We all know Paul Revere and we practically take the Longfellow poem as historical fact and we pass our elementary social studies exams and move on, probably never thinking about the rest of the country during The Revolutionary War. Several years ago I read a novel by former President Jimmy Carter that centered on Georgia during the Revolution. It was eye-opening in that I never considered the part of the colonies further south than Virginia. As a New Yorker, I am both excited but also sad that it took this long into adulthood before I even heard her name and then to discover a new Revolutionary hero from right here in New York: Sybil Ludington.
She wasn’t very widely known outside of her home areas around Kent and Patterson, New York.
On April 26, 1777 (two hundred forty-two years ago today), at age 16, Sybil rode her horse, Star to alert the Revolutionary militia forces in Putnam County, New York and as far as Danbury, Connecticut. Her ride was more than twice the distance of that than Paul Revere, longer than any of the other men to have made similar rides. She began at around 9pm, and rode forty miles in darkness until about dawn.
Her father was Colonel Henry Ludington and Sybil’s intention was to warn her father’s troops. It was believed that Danbury was targeted because they had a Continental Army supply depot there. At home, she also thwarted a royalist from capturing her father and turning him over to the British.
A statue of her on her horse depicting the ride is erected in Carmel, New York. That statue is also the ending place of a yearly 50K footrace that approximately follows her historic ride.
She is buried in Patterson, NY and has had her ride commemorated on a postage stamp in 1975.
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