Waynesboro Heritage Museum | 420 W. Main St., Waynesboro, Virginia 22980 | Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Phone: (540) 943-3943

Why Was General Wayne Called “Mad Anthony?”

Was he insane “mad?” Was he angry “mad?” Was he reckless “mad?”

The Revolutionary War hero had a fiery temperament and was a strict disciplinarian who demanded obedience and loyalty from his men. But he was also loyal to his troops and was constantly trying to improve their circumstances; so much so that many of his soldiers repeatedly returned to fight under his command.

A member of his forces was known by the nickname of “Jemmy the Rover” for his tendency to wander. General Wayne occasionally used him as a spy.  To the enemy he seemed innocent enough in his wonder-lust. However, he was also a chronic deserter and was disciplined by stints in the blockhouse.

In 1781, Jemmy was again roaming the countryside and was jailed by the local constables for disorderly conduct. Jemmy insisted to the jailers that he was a good friend of General Wayne and demanded to be released. When they refused, he asked that a message be sent to General Wayne so that he could be set free. Upon receipt of the message, Wayne’s temper flared and said that he would not intervene on Jemmy’s behalf and if it happened again, he would order “29 lashes well laid out.”

Jemmy was devastated by Wayne’s reply. He stated, “Anthony is mad. He must be mad or he would help me. Mad Anthony, that’s what he is. Mad Anthony Wayne.”


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