[July 16, 2021] The Revolutionary War, like other wars, had its dramatic battles. Stony Point was thought to be an impenetrable fortress (actually more of a reinforced outpost) and threatened West Point, New York. General Anthony Wayne attacked at night with 1,200 light infantry using only bayonets.
With the outpost at Stony Point isolated and vulnerable, Washington wanted to take it back. He tasked this mission to the fiery American General Anthony Wayne. Two years earlier, in September of 1777, Wayne’s men had been surprised by a British night attack that resulted in more than 200 American soldiers being killed or wounded by British bayonets. Wayne survived but wanted revenge, and this would be his opportunity.1
It was an impossible mission. Stony Point is a tall rocky outcropping that juts into the Hudson River. Rising to almost 150 feet above the water, the ground the Americans needed to cover was extremely steep. A narrow neck of land connected the point to the mainland. On either side of this neck was tidal marshland.
An hour before the assault, Wayne wrote a letter to a friend stating, “This will not reach you until the writer is no more.” After asking his friend to look after his children, he wrote that he would be eating breakfast “either within the enemies’ lines in triumph or another world.” Wayne was determined to capture the post or die trying.
As he advanced boldly, a British musket ball hit Wayne in the head. He fell to the ground, wounded. The ball had luckily only grazed his head, and though bloodied and dazed, he cried, “March on, boys. Carry me into the fort! For should the wound be mortal, I will die at the head of the column.”
So impressed by the action on that day, actor Marion Morrison changed his professional name to John Wayne. John Wayne, of course, epitomizes manly traits that are timeless; bravery, strength, stoicism, and integrity.
Of interest, and part of this story is that Gen. Wayne earned the nickname “Mad Anthony Wayne: for achieving what most thought impossible. The name stuck to him for the rest of his life.
While the battle of Stony Point itself played a minor role in the outcome of the war, it displayed the prowess and bravery of American troops and served as a much-needed morale boost for the young American army.