American Culture

For Women’s History Month, meet Sybil Luddington

She is called “the female Paul Revere.” She rode twice as far as Paul Revere, yet until recently had been largely forgotten by history.

Known for: If the stories we have of her ride are accurate, 16-year-old Sybil Luddington’s Connecticut ride to warn of an imminent attack on Danbury was about twice as long as Paul Revere’s ride. Her achievement and later service as a messenger reminds us that women had roles to play in the Revolutionary War.

Dates: April 5, 1761 – February 26, 1839

About Sybil Luddington:

Sybil Ludington was the eldest of twelve children. Her father, Col. Luddington, had served in the French and Indian war. As a mill owner in Patterson, New York, he was a community leader, and he volunteered to serve as the local militia commander as war with the British loomed.

When he received word late on April 26, 1777, that the British were attacking Danbury, Connecticut, Colonel Luddington knew that they would move from there into further attacks in New York. As head of the local militia, he needed to muster his troops from their farmhouses around the district, and to warn the people of the countryside of possible British attack.

Sybil Luddington, 16 years old, volunteered to warn the countryside of the attack and to alert the militia troops to muster at Luddington’s. The glow of the flames would have been visible for miles.

She traveled some 40 miles through the towns of Carmel, Mahopac, and, and Stormville in the middle of the night, in a rainstorm, on muddy roads, shouting that the British were burning Danbury and calling out the militia to assemble at Luddington’s. When Sybil Luddington returned home, most of the militia troops were ready to march to confront the British.

The 400-some troops were not able to save the supplies and the town at Danbury — the British seized or destroyed food and munitions and burned the town — but they were able to stop the British advance and push them back to their boats, in the Battle of Ridgefield.

More About Sybil Luddington:

Sybil Luddington’s contribution to the war was to help stop the advance of the British, and thus give the American militia more time to organize and resist. She was recognized for her midnight ride by those in the neighborhood, and was also recognized by General George Washington.

Sybil Luddington continued to help as she could with the Revolutionary War effort, in one of the typical roles that women were able to play in that war: as a messenger.

In October, 1784, Sybil Luddington married lawyer Edward Ogden and lived the rest of her life in Unadilla, New York.

Her hometown was renamed Luddingtonville in honor of her heroic ride. There is a statue of Sybil Luddington, by sculptor Anna Wyatt Huntington, outside the Danbury Library.

Categories: American Culture, History, Race/Gender

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