Sunday, June 3, 2018

Mary Stockwell's "Unlikely General"

Mary Stockwell is the former chair of the history department at Lourdes University in Ohio and the author of The Other Trail of Tears: The Removal of the Ohio Indians and other books.

Stockwell applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Unlikely General: "Mad" Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America, and reported the following:
On page 99 of Unlikely General: “Mad” Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America, a woman appears. While we cannot be certain of her name, later generations would know her as “Molly Pitcher,” a brave woman who carried water to her husband as he fought with Wayne on the brutally hot day of June 28, 1778 at the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse. When her husband collapsed, she took over his cannon and even survived a British cannon ball that ripped through her petticoats.

It is fitting for a real woman, most probably Mary Hayes, the wife of William Hayes, a soldier in Wayne’s artillery brigade, to appear on page 99 of Unlikely General during one of the most critical battles of his career because women played a crucial role in his life. He grew up surrounded by women, including his mother Elizabeth, his two sisters Hannah and Anne, and his cousin Mary. When he was twenty-one, he married Polly Penrose, with whom he had a daughter and a son. Once he joined the Continental Army, even more women came into his life, including Mary Vining, the niece of Delaware Congressman Caesar Rodney, and Catharine Littlefield, the wife of his friend General Nathanael Greene.

But it is also fitting that Wayne, on page 99 of Unlikely General, fights in the company of an imaginary woman because two such women haunted his life. The first was Madame Fortune, his name for fate, which brought him both glory and despair. The second was America whom he described as a beautiful but faithless woman. On his way to his final fight at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, when his daughter Margaretta complained that he had abandoned his family, he answered that he had been called away once again to rescue his greatest love, America.
Visit Mary Stockwell's website.

My Book, The Movie: Unlikely General.

--Marshal Zeringue