Majority of American children grow up knowing about Paul Revere due to the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “One if by land, and two if by sea; And I on the opposite shore will be, Ready to ride and spread the alarm,” says the poem, describing how Revere (plus other riders) warned the American colonists that the British soldiers were getting ready to attack. But do children know who Sybil Ludington is? Like Revere, Ludington alerted the colonists about the British attacks. Unlike Revere, she traveled 40 miles, fought a highway man, rode through pouring rain, and she was only 16.
Sybil Ludington was born in April 1761 in Fredericksburg (now Ludingtonville section of the town of Kent, New York). Her father was Colonel Henry Ludington who commanded the 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia during the Revolutionary War. On April 25, 1777, a 2,000 men British force commanded by General William Tyron landed at Fairfield, Connecticut. The soldiers moved to Danbury to search for Continental Army supplies and began setting storehouses and homes on fire. Messengers were sent from Danbury to find reinforcements.
At 9 p.m. that night, Sybil was helping her eleven siblings to bed when there was a loud knock at the door. The messenger from Danbury relayed the message that the Danbury residents needed help. The messenger was exhausted and did not know the land, so Sybil volunteered to gather the men. Sybil took her hose, Star, and rode into the rainy night, shouting “The British are burning Danbury…muster at Ludington’s!” Sybil had to avoid the British soldiers and British loyalists and when she encountered a highwayman, she used a giant stick to defend herself. Sybil traveled over 40 miles (twice the length of Paul Revere) before returning home, arriving around dawn the next day. When she returned home, 400 soldiers were gathered at her father’s war. Though the soldiers arrived too late to save Danbury, the soldiers helped drive the British back to the East Coast. Sybil was congratulated by her friends, neighbors, and even General George Washington.
The popularity of Sybil has grown over the last 100 years; there is now a poem about her, statues of her in Putnam County, and she appeared on a stamp in 1975. Known as the Female Paul Revere, Sybil’s journey was actually much harder than Revere’s due to the fact that it was longer, it was raining, and she was a teenage girl with just a riding stick for protection. And while Revere was captured, Sybil was able to avoid capture. Sybil shows how women are just as brave and patriotic as men are.