The march of the army of Northern Virginia through the streets of Frederick
on the 10th of September, was the occasion of a scandalous invention in derogation of its honor, which has gone to the world as the ‘ballad of Barbara Fritchie
The point and the pathos of this creation of the imagination, is in the description of a scene, in which an aged and decrepit woman, fired by patriotism and nerved by a courage, in which the men were lacking, flaunted the flag of the United States
, defiantly in the face of the Confederate
column as it swept through Frederick
That, by order of Stonewall Jackson
, a volley was fired at her and her flag, and then, seized by sudden remorse, the ideal Confederate hero, passed on with heart wrung by shame, and head bowed by grief, at the unnatural crime of which he had been guilty.
It transmits in smooth and melodious verse, the explicit statement that one of the chief historical characters of the Confederacy
, he, whom the love of his contemporaries, and the veneration of the good in the whole world, have singled out and apotheosized as the hero, the genius, the martyr of the cause of honor, chivalry and patriotism—that Stonewall Jackson
ordered Confederate soldiers to fire on an old woman, feebly flaunting a flag out of a garret window, and then overwhelmed with remorse and grief, hung his head and fled from the scene of his shame.
The function of the singer has in all time been akin to that of the prophet.
While the latter gave expression to the will and the purposes of the gods, the former moulds into words, the hopes, the memories, and the aspirations of races, of people, and of nations.
The real poet is under obligations to truth, for truth lives and stirs the heart, and perpetuates heroic deeds, and the desire to do them.
Therefore there is no excuse for this slander and libel on the Confederate
cause, the Confederate
soldier and the Confederate
Not only is every allegation in the story of Barbara Fritchie
false, but there never existed foundation for it. I was born in Frederick
and lived there until May, 1861, when I joined the Confederate army.
I had known Barbara Fritchie
all my life.
I knew where she lived, as well as I knew the town clock.
At that time she was eighty-four years old, and had been bed-ridden for some time.
She never saw a Confederate soldier, and probably no one of any kind.
Her house was at the corner of Patrick street and the Town Creek bridge
The troops marched by there during a portion of the 10th of September.
On that morning General Jackson