A good general never quits. And Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne may have taken that old adage to extremes.
Wayne earned his nickname—“Mad” Anthony Wayne—for his aggressive style of combat. Never one to sit back idly and command from the rear, Wayne would boldly lead the charge and see the battle through until its successful conclusion. In one of his most famous engagements, at Stony Point, New York, on July 16, 1779, Wayne led the bayonet-charge that defeated the British forces. His other great victories came alongside General George Washington at the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778 and in preventing a potentially devastating rout of American forces at Brandywine Creek on September 11, 1777.
Following the Revolutionary War, Wayne retired to his hometown of Radnor, near Philadelphia, to resume his work as a land surveyor and running his family’s leather tannery. But his peaceful civilian life was not to last long: in 1792, President Washington called on his services to lead the United States military response to British attempts to arm a coalition of Native American tribes in the Northwest Territory.
Over the course of two years, Wayne recruited and trained a force known as the U. S. Legion, leading them in battles against the Miami, Shawnee, Wyandot, and Delaware tribes. The war came to an end with the Battle of Fallen Timbers near Toledo, Ohio, on August 20, 1794, when Wayne’s forces finally defeated the tribal army. After the Treaty of Greenville was signed on August 3, 1795, formally ending hostilities and permitting the United States to settle the Northwest Territory, Wayne once again set off for Radnor. But he was not to see his home again.
Wayne fell ill during his journey and on December 15, 1796, he died near Erie, Pennsylvania. His body was buried in a wooden coffin there, 300 miles from home. In 1809, Wayne’s family decided they wanted to bring his body back to Radnor for burial near his family. His son, Isaac, set out in a one-horse cart and, upon exhuming his father’s corpse, found that the body was remarkably well-preserved. However, he realized that even in the condition the body was in, the dirt roads between Erie and Philadelphia were too filled with potholes to transport the decaying body back without damaging it.
Isaac hired a local physician to dismember the body and boil and scrape off the flesh. He then reburied the flesh in the original casket and grave but packed up the bones in a wooden box to bring back to Radnor. There, the bones were interred at St. David’s Episcopal Church Cemetery—the second of General “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s two graves.
But, again, a good general never quits: according to legend, a few of the bones bounced out of the cart during Isaac’s journey home, and some people claim that the ghost of General Wayne still wanders U. S. Route 322 between Erie and Pennsylvania, searching for them.