OPINION: Foundation Forward, Charters of Freedom — Anthony Wayne

Published 4:08 pm Thursday, October 5, 2023

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This is an American history educational moment of those who made a difference during the Revolutionary War era and how they served our country.

This is an educational moment in American history about those who made a difference during the Revolutionary War era and how they served our country.

David Streater

On Jan. 1, 1745, Anthony Wayne was born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. He attended the Philadelphia Academy, excelling in math. Being talented with calculations, he became a surveyor. Involved with land speculation connected Wayne to Benjamin Franklin, who taught Wayne about the political disagreements between the colonies and Britain.

Anthony then served in the Pennsylvania legislature and its regional Committee of Public Safety. As friction intensified against Britain, Wayne entered the military to serve, as had his father and grandfather. In January 1776, Anthony was commissioned a colonel in the Continental Army.
Wayne won and lost battles, as is typical in military conflicts.

At the Battle of Three Rivers, he saw action in Canada and received minor injuries. Next, he and his troops proceeded to the Battle of Brandywine. The Hessian and British soldiers outnumbered Wayne, causing the patriots to retreat. Wayne requested a court-marital to investigate his leadership, judgment, and battle carnage, including the Battle of Paoli.The court acquitted Anthony “with the highest honor… [actions of a] brave and vigilant officer.”

Wayne was also defeated at Germantown. Regrouping his militia, he moved west, eventually coming to Valley Forge for the winter. In February 1778, he traveled to New Jersey for vital provisions for his soldiers. On June 28, 1778, at the Battle of Monmouth, Wayne and Gen. Charles Lee engaged the British. General Lee retreated, leaving Wayne and his men in a dire situation. With reinforcements that George Washington ordered, Wayne and his troops encircled the British, causing them to flee.

The Battle of Stony Point was a minor clash but had a great psychological uplift for the American soldiers. With the British focused elsewhere, Washington and Wayne created a plan to retake Stony Point.

Wayne saw this as an opportunity for revenge for earlier battles, especially Paoli. On July 15, 1779, Wayne was victorious by overpowering the British using guerrilla tactics.
Anthony remained on duty throughout the Revolution. He testified before Congress about the needs of soldiers and calmed the troops when they were threatening mutiny. Wayne also served in other battles and oversaw the liberation of Charleston, South Carolina. He was promoted to major general because of his loyalty, leadership and bravery on and off the battlefield.

In civilian life, Anthony was not successful as a farmer or politician.

He was elected to office and then resigned over disputes concerning the election. Wayne again found his calling when President Washington appointed him as the Commanding General of the United States Army (1792 to his death in 1796). While overseeing the Army, Wayne was successful in various battles that led to ending turmoil in the new nation.

These included the Battle of Fallen Timbers and the negotiation of the Treaty of Greenville that established borders of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.

During his career, Anthony Wayne was awarded a gold medal for his gallant service and earned the nickname “Mad Anthony.” This moniker came from his commanding leadership, valiant personality and battle strategies.

On Dec. 15, 1796, this fiery patriot died from gout while returning home from a military detail and was buried in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Please visit your Charters of Freedom setting at 144 N. 2nd St., Albemarle. A Charters of Freedom setting consists of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They are on permanent display analogous to the Charters of Freedom in the National Archives, Washington, D.C. Please visit our website (FoundationForward.com) to learn more about all settings.
Teachers are encouraged to contact Streater for info and complementary student education materials to enhance experiential field trips to a Charters of Freedom settings. Please contact Streater (david.streater@mymail.barry.edu) for engraved legacy paver information and complementary educational materials.

Dr. David Streater is the director of education for Foundation Forward, the organization which placed life-size replicas of the United States Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, also known as the Charters of Freedom, in downtown Albemarle. He is a retired college instructor/administrator and a retired probation and parole officer/administrator. In addition, he is a criminologist with an acute history interest, served in the Navy, is a resident of Burke County and is a graduate of Pfeiffer University.