Ponies, ponies, ponies
Sybil Ludington’s Ride
Viking Press, New York, 1952, 128 pp, illus the author
Set in 1777, and based on fact (though with some liberties taken with family details at least), Sybil
and her sister live alone as their father is away at war. They have a 2 year old colt called Star. Sybil,
the worse rider of the two girls, has to make an overnight 40 mile ride on Star to warn neighbouring
towns that the enemy (ie the British) were approaching.
Erick Berry (1892 -
Erick Berry wrote or illustrated over 100 books. Her most notable titles were Winged Girl of Knossos, which she wrote and illustrated, and which was the recipient of a 1934 Newbery Honor award, and Apprentice of Florence and Garram the Hunter, a Boy of the Hill Tribes, which she illustrated and which were Newbery Honor winners in 1934 and 1931 respectively. Many of her books were non fiction, and amongst them is Sybil Ludington’s Ride, based on a true story. Berry first encountered the story when driving to a new house she had just bought with her husband in Connecticut. Along a small section of the road passing through Croton Falls, New York, was a series of blue and white markers, which pointed out a small section of Sybil Ludington’s ride. Berry had never heard of either Sybil or her ride, but she was intrigued. She investigated and found a poem, a short write-
The book provided Berry with useful biographical information, but for the sake of her story, she took some major liberties with Sybil’s family background. Sybil was a member of a large family, but:
“For the story’s sake... I discarded all but her father and one younger obstreperous sister. Writers are allowed liberty with facts, and for story purposes a half-
Sybil Ludington was in fact one of twelve, whose father was Col Ludington, a mill owner who served as leader of the local militia when the locality was threatened by the British. On April 26, 1777, Col Ludington found out the British were attacking Danbury, Connecticut. He needed to muster his troops to defend the area, and also warn residents of the imminent threat. Sybil volunteered. She rode around 40 miles through Carmel, Mahopac and Stormville, through mud and storm in the middle of the night, calling out the militia. By the time she had finished, most of the militia were ready to march. Although they failed to save Danbury, the militia were able to stop the British advance, and in the Battle of Ridgefield, pushed the British back to their boats.
Finding the books: not published in the UK, but reasonably easy to find in the US, as long as you don’t mind an ex-
Links and sources
Biographical information in de Grummond collection, accessed 21 February, 2014
Photograph, quotation -
More on Sybil Ludington’s Ride, accessed 21 February, 2014
Horses for the General
Macmillan, New York, 1956, 182 pp, illus the author
Lem is told he is too young to enlist in George Washington’s army. Not deterred, he gets a job
driving a cart, and scouts out horses for the Army.