Frederick in Frederick County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Barbara Fritchie House
“Shoot if you must this old gray head, but spare your country’s flag.”
— Antietam Campaign 1862 —
As the Confederate army marched through Frederick on September 10, 1862, feisty local Unionists—mostly women—showed their defiance by waving the Stars and Stripes. The poet John Greenleaf Whittier immortalized one of them in “The Ballad of Barbara Fritchie” about a year later. Spoilsport historians have since pointed out that Stonewall Jackson’s column never passed her house and that the story of the aged Fritchie—who did wave such a flag from her porch when the Federals marched through town—probably was conflated with that of Mrs. Mary Quantrell, who shook a United States flag at Confederates who ignored her. Nonetheless, the poem raised patriotic
Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland,
Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach-tree fruited deep,
Fair as a garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,
On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain-wall,
Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.
Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,
Flapped in the morning wind; the sun
Or noon looked down, and saw not one.
Up rose old Barbara Fritchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten,
Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag that men hauled down;
To show that one heart was loyal yet,
Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.
Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced, the old flag met his sight.
“Halt!”—the dust-brown ranks stood fast,
“Fire!”—out blazed the rifle-blast.
It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.
Quick as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf;
She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.
“Shoot if you must this old gray head,
But spare your country’s flag,” she said.
A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;
The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman’s deed and word;
“Who touches a hair on yon gray head
All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet;
All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.
Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;
And through the hill gaps sunset light
Shown over it a warm good-night.
Barbara Fritchie’s work is o’er.
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.
Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall’s bier.
Over Barbara Fritchie’s grave
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!
Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;
And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!
Erected by Maryland Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these War, US Civil • Women. In addition, it is included in the Maryland Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is September 1724.
Location. 39° 24.838′ N, 77° 24.872′ W. Marker is in Frederick, Maryland, in Frederick County. Marker is on West Patrick Street (State Highway 144), on the left when traveling west. Located between the Barbara Fritchie house and Mullinix Park, along Patrick Street (A one way street to the west at this point). Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 154 West Patrick Street, Frederick MD 21701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 1862 Antietam Campaign (here, next to this marker); Jacob Engelbrecht (here, next to this marker); May 17, 1943 (here, Water Level of the 1976 Flood (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Mullinix Park (about 500 feet away); John Hanson (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named John Hanson (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named John Hanson (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Frederick.
More about this marker. The marker has a map of Civil War Trails sites in Frederick on the lower left. In the lower center is an Illustration of Barbara Fritchie waving the flag.
Also see . . .
1. Barbara Fritchie House. The Barbara Fritchie House has been renovated and updated as an Airbnb. (Submitted on March 5, 2022, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
2. Shoot if you must this old gray head, but spare your country’s flag. Appalachian (Submitted on March 5, 2022, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
Additional keywords. Antietam Campaign
Credits. This page was last revised on March 5, 2022. It was originally submitted on September 24, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 8,077 times since then and 98 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 24, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 3. submitted on March 12, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. 4. submitted on September 24, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 5. submitted on February 11, 2018, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 6. submitted on September 24, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 7. submitted on November 12, 2015. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.