General 'Mad' Anthony Wayne
Created | Updated Feb 20, 2007
The American Revolutionary War in the Middle Atlantic States:
Battle of New York City | Washington's Retreat from New York City | Washington's Crossing of the Delaware River
Battles of Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey | British Capture of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Battle of Brandywine, Pennsylvania
The Paoli Massacre | Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania | Battle of the Barrels | The Winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey | Battle of Stony Point, New York | Battle of Springfield, New Jersey | General 'Mad' Anthony Wayne
Molly Pitcher | General Lord Charles Cornwallis
'Give the order, sir, and I will lay siege to hell'
- Gen. 'Mad' Anthony Wayne
General 'Mad' Anthony Wayne was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania on the family homestead between the towns of Paoli and Wayne on 1 January, 1754.
Educated privately in Philadelphia, he worked in and around Nova Scotia as a surveyor. He then returned home to help on the family farm. When his father died in 1775, Wayne became active in colonial politics, calling for protests against the British. He was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1775, but resigned a year later to serve in the Continental Army.
Call to Arms
On 3 January, 1776, he was commissioned as a colonel in command of the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion. In the spring of 1776, Wayne and his battalion went with the Pennsylvania brigade to reinforce Benedict Arnold's Canadian expedition. Wayne and his troops helped cover the retreat of the entire American army after its defeat at Quebec. For his bravery in fighting such a successful rear guard action, Wayne was placed in command of Fort Ticonderoga.
In February 1777, he was made a brigadier general, and in April he left Ticonderoga to take command of the Pennsylvania brigade. After a period of drilling and training, his troops were sent to defend Philadelphia. Wayne and his troops joined the Colonial Army at the Battle of Brandywine. They held the centre of the defence at Chadd's Ford. His men stood their ground against repeated assaults from a combined force of British and Hessian troops until the rest of the army was able to retreat.
After the retreat, Washington sent Wayne out to disrupt the British supply trains to delay their advance on Philadelphia. This led to the greatest disaster of Wayne's military career - the Paoli Massacre. A large British force attacked his men at night using bayonets and fire. They killed more than 50 and wounded over 100.
There was a formal inquiry after the incident to see if Wayne was negligent and contributed to the disaster at Paoli. The inquiry found that he had erred in tactics. Enraged, Wayne requested a full court-martial to ensure that all the facts were presented, and he was acquitted unanimously.
After the American defeat in the Battle of Germantown, Wayne and his troops were the rear guard covering the retreat of the army.
During the winter at Valley Forge, Wayne led foraging expeditions to gather grain and cattle to feed the army. He also argued bitterly with state politicians who withheld supplies from his men.
When the news reached Valley Forge of the British retreat toward New York City, Wayne's troops were among the first to leave in pursuit of the enemy. At the Battle of Monmouth, the Wayne's Pennsylvanian troops were in the spearhead of the American attack that forced the British from the field.
In the spring of 1779, he was placed in command of a separate corps of light infantry. It was formed of chosen men from various states. With this corps on 16 July, 1779, he carried out his most famous exploit - the surprise and capture of the British post at Stony Point, New York.
Stony Point was protected by a 200-foot cliff face, and was strongly fortified. Washington, knowing how important this battle would be, saw Wayne as the only choice. Legend has it that when asked to accomplish this difficult feat, he stated, 'Issue the orders Sir, and I will lay siege to Hell.'
In a fixed bayonets only attack, the Pennsylvanians assaulted the British fortress at night. They captured of over 500 British prisoners. Wayne was wounded in the attack when a bullet grazed his skull. He insisted that his men carry him over the fort's walls so he could die victorious1. While the victory was important tactically, Stony Point was a huge morale boost for the American public that was growing weary of the rebel army's constant defeats. Congress presented a medal to him for this victory.
In 1780, his corps was stationed in the lower Hudson Valley, to hinder the British in New York City from gathering cattle and other supplies. When West Point was threatened by the treachery of Benedict Arnold, Wayne marched his men 16 miles at night in four hours and prevented the loss of the fortress.
In 1780, Pennsylvania troops mutinied over lack of pay and terms of service in the army. Wayne helped to restore order. He persuaded the Pennsylvania government to take care of their complaints.
In 1781, he recruited new Pennsylvania troops and served under LaFayette in the Yorktown campaign against the British. During this service in Virginia on the lower James River, Wayne was ordered to attack what was supposedly only a detachment of the British army. It was really Cornwallis' entire army. In that seemingly hopeless situation, Wayne ordered a charge into the British army. The move was so unexpected that his men were able to safely escape.
After the surrender of the main British army at Yorktown, Wayne was sent to Georgia where the British Loyalists and hostile Indians were still virtually in control. He defeated the Creek Indians in June 1782. On July 12, his troops marched into Savannah just as the British army was escaping to sea. After that, he helped to restore order in that war-ravaged state.
In 1783, he retired from the army with the brevet rank of Major General.
Wayne's civilian life from 1782 to 1792 was less happy than his military career had been. The State of Georgia granted him an estate for his Revolutionary services. He ran into debt to improve it and lost it by foreclosure. He ventured into politics again in both Pennsylvania and Georgia without much success. In Pennsylvania, Wayne served in the General Assembly. He was elected to Congress from Georgia, but in a few months lost his seat because of charges of 'irregularities' in the election.
Return to Duty
Even after the Revolutionary War was over, the British still held a string of forts along the Great Lakes. The British helped incite the Native Americans in this area to resist the influx of settlers.
The first expedition under Colonel Josiah Harmar was soundly defeated by Chief Little Turtle, a Miami Chieftain. The second expedition, mounted in 1791 was even more disastrous, when General Arthur St. Clair and his army were massacred by Little Turtle at night. In the daylight attack on the Americans, over 690 men and women were killed, including 39 high-ranking officers.
On 5 March, 1792, Congress created a new army - the Legion of the United States. President Washington chose Wayne as this army's commander. The new army trained incessantly for their mission. From November 1792 to April 1793, this army drilled until Wayne felt it was ready to take the field.
After building a chain of over ten forts, Wayne arrived in the heart of Miami Country. On 20 August, 1794, Wayne's troops defeated the Miami Confederacy in the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The following year he signed a treaty with the Indians, which brought peace. In 1796, Wayne accepted formal surrender of the British forts along the Great Lakes.
General Anthony Wayne was headed back to Pittsburgh in December of 1796 and became ill. He died in the Erie blockhouse and was buried beneath the flagpole. He was later interred in Chester County, Pennsylvania*.A259058