previous next


The Fable of Barbara Fritchie.

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 hero. 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

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (1)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Barbara Fritchie (4)
Stonewall Jackson (3)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
September 10th (2)
May, 1861 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: