For Freedom

April rains left there dirt roads of York Colony muddy and dangerous to the rider in the night. Part of the journey was by road, but many miles were swampy path or closely wooded virgin forest.

The first rider had arrived hours before, soaked and exhausted. He could go no farther.

“The British are attacking–destroying, looting Danbury,” he gasped, his voice almost a whisper. “Two thousand of them. Summon help.”

The Colonel held the horse for the fresh rider. Instructions were given in the staccato of all emergencies. “Probably 25 to 30 miles. Don’t dismount. Use this stick on doors. Muster here. Don’t spare the horse.” He loosened his grip on the reins, then let go and stepped back. Colonel Luddington watched his eldest child ride into the blackness.

“The British are burning Danbury!”

“Muster at Luddington’s!”

On to Mahopac, rousing all along the way. Dogs barked warnings so fiercely it was difficult to shout above the din. On to Stormville. It seemed endless. Then to Picksville.

By the time the rider returned to the Colonel’s, armed men were already arriving. The horse, exhausted, stopped, its head hanging. A tired, muddy, aching sixteen-year-old, Sybil Luddington, slid from the saddle into the history of the American Revolution.

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Reprinted from the Spring 1987 issue of The Guide to New Paltz, the precursor of About Town. Sybil’s ride took place on April 26, 1777. A statue was erected in her honor and according to the web site, Sybil’s statue is located on Gleneida Avenue in downtown Carmel, NY.  It is on the west side of Gleneida Ave., next to the lake, about a quarter-mile south of its intersection with Highway 301. Park at St. James the Apostle School across the street. Go. Admire.