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, historical fiction, and non-fiction for adults and young readers.

Her work has earned numerous honors, including two lifetime writing achievement awards, an Emmy for educational television, and an Edgar Allan Poe and multiple Agatha Christie mystery award nominations.

To date nearly 1.8 million audio, ebook, and print copies of Kathleen's thirty-eight published books have been purchased. more>>

Related Blog Posts

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

Pen and ink drawing of an artillery shell exploding near the Kretzer family cellar. The Stories Behind The Story

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>>
Photo of annual illumination at Antietam National Battlefield, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, December 2012. 23,000 Candles

A powerful and poignant tribute to Civil War soldiers takes place each December on the rolling hills near Sharpsburg, Maryland...  more>>
Link to Heading Home blog post Heading Home

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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You can also buy a signed, personalized copy of this paperback from the author. Request a quote by clicking HERE.

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 being invited to speak 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.

You can watch the C-SPAN coverage of her talk at the 150th anniversary ceremonies by clicking on the image below. (58 min.) 

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

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