The story goes that at the age of 95, Barbara Fritchee flew the American flag from the attic of her house in Frederick, Maryland.
Alone among all the citizens of Frederick, she was demonstrating her opposition to Confederate General Stonewall Jackson's troops, who were passing through in Lee's Maryland campaign of 1864. The rebel troops shot at the flag and broke the staff....
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 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;
The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman's deed and word;
'Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on! he said...
The poem by John Whitleaf Whittier.