Bayonets at Night - Anthony Wayne Gets Mad
Anthony Wayne was a Brigadier General in the Continental Army who made a name for himself due to his ferocious demeanor in battle.
Known as ‘Mad Anthony,’ Wayne served through the entirety of the Revolutionary War.
Today, we will look at his greatest defeat and his greatest victory, paying attention to what the two events had in common.
By 1777, Pennsylvania’s Anthony Wayne had already served in the Continental Army’s Invasion of Canada.
Wayne made a name for himself as a Colonel while covering the American’s retreat south to Ticonderoga.
For his valiant efforts, Anthony was promoted to Brigadier General and sent to the Middle Theater.
Battle of Paoli
After participating in the Battle of the Brandywine, Wayne was tasked with harassing the British as they made their way to Philadelphia.
On the night of September 20, while his men were sleeping, the Redcoats performed a daring attack on the Americans. They emptied the ammunition from their guns, so as not to accidentally set off a shot and alert their victims, and attacked with only their bayonets.
Wayne and his men were taken completely by surprise and at least 250 were killed wounded or captured.
The British suffered insignificant losses.
In the aftermath of Paoli, Anthony Wayne’s behavior was under suspicion.
This was amplified by the overblown rumors that the event was a ‘massacre’ and the British had shown ‘no quarter.’
The Continental Congress investigated his conduct and concluded that the misfortune was no fault of Wayne’s, though he did make a tactical error.
Furious, Anthony demanded that General Washington issue a court martial. This was done, and he was absolved of all responsibility for Paoli.
The Battle of Stony Point
Two years later, Wayne had participated in several more wartime conflicts.
This time, he used a similar tactic as had been used against him, attacking the enemy in a midnight raid. The Continentals poured into Stony Point, New York that night and despite suffering several casualties they took over 500 Redcoats as prisoner.
Wayne, due to his tenacity and tactics, earned the nickname ‘Mad Anthony’ based on his feats at Stony Point.
Mad Anthony Moves On
‘Mad Anthony’ Wayne would serve in the Continental Army for the rest of the Revolutionary War.
Afterward, he relocated to Georgia, where he was gifted land by the State in honor of his time in the war. He would spend a year in the United States House of Representatives as a Georgian Delegate.
Wayne went on to receive appointment by Washington as First Commander of the Legion of the United States. After Wayne passed away, the Legion was renamed the Army of the United States.
Want to read about other Brigadier Generals in the Revolutionary War?
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Although Mad Anthony has several books written about him, most focus on his later life leading the Legion in the West.
‘Unlikely General’ covers the entirely of Wayne’s life in full.
Pick up a copy through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).