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In their ragged regimentals
Stood the old Continentals,
Yielding not,
When the grenadiers were lunging,
And like hail fell the plunging
When the files
Of the isles
From the smoky night encampment bore the banner of the rampant
And grummer, grummer, grummer, rolled the roll of the drummer,
Through the morn!

Then with eyes to the front all,
And with guns horizontal,
Stood our sires;
And the balls whistled deadly,
And in streams flashing redly
Blazed the fires;
As the roar
On the shore
Swept the strong battle-breakers o'er the green-sodded acres
Of the plain;
And louder, louder, louder cracked the black gunpowder,
Cracked amain!
--Guy Humphrey McMaster.


One of the heroic figures of the Revolution was Anthony Wayne,
Major-General of the Continental line. With the exception of
Washington, and perhaps Greene, he was the best general the
Americans developed in the contest; and without exception he
showed himself to be the hardest fighter produced on either side.
He belongs, as regards this latter characteristic, with the men
like Winfield Scott, Phil Kearney, Hancock, and Forrest, who
reveled in the danger and the actual shock of arms. Indeed, his
eager loveof battle, and splendid disregard of peril, have made
many writers forget his really great qualities as a general.
Soldiers are always prompt to recognize the prime virtue of
physical courage, and Wayne's followers christened their daring
commander "Mad Anthony," in loving allusion to his reckless
bravery. It is perfectly true that Wayne had this courage, and
that he was a born fighter; otherwise, he never would have been a
great commander. A man who lacks the fondness for fighting, the
eager desire to punish his adversary, and the willingness to
suffer punishment in return, may be a great organizer, like
McClellan, but can never become a great general or win great
victories. There are, however, plenty of men who, though they
possess these fine manly traits, yet lack the head to command an
army; but Wayne had not only the heart and the hand but the head
likewise. No man could dare as greatly as he did without
incurring the risk of an occasional check; but he was an able and
bold tactician, a vigilant and cautious leader, well fitted to
bear the terrible burden of responsibility which rests upon a

Of course, at times he had some rather severe lessons. Quite
early in his career, just after the battle of the Brandywine,
when he was set to watch the enemy, he was surprised at night by
the British general Grey, a redoubtable fighter, who attacked him
with the bayonet, killed a number of his men, and forced him to
fall back some distance from the field of action. This mortifying
experience had no effect whatever on Wayne's courage or
self-reliance, but it did give him a valuable lesson in caution.
He showed what he had learned by the skill with which, many years
later, he conducted the famous campaign in which he overthrew the
Northwestern Indians at the Fight of the Fallen Timbers.

Wayne's favorite weapon was the bayonet, and, like Scott he
taught his troops, until they were able in the shock of
hand-to-hand conflict to overthrow the renowned British infantry,
who have always justly prided themselves on their prowess with
cold steel. At the battle of Germantown it was Wayne's troops
who, falling on with the bayonet, drove the Hessians and the
British light infantry, and only retreated under orders when the
attack had failed elsewhere. At Monmouth it was Wayne and his
Continentals who first checked the British advance by repulsing
the bayonet charge of the guards and grenadiers.

Washington, a true leader of men, was prompt to recognize in
Wayne a soldier to whom could be intrusted any especially
difficult enterprise which called for the exercise alike of
intelligence and of cool daring. In the summer of 1780 he was
very anxious to capture the British fort at Stony Point, which
commanded the Hudson. It was impracticable to attack it by
regular siege while the British frigates lay in the river, and
the defenses ere so strong that open assault by daylight was
equally out of the question. Accordingly Washington suggested to
Wayne that he try a night attack. Wayne eagerly caught at the
idea. It was exactly the kind of enterprise in which he
delighted. The fort was on a rocky promontory, surrounded on
three sides by water, and on the fourth by a neck of land, which
was for the most part mere morass. It was across this neck of
land that any attacking column had to move. The garrison was six
hundred strong. To deliver the assault Wayne took nine hundred
men. The American army was camped about fourteen miles from Stony
Point. One July afternoon Wayne started, and led his troops in
single file along the narrow rocky roads, reaching the hills on
the mainland near the fort after nightfall. He divided his force
into two columns, to advance one along each side of the neck,
detaching two companies of North Carolina troops to move in
between the two columns and make a false attack. The rest of the
force consisted of New Englanders, Pennsylvanians, and
Virginians. Each attacking column was divided into three parts, a
forlorn hope of twenty men leading, which was followed by an
advance guard of one hundred and twenty, and then by the main
body. At the time commanding officers still carried spontoons,
and other old-time weapons, and Wayne, who himself led the right
column, directed its movements spear in hand. It was nearly
midnight when the Americans began to press along the causeways
toward the fort. Before they were near the walls they were
discovered, and the British opened a heavy fire of great guns and
musketry, to which the Carolinians, who were advancing between
the two columns, responded in their turn, according to orders;
but the men in the columns were forbidden to fire. Wayne had
warned them that their work must be done with the bayonet, and
their muskets were not even loaded. Moreover, so strict was the
discipline that no one was allowed to leave the ranks, and when
one of the men did so an officer promptly ran him through the body.

No sooner had the British opened fire than the charging columns
broke into a run, and in a moment the forlorn hopes plunged into
the abattis of fallen timber which the British had constructed
just without the walls. On the left, the forlorn hope was very
roughly handled, no less than seventeen of the twenty men being
either killed or wounded, but as the columns came up both burst
through the down timber and swarmed up the long, sloping
embankments of the fort. The British fought well, cheering loudly
as their volley's rang, but the Americans would not be denied,
and pushed silently on to end the contest with the bayonet.
A bullet struck Wayne in the head. He fell, but struggled to his
feet and forward, two of his officers supporting him. A rumor
went among the men that he was dead, but it only impelled them to
charge home, more fiercely than ever.

With a rush the troops swept to the top of the wall. A fierce but
short fight followed in the intense darkness, which was lit only
by the flashes from the British muskets. The Americans did not
fire, trusting solely to the bayonet. The two columns had kept
almost equal pace, and they swept into the fort from opposite
sides at the same moment. The three men who first got over the
walls were all wounded, but one of them hauled down the British
flag. The Americans had the advantage which always comes from
delivering an attack that is thrust home. Their muskets were
unloaded and they could not hesitate; so, running boldly into
close quarters, they fought hand to hand with their foes and
speedily overthrew them. For a moment the bayonets flashed and
played; then the British lines broke as their assailants thronged
against them, and the struggle was over. The Americans had lost a
hundred in killed and wounded. Of the British sixty-three had
been slain and very many wounded, every one of the dead or
disabled having suffered from the bayonet. A curious coincidence
was that the number of the dead happened to be exactly equal to
the number of Wayne's men who had been killed in the night attack
by the English general, Grey.

There was great rejoicing among the Americans over the successful
issue of the attack. Wayne speedily recovered from his wound, and
in the joy of his victory it weighed but slightly. He had
performed a most notable feat. No night attack of the kind was
ever delivered with greater boldness, skill, and success. When
the Revolutionary War broke out the American armies were composed
merel y of armed yeomen, stalwart men, of good courage, and
fairly proficient in the use of their weapons, but entirely
without the training which alone could enable them to withstand
the attack of the British regulars in the open, or to deliver an
attack themselves. Washington's victory at Trenton was the first
encounter which showed that the Americans were to be feared when
they took the offensive. With the exception of the battle of
Trenton, and perhaps of Greene's fight at Eutaw Springs, Wayne's
feat was the most successful illustration of daring and
victorious attack by an American army that occurred during the
war; and, unlike Greene, who was only able to fight a drawn
battle, Wayne's triumph was complete. At Monmouth he had shown,
as he afterward showed against Cornwallis, that his troops could
meet the renowned British regulars on even terms in the open. At
Stony Point he showed that he could lead them to a triumphant
assault with the bayonet against regulars who held a fortified
place of strength. No American commander has ever displayed
greater energy and daring, a more resolute courage, or readier
resource, than the chief of the hard-fighting Revolutionary
generals, Mad Anthony Wayne.



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