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The Midnight Ride of Revolutionary War Heroine Sybil Ludington

I am a freelance writer with a degree in Journalism and Communications. I enjoy researching history and sharing unique stories.

Revolutionary War Reenactor

Revolutionary War Reenactor

It was April 26, 1777. Sybil Ludington was the 16-year-old daughter of a New York militia colonel. British troops were on their way to attack Danbury, Connecticut, where the Continental Army maintained a supply depot.

Under her father's command, the militiamen needed to be warned about the approaching British forces. Sybil Ludington volunteered to ride her horse for approximately 40 miles.

She rode through the entire rainy night in New York's Putnam County to notify the militiamen. Sybil would bang on the shutters of people's homes with a stick and yell about the British forces approaching Danbury, Connecticut.

Early Years

On April 5, 1761, Sybil Ludington was born in Fredericksburg, New York. The name of the town has since been changed to Ludingtonville. This was done to honor Sybil. She was the oldest of 12 children.

Her father’s name was Henry Ludington, and her mother’s name was Abigail Knowles. They were first cousins. When she was young, her family moved to Dutchess County, New York. This is where Sybil’s brothers and sisters were born.

Painting of Sybil Ludington

Painting of Sybil Ludington

Saved Family

Sybil’s father, Henry, had spent time being a soldier and fighting in the French and Indian War. During the American Revolutionary War, he volunteered to lead a local militia. Sybil would follow her father as he moved from one town to another. She was known for her bravery and remembered for saving her father from capture.

A local man loyal to Britain was named Ichabod Posser. One night, he and approximately 50 men were going to attempt to capture her father. Sybil lit candles all over her family’s house.

She then instructed her siblings to march around the home and in front of the windows like they were in the military. This gave Posser and his men the impression that patriots guarded Ludington’s house. They gave up and left after a short time.

Becoming a Patriot

Sybil’s father was a loyal British subject until 1773 when he decided to switch sides and become part of the Patriots. His local Patriot regiment promoted him to the rank of colonel. The land he and his family called home was along the coast of Long Island Sound. It was very vulnerable to being attacked by the British.

Artist depiction of Sybil Ludington's ride

Artist depiction of Sybil Ludington's ride

The Ride

On April 26, 1777, Sybil’s father got word from a rider that the town of Danbury was about to be attacked by the British. The town was desperate for help. The rider who had brought the message was too exhausted to go any further.

This incident had happened when most of Colonel Ludington’s men had left to take advantage of the planting season. The members of his militia were on farms miles from one another. With her father needing to prepare for battle, young Sybil offered to help her father.

She got onto her horse and rode into the rainy night. She warned the men under her father’s command about the situation and informed them it was essential they return to battle the British and save Danbury. Sybil rode the entire night.

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When she had completed her ride, Sybil went to her home, where hundreds of soldiers were preparing to fight the British. She was soaking wet and exhausted.

They were too late to win the battle but did engage with the British soldiers and drove out General William Tyron and his forces. Friends and neighbors congratulated Sybil for her bravery. General George Washington also commended her.

Sybil Ludington

Sybil Ludington

Post Revolutionary War

When the Revolutionary War was over, Sybil Ludington married Edward Ogden in 1784. She was 23-years-old. The couple had a son named Henry. The family lived in Catskill, New York. In 1799, Sybil's husband died after contracting yellow fever.

She purchased a tavern four years later. Ludington did this to help her son Henry become a lawyer. When the tavern was sold, Sybil realized a significant profit. She was given more than three times what she had paid for the land. She bought a home for her son and his family with this money. That is where Ludington also lived.


Sybil Ludington died on February 26, 1839. She was 77-years-old. She was buried at Patterson Presbyterian Cemetery located in Patterson, New York, near her father.

Sybil Ludington statue

Sybil Ludington statue


The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) near Sybil’s hometown say her ride and life were well documented. This DAR chapter continues to honor her regularly. In 1935, various markers of Sybil’s route were placed in New York State.

A commemorative statue of Sybil Ludington was erected close to Carmel, New York. A smaller version of the statue was placed on the grounds of the DAR headquarters in Washington, D.C., and in Danbury, Connecticut’s public library.

In 1975, a postage stamp honored Sybil Ludington in a series known as “Contributors to the Cause.” There are also numerous signs in New York concerning her historic ride.

Sybil Ludington postage stamp

Sybil Ludington postage stamp


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Readmikenow (author) on September 03, 2020:

Fran, thanks. I think she is a true hero who more people need to hear about.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on September 03, 2020:

Great story about a true historical figure. She was such a young girl to possess the ability to do the right thing, even the smart way she had her younger siblings march past the windows. I remember reading about her some time ago and your article refreshed my memory.

Readmikenow (author) on September 03, 2020:

Pamela, thanks. I think more people need to learn about her and her bravery.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 03, 2020:

I am very interested in the Revolutionary War and a member of the DAR, so this article was of great interest to me. This a a very well-written article that will be interesting to many people.

Readmikenow (author) on September 03, 2020:

Cheryl thanks. I found her story also inspirational.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on September 02, 2020:

This is a fascinating story. Thank you for the history lesson.

Readmikenow (author) on September 02, 2020:

MG, thanks. It is inspirational.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on September 02, 2020:

This is a fascinating tale that is fairly gripping. Enjoyed it.

Readmikenow (author) on September 02, 2020:

Mary, thanks. I don't know why we are not taught about them. Things would have been very different without them.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 02, 2020:

The bravery of Sybil was exemplary. It is excellent of you to highlight the stories of these great women.

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