Casimir Pulaski, a famed Polish general who became a protege of George Washington in the American Revolutionary War, may have been a woman or possibly intersex, researchers have said.
Researchers began their work when a monument to Pulaski in Savannah, Georgia, was set to be removed. The general's bones were contained in a metal box under the monument, which was erected in 1854, the Guardian reported on Saturday.
Charles Merbs, a forensic anthropologist at the Arizona State University (ASU) who worked on the case, said that allowed researchers to exhume the skeleton for study.
"Basically I couldn't say anything about what I found until the final report came out... The skeleton is about as female as can be," Merbs said.
Another team member, Virginia Hutton Estabrook, a Georgia Southern University professor of anthropology, told NBC News: "One of the ways that male and female skeletons are different is the pelvis. 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."
The most immediate question was whether the skeleton was indeed Pulaski's. Previous researchers had failed to identify the bones, lacking DNA for a match.
This time, researchers were able to confirm the skeleton through the mitochondrial DNA of Pulaski's grand-niece, known injuries and physical characteristics.
Pulaski was raised as a man in an aristocratic Polish Catholic family, learning to fight and ride. He left Poland in 1772 for Paris. According to the Smithsonian, the American delegation in Paris sent him across the Atlantic with letters of recommendation from Benjamin Franklin.
Pulaski joined the American forces in September 1777 and fought the British at Brandywine, south of Philadelphia, probably saving Washington from capture in a damaging defeat.
He was fatally wounded at the Siege of Savannah in October 1779, dying aboard a ship days later.
Pulaski is considered a Polish-American hero, honoured each year at the Casimir Pulaski Day parade in New York City.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)