Archival Adventures in Small Repositories
"Mad" Anthony Wayne
Anthony Wayne was one of the most important Generals of the Revolutionary War, and also played a crucial role in the Northwest Indian War (1785–1796). At his ancestral home, Historic Waynesborough, visitors can learn about life of Anthony Wayne and his family, and also peruse some of the documents that tell their story.
The home now known as Historic Waynesborough was owned by seven generations of the Wayne family, from 1724 until 1965. The family boasts a strong history of military excellence, from Captain Anthony Wayne (1666-1739), who fought for William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne, to Civil War Captain William Evans Wayne (1828-1901), and many sons in between. Without a doubt, however, Anthony Wayne achieved the most military success.
Popularly known as "Mad" Anthony Wayne--the nickname may have been awarded for his short temper and use of off-color language--Wayne is considered one of the best and most successful military leaders of the early American republic. He was involved in many important battles, including the Battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth (NJ). He reached hero status in 1779 with his brilliant victory at Stony Point.
After the end of the Revolutionary War, George Washington again called on Wayne in 1792 to command an extension of the army, the Legion of the United States, in the Northwest Territory, where Native American tribes were battling settlers. After Wayne commanded a decisive victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in August 1794, he negotiated the Treaty of Greenville, ending the war the following year. He died soon after.
Historic Waynesborough holds a collection of archival materials relating to the Wayne family, largely secondary-source materials such as photocopies, but there is also a significant amount of original, primary documents. Materials pertain largely to various members of the Wayne family and include photographs, financial documents, correspondence, genealogical research, and various other documents.
Historic Waynesborough's holdings include Anthony Wayne's commission to join the army, signed by Washington himself, and several other documents relating to Anthony Wayne's military service such as the letter below. Written during the Northwest Indian War shortly before the Battle of Fallen Timbers, Wayne writes to Brigadier General Wilkinson that he has learned the British are providing Shawnee Native Americans with supplies to continue attacking United States settlers.
Head Quarters. Green Ville [Ohio]. 14th March 1794. Sir [Honorable Brigadier General Wilkinson, Fort Jefferson] -- My spies have this moment returned from reconoitering in the vicinity of the French Stores [marker] on Harmars route (destroyed in 1702) where they Captured a white man & took two Horses. His name is Miller, and was made prisoner by the Shawanees about ten years since, at the age of 10 or 12 years. He is a perfect savage, but speaks English tolerable. He informed me that the Delaware & Miami are for delivering up the prisoners & making peace, but that the Shawanees were for War; That Col. [Alexander] Mckee the British Indian Agent sent Capt. Matthew Elliott & Simon Girty to Grana Glaize to dissuade the Indians from agreeing to any terms of peace. & promises them a plentiful supply of Arms, Amunition and Provision, on Condition that they will Continue the War with the Americans. That the Shawanees [said] they were determined to have One more fight at all events. We have therefore no time to lose in Establishing the posts mentioned in my letter of the 2d inst. to the Secretary of War. Which I gave you the perusal of yesterday morning. I only wait the arrival of Mr. Robert Elliot in order to make the necessary arrangements. I am with Esteem & Respect, your most ob[edient] & very Humble servant, Anthony Wayne
If you would like to see the rest of the letter transcribed above--and other documents and objects relating to Anthony Wayne and his family--visit Historic Waynesborough!
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