Ann Barker tells the story of her family living in Harpers Ferry during the Civil War. The story follows their lives, but mostly Pete Barker, the younger of the two brothers. Pete strives for acceptance and respect, even though his family portrays him as a rebel due to his unwillingness to play along with their deceptive business transactions to gain greater power and wealth. Then an unexpected friendship with Katie McBride from Boston begins to develop into a relationship that he had not planned. The couple embarks on periods of separation after Pete joins the Confederate army. Through traumatic events during the Civil War, the couple struggles to find middle ground on complicated social issues. Time and again, Katie illustrates her loyalty, but it’s not until Pete realizes through various tragic experiences and emotions his true feelings.