Frietschie, Barbara (1766–1862)

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Frietschie, Barbara (1766–1862)

American Civil War hero. Name variations: Barbara Fritchie. Pronunciation: Frich-ee. Born Barbara Hauer on December 3, 1766, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; died at her home in Frederick, Maryland, on December 18, 1862; daughter of German immigrants; married John Frietschie.

According to legend, Barbara Frietschie defied the Confederate troops under General "Stonewall" Jackson as they advanced through Frederick, Maryland, by waving a Union flag from an upper window of her home (September 1862). After subsequent investigations, it was determined that Jackson never did pass by her home, but it is possible that a germ of truth was enlarged out of recognition by writers John Greenleaf Whittier (Barbara Frietchie, 1863) and Clyde Fitch (Barbara Frietchie, a play, 1898). In October 1863, Whittier had Frietschie defiantly yelling to Jackson, after her flag was riddled with bullets, "Shoot, if you must, this old gray head/But spare your country's flag."