This is the fictional story set in Mendota, Minnesota, of the Simmons family, who are faced with the consequences of the Dakota Sioux Uprising of 1862 that swept across the state as well as the Civil War. The father, Dan, enlists in the First Regiment of Minnesota Volunteers as a teamster. His two sons, who are both underage, join the Second Regiment. John, age sixteen, becomes a bugler; and William, age fifteen, becomes a drummer. Their sister, Sara, is left behind with their mother, Louise, to fend for themselves.Dan is sent east to fight with the Army of the Potomac while his sons are sent to the Western Theater to serve in the Army of the Cumberland. Back in Mendota, their neighbor and close friend, Colonel Henry Sibley, is ordered to stay in the state to control the Indian uprising. Dan will see action up through the Battle of Antietam. He will later find himself in the hospital in Washington, DC, where he befriends a comrade also from the First Regiment.His sons barely miss the action at Shiloh but after are engaged in all the major battles in the west. While they are passing through Louisville, William falls for a young woman, Mary, who works as a hospital nurse. Back in Mendota, Sara befriends a young Chippewa Native boy while her mother struggles with the breakup of her family.After Colonel Sibley defeats the Sioux, he is promoted to general and ordered to round up all the Dakota and push to resettle them in the Dakotas. This leads to the punitive expeditions that he and General Sully will command up until 1864. William is captured at the Battle of Missionary Ridge and then sent to the prison camp at Belle Isle, Virginia, and then onto Andersonville, Georgia. John receives a thirty-day furlough and returns to Mendota before he reenlists. Louise and Sara wait for the war's end so the family can be reunited, but events may not turn out as anticipated.