Anthony Wayne was born January 1, 1745 in a log cabin in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Although his father wanted him to be a farmer, Anthony was charmed by his father’s stories of his time in the French and Indian War, and dreamed of being in the military. Anthony was educated as a surveyor and worked for Benjamin Franklin surveying land on Nova Scotia for a year. Anthony married Mary Penrose in 1766 and together they had two children, Margretta and Isaac. Wayne was a well-known philanderer, causing estrangement with his wife.
At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Anthony assembled a militia and became colonel of the 4th Regiment in Pennsylvania. He aided Benedict Arnold and Washington’s troops from a massacre at the Battle of Brandywine in 1777.
During his military career, General Anthony Wayne:
- Fought at Valley Forge
- Led men to victory at Stony Point along the Hudson River
- Defeated the Western Confederacy during the Northwest Indian War at the Battle of Fallen Timbers
- Masterminded the Treaty of Greenville
It is believed Anthony earned the nickname “Mad” Anthony Wayne due to his behavior during battle, acting irrationally and impulsively. Another theory is derived from his rivalry with James Wilkinson, who lends his name to Wilkinson Street in Downtown Dayton. Wilkinson and Wayne were both up for the position of leader of the Legion of the United States, a position Washington ultimately gave to Wayne, since George Washington considered Wayne to be one of the best tactical commanders and strategists of the American Revolutionary War. Sore at losing, Wilkinson supposedly embarked on a smear campaign against Wayne, calling him “Mad” Anthony in attempts to discredit him.
This rivalry with Wilkinson continued for years. Wilkinson continued to undermine Wayne at every opportunity. Wilkinson wrote anonymous letters to newspapers and politicians denouncing Wayne’s name in any way he could. When Wayne discovered that Wilkinson secretly instructed suppliers to delay and reduce rations to the army, Wayne began investigating Wilkinson, and was planning to court-martial him. Wilkinson was in alliance with and had been giving military intel to Spain.
Wayne never got to court-martial Wilkinson, as he died in December 1976. It was suspected that Wilkinson had Wayne assassinated, but no proof could be found.
There are so many ways Anthony Wayne’s name has been used over the years to honor him. Here is a list of some of the ways:
- Bill Finger, creator of the comic Batman, named Batman’s secret Identity, Bruce Wayne after General Wayne. Anthony Wayne is depicted as an ancestor of Bruce Wayne and the land where Wayne Manor sits is said to have been a gift to Anthony Wayne by George Washington for his service in the Revolutionary War.
- John Wayne was originally to be named Anthony Wayne, but a last-minute change by Fox Studios made him John Wayne instead.
- Wayne County in: Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia
- Cities: Waynesville, Ohio; Waynesville, North Carolina; Fort Wayne Indiana; Wayne, Michigan, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania; Waynesboro, Virginia, Waynesfield, Ohio, Wayne, Pennsylvania; the former Wayne Township (now Huber Heights); Wayne Township, New Jersey; Mad River Township and Mad River High School (Now Riverside and Stebbins High School)
- Businesses and Buildings: Fort Wayne in Detroit Michigan, Anthony Wayne Recreation Center in New York, Anthony Wayne Suspension Bridge near downtown Toledo, Ohio; Anthony Wayne Trail in Toledo, Anthony Wayne High School in Whitehouse, Ohio (their mascot is a general); Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio; Wayne Middle School in Erie, Pennsylvania; Anthony Wayne Barber Shop in Maumee, Ohio, Mad Anthony Ale, a product of Erie Brewing Company in Pennsylvania.