White Mane Kids

the night riders of harpers ferry, civil war stories

"Entertaining and instructive at the same time...a surefire hit for historical fiction fans."
School Library Journal

"This novel conveys the strain of divided families, misguided loyalties, and the hardscrabble existence of that period."
— American Library Association Booklist

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, 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.

Photo of bestselling author Kathleen Ernst overlooking Harpers Ferry, WV in September 2012. The Night Riders of Harpers Ferry

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 Chesapeake & Ohio Canal... more>>
Link to Long Green Tunnel Blog Post Long Green Tunnel

I believe that in almost every case, employees of historic sites best serve the public when they strive to create an environment that is... more>>
Link to Harpers Ferry: People, Past, Place blog post Harpers Ferry: People, Past, Place

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia, nestles in the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. When I was about ten... more>>

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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
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books, educator TEACHER'S GUIDE
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Harpers Ferry

The photograph below, taken circa 1864, shows the town of Harpers Ferry, formerly in Virginia, but now a part of West Virginia.

In the foreground are the tents of the Union Army soldiers assigned to protect it. To their left, down by the river, are the burned ruins of the Federal Arsenal.

Click on the photo to view a larger copy.

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

The C&O Canal

Nicknamed the "Grand Old Ditch," the Chesapeake and Ohio canal runs along the Potomac River from Georgetown in Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, MD, a distance of 185-miles.

The canal operate from 1831 to 1924. It is now part of a US National Historic Park.

During the American Civil War the river was a dividing line between the North and South, with much fighting along it. 

The photo below shows a horse-drawn wooden canal boat entering a lock on the canal. As a lockkeeper's daughter, Mahalia lived in a house just like the one shown on the right at the far end of this lift lock.

Click on the photo to view a larger copy.

C & O Canal Lock and Canalboat

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