2-day Revolutionary War militia encampment honors 16yo heroine


Muskets fired, orders were shouted, and hundreds learned about the Revolutionary War period from a two-day militia encampment along Lake Gleneida that ended yesterday.

Aaron Barnett, 14, of Patterson lined up his band of soldiers, urging them to hold their rifles firmly in the palms of their left hands and be ready to "prime and load."

He had spent Friday night sleeping in a tent at the campsite and demanded attention from his newly formed troop.

"I was the only redcoat here overnight," he said referring to his role as a British soldier.

"I like history, it is fascinating. It is fun to re-enact what people have done and make it real for others. This is history, our history."

The event celebrated the 230th anniversary of the heroism of Putnam County's teenage Paul Revere, Sybil Ludington. A statue of the feisty16-year-old horsewoman stands at the lake's shoreline. She began a 40-mile nighttime ride April 26, 1777, from Kent to Carmel to Fishkill, alerting those living in the countryside that British soldiers had burned Danbury, Conn.

Risa Scott, 23, whose mother lives in Putnam Valley, galloped along the lake yesterday morning on a white horse wearing a blue cape to demonstrate what the daughter of Col. Henry Ludington might have looked liked at the time. Scott had done a similar ride five years ago at the last celebration of Ludington, and organizers said they were honored to have her return.

"Oh, she was great and is still young enough to remind us of Sybil - and it not easy to ride a horse in this field with gunfire going on and cars streaming by," said Patterson Town Historian Larry Maxwell, who helped organize the event. It began Friday with visits from hundreds of schoolchildren in class groups and continued yesterday with militia confrontations, weapon demonstrations, book readings and performances of Colonial music.

The celebration was hosted by the Reed Memorial Library in Carmel, the Living History Guild, Putnam County Historical Societies, Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce, Putnam Visitors Bureau, Drew United Methodist Church and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which gave special permission for the use of its property within the Croton watershed.

"The goal is to step back in time to see history come alive," said Maxwell, who was wearing a three-cornered hat and a bright red cut-away coat. "It is one thing to read about and another to see it."

Kim Wiederhold of Carmel brought her son and his friend to see the action after the boys had youth baseball practice in Kent.

"I wanted to introduce them to history. I hope they always remember that they once lived where something historical happened," she said.

Matt Wiederhold, 6, said it was fun to put on a furry Daniel Boone-style hat and hold a wooden pretend rifle, while his buddy, Josh Gittman, 5, of Carmel donned a feathered American Indian headdress.

"We saw a cannon blow and tin foil came out," Matt said enthusiastically.

"When I get older, I want to dress up like that," he added, pointing to the soldiers in either Continental or British army attire.

Both boys posed for a picture with Carmel native Lynn Greenwood in their pretend costumes against the backdrop of Lake Gleneida and its surrounding woods. Greenwood, whose birthday is on July 4, delighted in wearing early American garb, a fur coat and hat with a long streaming tail, and giving children a chance to dress up like pioneers and soldiers.

"It probably looked something like this back then," Greenwood said of the natural setting. "This is a place to preserve - and remember."

American Revolutionary War