Midnight Ride of …..
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
These are the first two lines of Paul Revere’s Ride. The poem was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and first published in the January 1861 edition of the Atlantic Monthly. The poem transformed the silversmith into a Revolutionary War hero 43 years after his death. When I was a child in Massachusetts I was taught that Paul Revere was a hero. But it’s not true; or at least not entirely accurate. Instead of lauding Mr. Revere, I want to compare him to another individual.
Two hundred and forty years ago today, at about dawn on April 27, 1777 Sebal Ludington completed a forty mile ride on horseback warning colonists that the British were coming. She was the only rider on that mission, where Mr. Revere was one of three riders. Sebal’s forty mile ride was three times the length of Mr. Revere’s ride, and was completed in the rain compared to Mr. Revere’s dry weather. Sebal’s ride was unplanned, whereas Mr. Revere was a cog in an elaborate plan by the Sons of Liberty who had known the British were coming but lacked their timing and route. Mr. Revere was forty years old at the time of his ride. He was an experienced member of the Committee of Public Safety, having served terms of guard duty and had completed at least 18 similar rides. He was also a ringleader of the Boston Tea Party. Sebal had barely turned sixteen years old earlier that month with no military, courier or seditious experience. During the ride Sebal used a stick to fend off a highwayman.
Sebal’s father, Henry Ludington, had fought in the French and Indian War. He had been loyal to the British until 1773 when he joined the rebel cause. He was rapidly promoted to Colonel and became the leader of the 7th Regiment of the Duchess County Militia. Colonel Ludington’s area of command was along an unprotected route that the British could take between Connecticut and the coast of Long Island Sound.
When a 2000 man British force commanded…
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