August 5, 2011
While most people have heard of Paul Revere and his ride to Lexington and Concord, very few have heard of Sybil Ludington, who accomplished the same feat, except under different, and maybe more challenging circumstances. Born on April 16, 1761 in New York, she is considered to be the female equivalent of Paul Revere. At only 16 years old, she made a journey twice as long as Revere’s from her town of Mahopac to Stormville, which totals about 40 miles.
In April of 1777, she was sent by her father because of her knowledge of the area. Along the way, she had a chance to encounter Loyalists, British troops and ‘Skinners’, which were bandits that were on neither side. All were serious threats. Her journey of 40 miles was even more remarkable, considering it took place at night and that most modern endurance horseback riders couldn’t make a 40 mile course.
Her father, Col. Ludington had a role in the war as the leader of the local militia. He received word that British troops were burning the town of Danbury and was unable to rally his troops because the men had been released to tend their farms. Col. Ludington sent Sybil to warn the militia members in several other towns to prepare for the impending attack by the British. After the Danbury battle, Sybil was thanked for her help by George Washington who came to her home personally.
Sybil eventually married and moved to New York with her husband, Edward Ogden. She died in 1839. Since then, a town has been renamed in her honor and a statue has been put up in Carmel, New York. Although her name doesn’t appear in many history books, she was a very important figure in the war by delaying the British in helping the colonists prepare.