THE GREAT RIDE
There were many famous incidents to warn of impending British attacks at the outset of the American Revolutionary War, none more so than the famous midnight ride of Paul Revere. There was however a lesser known late night ride that ended up being just as pivotal to the Revolution.
Late in the evening of April 26, 1777, American Militia commander Colonel Ludington received word that the town of Danbury was under attack by British troops. Ludington was a veteran of the French and Indian War and had volunteered to lead the local Militia at the time. Unfortunately the Commander’s 400 men were on leave and spread all over the countryside. The messenger was too weary from his own ride to continue and was unfamiliar with the area.
With the Militia spread out everywhere, the Colonel’s eldest daughter Sybil set off on horseback alone at 9pm in the rain to find the Militia and muster them to attack the British.
She covered almost 40 miles on horseback throughout the course of the night (twice that covered by Revere), and had accomplished her task early the following morning, even fighting off a highwayman on her travels. By the time she returned home in the morning, almost the entire Militia has gathered together to begin marching on the British.
The Militia eventually caught up with the British and beat them back, too late to save the town, but enough to cause significant damage to the British.
Sybil received a personal thank you from General George Washington for her fearless efforts during the night, and is considered one of the heroines of the Revolutionary War.