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Wayne, General Anthony

General Anthony Wayne was a U.S. Army general and statesman who served with distinction during the Revolutionary War and later as a politician in his home state of Pennsylvania. Wayne, sometimes known as "Mad Anthony", was renowned for his military exploits and courage in the field of battle while fighting against the British for American Independence. Later in life, he was commissioned by President George Washington to command what became known as the Legion of the United States in an effort to secure territory gained by the Treaty of Paris (1783), which the British had refused to relinquish.

Wayne was born in East Town Township, Pennsylvania on January 1, 1745. He was raised in a family with a long tradition of military service, with both his father and grandfather serving as officers in the British Army. As a boy, Wayne was a poor student in school, and was frequently disciplined by his teachers due to his penchant for roughhousing and leading other boys in games of mock battle. Despite his disdain for academics, as a young man Wayne became proficient in the practice of surveying, an interest he would share with his later friend and superior officer, George Washington.

Prior to the American Revolution, Wayne became politically active in Pennsylvania, securing for himself the office of committeeman, and serving as a delegate to the state legislature.

When the Revolutionary War began in 1775, Wayne raised a regiment of locally recruited Pennsylvanians and was appointed to the rank of colonel in 1776. Wayne quickly established a reputation for himself as a valiant, uncompromising, but often overly aggressive military leader. He became known for his ability to claim victory against innumerable odds, a reputation established at the Battle of Monmouth where he rallied a demoralized and beleaguered group of survivors from the Valley Forge encampment to victory against an elite force of highly trained British regulars.

Wayne's reputation for heroics was solidified on July 15, 1779 at Stony Point, New York, when he led a bayonet charge up a well-fortified, elevated stronghold, defended by two companies of British grenadiers. Despite being badly wounded in the charge, Wayne ordered his men to carry him into enemy fortifications after the British had been overwhelmed, so that if he were to die, he would do so defiantly and with great honor in the midst of battle.

After the war ended in 1783 Wayne became involved in politics again, serving on the Pennsylvania legislature, and later as a congressman from Georgia. In 1792, Wayne found himself bankrupt through financial mismanagement, abandoned by his wife due to rumors of philandering, and removed from office on account of allegations of election fraud.

Wayne's reprieve came in the form of an invitation from President Washington to lead the Legion of the United States on a military expedition to the Northwest Territory (present day Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin) in order to expel the British from land they had ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Paris, but subsequently refused to vacate. Furthermore, the Native American tribes in the region opposed any attempts made to establish settlements in the Northwest Territory, and were responsible for numerous attacks against civilians. 

While the task of subduing the hostile tribes and reducing the many fortified British garrisons in the region was great, Wayne set about accomplishing it with his usual zeal, conducting a highly efficient campaign which culminated in the total defeat of the Native Americans at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. No longer aided by the Native American tribes, the British surrendered their garrisons to Wayne, thus allowing him to immediately secure the territory that would soon become the state of Ohio.

General Anthony Wayne died on December 15, 1796 from complications of gout. Wayne's legacy has been memorialized in many mid-western localities, including Wayne County, Fort Wayne, Wayne State University, and Anthony Wayne Drive in Detroit, Michigan, all of which were named in his honor.



Poster showing General Anthony Wayne, 1976 - 2013.042.492

Military orders for clothing sent by General Anthony Wayne, 1793 - 2002.004.016

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