Project Description


The Bushwhacker

A Civil War Adventure

by Jennifer Johnson Garrity
illustrated by Paul Bachem

“A black, smoking shell stood where our house had been. The barn that’d been near to twice as big as the house was nothing but a head of ashes too. ‘Pa!’ My voice cracked and floated up into the early morning sky. Eliza crept up behind me and slipped her hand into mine. ‘They’re dead, ain’t they, Jacob?'”

During the Civil War, fourteen-year-old Jacob Knight returns from the cornfield one day to find bushwhackers—Confederate sympathizers in the Union state of Missouri—terrorizing his family. At the insistence of his mother, Jacob and his seven-year-old sister, Eliza, flee the house for safety. When the two young people dare to return home the following morning, their family is nowhere to be found and their home is burnt to the ground. Hoping that the rest of their family survived, Jacob and Eliza take the family’s one remaining horse and journey north, toward their aunt’s home in Iowa in hopes of finding their family along the way.

After traveling for several days, the children are befriended and given shelter by a kind young mother, Maggie, who was left by her husband, a bushwhacker. The children stay with Maggie throughout the winter, helping her with the farm chores, and with her infant son. The new “family” is growing comfortable with each other until a ragged stranger enters their lives. Who is this man? What will he do to Jacob and Eliza? Will the children ever find out if their family survived?

Paperback: $8.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-201-9
Total Pages: 196
Size: 6 x 9
Language: English
Format: E-book
ISBN: 978-1-56145-712-0
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English

Purchase this E-book through the following vendors:

Baker & Taylor
Barnes & Noble
Recorded Books

Accelerated Reader
AR Quiz#: 32241
AR Reading Level: 5.5
AR Points: 9

F&P (Fountas & Pinnell)
F&P Level: V
F&P Grade: 5


“This gripping, fast-paced story is a masterful recreation of a time of divided loyalties and conflict…. Garrity skillfully weaves folklore and song into the narrative and captures the flavor of homespun speech. Jacob’s struggle with his own emotions and his ultimate realization that violence begets more violence is both realistic and believable and one that readers will have no difficulty understanding.” ―School Library Journal

Meet the Author

Jennifer Johnson Garrity‘s interest in Missouri’s difficult position during the Civil War began as a result of conducting extensive research into her family history. This research inspired The Bushwhacker. She lives in Germany.

Meet the Illustrator

Paul Bachem has worked for many years as an award-winning freelance illustrator, producing work for most of the major book and magazine publishers. He lives in New York. You can visit his website here.