This Month In County History

1862 : Flagpole Dilemma

September 16, 2005

Residents of the western Howard County community of Poplar Springs have long been a resourceful bunch, if this bit of Civil War history is any indication. According to a story credited to one G. Earl Hilton, a detachment of Confederate cavalry with headquarters in New Market and Frederick from Sept. 7 to Sept. 11, 1862, rode into Poplar Springs at some point to rest and water their horses.

"In the center of town was a large wooden flagpole," according to the account by Jane Bowman Fleming in Howard's Roads To The Past. "One of the soldiers climbed the pole and removed the U.S. flag, nailing a small Confederate flag in its place. When the rebels were ready to leave they threatened dire consequences should anyone remove their flag from the pole.

"However, as soon as some of the townspeople were satisfied the rebels were gone they circled the flagpole wondering what to do. A Mr. Pickett put an end to the dilemma. He borrowed an axe and chopped down the entire flagpole."

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