By Kimberly Ison
Sybil Ludington, War Heroine
We’ve all heard of Paul Revere. The man has his own poem for God’s sakes! Without his warnings of the British troop’s arrival in 1775, the Revolutionary War may have had a different outcome. But I bet you have never heard of a young woman named Sybil Ludington and how her story tops that of the man who became infamous for his midnight ride.
…she rode nearly 40 miles through what was then southern Dutchess County. Twice the distance of the famous Paul Revere.
Sybil was the 16 year old daughter of Col. Henry Ludington, the commander of the militia in Dutchess County, New York during the American Revolution. Henry Ludington was a prominent figure, a husky man with military bearing. In spite of the demands of his mill, his farm, and his family, he was diligent in fulfilling his civic and military duties.
The British are coming!
In April 1777, Colonel Ludington and the members of his militia were at their separate homes because it was planting season. But about 9 p.m. on the evening of April 26, he received word that the British were burning Danbury, Connecticut.
The man who had brought the news was not familiar with the area around the Ludington farm, and Colonel Ludington needed to be on site to organize incoming militia men. So who could they send to get word for the troops to gather? Sybil Ludington. Sybil was familiar with the area and knew the way to the homes of the local militia men.
Sybil rode her horse from her father’s farm in Kent, which was then called Frederick. She first headed south to the village of Carmel and then down to Mahopac. She turned west to Mahopac Falls and then north to Kent Cliffs and Farmers Mills.
From there, she rode further north to Stormville, where she turned south to head back to her family’s farm. All told, she rode nearly 40 miles through what was then southern Dutchess County. Twice the distance of the famous Paul Revere. Sybil spent the night traveling dangerous roads, in the rain, while trying to avoid capture by British loyalists.
A lost legacy
By dawn, Sybil made her way back to her family’s farm to find at least 400 militia men waiting. The militia of Dutchess County, led by Colonel Ludington, marched 17 miles to Ridgefield and took part in the battle there, which some considered a strategic victory for the American forces. Sybil’s ride earned her congratulations from General George Washington, but little recognition otherwise.
I think it’s time we give Sybil her own poem of infamy: “Sybil Ludington, saved our butts again”… I don’t know I’m a historian, not a poet.