Logstown5: Batman’s Ancestral Connection

PITTSBURGH NATIVE MICHAEL KEATON as descendant of Major General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. . . “I’m Batman” Bruce Wayne

Because of this series on Logstown, Batman’s true identity will be revealed.



We’ve reached the point when a guy turns the abandoned Indian town into a large military center to train young men how to fight Indians.

He was Major General “Mad Anthony” Wayne.

You know one of his descendants: Bruce Wayne, the wealthy but gloomy socialite who dons a bat outfit and fights wacky criminals.

Yes, the creators of Batman in 1939 wanted a colonial family connection for their rich hero. They chose “Mad Anthony.”

It’s a big name among buffs of U.S. wars fought for independence and against Indians.

President George Washington chose the general in 1792 to create the Legion of the United States here at Pittsburgh.


New Country Embarrassed

The new nation wasn’t doing too well when it sent troops to sweep Indians out of the Northwest Territory.

Today, that territory includes Ohio, Indiana,  Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and northeast Minnesota.

They called it the Northwest Territory because it was Indian land northwest of Pittsburgh and the Ohio River.

Wayne came out of retirement, came to Pittsburgh and came to shake his head. This place was way too crazy.

It was a frontier town with heavy drinking, whoring, gambling and violence.

The general had gotten his nickname for being a bit crazy when battles started during the Revolutionary War, but he wanted to instill discipline and new tactics into the legion.

He chose the term legion to hearken back to the formidable Roman legions that built an empire.

So, Wayne nixed the idea of training troops at Fort Fayette, a newly built facility in what is now Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.

Instead, he chose deserted and isolated Logstown, 18 miles downriver where the boroughs of Ambridge and Baden are today.

In a matter of months, 2,500 young men were living in wooden barracks on a 35-acre, well-defended site that Wayne called Legionville.

It’s not likely he or Washington saw any particular irony in selecting the site of a noted Indian village to train Indian fighters.

To them, the extinction of the people originally on this continent was inevitable, a part of “manifest destiny.”


Shaping a Professional Army

Every day recruits fired at targets, trying to become the marksmen the general wanted.

But, most of all, he wanted men who would not hesitate to charge toward an enemy with fixed bayonets when told to do so.  When the foe runs, shoot him in the back.

There were countless bayonette drills, hand-to-hand combat and mock battles.

The cavalry honed skills of men and horses on an obstacle course. There was an artillery range.

Wayne prohibited alcohol — sort of.

Alcohol was so pervasive among everyone back then, that each soldier was given a ration:  about four shots a day. Other than that, though, they weren’t allowed to drink.

Local lore says  Wayne ordered artillery practice after he got word of a still on an island in view of Legionville. The whiskey was being sold to troops.

Small cannons  lobbed shell after shell at the distillery, putting it out of business.

How did Wayne manage to recruit so many men?

Well, it wasn’t easy. Most had heard what happened to the last Army to go up against the Indians.


U.S. Army Routed by Indians

Not only did most of the 1,400 men get killed, many were scalped and tortured.

Much of the blame was placed on General Arthur St. Clair, for whom all the geographical St. Clairs around here are named.

The population of Pittsburgh was less than a thousand, so most of Wayne’s young men had to come from bigger cities to the east.

Undoubtedly, recruits  were looking for adventure and opportunities. The tradition of paying soldiers with Indian land was already well established.

Hoping that their defeat of the previous U.S. Army would allow them to negotiate from a position of strength, Indian chiefs came back to what was once their Indian village.

Seneca leaders Guyasuta and Big Tree met with Wayne at Legionville in the spring of 1793 to discuss peace terms.

Crops had not been good and their families were starving. They could hardly afford to continue the war.

Still, they also could not be swept away to who knows where, where prospects of survival were even dimmer.

Wayne and Washington had broader concerns.

British troops were still in Northwest Territory forts, trying to help their Indian allies.

What if they were tempted to take the 13 colonies back? Maybe the 15-year-old United States was too weak to defend itself.

The parade of American citizens and immigrants taking land as they wanted seemed unending. And, those people expected the Army to clear the parade route.

The peace talks, of course, failed.

A month later, Washington gave Wayne the go-ahead to send the legion into the Northwest Territory.

SCULPTURE OVERLOOKING PITTSBURGH shows Guyasuta and George Washington talking earnestly when their paths crossed in 1770. In reality, Washington’s journal indicates he thought Guyasuta talked endlessly. Twenty-three years later, Guyasuta went to discuss peace terms with Wayne. Afterward, Washington told Wayne to wipe out Guyasuta’s forces and his people’s villages and crops.

Perhaps, as many as 3,000 troops boarded barges and floated down the Ohio.  After a few convincing victories, and the destruction of Indian villages and crops, that was the end of Indians stifling U.S. expansion into that territory.

Those interested in military maneuvers, strategies and battle descriptions can follow links at the end of this post.

Batman Not the Only One

General Wayne found his way into the family ancestry of Bruce Wayne in comic books, but he also is the namesake of a Hollywood legend.

Studio handlers of Marion Morrison thought he should have a better screen name. Anthony Wayne, the war hero, was suggested, but the studio owner thought it sounded too Italian.  He then agreed to John Wayne.

Marion was told and he replied, “Okay, pilgrim.”

More recently, we have Jonwayne, a hiphop star from Los Angeles. He says he actually is a descendant of the general, and he knows it, so don’t be in his ear sayin’ he ain’t come from no general. Pfbbttt, pfbttt, eep. (Expletive deleted)


Painful Condition Takes General

Seems like just about everyone famous from the general’s time suffered terribly from gout. He was no exception.

Crystals of uric acid  form in joints, often a big toe, causing sudden and excruciating pain. Wayne couldn’t get on a horse to lead charges or supervise battles without help from orderlies.

Just a couple of years after his Indian campaign, he died at age 51 from complications of his condition.

That happened at Fort Presque Isle, where he stopped on his way home from Fort Detroit.

Wayne was buried at the fort, but his son dug him up several years later to put him closer to home. The family lived outside Philadelphia.

Because of that, you may still have a chance to meet “Mad Anthony,” now that he has good reason for his nickname.

His ghost is said to roam sections of what is now Route 322 looking for bones his son, Isaac, lost.

Isaac, by the way, went on to become a congressman.

Legionville/Logstown is easy to visit, if you are inclined to try to look past industrial scars and waste.

Legionville is marked on Google Maps, and road signs will guide you there from the Sheetz on Ohio River Boulevard.

When the Legion of the United States left Legionville for the campaign, it never returned.

West Point took over military training in 1802. It was closer to Canada, which Americans coveted, and mistakenly thought they could snatch from Britain.

Everything at Legionville was left intact and nature did its work for two decades.

Then, it was bought by a phenomenal religious commune.

The cultish  Harmony Society added it to their already profitable operation next door, and added another chapter to the site.


Logstown6: Jesus Never Came

Want More?

— Northwest Territory Campaign: The Battle of Fallen Timbers

— Wayne biographical highlights.

–Jonwayne Hiphop Performances

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