Wayne, Anthony

views updated May 17 2018

Wayne, Anthony

Born January 1, 1745 (Waynesboro, Pennsylvania)
Died December 15, 1796 (Presque Isle, Pennsylvania)

General, politician

Gaining recognition as a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution (1775–83), Anthony Wayne served in the first U.S. Congress before returning to a military role to defeat a strong Native American alliance. The alliance had formed west of the Appalachian Mountains in the Old Northwest to forcibly resist expansion of U.S. settlements into the region. Wayne demonstrated considerable courage and competence when the young nation needed leaders on the battlefield. He earned the nickname "Mad Anthony" for his fearless charges into enemy lines.

"Yet the resources of this country are great & if councils will call them forth we may produce a conviction to the world that we deserve to be free."

A surveyor

Anthony Wayne was born on New Year's Day in 1745 to Isaac Wayne and Elizabeth Iddings Wayne. He was their only child. His father and grandfather emigrated from Ireland and around 1724 settled on a 500-acre farm in Pennsylvania. The growing local community became known as Waynesboro. The Waynes also purchased a profitable tannery, where animal hides were processed for clothing and other uses.

Young Anthony proved to be a very strong-willed youth and a challenge for the family; he often clashed with his father. He attended local schools until sixteen years of age. The family then sent Anthony to Philadelphia to attend a private academy operated by an uncle.

After two years of schooling at the Philadelphia academy, Wayne had acquired the skills of a surveyor. He found a job in 1765 with a Philadelphia land company and was sent to survey a large area of land in Nova Scotia, a province of Canada, in preparation for expanding settlement. After completing his job there, Wayne returned to Philadelphia and in March 1766 married Mary Penrose, daughter of a Philadelphia merchant. They had two children.

A Patriot for independence

After their marriage, Wayne and his bride moved back to the family property at Waynesboro. He took over operation of the tannery. Eight years later, in 1774, his father died, leaving Wayne the owner of substantial family property that provided a comfortable income.

As American colonists grew increasingly discontented with the policies of their British rulers in the early 1770s, Wayne became a leader of the Patriots (colonists favoring independence from Britain) in his region of Pennsylvania. In July 1774, he was selected as chairman of a county committee to draft a protest to the British government over the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts. This legislation was a series of four laws passed by British parliament in 1774 attempting to reestablish strict British control over the colonies. The following year, Wayne was appointed to represent the county at a provincial assembly to prepare for the American Revolution (1775–83), the colonists' fight for independence from Britain.

Military commander

Wayne's military role began on January 3, 1776, when the Continental Congress appointed him colonel of a Chester County regiment that he organized for the Continental Army. Wayne fought in key battles throughout the war. Late in the spring of 1776, he was sent to the Canadian front to reinforce U.S. troops struggling to capture Quebec. Despite Wayne's help, U.S. forces were unsuccessful, and Wayne was wounded in the retreat across the Canadian border. For that winter, Wayne was placed in command of two thousand troops under dismal conditions at Fort Ticonderoga.

By February 1777, Wayne rose to the rank of brigadier general, and in April he joined General George Washington (1732–1799; see entry in volume 2) and his troops in Morristown, New Jersey. Wayne showed skill and courage there and at the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777, where his forces suffered major losses while slowing the British advance on Philadelphia. He fought again in October at the Battle of Germantown, only to suffer another loss. In the winter of 1777–78, he wintered with General Washington at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. In June 1778, Wayne led a valiant American charge in the indecisive Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey.

On July 16, 1779, in one of his greatest moments in the war, Wayne led a force of thirteen hundred men in a midnight attack against a British stronghold at Stony Point, New York, on the Hudson River. Seizing the fort, Wayne captured 575 British soldiers and fifteen cannons. The Continental Congress awarded Wayne a gold medal for the much-needed victory, which raised the hopes of the U.S. Army at a low point in the war.

Wayne followed Stony Point with victory at West Point, New York. He continued leading troops into combat further south under the command of Marquis de Lafayette (1757–1834) and won a victory in Green Spring, Virginia. He also directed troops under General Nathanael Greene (1742–1786) in battles in Georgia. He led Continental Army troops into Charleston upon withdrawal of the British army. In Georgia, Wayne's troops defeated Native American Cherokee and Creek forces allied with the British. Following the battlefield victories, Wayne negotiated treaties with the Creek and Cherokee in the winter of 1782–83. The state of Georgia rewarded Wayne for his war accomplishments with an 800-acre rice plantation.


By 1783, victory over Britain was secured. Wayne retired as a major general and returned home to Waynesboro a hero. Wayne began working on his Pennsylvania property again and getting involved in Pennsylvania politics. Wayne represented Chester County in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1784 and 1785. In 1788, he participated in the Pennsylvania constitutional ratification convention, where he favored creation of a stronger national government than that provided by the 1781 Articles of Confederation.

Wayne moved to Georgia following the Pennsylvania constitutional convention and settled on his rice plantation. In 1791, Wayne was elected to represent Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives. He began serving in this position in March 1791 but resigned the following March when his residency requirements for representing Georgia were questioned.

Opening the frontier

While Wayne was serving in the House, the U.S. Army met humiliating defeats in 1790 and again in 1791 at the hands of a strong Native American alliance in the Ohio River valley north of the Ohio River. Members of the Miami, Shawnee, Delaware, and Wyandot tribes were terrorizing settlers in the Northwest Territory. The alliance was led by Little Turtle (c. 1752–1812; see entry in volume 2) of the Miami and Blue Jacket (c.1745–c.1810) of the Shawnee. Created in 1787 by the Continental Congress, the Northwest Territory included the region north of the Ohio River to the Great Lakes and Canada, east to the Pennsylvania border and west to the Mississippi River. The present-day states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and a portion of Minnesota were carved from the Northwest Territory. The 1791 defeat of General Arthur St. Clair (1736–1818) in Ohio was the worst defeat ever suffered by the United States in its battles with the Native Americans. Some 647 American troops were killed.

President Washington was anxious to establish control of the Northwest Territory and make it safe for American settlers. He appointed Wayne, who had just left his seat in the House, as major general in charge of a large new military force known as the Legion of the United States. During 1792 and 1793, Wayne trained this army at a newly established basic training facility in Legionville, Pennsylvania. Wayne's preparation of the troops set training standards for the army for many years. It was the first formalized basic training in the army.

In 1794, after negotiations with the Native American alliance failed, Wayne moved his force of one thousand men west to Fort Recovery in Ohio Country. They built forts as they proceeded. Then on August 20, Wayne's force engaged the alliance of two thousand warriors on the Maumee River just south of present-day Toledo, Ohio. It became known as the Battle of Fallen Timbers, named from the trees blown down by a recent major storm. Wayne was aided by the fact that the British had just signed the Jay Treaty with the United States. In the treaty, the British promised to stop providing support to Native Americans resisting western expansion of American settlement. They also agreed to abandon their posts on American soil, which they had continued to occupy since the end of the American Revolution in 1783. Therefore, when the Native American warriors fell back from the battlefield at Fallen Timbers, they did not receive the backup they needed and expected from British troops at nearby Fort Miami. The Native American alliance was crushed.

William Henry Harrison

A number of men who served under the command of General Anthony Wayne went on to gain fame of their own. One such person was William Henry Harrison (1773–1841). Harrison became a military hero and eventually the ninth president of the United States.

Harrison was born into a wealthy colonial family on a Virginia plantation. His father, Benjamin Harrison (c. 1726–1791), fully supported the fight for independence. He signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, was a member of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1777, and followed Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826; see entry in volume 1) as governor of Virginia from 1781 to 1784. Young William studied medicine in Philadelphia under the famous Dr. Benjamin Rush (1746–1813). However, he ran out of funds when his father died in 1791. So, having a real interest in military matters, Harrison enlisted as an army officer at age eighteen.

Harrison served as an aide to Wayne in the early 1790s, fighting the Native American alliance that was resisting American expansion on the frontier. He took part in the decisive Battle of Fallen Timbers in August 1794, which broke the Native American alliance in the Ohio Country. In 1798, President John Adams (1735–1826; served 1797–1801; see entry in volume 1) appointed Harrison secretary of the Northwest Territory and sent him to Congress as a territorial delegate the following year. In May 1800, Adams appointed Harrison governor of the newly established Indiana Territory.

Harrison negotiated a number of treaties with the Native Americans, opening up millions of acres to U.S. settlement in the future states of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri. However, in reaction to the treaties, a new alliance of tribes formed under the leadership of Shawnee leader Tecumseh (1768–1813; see entry in volume 2). Tecumseh's followers intended to stop further settlement in the region, but Harrison took command of a force of regular army and militia to combat the tribes. He delivered a major blow to the alliance in November 1811 at the Battle of Tippecanoe near present-day Lafayette, Indiana.

When the War of 1812 (1812–15) broke out, Harrison resigned as governor and was given the rank of major general to command all U.S. forces in the Northwest Territory. He was to combat British forces in the region and their Native American allies. On October 5, 1813, his troops delivered a major defeat to the British and Native Americans at the Battle of the Thames in Ontario, Canada. During the battle, Tecumseh was killed. The Native American resistance to American settlement was permanently stopped in the Northwest region. Harrison became a national hero and enjoyed the same popularity that Wayne had almost twenty years earlier.

After the war, Harrison had an illustrious political career, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives (1816–19), the Ohio Senate (1819–21), and the U.S. Senate (1825–28). After unsuccessfully running for president in 1836, he won in the next election in 1840. However, after giving a two-hour inauguration speech in freezing rain on March 4, 1841, in Washington, D.C., he died one month later of pneumonia. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison (1833–1901; served 1889–93), would become the twenty-third U.S. president in 1889.

Wayne followed the military victory with the Treaty of Greenville, signed on August 3, 1795. Wayne had convinced tribal leaders that continuing to defend the Northwest Territory was hopeless. As a result, the Native Americans ceded (gave up) most of Ohio and large parts of Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. By destroying the confederation of tribes, Wayne opened large areas of the Northwest Territory for American settlement. Ohio became a new state less than a decade later, in 1803.

A sudden end

Following his success in Ohio Country, Wayne toured the newly abandoned British posts, setting up strongholds for U.S. control of the region. His national popularity was very high. He was even considered as a candidate for secretary of war when Henry Knox (1750–1806; see entry in volume 1) retired in December 1794. In late 1796, Wayne began his return home from the western frontier but died suddenly of complications from a case of gout (a disease affecting the joints and blood) at Presque Isle, now present-day Erie, Pennsylvania.

Many places and institutions in the former Northwest Territory are named after Wayne. These include the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, the educational institution of Wayne State University in Detroit, and Wayne Counties in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.

For More Information


Cleaves, Freeman. Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1939. Reprint, Newtown, CT: American Political Biography Press, 1990.

Nelson, Paul David. Anthony Wayne: Soldier of the Early Republic. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.

Preston, John Hyde. A Gentleman Rebel: The Exploits of Anthony Wayne. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1930.

Tucker, Glenn. Mad Anthony Wayne and the New Nation: The Story of Washington's Front-Line General. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1973.

Web Sites

"William Henry Harrison." The White House.http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/wh9.html (accessed on August 18, 2005).

Wayne, Anthony

views updated May 11 2018

Wayne, Anthony

WAYNE, ANTHONY. (1745–1796). Continental general. Anthony Wayne was born at the family estate of Waynesborough in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Isaac Wayne, a prosperous farmer and tanner. At an early age, he challenged his father's authority by resisting farm work. Hence, the elder Wayne enrolled him in a school run by his uncle, Gilbert Wayne. There, he did well in mathematics. After studying for two years at Philadelphia Academy, he became a surveyor in Chester County at the age of eighteen. In 1765, he was hired by a land company to survey and settle a tract of land in Nova Scotia. On 25 March 1766 he married Mary Penrose; they had two children. Later he was estranged from his wife and took up with a Wilmington socialite named Mary Vining. When his father died in 1776 he inherited Waynesborough.


As antagonisms grew between Britain and America in the 1770s, Wayne emerged as a leader of Pennsylvania Patriots. He was a sturdy, handsome, well-educated, and established citizen. Though given to swearing, bombast, vanity, and impulsiveness, he was admired and respected by his neighbors. In 1774 he was elected chairman of the Chester County Committee of Safety and to a term in the Provincial Assembly. During the following year he turned his attention to things martial, helping to organize and drill militiamen. Appointed colonel of the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion on 3 January 1776, he marched with his soldiers in mid-May to the Continental army's encampment at New York. From there he almost immediately proceeded to reinforce an American army that was withdrawing from Canada. At Trois Rivières on 8 June, while serving under the command of General William Thompson, he was involved in a hot battle with the British and received a slight wound in the leg. After withdrawing into New York, he was given command of Fort Ticonderoga. During the following winter, he battled cold, lack of provisions, and near-mutiny among his disgruntled soldiers.

On 21 February 1777 Wayne was promoted brigadier general. Rejoining the main Continental army at Morristown, New Jersey, on 20 May, he was given command of the Pennsylvania Line, even though he did not receive the commensurate rank of major general. In the battle of the Brandywine on 11 September, General George Washington posted him at Chadd's Ford, in command of the army's left wing. He performed with zeal and competence, covering the army's retreat after Washington's right wing was routed. On 18 September he was detached with 1,500 men to harass the British army's rear as it marched toward Philadelphia. On the evening of 20 September, he was surprised in camp at Paoli by General Charles Grey, who commanded 5,000 soldiers. Routed from the field, he suffered 200 men killed and another 150 wounded. His opponent, Grey, had only ten casualties. Wayne was charged with negligence, and although acquitted by a court-martial, he was haunted long thereafter by accusations of military ineptitude. In the battle of Germantown on 4 October, he avenged his insult at Paoli by leading his Pennsylvanians in furious assaults against the enemy. On the brink of victory, he descried musket fire at his rear and was forced to retreat. Soon Washington's army was in flight, with Wayne once more covering the withdrawal.

For some months afterward, as he lived through the travails of the army's winter encampment at Valley Forge, Wayne was disgusted with Washington's leadership. At the battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778 he was given a large role by Washington. Fighting furiously, he earning the military glory that he cherished. His confidence in Washington restored, he served on a court-martial of Charles Lee, who was charged with military incompetence and insubordination. He also came close to fighting a duel with Lee over these matters. On 21 June 1779 Washington gave him command of an elite corps of Continental light infantry, numbering 2,000 men. These troops he led on the night of 15 July against Stony Point, a strategically important British post on the Hudson River below West Point. Overwhelming the defenders, he received a slight wound to the head and immortality as a soldier. Shortly thereafter, the light infantry corps was disbanded. On 20 July 1780 he commanded an unsuccessful assault against a British blockhouse at Bull's Ferry, New Jersey. Two months later, he frustrated Benedict Arnold's attempt to deliver West Point into enemy hands by marching his soldiers quickly to the defense of that post.

On 1 January 1781 Wayne's Pennsylvania troops mutinied, after months of discontented grumbling. In a display of good sense and courage, he managed to placate the soldiers while presenting their demands to Congress. By the end of January, many of his troops had been discharged. In May, Wayne and the remaining 800 troops were ordered to join the Marquis de Lafayette's army in Virginia. After quelling two more mutinies, Wayne proceeded southward and, on 6 July, audaciously attacked Lord Charles Cornwallis's entire army at Green Spring. Only his steely fearlessness managed to extricate him from this dangerous predicament. Thereafter, he was known as "Mad Anthony" Wayne.

Wounded in the leg by an American sentry on 2 September, he was not present at General Charles Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown on 19 October. In early 1782 he assumed command of American forces in Georgia, and for the next seven months battled British Loyalists, Creeks, and Cherokees. After the enemy evacuated Savannah in 11 July, Wayne joined Nathanael Greene in South Carolina. There he fell ill with a fever that nearly killed him. On 14 December the British withdrew from Charleson, South Carolina, and eight months later Wayne returned to Pennsylvania. He was promoted brevet major general on 30 September 1783, and on 3 November resigned from the army.


In late 1783 Wayne was elected to the Pennsylvania Council of Censors and the Assembly. He served as an assemblyman for two years, and in 1787 was a member of the Pennsylvania convention that ratified the new Constitution. Given a rice plantation by Georgia for his wartime services there, he went deeply in debt in a futile effort to make it pay. Finally he had to sell the plantation. In 1791 he was elected to Congress in Georgia, but served only seventeen days before his seat was declared vacant because of election irregularities. On 5 March 1792 he was appointed commander of the American army that was fighting Indians in the Northwest, with the rank of major general. He replaced Arthur St. Clair, who had been defeated in battle the year before. Taking command at Pittsburgh, he devoted the next two years to the careful training of his army in the use of the bayonet and musket. He marched northward from Cincinnati into Indian country, establishing military posts as he went. On 20 August 1794, on the Maumee River, he routed an Indian army in the battle of Fallen Timbers, and broke the will of the natives to resist American hegemony. In 1795 he negotiated the Treaty of Greenville, thus confirming the submission of the Northwest Indians. Praised for his exploits, he was touted in the east as a possible secretary of war, but never got the appointment. He died of gout on 15 December 1796 at Presque Isle, and was buried there. On 3 October 1809 he was exhumed, then reinterred at St. David's Church near Waynesborough on 3 October 1809. A courageous and intelligent military leader, Anthony Wayne deserves his reputation as one of America's great soldiers.

SEE ALSO Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania; Green Spring (Jamestown Ford, Virginia); Stony Point, New York.


Knopf, Richard C., ed. Anthony Wayne, A Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation: The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1960.

Nelson, Paul David. Anthony Wayne: Soldier of the Early Republic. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.

Rankin, Hugh F. "Anthony Wayne: Military Romanticist." In George Washington's Generals. Edited by George A. Billias. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1964.

Stillé, Charles Janeway. Major-General Anthony Wayne and the Pennsylvania Line in The Continental Army. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1893.

Tucker, Glen. Mad Anthony Wayne and the New Nation: The Story of Washington's Frontline General. Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1973.

Wildes, Harry Emerson. Anthony Wayne: Trouble Shooter of the American Revolution. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1941.

                            revised by Paul David Nelson

Anthony Wayne

views updated May 18 2018

Anthony Wayne

The American soldier Anthony Wayne (1745-1796) became a hero during the American Revolution and in his later campaigns against the Indians.

Anthony Wayne was born in Easttown, Pa., on Jan. 1, 1745. He attended local schools and the Philadelphia academy. In 1763 he began a career in surveying, principally in Nova Scotia. In 1766 he and his wife settled down at Waynesborough, Pa., the family property, where Wayne helped his father in the profitable business of farming and of operating a tannery.

When the Revolution began in 1775, Wayne organized a regiment of infantry and was appointed colonel. His military career was varied and honorable. First assigned to the Army unit covering the retreat of American forces from Canada, he fought in the Battle of Three Rivers, where he was wounded. Next he joined George Washington and the main body of the Army at Morristown, N.J., in February 1777, receiving promotion to brigadier general. He distinguished himself in several battles, but his greatest exploit was the capture of Stony Point, a British stronghold on the Hudson River, in July 1779. In command of a picked corps of 1, 300 men, Wayne attacked at midnight. In a brilliant tactical maneuver, he took the garrison by surprise, killing or wounding 123 and capturing 575 men. A grateful Congress voted him a gold medal. The whole country acclaimed him, and Washington praised his "judgment and bravery."

For the remainder of the war, Wayne served with the Marquis de Lafayette in Virginia until the British surrendered at Yorktown. When peace came in 1783, he retired as brevet major general. In 1792 President Washington recalled him to serve as commander in chief of the Army. His assignment was to destroy the Indian power north of the Ohio River. For a year Wayne gathered and trained an army; in the spring of 1793 they set out for the west. At Fallen Timbers (near present-day Toledo) he defeated the Indians in August 1794. He negotiated the Treaty of Greenville with the chiefs (1795), by which the several tribes acknowledged American supremacy in the region. This ended a generation of warfare on the frontier.

While on a tour of inspection of frontier posts, Wayne died on Dec. 15, 1796, at Presque Isle (Erie) in Pennsylvania. Often impetuous and occasionally rash, he was called "mad, " but none disputed his courage and competence.

Further Reading

Wayne's activities in the Old Northwest are recorded in The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence, edited by R. C. Knopf (1960). The best study of Wayne is Charles J. Stillé, Major-General Anthony Wayne and the Pennsylvania Line in the Continental Army (1893); complete and judicious, it contains many of Wayne's letters. Harry Emerson Wildes, Anthony Wayne: Trouble Shooter of the American Revolution (1941), does not add much new. An interesting and colorful biography, but not as scholarly as Stillé's, is Thomas Boyd, Mad Anthony Wayne (1929).

Additional Sources

Fox, Joseph L., Anthony Wayne, Washington's reliable general, Chicago, Ill.: Adams Press, 1988.

Isaac, Norm, Wayne—Ohio's wilderness warrior, Richmond, Ind.: N. Isaac, 1982.

Nelson, Paul David, Anthony Wayne, soldier of the early republic, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985. □

Wayne, Anthony

views updated May 29 2018

Wayne, Anthony (1745–1796), Revolutionary War general; commander of the Legion of the United States.An imposing Pennsylvanian, Wayne was a commissioned colonel in the Continental army in 1776 and took part in the unsuccessful American invasion of Canada. Promoted brigadier general in 1777, he served with George Washington in Pennsylvania, suffering defeat at Paoli on 20 September. He fought gallantly at the Battle of Monmouth, 28 June 1778; on 15 July 1779, he seized an important British fortified position on the Hudson River, Stony Point, in a brilliantly executed light infantry assault. He suppressed two mutinies among his soldiers in early 1781 before joining the marquis de Lafayette's army in Virginia and following Gen. Charles Cornwallis's withdrawal to Yorktown. After the British surrender there (19 October), he commanded troops in Georgia and South Carolina before resigning from the army in 1782.

Frustrated in civilian pursuits, Wayne gladly accepted Washington's offer in 1792 to command the Legion of the United States, with the rank of major general. His mission was to end the formidable Indian resistance in the Northwest Territory. Over the next two years, he created a tough, disciplined army, and—despite secret attempts by his subordinate James Wilkinson to ruin him—decisively defeated a Delaware, Shawnee, and Canadian force at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, 20 August 1794. After establishing a number of military posts, Wayne concluded the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, pacifying the region. He died on duty at Presque Isle late the following year, at the height of his fame. Known for his vanity, fearlessness, and violent temper, he was popularly called “Mad Anthony” Wayne—a nickname that his troops bestowed in admiration of his audacity in battle.
[See also Native American Wars: Wars Between Native Americans and Europeans and Euro‐Americans; Revolutionary War: Military and Diplomatic Course.]


Paul David Nelson , Anthony Wayne: Soldier of the Early Republic, 1985.

Paul David Nelson

Wayne, Anthony

views updated May 11 2018

Wayne, Anthony (1745–96) US general. He served under Washington in the Revolutionary War campaigns around New York and Pennsylvania, and in 1779 he led the successful night attack on Stony Point, N.Y. In 1781–83 he fought in the South. After the war he defeated the Ohio Indians in the Battle of Fallen Timbers (1794) and signed the Treaty of Greenville, the first to recognize Native American title to US lands.

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