Kovacs Mihaly (1724-1779), also known as Michael Fabrizy de Kovats, earned his place in United States history by commanding American cavalry forces in the Revolutionary War. After successfully leading troops in Hungary’s Pugachev revolution of 1772-1774, de Kovats went to France. He met with Benjamin Franklin, who was then stationed in Paris campaigning for aid against the British crown, and sent word to George Washington that he wished to contribute to the American Revolutionary effort.
Born in Karcag, Hungary, the nobleman’s years of commanding experience in the Royal Austro-Hungarian Cavalry, the Prussian Cavalry of Frederick the Great, and in France made de Kovats a prime candidate for revolutionary leadership. Upon his 1777 arrival in the United States, the Congress of the Thirteen Free States awarded de Kovats American citizenship and appointed him Colonel-Commander of the Pulaski Legion, commissioning him to build the first U.S. light cavalry.