Bravery comes in many different shapes and forms, and in the events that would spark the Revolutionary War, this could not be more apparent. You’ve likely heard the story of Paul Revere and his famous cry, “The British are coming!” His place in history is rightfully preserved. However, forgotten in the pages of history is the story of a teenage girl who helped spread the news of the British invasion throughout what would develop into Putnam County, New York. Her name is Sybil Ludington. And if you think that she was simply the female Paul Revere or just another one of the Midnight Riders, you are sadly mistaken.
Related read: When Did the Revolutionary War End?
Sybil Ludington Facts
Although Sybil Ludington was only sixteen years old when news of British forces burning Danbury, Connecticut, reached her home, she knew she had to serve what would become her country. Henry Ludington, her father, was a Colonel in a Colonial militia group and received word of the British forces heading their way. Sybil Ludington would volunteer her services to ride and warn hundreds of militiamen to prepare for the attack. Here are some interesting facts that help distinguish her from Paul Revere, or any other Midnight Rider for that matter:
- Let’s get the obvious out of the way. She was the only female rider, and she was also only a teenager participating in a dangerous strategy that would help begin the Revolutionary War.
- Her ride was well over double the length Revere’s, with Ludington covering over 40 miles and warning around 400 militiamen throughout New York.
- Revere was joined by others in his ride, whereas Sybil Ludington faced her trek all alone.
- Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride was also filled with far worse weather conditions, forcing her to ride through heavy rain and unfavorable conditions.
- Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride was a success in the fact that he was able to warn the Minutemen successfully; however, he was also caught. Sybil Ludington completed her ride and was home by dawn, never being caught by British forces.
All of the Midnight Riders helped warn Colonists with vital information that enabled them to defend against the British and spark a revolution that would be felt around the world. It’s a shame that lost in the mix is the heroic story of Sybil Ludington, a teenage farm girl who was able to help mobilize and prepare hundreds of troops to save the Colonies and begin the process of becoming the United States of America.
Disputes Involving Sybil Ludington
The history of many prominent figures can leave room for interpretation, as record keeping was not as thorough as it is today. Because of this, Sybil Ludington’s story has been the topic of some debate, including why she was forgotten for so long. Many other heroes have been lost to history, as well.
Though local schools continue to pass down the story of Sybil Ludington as part of their education, her absence from the masses in America is noted. It wasn’t until 1880 that her story was found and told through a book by the historian Martha Lamb. The lack of first-hand accounts or documentation has led to disputes among historians as to the accuracy of her tale and the authenticity of the facts that are presented.
Even respected historical sources wonder if Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride ever happened. But there are still many regions and credible authorities who continue to honor her heroics. It remains to be seen what new pieces of information will come to shed more light on the subject, but Sybil Ludington has enjoyed a renewed interest thanks to her story being told on the likes of Comedy Central’s Drunk History as well as being honored on a postage stamp during America’s bicentennial celebration.
Visit the Statue of Sybil Ludington
In Carmel, New York, along the shore of Lake Gleneida, you’ll find a statue of none other than Sybil Ludington on top of her horse, Star. Here, both Ludington and Star are immortalized as Revolutionary War heroes who raced through the night to warn of the British’s arrival and keep them at bay. We may never know for sure if Sybil Ludington existed. However, a brave teenager racing through the streets of New York to inspire a rebellion is about as patriotic and American as it gets. It is a timeless tale that shows what Americans can accomplish when working together toward a common goal.