Barbara’s Ransom

Image from the Project Gutenberg website.


The distinguished gentleman who hands these verses to us desires us to preface them with the remark that Senator Gorman has asked from the Government in behalf of the citizens of Frederick, Md., reimbursement to the extent of $200,00 for money paid by them as a ransom to Gen. Jubal A. Early, C.S.A.

Up from the meadows, rich with hay,
Clear and cool in that Early day,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand,
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.
Round about them orchards sweep,
Cider and apples ten feet 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 Jubal came over the garden wall —
Over the mud-roads winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

  *      *      *      *      *      *

Up rose old Barbara Fritchie then,
Bowed with her four score years and ten;
Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down.
In the attic window, the staff she set
And smiled as she said, “that’s me you bet.”
Up the street came the rebel tread,
Jubal A. Early a neck 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 in seam and gash
Quick as it fell from the shattered staff,
Dame Barbara laughed a large-sized laugh:
“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:
“Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on,” he said.

*      *      *      *      *      *

Barbara Fritchie’s work is o’er,
The rebel rides on his raid no more.
And Frederick wants for that window sash
$200,000 cash.

Washington Post.

The News (Frederick, Maryland) Jan 15, 1890

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