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4/22/2019 5:32:20 PM
Posted: 3/19/2013 12:20:42 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/19/2013 12:32:05 PM EDT by Will]
Logistics wins wars. Few military strategists would dispute this generalization. Logistics were a major part of the rise and fall of Napoleon and the ultimate victory of the Allies over the Axis in World War Two. Following George Washington’s ill fated New York campaign of 1776 the defense of his supplies and supply lines was much on his mind. A man important to that defense was Colonel Henry Ludington.

Colonel Ludington had served with the British Army at the age of 17 in the French and Indian war from 1756 to 1760 in Canada. He continued to serve His Majesty following that conflict, being commissioned as a Captain in 1773. At the outbreak of hostilities in 1775 he renounced his loyalty to the Crown and was commissioned as a Colonel in the New York Militia. As such he had command of 400 men- mostly poorly trained and equipped farmers and tradesman, part time and somewhat reluctant soldiers at best.

His primary mission during the war was maintenance of law and order and the imposition of patriot will on the many Loyalists of Westchester and Duchess Counties, New York. The Hudson Highlands as the area was known was important in the war effort. It was a critical invasion route and a hotbed of intrigue and Loyalist enlistment and incitement resulting in generalized lawlessness and frequent attacks against patriot sympathizers.

One of the many hazards engendered by the breakdown of law occasioned by the war were bands of thieves called “cowboys” or “skinners” depending largely on which side they supported….. These men would descend on the isolated farms of the area and steal horses, cattle and other supplies which would then be sold to the British or American armies. This sort of “foraging” was endemic to warfare of the period, some of it sanctioned officially, much of it simply for personal gain…..

Colonel Ludington was so successful in his defense of local patriots from marauders and in raising militiamen to serve the cause that General Howe himself offered a substantial reward for his capture. In early 1777 an important duty of the Colonels’ was helping to secure vast stores of war supplies which had been successfully evacuated to Danbury, Connecticut from White Plains prior to that calamitous Patriot defeat. Though Washington had been defeated at White Plains, the supplies that were saved would allow him to fight on.

After this lengthy introduction you might think this piece was about Henry Ludington, not so. Rather, it is about Sybil Ludington, first born child and daughter of the good Colonel.

In 1777 Sybil Ludington was 16 years old and would be best described as a “tom boy”. The first of twelve children, she loved the out of doors and was a very accomplished equestrian. While growing up she rode her fathers’ thoroughbred throughout the countryside, both side saddle and “astride”. Only a year before she had been given a horse of her own, a year old colt whom she named Star.

Throughout 1776 the Ludington home was frequently visited by men under the Colonels command to drill and attend to other military matters. Sybil was infected with the patriotism of these men and came to understand the seriousness of their cause and made it her own. Due to her love of riding and knowledge of the countryside she was frequently given small errands of service to her father. On the evening of April 27, 1777 one of those errands would assure her of an important place in American history.

The rain had poured down all day on April 27, 1777 near the Ludington home. That evening a knocking came at the door-- loud, insistent, frantic…..Colonel Ludington opened the door to find a bedraggled and exhausted courier-- “Danbury is being sacked by the British, you must raise your men!” the man exclaimed. This was a crisis of epic proportions. The stores of food, weapons, medicines and camp equipment were of vital importance to the war effort and the British this close were within striking distance of a full on invasion…..

Colonel Ludingtons’ men had been released from service just days before in preparation for the planting season- they were, after all, mostly farmers…..How could he rouse them, in the dark, spread out over 40 miles of wild countryside? He asked the courier to continue on his ride while the Colonel would wait at his home, the rally point for the men so he might get them ready to march as they arrived. The courier though was unfamiliar with the area and unable to continue due to exhaustion from the cold, wet ride.

Sybil Ludington volunteered to make the dangerous journey to rouse the militia from their scattered homesteads, through the sparsely populated countryside thick with Skinners, Cowboys and Loyalists…...If she were caught by any of them she would likely be killed, perhaps physically violated… her beloved horse stolen at a minimum…. She prepared quickly and mounting Star, set out.

She rode through the night from her family home to nearby Carmel and on through several other small villages- Mahopac, Kent Cliffs, Farmers Mills spreading the message to muster. She arrived back at home just as day broke. The trip had been over 40 miles.

She was greeted by the sight of her father, with over 400 of his men beginning the march to Danbury. Unfortunately, they would arrive too late, the town was sacked, many of the critical supplies burned as they were too numerous for the British to carry off. Colonel Ludington was joined by several other colonial militias and they engaged the British who chose to retreat. The patriot militias, numbering nearly 1000 men by now, fought furiously, enraged at the sacking of Danbury. British archives recording that in one two hour stretch they suffered 60 enlisted men and 5 officers killed. The patriots literally chased the British back to the ships they had disembarked from only days before, some Redcoats actually drowning in their haste to make it aboard! While valuable supplies had been lost a British invasion of critical terrain by over 2,000 troops had been thwarted.

Sybil Ludington was recognized some time later for her ride that night by none other than George Washington himself, who visited her home thanking her for her contribution. She would later marry but not for long, her husband dying of yellow fever. With a young son to support she applied for and received an Innkeepers license and was able to support herself that way for many years. She passed away in 1839 at the age of 77. Her story remained largely unknown until 1907 when an account of her ride was widely published. In 1961 The Daughters of the American Revolution erected a statue of her near Lake Gleneida, New York. She was for many years a controversial figure with many disputing the details of her ride. In 2000 however the book Sybil Ludington: The Call to Arms, was published and laid to rest many of the points of contention. Now you too know her story.
Link Posted: 3/20/2013 4:14:05 AM EDT
Bump for a new day!
Link Posted: 3/20/2013 4:22:28 AM EDT
thanks for posting. its good to learn
Link Posted: 3/20/2013 4:26:00 AM EDT
OST
Link Posted: 3/20/2013 4:48:59 AM EDT
Awesome. Thank you.
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