This is a story of close combat between two opposing, equally committed adversaries. The powerful narrative immerses the reader in both sides of the battle, playing and replaying the same battle sequence from alternating viewpoints—through the eyes of the Marines and through the eyes of the North Vietnamese. The bullet fired from a Marine’s M-16 at a silhouetted enemy solider crouched on the jungle path will in the next chapter tear into the flesh of that crouched NVA trooper. The story represents just one of perhaps thousands of deadly encounters that reflect the reality of battle.
Pickett’s charge has just ended, the battle of Gettysburg is over. The Confederate army is defeated and must retreat to the Potomac River forty miles away with thousands of wagons full of wounded soldiers, provisions and tens of thousands of animals. Asa Helms, a private in the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina Infantry, joined the army to oppose the Yankee’s invasion of his “country.” He is torn between serving his country with honor and going home to take care of his wife who is in great need. He faces a long, seemingly impossible march with little food, little hope and the Yankees on his heels.
Captain Louis Young, aide-to-camp to Confederate General James Pettigrew, is fighting to preserve a culture and a lifestyle and possible domination by the despicable Yankees. Colonel George Gray, an Irishman, is colonel of the Sixth Michigan Cavalry. He is hell-bent on putting down the rebellion before it divides the country that has been so good to him.
The journey ends at the Potomac River where each soldier must face the bitter realities of this unnatural war. Asa must choose between escaping across the river or remaining with his wounded friend and facing certain captivity.