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"5. Gen. "Mad" Anthony Wayne made his soldiers fight . " Topic

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18th Century

716 hits since 23 Mar 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2018 1:51 p.m. PST

…without ammunition.

In the Revolutionary War, bayonets played a much larger role than they do today. Still, most generals had their soldiers fire their weapons before using the bayonets.

Not Gen. "Mad" Anthony Wayne. He was sent by Gen. George Washington to reconnoiter the defense at Stony Point, New York. There, Wayne decided storming the defenses would be suicide and suggested that the Army conduct a bayonet charge instead.

Shockingly, this worked. On the night of July 15, 1779, the men marched to Stony Point. After they arrived and took a short rest, the soldiers unloaded their weapons. Then, with only bayonets, the men slipped up to the defenses and attacked. Wayne himself fought at the lead of one of the attacking columns, wielding a half-pike against the British. Wayne was shot in the head early in the battle but continued fighting and the Americans were victorious…"
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42flanker24 Mar 2018 2:13 p.m. PST

Um…If they wern't storming the defences, what does the author think Wayne's men were doing with their bayonets?

Odd that he doesn't suggest where General Wayne might have learned the advantages of a making a night attack using the bayonet alone, leaving weapons unloaded….

saltflats192924 Mar 2018 5:03 p.m. PST

It was a surprise night attack. Unloaded muskets was so that no one accidentally fired his gun and alerted the British defenders.
It worked.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2018 6:08 p.m. PST

"No Flint" Wayne?

Green Tiger25 Mar 2018 3:45 a.m. PST

Standard practice…

42flanker25 Mar 2018 3:57 a.m. PST

"Remember Wayne's affair!"

Brechtel19825 Mar 2018 4:05 a.m. PST

The same thing was done in the night attack against the British redoubts at Yorktown.

Wayne, and other commanders, didn't want the assault force to stop and engage in a firefight but to charge home with the bayonet and take the position.

If the troops had stopped to engage in a firefight the assault could have failed.

If anyone is interested, take a look at Emory Upton and David Russell in the American Civil War who led a successful night assault at Rappahannock Station in November 1863, as well as Upton's work later on at Spotsylvania. The night assault at Fort Wagner outside of Charleston in July 1863 is an example of one that unfortunately failed.

Garde de Paris Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2018 10:53 a.m. PST

I believe that 42 Flanker was referring to the "Paoli Massacre" in Pennsylvania, where a British General "no-flint ?Grey" or ?Grant?" had his men (notably highlanders) attack uphill through woodlands, with muskets unloaded. He told them to bayonet whoever fired a musket, for they would be Americans.

Unfortunately for Wayne, he had a Pennsylvania rife-armed unit on picket duty, and they had no bayonets. His troops whole command were routed.

GdeP. now living in PA

Brechtel19825 Mar 2018 1:26 p.m. PST


42flanker25 Mar 2018 2:46 p.m. PST

Maj General Grey did indeed have the 42nd RHR in his command on the night of 20th September 1777, but in fact they were in the third line of the British attack, following behind the 2nd Light Infantry and the 44th Regiment. As the 2nd LI were the unit that initiated the attack and pursued Wayne's men far into the woods, it was they who caught most of the flak for the events that night. They were treated roughly by Pennsylvanian troops who came upon them out of the fog at Germantown a fortnight later, apparently shouting "Have at the blood hounds!'as they bayonetted any light infantry who caught. The 42nd had the job of clearing through the position in the wake of the first two waves, and it may be they were the authors of the additional wounds suffered by men already down, following the tradition of 'makking siccar,' in order ensure no-one would be firing into their backs after they had passed, but the role of the 42nd and 44th tends only to receive a passing mention.

Garde de Paris Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2018 6:16 a.m. PST

I enlisted in the US Army in January, 1955, when the Chinese were shelling 2 islands off the coast of Formosa. It looked like I had a chance to be in on the "ground floor" of WWIII.

In Basic training, we were trained to advance onto an enemy position, shoot or bayonet everyone, including those already down, then consolidate the captured area.

We were then instructed to set some of our men to seeing if we could help anyone of the fallen. But they would already be dead.

Times haven't changed much since 1777.


Personal logo COL Scott ret Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2018 2:28 a.m. PST

In Ranger school we were taught to kill anyone that we passed as we swept over the objective, but not to go back through and "double tap" them. once was fine but the second was not humane and violated international conventions we were told.

By the time I went to combat I was way too senior to be sweeping over any objective.

42flanker27 Mar 2018 3:53 a.m. PST

It occurs to me that the night attack in the woods behind Paoli Tavern may have been the first operation of its kind by regular troops of the British army.

There had been night approaches (e.g. Quebec; Long Island) but none followed by a silent attack, moreover by a detached force, effectively unsupported.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member27 Mar 2018 7:09 a.m. PST

…once was fine but the second was not humane and violated international conventions we were told.

As Sean Connery says in "The Rock" when Nicholas Cage is upset by a twitching corpse: "What do you want me to do – kill him again?"

42flanker27 Mar 2018 8:09 a.m. PST

""Soldiering. The world's noblest profession. When we're done with you, you'll be able to slaughter your enemies like civilized men."

Peachy Carnahan, "The Man Who Would Be King."(Not Connery, the other one)

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2018 10:32 a.m. PST



Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member27 Mar 2018 1:14 p.m. PST

""Soldiering. The world's noblest profession. When we're done with you, you'll be able to slaughter your enemies like civilized men."

Peachy Carnahan, "The Man Who Would Be King."(Not Connery, the other one)

Not a lot of people know that……

Virginia Tory28 Mar 2018 9:39 a.m. PST

Great movie.

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