Sybil’s father Henry Ludington was a militia officer of the 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia, a volunteer regiment of local men during the Revolutionary War. In 1777, British troops (likely rolling in rum) were burning and looting the town of Danbury, Connecticut. Henry needed to muster his men, but most of them had returned to their homes throughout the county for the planting season. The messenger who delivered the news of the attack was exhausted, but someone was needed to spread word.
Sybil, on her horse Star, rode through the night to rouse those troops, even fending off a highwayman with her father’s musket. By morning, almost 400 of them were gathered to march on Danbury. They were too late to stop the attack on Danbury, but they were able to inflict considerable damage on enemy troops.
Sybil rode more than 40 miles, TWICE the distance of her more famous male counterpart, Paul Revere. And unlike Revere, she wasn’t captured.
She was 16.
According to the National Women’s History Museum, Sybil’s heroic ride went on to be recognized by General George Washington himself.
Sybil died in 1839.
Colonel Henry Ludington’s memoir claims:
“One who even now rides from Carmel to Cold Spring will find rugged and dangerous roads, with lonely stretches. Imagination only can picture what it was a century and a quarter ago, on a dark night, with reckless bands of “Cowboys” and “Skinners” abroad in the land. But the child performed her task, clinging to a man’s saddle, and guiding her steed with only a hempen halter, as she rode through the night, bearing the news of the sack of Danbury. There is no extravagance in comparing her ride with that of Paul Revere and its midnight message. Nor was her errand less efficient than his. By daybreak, thanks to her daring, nearly the whole regiment was mustered before her father’s house at Fredericksburgh.”
Sybil Ludington, teenage badass.
Learn more about Sybil here.
Happy Women’s History Month!