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Anthony Wayne

The history of the Sages and Heroes of the American Revolution cannot be too often examined by the present and coming generations. To learn their disinterested patriotism, bold conceptions, daring exploits, unparalleled sufferings, indomitable perseverance, noble fortitude, enduring patience and their exalted virtues--is to know something of the high price our freedom cost. To properly appreciate the liberty we enjoy is one of the best safe guards of its perpetuity. In the peaceful enjoyment of inestimable blessings we are too apt to forget their origin and their value.

Could the torrents of blood shed to obtain the high privileges we now inherit be placed in one mighty reservoir upon which all our people could look for a single moment, millions would blush at their own apathy in the preservation of our dearest interests. We have many reckless demagogues and bold disorganizers in our midst who should be baptized in this fountain of blood for the remission of their political sins--some who set the Federal Constitution at naught and would glory in the dissolution of our blood bought UNION. When our love of country grows cold and respect for the chart of our Liberty is lost--the sooner we emigrate the better for all concerned--not up salt river but to Chinese Tartary or Chimborazo.

Among those who freely contributed to the revolutionary fountain of blood was Anthony Wayne, born in Waynesborough, Chester County, Pennsylvania on the 1st of January 1745. His grandfather held a commission in the army of William III. and fought at the battle of the Boyne on the 1st of July 1690 and at Aughrine on the 12th of July 1691 at both of which the Irish under James II. were defeated. At the last battle their struggle for Independence ended and has never been renewed. His father was a respectable farmer and placed this son at school in Philadelphia where he received a good English education. He was delighted with the study of mathematics and became familiar with surveying and engineering at an early age. His taste for military tactics was developed during his boyhood. His father and grandfather were both men of military prowess. As young Anthony listened to the story of their exploits he contemplated the field of battle, the clash of arms and the shouts of victory with burning enthusiasm. This grew with his growth and ripened with his manhood.

In 1773 he succeeded his father in the Colonial Assembly where he became an active member and took a bold stand in favor of liberal principles and equal rights. He did much to rouse the people to a just sense of impending danger. His boldness inspired confidence--his energy prepared for action. He preferred digging a grave with his sword rather than tamely submit to foreign dictation based upon tyranny and enforced by the insolent task masters of the crown. In 1775 he received a Colonel's commission and speedily raised a fine regiment in his native county. He was soon called into active service under Gen. Thompson in his unfortunate expedition against Canada. When that officer was defeated and taken prisoner with a part of his little army, Col. Wayne manifested great presence of mind, skill and bravery in effecting a retreat although writhing under a severe wound. From that time his military fame rose and expanded until it reached the maximum of his patriotic ambition--the pinnacle of his fondest desires. In 1776 his services were very useful on the northern frontier in conducting the engineer department in addition to the duties of his command. He had the confidence of his superiors and the friendship of all around him. His course was onward and upward. As a merited reward for his active services and in consequence of his superior talents he was commissioned Brigadier General at the close of that campaign.

At the battle of Brandywine he kept a superior British force from passing Chad's Ford for a long time. After the partial defeat of the American army Gen. Wayne was detached with his division to keep the enemy at bay in view of another attack. The invading army was stationed at what was then called Tredyffrin. Gen. Wayne encamped three miles in the rear of the left wing near the Paoli Tavern and gave special orders to guard against surprise. On the night of the 20th of September his troops were suddenly attacked by a division under Gen. Gray who rushed upon the Americans with fixed bayonets killing and wounding about 150 men. Overwhelmed by a superior force Gen. Wayne retreated a short distance--rallied and formed his men and was no farther molested. At his own request his conduct on that unfortunate occasion was investigated by a court martial. Not the slightest fault was found against him. At the battle of Germantown he led his men on to action with a boldness and impetuosity that carried terror into the ranks of the imported veterans. He had two horses shot, one under him and one as he was mounting and was wounded in the left foot and hand. When a retreat was ordered his military skill shone conspicuously in protecting his men.

He was uniformly selected by Washington to conduct hazardous and daring enterprises, reconnoitre the enemy and collect supplies. His energy was of the most vigorous tone whether on the field or in a council of war. Previous to the battle of Monmouth he and Gen. Cadwalader were the only officers who at first united with Washington in favor of attacking the British army. So bravely did he act on the day of that brilliant victory that the commander-in-chief made special mention of him in his report to Congress. In July 1779 Gen. Wayne was selected to attempt a bold and daring exploit. Stony Point was in possession of the enemy, strongly fortified and filled with heavy ordnance. One side was washed by the Hudson River, on the other was a morass passable only in one place. This fort was on an eminence of considerable height. In front were formidable breastworks at every accessible point. In advance of these was a double row of abattis. Col. Johnson was in command of the garrison with 600 men principally Highlanders, the bravest and most brawny troops that were imported. A number of vessels of war were moored in the Hudson in front. All things combined to render a successful attack more than problematical with a much superior force. It was the very kind of adventure for Gen. Wayne. To please our young military gentlemen I will describe the arrangements for attack.

On the evening of the 15th of July, at 8 o'clock, he arrived within a mile and a half of the fort and immediately communicated his plan of operation to his officers. The hour of low twelve was fixed for the desperate assault. Every officer and non-commissioned officer was held responsible for each man in his platoon. No soldier was permitted to leave the ranks until the general halt near the fort and then only with an officer. When the troops arrived in rear of the hill on which the fort stood Col. Febiger formed his regiment in solid column of a half platoon in front. Col. Meigs formed in his rear--Maj. Hull in his rear, the three forming the right column. The left was formed in the same manner by Col. Butler and Maj. Murphy. Every officer and soldier placed a piece of white paper in front of his hat or cap that they might recognise each other if mixed with the enemy. Col. Fleury was put in command of 150 picked men and stationed about twenty paces in front of the right column with fixed bayonets and unloaded muskets. A little in front of these an officer and twenty of the boldest men were placed whose duty was to secure the sentinels and remove the abattis that the main column might pass freely. The same with the left column. The main columns were to follow the advance with shouldered unloaded muskets relying entirely on the bayonet--according to the tactics of Gen. Gray at Paoli. Any soldier who departed in the minutest particular from orders was to be instantly killed by his officer. A reward of $500 was offered to the first man who entered the fortification--$400--$300--$200--$100 to each in succession of the other four who first followed. The whole being formed, "_March_!" thundered from Wayne who led the right column with Col. Febiger--the left was led by Col. Butler followed by Maj. Murphy. Never were men more determined on victory or death--never were orders more strictly obeyed. So simultaneous was the attack by each division and so equally rapid their movements that they met in the centre of the fort. The victory was as complete and triumphant as the assault was bold and overwhelming. All was accomplished without the discharge of a gun by the Americans who advanced facing a tremendous shower of musket, grape and canister shot. On the surrender of the fort Gen. Wayne ordered a salute of iron hail for the benefit of the armed ships in the river which caused them to slip their cables and move off with all possible despatch. Fifty-seven of the enemy were killed and five hundred and forty-three taken prisoners. As the columns were advancing Gen. Wayne was severely wounded in the head with a musket ball--as he believed mortally--which felled him to the ground. He rose on one knee--"_Onward my brave fellows--onward!_" burst from him in stentorian accents. He requested his aids to carry him into the fort that he might die amidst the music shouts of victory. The garrison made a determined resistance at every point of attack. Of the forlorn hope of the twenty led by Lieut. Gibbons seventeen were killed. The wounded and killed of the Americans amounted in all to ninety-eight. After entering the fort had the Americans opened a fire the slaughter would have been dreadful. Gen. Wayne preferred setting an example of humane treatment towards his conquered foes, proving himself as magnanimous as he was brave and victorious. He scorned retaliation although the dying groans at the Paoli massacre were still ringing in his ears. Within an hour after the surrender, writhing under his severe wound, Gen. Wayne addressed the following laconic letter to Gen. Washington.

                          "Stony Point, July 16, 1779, 2 o'clock A. M.

"DEAR GENERAL--The fort and garrison with Col. Johnson are ours. Our officers and men behaved like men determined to be free.

                    "Yours most sincerely, "ANTHONY WAYNE. "Gen. Washington."

Here is a model letter worthy the imitation of the elaborate epistle manufacturers of the present prolific era of verbosity, ambiguity and repetition. It should serve as a modest hint to our speech-makers and induce them to say less and do more. Millions would then be saved to the States and our nation.

So highly did Congress appreciate the capture of Stony Point that on the 26th of the same month the House passed a series of resolutions highly complimentary to Gen. Washington for conceiving and to Gen. Wayne and his brave companions in arms for planning and accomplishing the capture of that important post. The amount of the military stores was divided amongst the officers and men and the rewards offered promptly paid. The letter of Mr. Jay, the President of the Continental Congress to Gen. Wayne enclosing a copy of these resolutions, shows the concise and systematic mode of doing business at that time.

                                          "Philadelphia July 27, 1779.

"SIR--Your late glorious achievements have merited and now receive the approbation and thanks of your country. They are contained in the enclosed act of Congress which I have the honor to transmit. This brilliant action adds luster to our arms and will teach the enemy to respect our power if not to imitate our humanity. You have nobly reaped laurels in the cause of your country and in the fields of danger and death. May these prove the earnest of more and may victory ever bear your standard and Providence be your shield.

                                 "I have the honor to be &c. "JOHN JAY, President."

Here is another _multum in parvo_ worthy of imitation. Plain common sense plainly and briefly told--every line gemmed with the purest patriotism.

Gen. Wayne was blessed with great presence of mind in sudden emergencies. When in the vicinity of James river, Virginia, he was incorrectly told that the main body of the British army had passed to the opposite side. He advanced with only 800 men for the purpose of capturing the rear guard but found the whole force of Lord Cornwallis formed in line of battle. He immediately commenced a vigorous attack and then retreated in good order. Believing this to be an ambuscade stratagem the British dared not pursue him. In 1781 he was put in command of the forces in Georgia. After several sanguinary engagements he expelled the enemy from the state and planted the standard of freedom upon the ruins of tyranny--upon the firm basis of eternal justice. As a reward for his services that state presented him with a valuable plantation reversing the adage--republics are ungrateful. He continued in active service up to the close of the siege of Yorktown, a bold, prudent, skilful and reliable patriotic officer. He remained in the army until the Independence for which he had fought and bled was fully recognized by mother Britain when he retired to the bosom of his family crowned with the highest military honors he desired and with the rank of Major General of the American army. But few of the Heroes of the Revolution did as much hard service as Gen. Wayne and no one did it up more brown.

In 1789 he was a member of the Pennsylvania convention to which was submitted the Federal Constitution. He warmly advocated its adoption. In 1792 he succeeded Gen. St. Clair in command of the army operating against the predatory Indian tribes in the far west. Gen. Wayne formed an encampment at Pittsburgh and thoroughly disciplined his troops preparatory to future action. So determined were the red men to maintain the rights that God and nature had bestowed upon them that many of the powerful tribes combined their war forces to resist their common enemy--the Christian white man. To meet them on their own ground and adopt their mode of warfare was the only way to insure success. For such a service it required time to prepare and energy to execute. In the autumn of 1793 Gen. Wayne had led his army to Greenville six miles from fort Jefferson where he established his winter quarters. He fortified his camp and built fort Recovery on the ground where the whites had been defeated on the 4th of November 1791. He collected the bones of those who then fell and had them buried under the honors of war. The presence of the army kept the Indians quiet during the winter. For the want of supplies the army did not reach the junction of the rivers Au Glaiz and Miami until the 8th of August where a fort was erected for the protection of military stores. Thirty miles from that place the English had erected a fort near which the Indians were in full force. On the 18th the army reached the Miami rapids. There a fortification was erected for the protection of baggage and the position of the red men examined. They were found in a dense forest five miles distant advantageously posted. On the 20th the attack was arranged and the troops advanced. When reached the fire from behind trees was so effective that the front, led by Major Price, was compelled to fall back. At that moment--_trail arms--advance_--ran through the ranks with electric velocity and effect as it thundered from the strong lungs of Wayne. In a few brief moments the conquered red men were flying in every direction closely pursued by the victorious troops for two miles. So rapid was their retreat that Scott, who was ordered to turn their left flank, found naught but trees like men standing but not like men running for dear life. Gen. Wayne had 33 men killed and 100 wounded. From this defeat the injured red men never recovered. They fled before fire and sword--their corn fields and villages were destroyed, their power paralyzed and a chain of forts established which kept them in constant awe and compelled them to relinquish their rightful domain after having struggled nobly to maintain their inalienable rights. True they were savages. Newton, Shakespeare, Washington, Henry--savages born--savages would have died. The Indians have their fixed customs--we have ours. They had their rights--the white men took them forcibly away. Justice, money, time, or angels' tears can never expunge the wrong. This is my opinion--others have the same right to theirs--if different it will be easier to _plead_ justification than to _prove_ it.

The result of the vigorous operations of Gen. Wayne was a general and definitive treaty with many of the different tribes of Aborigines who were compelled to bury the tomahawk and smoke the pipe of peace. This treaty was ratified on the 3d of August 1795. Tranquillity then spread her cheering mantle over our country from the shores of the Atlantic to the inland seas of the west. General Wayne continued in the field of operations for the purpose of completing the extended chain of forts proposed and planned by him. No one was better calculated for that arduous service. He continued to prosecute the work until December 1796, when he was cut down by disease in the flood-tide of his eventful career, deeply mourned and widely lamented. He died far from his family in a hut on Presque Isle, a peninsula in Erie county, Pa. that extends into Lake Erie, where he was buried and remained until 1809 when his son Isaac removed his remains to his native county and deposited them in the cemetery of St. David's church. The Pennsylvania State Cincinnati Society has erected a beautiful white marble monument over his grave with the following inscription on the south front.

In honor of the distinguished Military services of Major General ANTHONY WAYNE, And as an affectionate tribute of respect to his memory This stone was erected by his companions in arms THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE SOCIETY OF CINCINNATI, July 4th, A. D. 1809, Thirty-fourth anniversary of The Independence of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA An event which constitutes the most Appropriate eulogium of an American SOLDIER AND PATRIOT.

On the north front is the following inscription.

Major General ANTHONY WAYNE Was born at Waynesborough in Chester County State of Pennsylvania A. D. 1745. After a life of honor and usefulness He died in December, 1796, at a military post On the shores of Lake Erie, Commander-in-chief of the army of THE UNITED STATES. His military achievements are consecrated In the history of his country, and in The hearts of his countrymen. His remains Are here deposited.

Although stricken down at the age of fifty-one years Gen. Wayne lived long enough to fill his measure of glory and see the star spangled banner wave triumphantly over his native land. Far from his family as he was and in a rough cabin, he died peacefully. His spirit ascended to reap the rich reward of his labors in the cause of rational freedom and equal justice.

He was a large, portly man of commanding military mien, with an open bold countenance. All the relations of private life he honored with the most rigid fidelity. In the legislative hall as in the field he was active and decisive. As a citizen he was esteemed in life and regretted in death.