White Mane Kids

the night riders of harpers ferry, civil war stories
"Set on the border of North and South during the Civil War, this novel conveys the strain of divided families, misguided loyalties, and the hardscrabble existence of that period."
— American Library Association Booklist

"...the book is entertaining and instructive at the same time and, despite a cover and title that don't do it much justice, is a surefire hit for historical fiction fans."
School Library Journal

The Night Riders of Harpers Ferry is Kathleen's first published book. It is written for readers ages 10 to adult who enjoy American Civil War historical fiction without any sex, gore, or explicit violence.

Story Description

A memorable tale of loyalty and adventure, based on a true story.

In the weeks preceding the Battle of Antietam Creek, 1862, Solomon Hargreave, along with the rest of the newly-formed 8th New York Cavalry Regiment, had to adjust to life in the army. The appointment of a Southern-born colonel to their unit, and rumors of a Confederate army advance did not ease their adjustment.

While riding in Maryland, Solomon rescues a lockkeeper's daughter, Mahalia, from drowning in the Potomac River. As Solomon comes to know Mahalia and her family, he quickly learns how tangled politics and family relationships can be in that troubled border state. Mahalia's brother is the notorious leader of a band of Rebel partisans, and Solomon's colonel wants him to learn more about the family.

While Solomon pursues that mission, with results that threaten his friendship with Mahalia, the Confederate noose tightens around Harpers Ferry. Only a daring plan can save the regiment. Can Solomon trust his colonel? Can he trust his own military ability? And can he trust Mahalia with his heart?

This book contains a period map, photos, and illustrations, and an author's note about the actual events that the story is based on. It is available as a 130-page trade paperback.

What Others Are Saying


Photo of Newberry Award-winning children's author Marion Dane Bauer.  Marion Dane Bauer
Newberry Award-winning Children's Author

"What a stunning novel!  What a fine, fresh voice! Kathleen Ernst writes with sensitivity and power and with a sure grasp of the historical material that provides the background for her story."

Image of the Midwest Book Review logo.  The Bookwatch
Published by Midwest Book Review

"The end result is recommended reading for high school students and many an adult who may find final understanding of Harpers Ferry events through an accessible, personalized writing style."

Image of The Citizens Companion Magazine logo.  The Citizens' Companion
The magazine of civilian Civil War reenactors

"This book will hold you to your seat and make you want more."

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 Night Riders of Harpers Ferry

Photo of bestselling author Kathleen Ernst overlooking Harpers Ferry, WV in September 2012.  This is the story behind the story. When I was a kid, I attended a summer camp perched on a cliff above the Potomac River and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, and a short hike away from Harpers Ferry... more>>

Long Green Tunnel

Link to Long Green Tunnel Blog Post I believe that in almost every case, employees of historic sites best serve the public when they strive to create an environment that is as historically authentic as possible. Here’s an exception... more>>

Harpers Ferry: People, Past, Place

Link to Harpers Ferry: People, Past, Place blog post Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia, nestles in the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. When I was about ten, I attended a summer camp near Sandy Hook, Maryland... more>>

Available From

Buy from White Mane Books Order this book
from the publisher
Image of the Harpers Ferry Historical Association logo. Order this book
from the Harpers Ferry
National Park Bookshop
Image of the WorldCat logo. Use your Zip Code
to find this book at
a library near you

Author's Note

This was my very first published book!

The story takes place in two of my favorite places, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the C&O Canal National Historical Park. One of the most exciting events of the Civil War took place in this area in 1862, and I had great fun incorporating that into the novel.

I hope reading the novel, and seeing the historical photos included in the book, will make you want to visit the area! 

Book Goodies

the night riders of harpers ferry, civil war stories PREVIEW
Get a sneak peak
inside this book 
books, educator TEACHER'S GUIDE
For teachers and

Click to Enlarge

Harpers Ferry - (Then Part of Virginia) - Circa 1864

Click to Enlarge

C & O Canal Lock and Canalboat


Ages 10 and Up, Ambush, American Civil War, American History, A Mite Jumpy, Apple Orchard, Army of Northern Virginia, Army of the Potomac, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, B & O Railroad, Based on Actual Events, Battle of Antietam Creek, Beholden, Betsy Lee Thornton, Billington's Apothecary, Bivouacked, Bloody Running Battle, Boathorn, Bolivar Heights, Bombardment, Boneset Tea, Breakout, Bullets, Captain Faithful, Canal, Canalboat, Canter, Captain de Vries, Cavalry, Charcoal Crews, Charles Town, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, C & O Canal, Children's Historical Fiction, Cinder, Civilians, Civil War, Clem Sutter, Coiled Straw Bee Skeps, Coles Cavalry, Colonel Benjamin F Davis, Colonel Dixon Miles, Colonel Thomas Ford, College Cavaliers, Colt .44 Pistol, Companionable Silence, Complete Fool, Confederate Army, Confederate Soldiers, Confederate Wagon Train, Contrabands, Corbin Sutter, Coward, Crossed the River, Croupy Cough, Cussing, Dad-Burned Yankee, Dag Bite It!, Damnation, Downey, Eighth New York Cavalry, Elish Forbes, Elk Ridge, Engaged to be Married, Escape Attempt, Even the Score, Extremely Hazardous, Federal Armory, Flag Bearer, Foot-Slogger, Foragers, Forbidden, Francis Timmerman, Frederick Maryland, Full-Out, Gambling, Garrison Commander, General George McClellan, General Robert E. Lee, General Thomas Stonewall Jackson, Gentlemanly Skill, Gillis, Granny Fosdick, Greencastle Pennsylvania, Hagerstown Maryland, Hanged, Hard Gallop, Hardscrabble Place, High Losses, Howie Sutter, Infantry, Insubordination, Ipecac, Jeb Stuart's Cavalry, Jenson, John Brown, Kathleen Ernst, Lamplighter, Leave Be, Lizzie Sutter, Lock, Lockee, Lockkeeper, Lock on Through, Lock Thirty-Six, Loudon County Scouts, Loudon Heights, Lower Than a Slug Belly, Lucy Torrison, Mahalia Sutter, Major Augustus Corliss, Maryland Heights, McClellan Saddles, Millersville New York, Mule Driver, Mustard Plaster, Negro Insurrection, Owled Up, Partisans, Patrolling, Pencil Stub, Permission Denied, Phoebe Sutter, Pontoon Bridge, Potomac River, Powdered Squill, Prisoner of War, Provost Guard, Puking Yankee, Raiders, Railroad Brigade, Randolph McAllister, Reb Guerillas, Reb Prison, Reb Sympathizer, Rebel Bushwhackers, Rebel Campfires, Rebeldom, Reconnaissance, Riding Bareback, Rose Sutter, Runaway Slaves, Rusty, Saber, Saddlebag, Salty Dog Tavern, Sandy Hook, Scared Boys, Secesh Virginia, Secessionists, Sergeant Hailey, Sharpsburg Maryland, Shenandoah Street, Shenandoah River, Shoot If Necessary, Siege, Sketchpad, Sluice Gate, Snaked Along, Sol, Solomon Hargreave, Some Tall Swearing, Spencer Carbine Repeaters, Squabbling, Stampede, Sunday Best, Surgeon Bicknell, Surrender, Surrounded, Sutler, Sweet Jesus, Tarnation, Temporary Pass, That Sort, Thunderation!, Tom Noakes, Towpath, Trapped, Trot, Tryst, Twelth Illinois Cavalry, Two-Mule Team, Unionists, Union Soldiers, White Mane Kids, Wild and Impractical, Women's Chistian Temperance Union, Wonderous Fine, Yankee Blue, Yankee Riders, You Poor Sots, Zeke Cherry, 1859, 1862

  • The Eighth Caroline American Girl Book by Kathleen Ernst
  • A Compilation of Three Original Caroline American Girl Books
  • A Compilation of Three Original Caroline American Girl Books
  • Kathleen Ernst, Traitor in the Shipyard book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Changes for Caroline book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Caroline's Battle book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Caroline Takes a Chance book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Surprise for Caroline book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Caroline's Secret Message book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Meet Caroline Abbott book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Clues in the Shadows book
  • Kathleen Ernst, The Runaway Friend book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Midnight in Lonesome Hollow book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Secrets in the Hills book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Danger at the Zoo book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Betrayal at Cross Creek book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Whistler in the Dark book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Trouble at Fort La Pointe book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Hearts of Stone book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Ghosts of Vicksburg book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Retreat from Gettysburg book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Too Afraid to Cry book
  • Kathleen Ernst, The Bravest Girl in Sharpsburg book
  • Kathleen Ernst, The Night Riders of Harper's Ferry book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Tradition of Deceit book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Heritage of Darkness book
  • Kathleen Ernst, The Light Keeper's Legacy book
  • Kathleen Ernst, The Heirloom Murders book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Old World Murder book