Anthony Wayne

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OHS AL02896.jpg
Portrait of Anthony Wayne, ca. 1795. General Wayne lead a military campaign against Native American tribes in the Northwest Territory that culminated with the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 and the signing of the Treaty of Greene Ville in 1795.

Anthony Wayne was an important American military leader during and after the American Revolution.

Wayne was born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, on January 1, 1745. As a young man, a career in the military fascinated Wayne. Despite this desire, he attended his uncle's private school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and studied to become a surveyor. In 1765, a Pennsylvania real estate company sent Wayne to Nova Scotia to survey and to help settle 100,000 acres of land that the company owned there. The venture failed in 1766, and Wayne returned to Pennsylvania. He took over his father's tannery business. Upon his father's death in 1774, he inherited the prosperous business.

Wayne served on numerous committees in his home county, and encouraged his neighbors to support rebellion against the British government. He served in the Pennsylvania legislature in 1775 and joined the Continental Army in 1776. He entered the service as a colonel but quickly advanced to the rank of brigadier-general by 1777.

Wayne had no military experience before enlisting in the Continental Army. Other, more experienced officers resented Wayne's quick advancement. He became known for his bravado and ill-advised attacks. He earned the nickname "Mad" Anthony Wayne because of his impulsive actions on the battlefield. He participated in America's failed invasion of Canada in 1776 and assumed the command of Fort Ticonderoga later that same year. The following year, he assisted George Washington in his failed defense of the nation's capital, Philadelphia. In 1779, Wayne led an American force against British soldiers at Stony Point, New York. He succeeded in capturing the entire garrison. This was a crucial victory for the Americans. The Continental Army had experienced few recent successes, and this victory improved the soldiers' morale.

In 1780, Wayne played a critical role in preventing Benedict Arnold from turning over the American fortifications at West Point to the British. He also helped to put down a mutiny of Pennsylvania soldiers who had not received payment from the government formed by the Articles of Confederation. He did so by serving as the men's advocate before the Confederation Congress. Following Lord Cornwallis's defeat at Yorktown, Virginia, in October 1781, Wayne served in Georgia against British Loyalists and their American Indian allies, especially the Creek and Cherokee. Wayne effectively forced the Creeks and Cherokees to sign treaties with the Americans. He retired in 1783 from the Continental Army, having attained the rank of major general.

From 1783 until 1792, Wayne remained a civilian in Pennsylvania. Georgia had given Wayne an eight-hundred-acre rice plantation for his assistance against area American Indian nations. Wayne became an absentee landlord. To operate the farm, Wayne borrowed heavily from Dutch bankers, who eventually foreclosed on his land. He held several political offices, including a seat in the Pennsylvania legislature in 1784 and 1785. He was a strong supporter of the Constitution and served as one of Georgia's members of the United States House of Representatives from 1791 to 1792. He was removed from this position in 1792 because he had failed to take up residency in Georgia.

In 1792, President George Washington appointed Wayne as the commander of the United States Army of the Northwest, and appointed him to serve in the Northwest Territory. The major purpose of this army was to defend Anglo-American settlers from attacks by Ohio's American Indians, who resided in the area. Josiah Harmar and Arthur St. Clair had both been defeated at the hands of Ohio's American Indians in the previous few years, and Washington hoped that Wayne would prove to be more successful. To help defend the frontier, Wayne ordered the construction of several forts, including Fort Recovery, Fort Defiance, and Fort Greene Ville. Seeing the build-up of American forces in the Northwest Territory, the local American Indians became quite concerned. To ease their fears, the American Indians' British allies constructed Fort Miamis on the Maumee River. During 1794, Wayne moved against the American Indians, who were commanded by Blue Jacket. On August 20, 1794, the two forces met at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, so named because the American Indians used trees knocked down by a tornado for cover. Wayne's men drove the American Indian forces from the battlefield. Wayne succeeded primarily because of his well-trained troops. Harmar and St. Clair's earlier expeditions had failed due to a heavy reliance on unskilled soldiers.

The Americans had thirty-three men killed and roughly one hundred wounded, while the American Indians lost approximately twice that number. Shawnee leader Blue Jacket's followers retreated to Fort Miamis, hoping the British would provide them with protection and assistance against Wayne's army. The British refused. Wayne followed the natives to the fort. Upon his arrival, Wayne ordered the British to evacuate the Northwest Territory. The British commander refused. Wayne decided to withdraw to Fort Greene Ville.

For the next year, Wayne stayed at Fort Greene Ville, negotiating a treaty with Ohio's American Indians. The American Indians realized that they were at a serious disadvantage with the Americans, especially because of Britain's refusal to support the natives. On August 3, 1795, the Treaty of Greeneville was signed. Representatives from the Miamis, Wyandot, Shawnee, Delaware, and several other American Indian nations agreed to move to the northwestern part of what is present-day Ohio. In doing so, they left behind their lands south and east of the agreed upon boundary. Not all American Indians, however, concurred with the treaty, and bloodshed continued in the region for the next twenty years as Anglo-American settlers and American Indians struggled for control in the region.

See Also


  1. Boyd, Thomas. Mad Anthony Wayne. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1929.
  2. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.
  3. Preston, John Hyde. A Gentleman Rebel: Mad Anthony Wayne. Garden City, NY: Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 1930. 
  4. Tucker, Glenn. Mad Anthony Wayne and the New Nation: The Story of Washington's Front-line General. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1973.