by UWW Logo design by Meryl Ann Butler
OEN enthusiastically announces a new feature, "Uppity Women Wednesdays," a first-Wednesday-of-the-month posting of a story about an uppity woman or two, selected by author Vicki León from one of her books. In this introduction, we celebrate with two exciting stories of inspiring young American Revolutionary horsewomen.
I interviewed Vicki last month in Uppity Women in History/Herstory: Interview with Author Vicki Leon.
Vicki is the author of a series of inspiring books about "Uppity Women" through the ages. Engaging and humorous, as well as enlightening, all of the books are based on her meticulous research. The series has sold over 350,000 copies, and her newest book is 4000 Years of Uppity Women (MJFine Books, 2011). Vicki has also written a much-praised trilogy on the Greco-Roman world which sheds new light on early science, superstition, and sexuality as well as the workplace shared by men and women of long ago.
4,000 Years of Uppity Women by Vicki Leon by Used by kind permission of Vicki Leon
We are starting this series in April because it is the traditional beginning of the new year. Pope Gregory replaced the Julian calendar with the Gregorian calendar in 1582, relocating New Year's Day to January first. Prior to that time, people celebrated the new year in late March or early April, close to the time of the vernal equinox, when the earth, herself, births a new cycle. According to tradition, people who chose to continue celebrating the new year according to earth cycles were ridiculed for it, being called "April Fools." But we all know that Mother Nature has the last laugh!
So in honor of our Mother Earth's new annual cycle, we celebrate with a story of two inspiring American Revolutionary heroines excerpted from Leon's book, 4000 Years of Uppity Women, pp 196 - 197 (photos added for this OEN version):
Revered by Far Too Few
Two years after Paul Revere's much-swooned-over midnight ride, a 16-year-old from Fredericksburg, New York, rode her favorite horse, Star, to warn of another British approach. On her rain-soaked ride of April 26, 1777, Sybil Ludington galloped twice as far as Paul Revere, knocking on farmhouse doors along a 40-mile route.
Sybil Ludington, statue by Anna Hyatt Huntington by Creative commons photo, (edited) via wiki
"Two thousand Redcoats are raiding Danbury -- muster at Ludington's!" was her message. Sybil must have been quite a horsewoman; her route was rugged, hilly, and fraught with danger. At one point the young woman had to ward off a highwayman with her dad's musket. Although she roused a substantial number of volunteers, enemy troops managed to escape to their ships. Sybil's hometown was later renamed Ludingtonville in her honor.
There were revered deeds by other heroines on horseback, too, including 22-year-old Deborah Champion, who rode from her home in Connecticut for two days to reach George Washington with urgent dispatches from her region.
She bluffed her way through enemy lines, later writing about her mission: "Pulling my calash cap still further over my face, I went on with what boldness I could muster. Suddenly I was ordered to halt. . . . A soldier in a red coat proceeded to take me to headquarters, but I told him it was too early to wake the captain and to please let me pass for I had been sent in urgent haste to see a friend in need, which was true if ambiguous. To my joy, he let me go, saying, "Well, you are only an old woman anyway,' evidently as glad to get rid of me as I of him."
Unlike icon Paul Revere, who was captured by the Brits ten miles into his ride (Longfellow's poem failed to mention that little mishap), Sybil and Deborah both completed their missions.
Sybil Ludington's gravestone in Patterson, NY by Meryl Ann Butler
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