Meet the author of 'The Grafton Cavaliers'

GRAFTON — Thomas Fontaine will discuss his new children's historical novel, "The Grafton Cavaliers," at a special Meet the Author program, Dec 2, at 2 p.m., in the Grafton Public Library, Main St.

The new Civil War book, written for the sixth-grade level reader, was created to help bring children in contact with history in their local area. It is based on two real Grafton college students. Samuel Pettengill (Middlebury College) and Wilder Burnap (Dartmouth College) who took a leave of absence from their colleges to answer President Lincoln's call for men to join the Union Army and help protect Washington from the advancing Confederates.

The book is written about real Vermont people, and uses factual, historical information and photographs from the Grafton Historical Society museum archives. The appendix includes descriptive lists of Civil War soldiers, battles, and terms used in the war.

Fontaine will discuss these people and history of Grafton in the Civil War period, and how he tries to relate this history to students.

The author has been a Vermont teacher for 30 years. He wanted to write a history novel that would be a useful tool for teaching Civil War history in the classroom in an interesting narrative to which children could relate. He wanted it to be exciting to read, grade level appropriate, and capture the drama of history. His first book, published last year, was "The Messenger Boy of Grafton." It portrays the experience of one of Grafton's teens, Henry Spring, as a messenger boy in the Civil War.

"The Grafton Cavaliers" follows the adventures of two other young Grafton residents, Pettengill and Burnap, who joined the only cavalry unit in the Union Army composed of college students from Dartmouth, Middlebury, Norwich, Bowdoin, Union, Williams, and Amherst. These 81 cadets took part in what was one of the most daring escapes in 1862 that any company of men had performed for the Union at Harpers Ferry.

The Meet the Author event is open to the public and children are welcome to attend. For further information about the program contact the Grafton Historical Society at 802-843-2584 or


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