Saturday, June 25, 2011

26 Barbara Frietchie Star


Barbara Frietchie Star
By Becky Brown

Poetry was powerful propaganda during the Civil War. John Greenleaf Whittier, who often described current events in verse, applied his pen to the coming war. In 1861 he based a poem on Martin Luther's hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God, describing slavery as
"The poison plant the fathers spared
All else is overtopping.
East, West, South, North,
It curses the earth...."
John Greenleaf Whittier

Whittier believed the war to be a fight against slavery but the official position in 1861 emphasized that this was a war to save the Union. General McClellan banned Whittier's emotional poem from Union Army programs during the summer of 1861.

A year later Whittier's hopes for an anti-slavery victory had faded.


Yet he renewed his resolve when he heard a story about a Union heroine named Barbara Frietchie in a battle in Frederick, Maryland. Inspired by that tale, he wrote Barbara Frietchie, which was published in the Atlantic Monthly. His poem became a rallying cry for the Union and a classic recitation for schoolchildren for generations.

Barbara Frietchie is recalled as an elderly woman who waved a Union flag from her attic while General Stonewall Jackson marched his Confederate troops through town. Jackson ordered his men to fire at the defiant woman.
"Shoot if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag,  she said."

Small photograph cards of Barbara Frietchie
were sold with pictures of other Union heroes.

General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was a
 Confederate hero pictured in many Cartes des Visites
(CDV) souvenirs

According to the poem, the embarassed General rescinded the order and Frietchie's Union flag waved over Jackson's short occupation of the town.


Historians point out that Stonewall Jackson, who died in battle soon after the poem's events, marched nowhere near Frietchie's house and that the 95-year-old woman was confined to bed. Barbara Frietchie's defiant flag waving is an American myth flying in the face of the facts. True or not, her tale was a Union answer to the Confederate myth of the martyr Stonewall. Here was a woman who'd won a small victory over the legendary General.

 Whittier's contribution to the myth inspired patriotic impulses for well over a century.

The poem was translated into a popular
stage play and then a film

In the 1930s Needlecraft Magazine published an article by Helen Rockwell Adams who had visited the recreation of Barbara Frietchie's house in Maryland. On the bed she saw a sawtooth star, which "tradition assures us that Barbara made...with her own hands." Adams pictured a block, naming it Barbara Frietchie's Design. 

This version is BlockBase number #1140, given the name Barbara Frietchie by the Grandmother Clark needlework company in 1932. It is one triangular pattern piece, sewn into squares and shaded as a star and pinwheel.


Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A Cut  squares 2-7/8". Cut 4 dark,  2 medium light, 2 medium dark and 6 light. Cut each in half diagonally.

 You need 8 dark triangles, 4 medium light, 4 medium dark and 12 light triangles.








A re-creation of Barbara Frietchie's house in Frederick was a tourist attraction for many decades, but it is now closed. Today's welcome emphasis on historical accuracy in telling the story of the Civil War may mean it will never reopen. The tale of the star quilt on the bed, made by Barbara's "own hands," probably has no basis in fact either.

Barbara Fritchie Star
2000
Shirlene Wedd and Jean Stanclift made a version
of the Barbara Frietchie star quilt with
 an eagle border adapted from a Civil War era quilt.
 Anne Thomas handquilted it.


So this week we have an imaginary story and an imaginary quilt block, but they can remind us of the power of myth in telling about our past. Read Whittier's poem at this site:

Order our Barbara Fritchie star pattern with appliqued eagle border by clicking here:
It would make an excellent border for this sampler (if one enjoyed applique.)






16 comments:

desertskyquilts said...

Thanks for a great story. We all choose our heroes and our myths, and those are often what help most to keep up our spirits. As long as we can separate truth from myth, we're okay. I love this star block and I'm glad you chose it.

Betty Lou said...

Such a beautiful block this week. I look forward to each new block and story, myth or not, they are our history.

susan said...

I agree, I love the quilt, the story, myth or not.

Quilting Yai Yai said...

Add my vote to both. Such a beautiful block.
Deborah

Claudi's Quilt blog said...

hi girl..
I admire this new block..
but , I admire the fabric of the edge with the UNION...
were this some little scraps:
write , please to : Claudia@hibi.eu
thanks !!

lillianscupboard said...

Lovely story and lovely block. I have completed my block and posted it along with a how-to on my blog.

http://lillianscupboard.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/civil-war-quilt-block-26-barbara-frietchie-star/

Pat V. said...

ah well, it's still a great story and a great poem. The block, as always, is wonderful, thank you!

Barbara Brackman said...

The comment box has been difficult to use lately. I am trying this new separate page format. We hope this works.

Barbara Brackman said...

Here's a question from another Barbara....
I love your Civil War site and have been following along for a few weeks (months) now. For the last week or so the pictures and fonts are so small I can not read them. Is it my computer or is anyone else having problems.

waquilter said...

This is the other Barbara the one having trouble with the fonts being so small. After a clue from Barbara Brackman I opened the blog using Internet Explorer instead of Firefox and it works. Thanks. Also thanks for this blog.

Carol said...

Hi Barbara,
I am a little disappointed to learn that the story is not true! However, it makes a great tale.
I am really enjoying your blog and meeting lots of lovely people because of it.
Sorry to be a PIB (Pain in the Butt) but I think your instructions are missing 4 triangles. You need a total of 32 triangles to make this block, not 28. It hasn't made any difference to everyone making the block, but I thought that it might be important if you wish to turn your blog into a BOOK at a later date (which I hope you do!)
I am new to flickr but have you seen how many people are following your blog and making the blocks?!! From what I can gather by looking at other flickr groups, it is very unusal for so many people to be taking such an active part in a group. You have created a real online community!
I am now eagerly awaiting Block 27. Unfortunately in Australia we have to wait till about 9pm Saturday evening for it to appear. It is a long wait! Best wishes, Carol

Nicole said...

That's a very nice block. Especially with the fabrics chosen.

diana said...

I just found your site today, and have subscribed to the feed for future blog entries. I'd like to make the blocks from earlier in the year, but the earliest one I can find is labeled "#8 Cotton Boll" from February 19. Is that really the first one? Thanks.

Tammy said...

The story of Barbara Frietchie is very true. The Confederates tried to discredit her story after her death by spreading rumors that it wasn't true but it was. A Pastor across the street recieved a note from Jackson on the night the famous story took place and would later show that note as proof that Jackson was there. In fact he and his men reportedly passed through that town at least 3 times that were documented during the war. On the night of the famous story Barbara did exactly as the poem says. A week later Jackson's troups marched through town again and a different elderly lady walked behind his troups as they marched through town waving a flag. Barbara was sick in bed with a cold (not stricken to her bed but merely sick in bed)when the second flag incident happened. Both stories are true and two very different stories about two different women. Whittier was told about the first story only before writting his poem and did not get the two stories mixed together. Barbara became famous and would not have been so honored if the story was false. The loyal Confederates tried to cause doubt to make their Stonewall Jackson not look so compassionate towards her (because they confused compassion with weekness). When Whittier was asked if the poem was written about a true story he answered yes it was written exactly how it happened. Barbara was also friends with Francis Scott Key and had always been an out spoken patriot. This was not a myth but a fact that embarrassed the South and over time they made sure the facts have become forgotten.

Tammy said...

The story of Barbara Frietchie is very true. The Confederates tried to discredit her story after her death by spreading rumors that it wasn't true but it was. A Pastor across the street recieved a note from Jackson on the night the famous story took place and would later show that note as proof that Jackson was there. In fact he and his men reportedly passed through that town at least 3 times that were documented during the war. On the night of the famous story Barbara did exactly as the poem says. A week later Jackson's troups marched through town again and a different elderly lady walked behind his troups as they marched through town waving a flag. Barbara was sick in bed with a cold (not stricken to her bed but merely sick in bed)when the second flag incident happened. Both stories are true and two very different stories about two different women. Whittier was told about the first story only before writting his poem and did not get the two stories mixed together. Barbara became famous and would not have been so honored if the story was false. The loyal Confederates tried to cause doubt to make their Stonewall Jackson not look so compassionate towards her (because they confused compassion with weekness). When Whittier was asked if the poem was written about a true story he answered yes it was written exactly how it happened. Barbara was also friends with Francis Scott Key and had always been an out spoken patriot. This was not a myth but a fact that embarrassed the South and over time they made sure the facts have become forgotten.

Anonymous said...

Great website, looks very clean and organized. Keep up the good work! antibacterial Read a useful article about tramadol tramadol