The Legend of General Mad Anthony Wayne
– by Wild Willie Shipp
The classic novel, “Arundel” by Ken Roberts is an epic in historical fiction that recounts the travails of the brave men from Arundel, Maine as they march to Quebec under the command of Benedict Arnold in the Revolutionary War. Roberts paints a vivid picture of the hardships of the Revolutionary War in the infancy of America. But the informative narrative compiled by Messr. Roberts is nothing in comparison to the true life account and gruesome ending of the legendary General Mad Anthony Wayne.
General Wayne was revered for his fiery disposition and fearless leadership. After raising a militia in 1775, he joined forces under the command of Benedict Arnold and assisted in the successful campaign on Fort Ticonderoga. His service in that effort resulted in his elevation to Brigadier General. He later wintered at Valley Forge; personally led several spirited bayonet attacks on British forces; and served as a senior commander under the Marquis de Lafayette. Ultimately he was given the rank of Major General. One of his last assignments was the establishment of a fortification in a location now known as Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Wayne died in 1796 while returning from a military post in Detroit from complications of gout. He was buried near present day Erie, Pennsylvania. Wayne’s family desired to have his body returned to his hometown to be buried in the family plot. In 1809, utilizing a native american custom, his son disinterred Mad Anthony’s body, dismembered the corpse and boiled it in a kettle until the flesh fell off the bones so the remains would fit easily in a travelling trunk. Legend has it the trunk repeatedly fell open on the rough roads and Mad Anthony’s bones were scattered along the route home. Some say his ghost still wanders the road searching for his lost bones.
But Mad Anthony’s poltergeist has a New England connection as well. During his military campaign, Wayne was said to have taken two Canadian guides to the shores of Lake Memphremagog in search of bald eaglets to catch and train as hunting birds. He found two eaglets and trained and kept them for the rest of their lives. It is said that Mad Anthony loved the lake and it provided him respite from the rigors of war. To this day some say his ghost has been seen wandering the shores of Lake Memphremagog with and eagle on each outstretched wrist. So goes the tale of Mad Anthony.
Roberts, Kenneth, Arundel (1929)
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