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?