Anything Paul Revere Can Do, a 16-Year-Old Girl Can Do Better

Over the years, I’ve often been asked to categorize my work. I find this to be close to impossible but — when pressed — I see myself playing a Paul Revere-style role. In other words, I have important info to share. So, I call out the warning to all who have ears to hear.

All things being equal, I’d much rather compare myself to Sybil Ludington. It’s just that 99.9 percent of folks wouldn’t get the reference.

Two years after Paul Revere’s (alleged) ride, 16-year-old Sybil Ludington should have made history. I mean, she did perform a heroic feat but somehow (cough, sexism, cough), it’s been mostly forgotten.

Here’s the quick version:

Sybil’s father was Colonel Henry Ludington — a respected officer who commanded the 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia during the Revolutionary War. Col. Henry Ludington later became an aide to General George Washington during the Battle of White Plains.

His teenage daughter helped him more than a little in getting that position.

On April 25, 1777, a 2000-man British force landed at Fairfield, Connecticut, and moved toward Danbury — leaving destruction in their path.

By the time word got to Col. Ludington, his men were scattered across the countryside. They needed someone quite familiar with the terrain to gather them up to fight back.

Enter Sybil Ludington.

She rode more than 40 miles (Revere is credited with riding only 12.5 miles) on the evening of April 26, 1777. She knocked on doors to rouse the American soldiers and even fought off one British soldier with the use of her father’s musket.

“The British are burning Danbury. Muster at Ludington’s at daybreak!” she shouted through the night.

By the next morning, most of Col. Ludington’s 400 soldiers were ready to march. They suffered some setbacks and were too late to save Danbury but the 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia eventually chased the Brits back to their boats.

In 1907, Willis Fletcher Johnson wrote a book about Colonel Henry Ludington. In it, you can find this passage:

One who even now rides from Carmel to Cold Spring will find rugged and dangerous roads, with lonely stretches. Imagination only can picture what it was a century and a quarter ago, on a dark night, with reckless bands of Cowboys and Skinners abroad in the land. But the child performed her task, clinging to a man’s saddle, and guiding her steed with only a hempen halter, as she rode through the night, bearing the news of the sack of Danbury.

[The above is dubious quotation. Alternatively: “What then is, generally speaking, the truth of history? A fable agreed upon.” (source) — DV ed]

For the record, Paul Revere never finished his infamous ride and he was not out there alone. Two forgotten men rode with him and only one of them — William Dawes — completed the assigned task.

Take-home message: When it comes to reading history, keep yer guard up…

Mickey Z. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.