The Midnight Ride of Sybil Ludington

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Most every American is familiar with the Longfellow poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride”. Better than a modern-day PR firm, the poem ingrained (and exaggerated) Revere’s role in alerting Americans about advancing British militia.

Revere was not alone in exhibiting such bravery during the Revolutionary War. Sybil Ludington was a 16 year old girl who lived in Dutchess County, New York, and whose father was a rebel Colonel with a local regiment.

Revere was not alone in exhibiting such bravery during the Revolutionary War. Sybil Ludington was a 16 year old girl who lived in Dutchess County, New York, and whose father was a rebel Colonel with a local regiment.

When British troops and British loyalists attacked a nearby town, Danbury, Connecticut, in 1777, a rider came to the Ludington household to warn them and ask for the local regiment’s help. At the time, the Colonel’s regiment was disbanded for planting season, and all of the men were miles apart at their respective farms.

The rider was too tired to continue and Colonel Ludington had to prepare for battle, so he asked his barely sixteen-year-old daughter Sybil to ride through the night, alerting his men of the danger and urging them to come together to fight back. Ludington rode all night through the dark woods, covering forty miles (a significantly longer distance than Revere rode), and because of her bravery, almost the whole regiment was gathered by daybreak to fight the British.

George Washington actually stopped by the Ludington home after the battle at Danbury to personally thank Sybil. She later was honored with a postal stamp in 1975, and a statue in 1961, plus there are historical markers that trace her ride through Putnam County. For more information, visit this summary and the Historic Patterson website. And for Longfellow? Guess it was easier to find words that rhyme with “Revere” than “Ludington”.