It was the 26th of April 1777, a messenger jumped off his horse shouting at the door of Henry Ludington.
“The British are burning Danbury! You must assemble your men!”
Henry Ludington was a patriot colonel in charge of a local militia. Colonel Ludington’s men had been dismissed to tend to their spring harvest. They lived on farms and villages scattered along miles and miles of road and pasture land. Who could sound the alarm and gather his men quickly? The messenger who had brought this terrible news to the Colonel, had collapsed exhausted. There was no way he could spend the night riding through the countryside, avoiding British guards and loyalist bandits.
Sybil Ludington, Henry’s daughter, stepped forward. She had turned sixteen only a few days before, but already she was a passionate patriot. She participated in the revolution in all the little ways women of her time could, by refusing to drink tea and spinning wool rather than buying fabric from England. Here was her chance to really help the revolutionary cause in a big way. She tried to convince her father that she was the perfect candidate to hop on the saddle.
Her father had few options. Sybil knew the country, she knew where the militia men lived, and she wasn’t scared. He let her go.
All night long she rode furiously through the countryside, sounding the alarm and rallying the men. A friendly man stopped her and asked if she would like him to accompany her on her dangerous mission. She refused, sending him the opposite direction so that he could help spread the word farther. All in all, Sybil road 40 miles, more than double the amount Paul Revere rode on his famous night ride. She did not weary. She did not give up.
Due to Sybil’s perseverance and courage, the majority of her father’s militia had assembled by sunrise, ready to face the British and fight for the American cause. The 400 men she helped gather went on to stop a British advance in the Battle of Ridgefield.
When duty calls and you find yourself suddenly faced by an overwhelming task, remember Sybil Luddington’s courage...
By: Susanna Olson
Courage is a powerful, yet abstract word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:
“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
while the Oxford dictionary explains it as:
“The ability to do something that frightens one.”
I thought it would be interesting to look at courage as defined by some of history’s fearless heroes...
When he arrived, the men in charge tried to convince him to serve as a commander general. In this position he would remain safe from the harm of musket balls. Joseph Warren refused. He was a doctor, not a general. Despite his friend’s pleas, he insisted that a more experienced soldier be placed in charge. He would fight as an ordinary soldier.
Clara was terrified. She silently scanned the room full of students in front of her, wondering what to say. She was only 16 years old; some of her students were older and much larger than herself. She couldn’t do this. She just couldn’t.
You see, Clara Barton was a terribly shy girl...