossessed Poles.
Once here, Bielaski was employed by railroads as a civil engineer and surveyor. He opened a land office in Springfield, Illinois in 1837 and became a friend of young Abraham Lincoln. He married, spent some time working in Mexico, got a job with the U.S. General Land Office and eventually moved to Washington, D.C. where he was employed as a draftsman.
When the Civil War broke out, Bielaski's old friend and now President Abe Lincoln personally recruited him at his home to accept an officer's commission as aide-de-camp to General John McClernand. Tragically, Captain Bielaski died in the Battle of Belmont, Mo. on November 7, 1861. He left behind his wife and seven children. One of them, Oscar Bielaski, had managed to join the Union army as a drummer boy where he supposedly learned to play the game of base ball from other soldiers.