Sybil was the eldest daughter of Colonel Henry Ludington, commander of the 7th Dutchess County Militia during the Revolution. This was a volunteer regiment of men who lived in the country surrounding the hamlet of Fredericksburg, New York, where the Colonel had his drill grounds in a field opposite his manor house. The volunteers enlisted for periods of time in between planting and harvesting their crops, and when possible they assembled for drill on the Colonel's Parade Grounds, as it was called.
As the oldest of twelve children, Sybil was 16 and had numerous duties in the household -- kitchen work, baby tending, as well as outdoor work in the fields and mill. But she found time to watch her father drill those ragged and tired farmers into soldiers, and she knew where each one lived.
The legend states that while she was helping to put her brothers and sisters to bed on the evening of April 26, 1777, little did she know that the British were plundering Danbury, Connecticut, only 25 miles away. They had landed near Westport, Connecticut, and marched to Danbury where they knew supplies such as clothing, medicine and ammunition along with barrels of pork, flour and molasses were stored for the Continental Army -- but they didn't know about the rum. Meeting little resistance, the invaders set fire to the storage barns and when they discovered the rum, it was only a short time before the officers lost all control of their men.
Sybil was startled this evening by the sound of a horse and rider and when there came a knock on the door, Col. Ludington answered to find a tired soldier who told him that the British were burning Danbury. "Please muster your men and come to help fight the British back to the Long Island Sound," he pleaded. The Colonel had just returned from a long session of guarding the Hudson Highlands. Sybil knew that the men were scattered in their homes and told her father that she would go to call the men, knowing that the men would believe her but also knowing the dangers for a young girl, with the woods full of bushwackers, cowboys and Army deserters. The Colonel knew that the men must assemble and that his horse could not make the journey. He gave his consent and told Sybil that he would be waiting for the men to begin their march to Danbury.
for a larger image of map by Fred C. Warner.
Colonel Ludington was already mustering the men who had come when Sybil arrived at daybreak, but he stopped long enough to help his daughter from her horse with a great deal of pride and a silent prayer of thanksgiving for her safe return.
Colonel Ludington's regiment arrived in time to join General Wooster's forces at Ridgefield and from there on helped drive the British back to their ships in Long Island Sound.
Anna Hyatt Huntington was a noted sculptor of Bethel, CT, and created a one-and-one-third life-size bronze statue of Sybil riding her horse in which she has depicted the spirit and determination of the girl and the strength of the horse. Because it took place in what is now Putnam County, Mrs. Huntington presented this statue to the Enoch Crosby Chapter NSDAR. The dedication ceremonies took place on June 3, 1961, in Carmel, New York. The statue is located on the eastern shore of Lake Gleneida and is now illuminated at night. It continues to be a beacon of freedom, strength and the will to win.
Photo at right is Elizabeth Moore McKee, Vice President General and Honorary New York State Regent
Sybil is buried in the Maple Avenue Cemetery, Route 301 in Patterson, NY, in the cemetery shared by the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches. Her parents, as well as other members of the Ludington family, are also buried there in the family plot. Her father, Colonel Henry Ludington, was a Revolutionary War patriot.