In the spring of 1863, Illinoisian Abe Lincoln was in the second year of his presidency of a country half its territorial size when he was inaugurated. During the same spring, sixteen-year-old South Carolinian Isaac Rice fulfills his Great-grandfather’s dream and escapes from the more than a century-old slave labor camp known as Tiffany Plantation. Thanks to the forced free labor of generations of Isaac’s ancestors, the Tiffanys were the largest and richest rice producer in South Carolina’s Colleton District.
Months later, Isaac was thwarted in his hope to return and rescue Bianca, his widowed lover. It was then that he began an epic journey shoveling coal aboard a United States Navy warship. Ship-wrecked by a hurricane on the Gulf of Mexico, he lands in Mississippi where he finds Rachel, the love of his life. Soon, Isaac fulfills his dream to be a soldier when joins the new United States Tenth Cavalry, created in the first year after the Uncivil War.
A memorable set of characters revolve around Isaac–a Confederate guerilla, a black female activist in a Mississippi Constitutional Convention, a Mescalero Apache warrior, a white Union cavalry sergeant, and a Mexican nurse–who raise their voices and bare their souls as the world they seek constantly changes, bringing tragedy to their lives and danger for Isaac.