Anthony Van Corlaer was a trumpeter for the garrison in New Amsterdam. According to legend, in 1642 Peter Stuyvesant, having learned of an English expedition on its way to seize the colony, ordered Van Corlaer to rouse the villages along the Hudson River with a trumpet call to war. It was a stormy evening when Van Corlaer arrived at the upper end of the island, and as no ferryman was available Van Corlaer vowed to swim across the river "in spite of the devil", but drowned in the attempt. There is also the possibility of Anthony being attacked and eaten by a bull shark. The Spuyten Duyvil, an inlet between Manhattan and the Bronx, is named after this incident.
Von Corlaer was famous for his enormous, shiny red nose. One story related by Charles M. Skinner tells of a sturgeon killed by a ray of sunlight reflected off its surface."Anthony's Nose" Mountain along the Hudson is named for this event.
The 1838 painting Dance on the Battery in the Presence of Peter Stuyvesant by Asher B. Durand depicts Van Corlaer with his trumpet.
In 1893 Howard Pyle painted a picture of Anthony Van Corlaer to serve as the basis for a stained glass window commissioned by the Colonial Club of New York from Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company. The window was removed at some point and on March 30, 1984 was auctioned by Christie’s in New York and purchased by the Delaware Art Museum.
Van Corlaer's prior endeavors on behalf of Stuyvesant are mentioned several times in Washington Irving's book A History of New York. Irving also wrote the most popular account of the trumpeter's last deed, ascribing his death to being grabbed by a huge moss bunker.