This is a story of the Napoleonic war in Portugal in 1812. Rifleman Dodd is a British private cut off from his regiment who only seeks to return to his regiment, behind the French lines in a hostile and destroyed countryside. He avoids the French and hooks up with Portuguese irregulars, becoming their leader due to his rifle and military training. This is not a war as described by official historians. Forester reports the incidents without romantic excuses. What makes him convincing is his quiet manner and his systematic understatement. This is another grand development of Forester's Man Alone theme; Dodd survives, doing his duty, and though he believes his efforts at pricking the starving French army caused them to retreat, he never speaks of his actions. He was just happy to find his regiment.