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Sybil Ludington's Midnight Ride

An artistic depiction of Sybil Ludington’s midnight ride

Sybil Ludington's Fight for our Freedom

By Stacy Conley

We often talk about heroes of the American Revolution and admire their bravery and courage; however, such heroic acts were not limited only to grown men living in colonial times. Did you know that there was a sixteen-year-old girl—just older than many of us—who also valiantly played a part in helping America in their fight for freedom?

Sybil Ludington was born in what was then Fredericksburg, New York. Her father, Henry, made a living as a farmer and mill owner, and during the Revolutionary War, Colonel Ludington became an aid to George Washington. He was in command of a local militia. The militia trained in the yard of the Ludington Farm. Colonel Ludington often had to leave home to lead his men in battle. As Sybil was the oldest, he often relied on her to help her mom care for her younger siblings and to keep the family safe.

In April 1777, Colonel Ludington and his militia returned home on leave. Many of the militiamen were farmers, and it was time to plant crops. On April 26, 1777, the Ludington family was home when a sound startled them. It was a messenger arriving to tell the colonel that British soldiers were in Danbury, CT (where the militia’s weapons were stored) and the British were setting fire to homes and taking and destroying weapons. Colonel Ludington knew he needed to gather his militia, but he knew they lived up to 40 miles away and he also knew he needed to be at home to command his men when they gathered.

Sybil bravely accepted the responsibility to ride those 40 miles in the dark of night and was soon on her horse riding toward Lake Carmel. She rode with a stick in hand which served a dual purpose: to protect her and to quickly provide a way to knock on the doors of the militiamen and call them to arms without getting off her horse.

Within an hour of Sybil’s departure, militia began arriving at the Ludington farm where the Colonel prepared the men for a 17-mile march to Danbury. When it was all said and done, Sybil and her horse had traveled nearly 40 miles to gather the militia. Her brave ride took at least 9 hours.

The militia was too late to save Danbury, but they surprised the redcoats as they retreated. Even though they were badly outnumbered, the Americans succeeded in chasing the British from the area. The British fled to their ships in Westport, CT. They never again attempted an inland raid in the area. This was just one of the many conflicts fought that ultimately led to victory and independence for the colonies.

Sadly, Sybil Ludington was not recognized as a hero in her lifetime. In fact, her ride was nearly forgotten until 1907, when a biography of her father, Colonel Henry Ludington, was published. The book told the story of Sybil’s ride, capturing the interest of many.

The brave choices, generous acts, or kind words we perform every day may go unnoticed over our lifetime, but what we do matters. Just like this young girl, we know that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” so that we too can follow Him, fulfill our mission on earth, and help make our community and country a better place to live.


After our middle school students delivered this historical thought, upper school students performed Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride."


This historical thought was delivered by our middle school students at devotional on 4/25/24. Each week one class leads the student body in prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, scripture recitation, a meditation, and an historical thought. Family and friends are welcome, Thursdays 8:30-9:05 am.

Belmont is an independent K-12 school in the classical, Christian tradition. In partnership with parents, we invest in students — helping them acquire an education of the highest quality, find joy in life, and become influences for good in the world. If you are interested in receiving updates about Belmont, please subscribe to Exulto here by inserting your email.


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