Harry Castlemon

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Charles Austin Fosdick, courtesy of the Patterson Library, Westfield, New York

Charles Austin Fosdick (September 6, 1842 – August 22, 1915), better known by his nom de plume Harry Castlemon, was a prolific writer of juvenile stories and novels, intended mainly for boys. He was born in Randolph, New York, and received a high school diploma from Central High School in Buffalo, New York. He served in the Union Navy from 1862 to 1865, during the American Civil War, acting as the receiver and superintendent of coal for the Mississippi River Squadron.[1] Fosdick had begun to write as a teenager, and drew on his experiences serving in the Navy in such early novels as Frank on a Gunboat (1864) and Frank on the Lower Mississippi (1867). He soon became the most-read author for boys in the post-Civil War era, the golden age of children's literature.[2]

Fosdick once remarked that: "Boys don't like fine literature. What they want is adventure, and the more of it you can get in two-hundred-fifty pages of manuscript, the better fellow you are." Fosdick served up a lot of adventure in such popular book series as the Gunboat Series, the Rocky Mountain Series, the Roughing It Series, the Sportsman's Club Series, and The Steel Horse, or the Rambles of a Bicycle.

He was "Uncle Charlie" to famed liberal Baptist minister, Harry Emerson Fosdick, whose writings reflected fondly on the time spent as a boy visiting Fosdick at his home in Westfield, New York.

Fosdick married Sarah Elizabeth Stoddard in 1873, and they spent most of their married life in Westfield.[3] They are buried beside each other in the Westfield Cemetery.

Works Include[edit]

  • “Frank on a Gun-boat”, 1864
  • “Frank Before Vicksburg”, 1864
  • “Frank on the Lower Mississippi”, 1867
  • “Frank, the Young Naturalist”, 1864
  • “Frank on the Prairie”, 1869
  • “Frank in the Mountains”, 1864
  • “Frank in the Woods”, 1865
  • “Frank Among the Rancheros”, 1865
  • “Frank at Don Carlos' Rancho”, 1868
  • "The Boy Trapper, or, How Dave Filled the Order", 1878
  • “Elam Storm, The Wolfer, or, The Lost Nugget", 1895
  • “George at the Fort, or, Life Among the Soldiers”, 1882
  • “Marcy The Blockade Runner” 1891
  • “Rodney The Partisan” 1891
  • “True To His Colors” 1889
  • “The Mail Carrier”, 1879
  • “The Sportsman's Club: In the Saddle “, 1873
  • “Frank Nelson in the Forecastle, or, the Sportsman's Club Among the Whalers”, 1876
  • “The Sportsman's Club Among the Trappers”, 1874
  • “Snowed Up, or, The Sportsman’s Club in the Mountains”, 1876
  • “The Boy Traders, or, The Sportsman Club Among the Boers", 1877
  • “The Sportsman's Club Afloat”, 1874
  • “George at the Wheel, or, Life in the Pilot-house”, 1881
  • “Joe Wayring at Home, or, The Adventures of a Fly-rod”, 1886
  • "Our Fellows, or, Skirmishes with the Swamp Dragoons", 1872
  • “The Steel Horse, or, The Rambles of a Bicycle”, 1888
  • “The Young Wild-fowlers”, 1885
  • “The Buried Treasure, or, Old Jordan's Haunt”, 1877
  • “A Rebellion in Dixie”, 1897
  • “Rod and Gun Club”, 1883
  • “A Struggle for a Fortune” 1902
  • “Two Ways of Becoming a Hunter” 1892
  • “Julian Mortmer, A Brave Boy's Struggle for Home and Fortune", 1887?
  • “Oscar in Africa” ?
  • “The Camp in the Foot-Hills”, 1893
  • “Guy Harris, The Runaway”, 1887
  • "A Ten Ton Cutter", 1897
  • "Carl the Trailer", 1899
  • "Don Gordon's Shooting Box", 1883
  • "The First Capture, or, Hauling Down the Flag of England", 1900?
  • "The Haunted Mine", 1915?
  • "The Missing Pocketbook, or, Tom Mason's Luck", 1895
  • "The Mystery of Lost River Canyon", 1896
  • "No Moss, or, The Career of a Rolling Stone", 1868
  • "The Pony Express Rider", 1898?
  • "Rodney, The Overseer", 1892
  • "A Sailor in Spite of Himself", 1898?
  • "Sailor Jack, The Trader", 1893
  • "Snagged and Dunk, or, The Adventures of a Canvas Canoe", 1888
  • "Tom Newcombe, or, The Boy of Bad Habits", 1896
  • "The White Beaver", 1899?
  • "Winged Arrow's Medicine, or, The Massacre at Fort Phil Kearny", 1901?
  • "The Young Game Warden", 1896
  • "The Camp in the Foothills, or, Oscar on Horseback", 1893
  • "George in Camp, or, Life on the Plains", 1868
  • "Go-ahead, or, The Fisher-boy's Motto", 1868
  • "Five Hundred Days in Rebel Prisons", 1887?


  1. ^ Allibone, Samuel Austin, A Critical Dictionary of English Literature, and English and American Authors (J.B. Lippincott & Co. 1891).
  2. ^ Serafin, Steven & Alfred Bendixen, Continuum Encyclopedia of American Literature (Continuum International Publishing Group 2003), p. 1276
  3. ^ Hamersly, Lewis Randolph, et al., Who's Who in New York (City and State), L.R. Hamersly & Co., (New York 1904).

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