White Mane Kids

the bravest girl in sharpsburg, civil war stories

"...a lovely, poignant story." 
School Library Journal

"A vividly drawn story set against a meticulously researched historical background that will raptly engage readers."
Midwest Book Review

"A realistic story of the Civil War."
The Civil War Courier 

This is the second of Kathleen's six books about the American Civil War. It is written for ages 11 and up who enjoy reading historical fiction about the war between the states.

Story Description

The daring adventures of best friends Teresa Kretzer and Savilla Miller have earned them the title of "the bravest girls in Sharpsburg" -- and the admiration of Teresa's shy younger sister, Bethie. But when the Civil War looms, the girls become political enemies. Teresa is a staunch Unionist; Savilla, a Secessionist.

Tensions escalate as the Confederate army marches into Maryland in September 1862. The question of which flag to display and how, the fear for the lives of loved ones on both sides, and the daily dangers facing the girls all culminate in the confrontation between Confederate and Union armies along Antietam Creek.

Each girl faces challenges which test everything she believes in. In the end, Teresa, Savilla, and Bethie all learn new definitions of courage as they struggle with issues of love, loss, and friendship amidst the horror of the Battle of Antietam Creek.

This book is available as a 225-page trade paperback that contains a period map, photos, and illustrations, and an author's note about the actual people and events the story is based on.

What Others Are Saying

Photo of noted author and American Civil War historian David J. Eicher. Eileen Charbonneau
Award-winning Author of Honor to the Hills

“Ernst add a unique new chapter to Civil War stories, giving voice to the usually voiceless casualties of that conflict: a wide-eyed boy killed by a mob when he was on the wrong road at the wrong time, the fleeing widowed refugees fearing reprisals against themselves and their children, the soldiers and civilians downed by fever, accidents, or their own comrades, and the citizens of Sharpsburg who endured the shelling of that infamous day."
Image of The Citizens Companion Magazine logo.  The Citizens' Companion
The magazine of civilian Civil War reenactors

"A fine book written by a talented writer who has also produced an outstanding account of civilians at Antietam for adult readers."

About The Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst writes award-winning mysteries and historical fiction for adults and young readers. Her work has earned numerous honors, including multiple Edgar and Agatha mystery award nominations, and an Emmy for children's educational programming.

To date, readers have purchased over one million printed, electronic, and audio copies of Kathleen's twenty-nine published books. more>>

Related Blog Posts

Enjoy the author's insights about the story, characters, and settings.

The Stories Behind The Story

Pen and ink drawing of an artillery shell exploding near the Kretzer family cellar.  I spent about ten years collecting stories about the civilians who lived in Western Maryland during the Civil War. All that research eventually led to... more>>

23,000 Candles

Photo of annual illumination at Antietam National Battlefield, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, December 2012. A powerful and poignant tribute to Civil War soldiers takes place each December on the rolling hills near Sharpsburg, Maryland...  more>>

Heading Home

Link to Heading Home blog post The first novel I ever wrote, The Other Side of the Line, was set during the American Civil War. I was fifteen, growing up in the border state of Maryland, and already long fascinated by... more>>

Available From

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Author's Note

This book marks the only time I used real people as main characters in one of my novels. Theresa and Beth Kretzer, and Savilla Miller, grew up just two houses apart in the small town of Sharpsburg. When the Civil War began, the Kretzers supported the Union and the Millers supported the Confederacy. You’ll meet all three girls in the book.


Who was the bravest girl in Sharpsburg? You can decide who should claim the title. I’ve enjoyed listening to readers discuss that when I visit schools and libraries. 

Book Goodies

the bravest girl in sharpsburg, civil war stories PREVIEW
Get a sneak peak
inside this book 
books, educator TEACHER'S GUIDE
For teachers and

More About Antietam

Kathleen had the honor of speaking at the Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg MD during their 150th anniversary ceremonies commemorating what is now called "the bloodiest day in American history." She spoke about what happened to the civilians who found themselves caught up in the fighting. Their experiences form the basis for her adult non-fiction history book, Too Afraid to Cry, and her children's historical fiction novels, The Bravest Girl in Sharpsburg and The Night Riders of Harpers Ferry. Click on the photo to watch her presentation.

Kathleen Ernst speaking on C-SPAN at 150th anniversary event at Antietam National Battlefield Park on September 16, 2012.

Sharpsburg Map

Click on the image below to see a larger version of this 1862 map showing the area around Sharpsburg, Maryland, including "THE FIELD of BATTLE."

Map - Sharpsburg Maryland Area - 1862


Aaron Kretzer, Ages 10 and Up, Alexander Root, American Civil War, American Flag, American History, Amos Hicklin, Angry Mob, Anne Kretzer, An Understanding, Army of Northern Virginia, Army of the Potomac, Army Surgeons, Arrested, Arsonists, Auntie Mae, Barter, Battle of Antietam Creek, Battle of Sharpsburg, Battle of South Mountain, Bethie, Bible, Blanc Mange Custard, Blackford Family, Blacksmith Shop, Bloodiest Day, Bloody Diarrhea, Bobby McPherson, Boiling Mad, Bookish, Books, Boonesboro Maryland, Brave Boys Are They! Song, Bravest Girl, Brining Family, Butternut Homespun, By Crackers, Candle Lantern, Cannon Ball, Castor Oil, Cellar, Chamomille Tea, Chattered Like Magpies, Christian Household, Christ Reformed Church, Civilians, Clara Brining, Cock Fight, Communicating Without Words, Confederacy, Confederate Flag, Confederate Soldiers, Confederate Sympathizer, Consarned, Cornbread, Crimus Almighty, Cross The River, Crotchy, Dangerous Business, Dead Soldiers, Defensive War, Delaney's Tavern, DeWitt Clinton Rench, Dishonor, Disrespectful Girl, Dis-Unionists, Doctor Augustin Biggs, Dunker, Dunker Church, Easily Excitable, Elizabeth Kretzer, Enlist, Escaped Slaves, Ferry Hill Maryland, Fiction, Fire Company, Fitzgerald, Foraging, Forged Pass, Frederick County Maryland, Frederick Maryland, Free Negroes, Fruit Shrub, Fry The Devil, Game of Jackknife, Gawk, General Robert E Lee, General Thomas Jackson, Gideon Brummer, Give 'em Hades, Gobbled Up, Godey's Lady's Book, Got Sand, Grades 6 to 9, Grand Adventure, Grit, Grove Family, Gumption, Gunnison's Store, Gussie Rohrbach, Hagerstown Female Seminary, Hagerstown Maryland, Hagerstown Pike, Harpers Ferry Virginia, Hart Family, Headstrong, Henry Kyd Douglas, Hiram, Historical Fiction, History, Hot-Tempered, Impertinent, Jacob McGraw, Jacob Miller, Jacob Nicodemus Farm, Jeanette Blackford, Jennie Mumma, Jiggers!, Joe Hebb, Joe Hoffmaster, John Kretzer, Joseph McGraw, Kathleen Ernst, Keedysville Maryland, Kretzer Family, Kretzer House, Leesburg Virginia, Like A Plague Of Locusts, Look Beyond Flags And Parades, Lower Than A Slug's Belly, Lucilla McClintock, Lutheran Bible, Lye Soap, Made My Skin Prickle, Mad Enough To Spit, Maggie Hart, Magic Lantern Show, Major Heros Von Borcke, Mangy, Margaret Kretzer, Maria Teresa Kretzer, Martial Law, Maryland Militia, Maryland My Maryland Song, McClintock Family, McGraw Family, Medical Corps, Miller Family, Miller Farm, Miller House, Millinery Business, Miss Elizabeth Carney's Insufferable School For Boring Young Ladies, Miss Headstrong, Mourning Dress, Mrs Collins, Mrs Kittering, Mrs McClintock, Mrs McGraw, Mrs Sutherland, Mrs Ward, Mr Rubins, Moses Cox, Mother Of God!, Mumma's Farm, Murdered, Nervy, Numb, Oh Stars!, Oil of Vitriol, Pacifists, Opium, Papa, Patriot, Pennsylvania, Pickled Cherries, Playing Draughts, Plumb Shocked, Portable Forge, Potomac Home Guard Brigade, Potomac River, Prankster, President Lincoln, Prickly Mood, Provost Guard, Purcell Battery, Quinine, Ready To Scamper, Rebels, Rebel Soldiers, Recruiting Office, Relief Packages, Republicans, Retreat, Reverend McClintock, Rheumatism, Rhubarb Pie, Rohrbach Family, Rowdies, Rumpus, Running The Blockade, Samuel Miller, Savilla Miller, September 17, 1862, Seventh Wisconsin, Sharpsburg German Reform Church, Sharpsburg Luthern Church, Sharpsburg Maryland, Shelling, Shepherdstown Road, Short-Tempered, Sickel-Moon, Sing Like A Bird, Skedaddle, Skittered, Slavery, Slave State, Smuggling, Sniffed It Out, Southern States, South Mountain Maryland, Spy, Squabble Like Roosters, Stephen Kretzer, Strutting Around Like A Sunrise Cock, Stubborn, Sulk, Susan Kretzer, Taylor's Landing Road, Tempers Are Pulling Thin, The First Gun Is Fired! May God Protect The Right Song, The Quivers, Therese Kretzer, Thunderation, Timothy McClintock, Tin Of Lucifers, Traveling Book Peddler, Typhus, Uncle Bob, Underground Railroad, Underpinnings, Unearthly Quiet, Union, Union Party, Union Soldiers, Unnerving, Unrequited Love, Virginia, Virginia Snakeroot, Washington County Maryland, Weaseling Coward, Western Maryland, Whipped, Whooping And Roaring, Widow Himebough's Place, William Logan, Williamsport Ledger Newspaper, Williamsport Maryland, White Mane Kids, Worried Sick, Woven Scrap-Limb Fence, 1861, 1862, 23,000 Casualties

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