Brig gen “mad” anthony wayne presented by Paul A. Chase Colonel William Grayson Chapter

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Presented by Paul A. Chase

Colonel William Grayson Chapter

Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution

PURPOSE: The purpose of this presentation is to show why General “Mad” Anthony Wayne belongs in Gen Washington’s top tier generals consisting of Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox, Daniel Morgan, Benedict Arnold and Benjamin Lincoln. Yes, Benedict Arnold was one of Washington’s top tier Generals UNTIL HE BETRAYED OUR CAUSE.

He was born in 1745 in Waynesboro, PA of Scotch Irish descent and if you know anything about the Scotch Irish they are inveterate fighters. The town was named after his father who was an earlier settler. He was highly intelligent, a natural born leader, and studied at the Philadelphia Academy which later became the University of Pennsylvania. He was highly proficient in math which seems to be a common trait among the best American generals of the Revolution.

He became a highly proficient surveyor and at age 20 was the manager of a six month survey of Nova Scotia of over 40 technicians. This brought him to the attention of powerful and influential people of Pennsylvania, most notably Benjamin Franklin. He was made a colonel of the Pennsylvania battalion that covered the retreat of American forces after the failed attempt to conquer Quebec. He wintered with Washington and the American Army at Valley Forge.

Like General Knox he was a self-taught military officer. He read military books constantly. Once when the British captured his personal trailer they expected to find fine wines and linens and were stunned to find nothing but scores of books about military tactics and strategy. He was an extremely stern disciplinarian, who punished and fired officers and NCOs who did not measure up to his high standards. He believed in training and more training; practice and more practice; inspection and more inspection. He was innovative and developed battlefield tactics that were 200 years ahead of their time; such as surprise and deception, reconnaissance, shock and fighting “Lite”.

So why did he not until recent times become recognized as one of the best combat Generals of the Revolution.

  1. His nickname “Mad” Anthony Wayne was mistaken for crazy, out of control, and insane which was totally wrong. He reveled in nicknames such “Hotspur” for his love of fancy uniforms. Indians called him “The Chief that Never Sleeps” for his habit of checking his pickets and vedetes all night long. Like most generals he had a temper but he got his “Mad” appellation from others who thought his battlefield tactics were “Madness”; such as fighting only with bayonets which others said took too much training for American soldiers. He sometimes fought without artillery because it required too much logistics, too many horses and limited quick maneuver. He believed in night fighting which others thought madness because it was too hard to control soldiers in the dark. He believed in winter fighting where others said the soldiers were suffering too much to fight in brutal winter weather. The reality is that he was successful in all these non-traditional tactics.

  2. The second reason he was not considered a top tier general is the fact that during the Revolution he never was promoted to Major General. From the start the Continental Congress dictated that none of the thirteen States could have no more than two Major Generals and Pennsylvania already had two: MG Arthur Sinclair and Major General Mifflin.

  3. The third reason is that his superior Arthur Sinclair took credit for Wayne’s successes and Wayne out of loyalty did not make an issue of it.

He was noted for his bravery and tactical genius at the Battles of Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth Courthouse. By 1779, despite the entry of France and Spain against Britain, American morale was down and a fresh victory was badly needed. Washington selected Stoney Point right under the noses of the British Headquarters in New York City. He selected Wayne to lead the assault. Daniel Morgan resigned at not being selected for the mission.

The battle was classic Wayne. JULY 16, 1779.

  • He staged his Division far away to not give away his mission.

  • He kept the mission close hold from his staff to maintain secrecy

  • He developed a plan of surprise and deception

  • He conducted reconnaissance and determined the PASSWORD to enter the fort from a local vegetable peddler who sold to the British soldiers.

  • He rehearsed the battle.

  • Planned a night attack.

  • Concentrated his forces for shock

  • Captured and killed dogs in area so they would not bark and alert the British to the movement of his men.

  • Attacked on flanks with bayonets, from front with muskets from the center.

He personally led the FORELORN HOPES and was wounded in forehead by a spent bullet. In half an hour the fort was taken with 63 British KILLED and 543 captured and wounded vs 15 American killed and 83 wounded.

He received great acclaim for victory.

On January 1, 1781 his Division mutinied. There were multiple complaints, enlistment paperwork and no pay among many. With great skill he negotiated an end to the affair. In May a second mutiny began and Wayne took control:

He put down the mutiny harshly with executions. He had friends of the victims serve as executioners and executed them one at a time. The executions were up close and personal. Division personnel witnessed executions. Wayne gave the order to fire with pistol in hand ready to shot anyone who failed in their duty.


  1. Northern soldiers did not want to be sent south to fight.

  2. There was general war weariness.

  3. The burden of the war was unfairly spread between the rich and poor.

  4. Despite victories there was no end in sight to the war.

  5. The suffering and hardships of American soldiers was intolerable.

In June 1781 Washington ordered Wayne south to support Lafayette near Williamsburg where he performed a critical role in making Cornwallis move to Yorktown. At the battle Wayne was badly wounded by friendly fire. After Yorktown Washington ordered Wayne south where he fought until 1783.

His multiple wounds, especially his leg wounds caused him to settle in the warm climate of Georgia where he served several terms as a Congressmen.

In 1792 Washington offered Wayne promotion to Major General and Commander in Chief of the American Army and charged him with settling the problem of the Northwest Territories, which he did at the battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794. This led to the Jay Treaty with England which settled the issues permanently on highly favorable terms to U.S. Returning from the peace settlement on the Frontier he died on Dec 15, 1796 at the age of 51. He effectively campaigned himself to death in service to his country.

CONCLUSION: For sustained battlefield successes, over nine years of service to the nation in uniform, complete loyalty to Gen Washington, five times wounded and dying in uniform there is no question Gen “Mad” Anthony Wayne deserves inclusion in the small group of the most Honored and Accomplished Generals of the American Revolution.


Tucker, Glen. Mad Anthony Wayne and the New Nation. Stackpole Books Harrisburg, PA. Published 1973, 287 pages.

Van Doren, Carl. Mutiny in January. The Viking Press, New York, NY. Published 1943, 288 pages.

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