Saturday, June 11, 2011

As I Promised Earlier This Week...

In my snarky post about Sarah Palin's dumbass version of Paul Revere's ride, I promised to "put up a serious post about a young lady who is largely unknown outside of the Hudson Valley, but who should be known throughout the country as a national heroine and a true feminist icon."

In April 1777, British regulars marched on the town of Danbury Connecticut in order to destroy supplies cached by the Continental Army and to burn the homes of revolutionaries. Having discovered a supply of rum, the regulars started drinking and, in the subsequent breakdown of discipline, decided to burn other buildings in the town.

A rider was sent to inform Col. Henry Ludington, the leader of the 7th regiment, Dutchess County Militia who resided in nearby Kent, New York that Danbury was being put to the torch. Col. Ludington needed to muster members of the militia, and his sixteen year old daughter, Sybil was sent on a forty mile ride on a rainy night (so spät durch Nacht und Wind, indeed!) to alert the militia members. Let me repeat- 16 years old, 40 miles, 9PM to dawn... all the while avoiding loyalists and brigands... during a thunderstorm. Uh, Paul, I'm not knocking your accomplishments, but you had nothing on Sybil.

Sybil eventually married one Edmond Ogden and lived to a respectable old age.

Of course, Paul Revere's name lent itself to poetizing so he's a household name in the U.S., but in 1940, poet Berton Braley wrote a poem commemorating Sybil's ride- personally, I would have started off with:

Prick up your ears, your heart will be a-thudding son,
While you hear about Sybil Ludington.

Probably because I am inspired by this poem rather than Longfellow's.

In 1961, a statue of Sybil Ludington sculpted by Anna Hyatt Huntington was erected in Carmel, NY:

In 1975, a commemorative stamp was released by the U.S. postal service:

There is an annual fifty kilometer commemorative run along Sybil Ludington's route.

Still, though, she is not as well known as Paul Revere. Yeah, that's mostly due to Longfellow's poem, but this post is my attempt to inform persons living outside of the Hudson Valley about the remarkable, valorous Sybil Ludington. Yeah, the Founding Fathers are rightfully venerated here in the states, but how about a shout out to someone who, at the time of the Revolution, would have best been described as a Founding Daughter?


Another Kiwi said...

Thanks for that contribution to Herstory, BBBB.
Jebus, at 16 I would not have been the person to rely upon. Unless it was a mission to stay up late watching for boobies on teevee

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Still, though, she is not as well known as Paul Revere.

Let's ask Mooselini about her. I'm sure it will be considered a 'gotcha' question.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Jebus, at 16 I would not have been the person to rely upon. Unless it was a mission to stay up late watching for boobies on teevee

I'm sure you would have been up for watching for boobies on horseback, in the middle of a thunderstorm, making sure brigands didn't change the channel on you.

buttwipe said...

Very cool.

Sheesh said...

I sure as hell hope she didn't have to do the whole thing side saddle as portrayed in the statue!

From Linsey Williams: "As the eldest child, she had grown up doing jobs usually assigned to sons. [...] Gen. George Washington personally thanked Sybil, as did Gen. Rochambeau, the French commander fighting with the Americans."

That's awesome.

M. Bouffant said...

The side-saddle cracked me up too. A heroine and a "lady!"

WV is astatia; a wild delicacy w/ which our host would stuff his face, no questions asked, I assume.

Smut Clyde said...

But what was the HORSE'S name??
Everyone forgets the real hero.

Substance McGravitas said...

In an interesting quirk of history the horse's name was Hitler.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

According to one of the linked articles, the horse was a big, bay yearling gelding named Star.

The side-saddle is a funny touch... yeah, mustn't have a tomboy as a role model for young girls, even though she a remarkably valiant individual even by the standards of a period in which valiant individuals abounded.

mikey said...

Courage is a funny thing. And in general, we Americans refuse to understand it, even though there is strong evidence we DO understand it.

We think of courage as John Wayne, charging the guns, fighting through the night like Baselone, alone, outnumbered and outgunned, Audie Murphy holding a German regiment at bay from the smoking deck of a burning tank destroyer.

But that's crap. You don't decide to fight. You fight when you can't run. You kill them because you're terrified they're going to kill you.

Nope. Courage is when we try to preserve something, to save our community, to save a life, to keep something in the midst of devestation. That's why we give the CMH to people who pull their friends to safety under fire, who land on a wrecked airstrip to pick up a doomed comrade, who shield the guys in their hole from a grenade with their bodies.

Sybil had courage because what she did was hard, and scary, and it would have been SO easy to stop, to seek shelter, to dry off, to wait 'til tomorrow. When you've got nothing but your own will standing between doing something that matters and quitting, it is the extraordinary hero that cries out in pain and frustration, then puts her head down and drives on.

We have much more to learn from Sybil than from Audie...