Sybil Ludington had just turned sixteen in April of 1777, when a messenger dismounted his exhausted horse, stumbled into her house and announced that the British were burning Danbury, Connecticut--less than a 15 hours march from the Ludington farmstead in Fredericksburg, New York. After delivering the unexpected, shocking news, the exhausted messenger promptly collapsed in front of the cozy Ludington fireplace. It was obvious that he and his horse were no longer able to spread the alarm. Sybil's father, Colonel Henry Ludington, was in charge of 400 local militia minutemen who, like himself, were now at home planting their fields. Henry Ludington agonized: if he were to ride to muster his troops, then he would not be able to organize the men when they arrived at his farmhouse. And since his soldiers were mostly farmers who were only marginally trained, they would require much of his attention before they set off to meet the professional British Army. They needed to march at first light. When Sybil eagerly volunteered to ride in the messenger's place, her father was horrified but quickly came to realize that there was no other choice. He knew she was an excellent rider and that her horse, Star, was her best friend. Sybil set off shortly after 9:00 p.m. in pitch black darkness. She rode all night long through cold, penetrating spring rain, dodging trees on the muddy trails leading to the militia men's farm houses. Nearly all of her father's 400 men were already busy arming themselves and preparing for battle when she returned home, beyond exhausted, at dawn. She had ridden 40 miles--twice as far as Paul Revere had done in Boston. The Patriots were ultimately successful. They pushed the British, who were not expecting a serious confrontation with the local militiamen, all the way back to their landing boats.The heroic action of a sixteen-year-old girl had started what turned out to be the Battle of Ridgefield where the most powerful military force in the world at that time suffered a humiliating defeat. Because of Sybil Ludington.