Twenty-year-old Billy Laird can't read or write, and as his Pa says, "his mind just don't work the way most folks' do." But Billy has a heart of gold and good friends in his hometown of Berwick, Maine, and when they rush to enlist in the Union Army, he knows he has to go with them. He is ill-prepared for the training and fighting that follow, but he gets by with the help of his friends. Soon, however, he is sent alone to a different unit. Lonely and unsure of what to do on his own, Billy runs off and meets up with a runaway slave, Elijah. Together the two make their way north to their fates. Inspired by a true event, this tale of friendship, loyalty, and compassion will enthrall readers of all ages.