American Herstory is filled with amazing women who exhibited courage and conviction yet are little known to the general public… because they were women. Men who accomplished some of the exact same tasks, or less have been canonized. Victoria Woodhull along with her sister Tennessee Celeste Claflin saw this injustice and fought for true equality a century and a half ago.
Two years after the historic rides on April 18, 1775 of forty-year-old Paul Revere and William Dawes aged thirty, (yes, there were two riders that fateful night), a sixteen-year-old girl, Sybil Ludington, was called upon to ride twice the distance of Revere in the middle of the war to warn local militia of approaching British troops.
Born in Fredericksburg (now Ludingtonville), New York, Sybil moved from town to town following and watching her father, Colonel Henry Ludington, a veteran of the French and Indian War, when he volunteered to head the local militia during the American Revolution.
At her fathers request, with only a riding stick in her hands, Sybil Ludington mounted her horse, Star, around nine at night and rode until daylight. Along the way she warned over 400 militia men and their families that the British would march through Putnam County intent to attack the munitions warehoused in Danbury, Connecticut.
Her route took her through Carmel on to Mahopac, then to Kent Cliffs, and from there to Farmers Mills. Upon completion of her task, instead of sleeping, she rode all the way back to her father’s command post, to be of further service.
The militia failed to muster in time to save the Danbury supply depot, but numerous lives were saved as people along the route fled their homes and hid from the advancing British Army. However, as a direct result of Sybil Ludington’s herstoric ride, two days later at the Battle of Ridgefield, the American troops succeeded to harass Major General William Tryon, the British appointed Royal Governor of the Province of New York, and his troops inflicting severe casualties.
This battle galvanized the resolve of the Connecticut colony. All the local communities embraced Sybil Ludington as an emblematic heroine of the ideals and commitment of the Revolution. Among those to personally acknowledge and praise the intrepid courage of young Sybil Ludington, was General George Washington.
While not canonized by a poet of the stature of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote “Paul Revere’s Ride,” Martha Lamb wrote about the story in 1880. In 1935 New York State placed a series of commemorative markers along the route of Sybil Ludington’s ride. In 1961 the sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington erected her sculpture in Carmel, New York. Smaller versions of the same sculpture reside at the Headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, on the grounds of the Danbury Library, and at the Offner Museum at Brookgreen Gardens, Murrell Inlet, South Carolina.
In 1975 as part of United States Bicentennial, “Contributors to the Cause” series, an eight cent postage stamp depicts Ludington’s herstoric ride and bears the words:
Sybil Ludington Youthful Heroine