The Midnight Ride of Sybil Ludington

The Midnight Ride of Sybil Ludington

Sybil Ludington was a 16-year-old midnight rider who set out to rally the American troops in defense of a British attack.

Sybil Ludington’s story is extremely interesting as it was only published in 1880, over 100 years after her famous ride. While Sybil has rightfully become a legendary American, many aspects of her life have become exaggerated. In this story, I will only discuss the parts that we know for certain.

Under Attack

The British were coming.

It had been two years since the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and now they were headed for Danbury Connecticut.

Riders went out to warn the surrounding towns and militia. One of the riders arrived at the home of Colonel Henry Ludington, leader of the militia in the neighboring Dutchess County, New York.

The man who arrived was too exhausted to travel any longer, and Henry needed to plan the movement of his troops. However, many of his men had gone to their farms to begin planting for the spring.

This is where Henry’s daughter Sybil made her mark on history.

The Ride

Sybil Ludington, just 16-years-old at the time, jumped on a horse and took off.

Ludington rode through the night, during a storm, across the county. She would bang on doors and windows shouting ‘Call to arms!’ and waking families from their slumber.

Sybil’s efforts alerted hundreds of men who said goodbye to their families and made haste to Henry’s side.

They set off for Danbury and, though they missed the Battle of Ridgefield, the soldiers harassed the British as they evacuated to ships on the Long Island Sound.

Afterward

While the Midnight Ride of Sybil Ludington is often said to be over 40 miles, this number is up for debate.

We might never know the exact distance, but we can be sure the journey took her at least 20 miles and lasted from dusk till dawn. This is farther than Paul Revere rode (who, by the way, was caught and did not finish his task).

Ludington went on to marry and, after her husband passed away, established a successful tavern. She was able to buy a comfortable house which she lived in with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

Unfortunately, when her son passed away, she was unable to obtain a veteran’s pension as she could not verify the marriage to her husband.

Sybil came close to the edge of poverty but, at age 77, passed away the following year.


If you enjoyed this article, you’ll probably like these other midnight riders:

The Midnight Ride of Caesar Rodney

Kate Barry Brings Warning

The Midnight Ride of Jack Jouet

Want to read a book about Sybil Ludington?

‘Patriot Hero of the Hudson Valley’ is the most historically accurate book. Many books exaggerate her legend or make assumptions, but ‘Patriot Hero’ is based off strict documentation.

Pick up a copy through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same) but be warned, it is very rare and therefore expensive.

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