Barbara Frietchie

John Greenleaf Whittier

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 and 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 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
    Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

      Up rose old Barara Frietchie then,
      Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

        Bravest of all in Frederick town,
        She took up the flag the men hauled down;

          In her attic window the staff she set,
          To show that one heart was loyal yet.

            Up the the streecame 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!"--outblazed 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 grey 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 the that woman's deed and word;

      "Who touches a hair of yon grey head
      Dies life a dog!  March on!" he said.

        All day long through Frederick street
        Sounded the tread of marching feet:

          All day long that free flag tost
          Over the head 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
              Shone over it with a warm good-night.

On a 1943 car trip to the Camp David (called Shangri-La during World War II), Winston Churchill recited this entire poem from memory to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins as they traveled through Frederick, Maryland.
The 35-Star Flag: This would be the flag that Barbara Frietchie supposedly waved from an upper window to show her devotion to the Union as the Confederate troops, under General Stonewall Jackson, marched north through the town of Frederick, Maryland in the Civil War.
This Flag became the Official United States Flag on July 4th, 1863. A star was added for the admission of West Virginia (June 20th, 1863) and was to last for 2 years. The two Presidents to serve under this flag were Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) and Andrew Johnson (1865-1869).