Sybil Ludington: The Girl Who Outrode Paul Revere!

In my hometown of Carmel, New York, on gorgeous Lake Gleneida, there is a statue of a woman riding a horse. It appears that she is foaming at the mouth (thanks to oxidation,) but she is yelling. This woman is clearly important enough to have a statue, but why? Who is she?

Her name is Sybil Ludington, and this Thursday marks the 235th anniversary of her historic ride through Putnam County, gathering citizens of Stormville, Carmel and Mahopac to help stop an attack by the British. “How is that significant? Paul Revere did the same thing in New England!” What sets Sybil and Paul apart is that (a) Ludington rode twice the distance that Revere did and (b) she was only sixteen years old when she did it.

Here’s the full story: on the night of April 26th, 1777, the nearby town of Danbury (CT) was under attack by General William Tyron. Tyron had ordered his troops to burn the town, so that the militia in Dutchess/Putnam County would be unable to get supplies. A messenger was sent to the Stormville home of Col. Henry Ludington, the leader of the militia,  to warn him and get his soldiers banded together to save Danbury. The messenger had ridden seventeen miles to the Ludington home, and was too exhausted to continue. Sybil, the colonel’s oldest daughter, volunteered to gather the soldiers and try to prevent the arson attack. Even though the weather was awful, Ludington and Star (her trusty steed) rode forty miles to tell the militia to meet back at her house. By the time she got back to her house at dawn the next day, she had rounded up some 400 soldiers. Although the militia was unable to prevent the burning of Danbury, they were still able to prevent the British from advancing into New York.

Isn’t that awesome? And yet, not too many people know about this remarkable young woman, even within Putnam and Dutchess counties. Which brings me to my next question–are there any cool women in your hometowns? What do you think of Sybil and her epic ride?

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