The opening scene depicts my great grandmother Ellen Johnson fanning her children as they nap on a pallet in the dogtrot of their home in western Louisiana. Laying her palmetto fan aside, she greets John Johnson, her father in law, as he brings a letter from her husband, Aaron Johnson. It is the summer of 1865, and Aaron's name has never appeared on the list of the dead. His right leg was amputated just below the hip after being hit by a mini ball in the Battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, and he was sent to Shreveport where he stayed for 16 months to recover. Then he was sent by steamboat to Alexandria where he is paroled. He writes for someone to come take him home. The young determined wife insist on making the 60-mile trip herself, yet after much ado, is convinced to take a 16-year-old neighbor boy, Sammy James, to accompany her. The journey is fraught with many incidents as they travel through the Sabine Free State, an area famous for outlawry, jayhawking, and marauding. The plot illustrates unbelievably beautiful scenery of (then) Rapides Parish, the roughness of wagon travel and camping, but most of all, the courage and bravery of this young woman.