Sunday, April 29, 2007

Midnight Rides

Here's something fun to do--in a dorky, historynerd sorta way:

Use the google and type in "Sybil Ludington." Count the number of hits you get. Oh never mind--I'll do it for you. You get about 45,000 hits.

Not bad, considering you've never heard of her.

Now do the same thing for "Paul Revere." You get a lot more hits.

Which is a bit of a shame, since Sybil pretty much did exactly the same thing Paul did--she rode out to warn people that the British were burning Danbury, Connecticut.

Only, unlike Revere, she did it without a support system or an additional group of people to help.

And she assembled a force of about 400 soldiers, who, although they were too late to save Danbury, managed to drive the British foces right back to Long Island, and right onto their ships.

Oh, and she did this after she had put her eleven brothers and sisters to bed--she was only sixteen at the time.

Also she also rode 40 miles, compared to the dozen that Revere rode.

On unmarked roads.

In the rain.

Forty miles in the dark in the rain--ask someone who rides a horse how that must feel.

Seriously, ask. Cuz I don't know. I doubt it feels anything like 'pleasant.'

All of this took place 230 years and three days ago. But most of the world has never heard of her. And there's certainly not a cookware named after her.

There's a little town in upstate NY where she's recognized. Twenty years ago, I shot a documentary about New York's role in the Revotionary war, and I stopped by and shot the hell out of that statue posted above, because there was precious little else about her anywhere. It's a shame, really. It's such an interesting story--moreso than Revere's if you ask me.

But here's the thing--Paul had a penis.

Now, I know that poor Sybil had a lot of things stacked against her besides her gender. Danbury is far less well-known or as important as Boston or Lexington. And there's no way that Longfellow could have written anything as elegant as
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
with a name like Sybil Luddington.

But still...

Is it too much to ask that we honor more people in this country than just the white men?



Blogger Miss 1999 said...

Absolutely! You know, I truly had never heard of this woman, but I'm going to do a search on her, too, to see what all does pop up. Thanks for sharing the pic, and the story with us. That is most definitely interesting, and something I might've, ok, probably would never have found had you not shared it :0)

12:24 AM  
Blogger Madame X said...


8:44 AM  
Blogger Colleen said...

yep. exactly.

there were actually 2 more riders with paul revere that night. they don't get any credit either.

William Dawes and Samuel Prescott also rode with him. Revere just had better PR

8:46 AM  
Blogger Heidi the Hick said...

Well. Since you sort of asked...

I've ridden a horse in the rain and I would add to "unpleasant" the word SQUISHY.

I've ridden a horse in the dark but there was a yard light near the barn so that doesn't really count.

I've done a five hour trail ride at a brisk walk. Kinda stiff the next day. I've done a four hour trail ride at a vigorous trot. Yeah, really stiff that day and for the next two. Never done a 40 mile sprint at a gallop.

Thank you for bringing Sybil's story to our attention...what a brave girl!!!!

1:13 PM  
Blogger terry said...

of course it's too much to ask. only white men matter, right?

thanks for the history lesson. i've never heard of sybil.

3:42 PM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Paul Revere did't actually do it, either. It was some other giuy whose name I can't remember right now, but again, Paul Revere sounded better in the poem.

10:15 AM  
Blogger repsac3 said...

" the British forces right back to Long Island..."

I suppose that's the reason that we on Long Island are not such big fans of Ms. Ludington. (We spent most of the war occupied by them Redcoats, if I recall my local history classes correctly.) 8>)

Seriously... Thanks for the post. Very interesting to see which historical folks gets credit & which do not, sometimes.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I read your last two posts. I enjoyed reading what your *TAG* post shared with your readers.

You are an interesting fella.

Are you still taking a fall now and then?

12:39 PM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Great post, I always say to people that we still got work to do with pushing forward the position of women.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Notsocranky Yankee said...

Thanks for the history lesson! In those days, I'm sure it was hard to give a child, much less the feminine type, any kudos for a job well done.

Unrelated fact: I was born in Danbury CT...

2:06 PM  

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