In fact, the incident upon which the legend was based involved neither Jackson nor Frietchie but an unnamed Confederate officer and Mrs. Mary Quantrill, a Unionist in-law of the notorious Confederate raider William C. Quantrill. Mrs. Quantrill and her young daughter stood at their front gate boldly waving the Stars and Stripes as Confederate troops marched through Frederick, Md., on September 6, 1862. Touched by their bravery, a Confederate officer saluted the elder Quantrill with the words, "To you, madam, not your flag." Because Frietchie was already something of a local legend owing to her having once met George Washington, the story attached itself to her, and neither she nor her family did anything to correct the misapprehension.
John Greenleaf Whittier, apparently believing the popular contemporary account,
wrote his poem in good faith and thereby immortalized the "non-incident." These verses have
become some of the best loved and best remembered to emerge from the War.