Wayne was born in the township of Easttown, Chester county, Pennsylvania, on the 1st of January 1745, of a Yorkshire family. As a boy he exhibited a marked bent toward a military life. He was educated in Philadelphia, and in 1765, he was a surveyor in Pennsylvania and in Nova Scotia, where he was agent for a proposed colony. He married in 1766 and passed the next few years on the Chester county farm inherited from his father, holding some minor offices and after 1774 taking an active part upon various patriotic committees.
Having recruited and organized the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion of Continental troops, Wayne first saw active service at its head in Canada during the retreat of Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold after the Quebec campaign. His excellent behavior at the skirmish of Three Rivers led Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler to place him for some months in command of Ticonderoga. While at this post, on February 21, 1777, he was commissioned brigadier-general. In April, Gen. George Washington ordered him to take command of the "Pennsylvania Line" at Morristown, and he rendered distinguished service at Brandywine and Germantown, and by his coolness and courage at Monmouth, after the retreat of Maj. Gen. Charles Lee, did much to save the day for the Americans.
Later in 1778, political necessity led to his being superseded by St. Clair, his ranking officer, in the command of the regular Pennsylvania troops, but upon Washington's recommendation he organized a new Light Infantry corps, with which he performed the most daring exploit of the War of Independence -- the recapture of Stony Point by a midnight attack at the point of the bayonet. This well-planned enterprise aroused the greatest enthusiasm throughout the country and won for Wayne the popular soubriquet "Mad Anthony." Upon the disbanding of the Light Infantry corps, Wayne, again in command of the Pennsylvania line, rendered effective service in counteracting the effect of Benedict Arnold's treason and of the mutiny of the Pennsylvania troops. In 1781, he was sent south to join Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, but in Virginia was deflected to aid Brig. Gen. Marquis de Lafayette against British Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis. After the American success at Yorktown, Wayne served with such marked success in Georgia, that the state rewarded him with a large rice plantation, which proved a financial failure, and Congress breveted him major-general.
In 1792, Washington offered him the command of the regular army with the rank of major-general to fight the hostile Indians northwest of the Ohio, who had been rendered insolent by their successes over Gen. Josiah Harmar in 1790 and Gen. Arthur St. Clair in 1791, and indirectly to compel the British to yield the posts they held on the American side of the lakes. Wayne spent the winter of 1792-93 in recruiting his troops near Pittsburg and in drilling them for effective service in the reorganized army. The government continued its efforts to induce the Indians to allow white settlements beyond the Ohio, but a mission in 1793 ended in a failure. Meanwhile, Wayne had transferred his troops to Fort Washington, and upon learning of the failure of the negotiations, advanced the greater part of his forces to Greenville, a post on a branch of the Great Miami about 80 miles north of Cincinnati.
During the winter, Anthony also established an outpost at the scene of St. Clair's defeat. The Indians attacked this post, Fort Recovery, in June 1794, but were repulsed with considerable slaughter. Late in July Wayne's legion of regulars, numbering about 2,000, was reinforced by about 1,600 Kentucky militia under Gen. Charles Scott, and the combined forces advanced to the junction of the Auglaize and Maumee rivers, where Fort Defiance was constructed. Here, Wayne made a final effort to treat with the Indians, and upon being rebuffed, moved forward and encountered them on August 20 in the Battle of Fallen Timbers, fought near the falls of the Maumee, and almost under the walls of the British post Fort Miami. This decisive defeat, supplemented by the Treaty of Greenville, which he negotiated with the Indians on August 3, 1795, resulted in opening the Northwest to civilization.
Wayne retained his position as commander of the army after its reorganization, and he rendered service in quelling the proposed filibustering expeditions from Kentucky against the Spanish dominions, and also took the lead in occupying the lake posts delivered up by the British. While engaged in this service he died at Erie, Pennsylvania, on December 15, 1796, and was interred there. In 1809, his remains were removed to St. David's Churchyard, Radnor, Pennsylvania.
Wayne's was the first attempt to provide basic training for regular Army recruits and Legionville was the first facility established expressly for this purpose.
The war was procured due to Wayne's military successes against the tribal confederacy and gave most of what is now Ohio to the United States, and cleared the way for that state to enter the Union in 1803.
Although it is often attributed to his recklessness and daring in battle, General Wayne received the nickname "Mad Anthony" because he was struck in the skull by a musket ball during the Battle of Stony Point in 1779. Military surgeon Absalom Baird removed the broken fragmants of his skull and replaced them with a steel plate in an operation called a cranioplasty which was pioneered by Meekeren in the 17th century. A side effect of the operation was occasional epileptic-like seizures which would cause Wayne to fall on the ground spastically and foam at the mouth. Hence the nickname.
George Washington, despite his lax position on foreign entanglements, considered General "Mad Anthony" Wayne as a last resort for the "Indian Problem".
Anthony Wayne was the father of Isaac Wayne, United States Representative from Pennsylvania.