So begins the story of young Mac Durant, an orphaned survivor of the Minnesota Sioux War of 1862. In spring, 1876, he leaves the troubled St. Paul home of his aunt and uncle to find his ex-lover, Sophia, who has written him a painful letter from Dakota Territory. He makes his way to Bismarck only to find that Sophia has departed for Deadwood in the company of another man.
Out of money, he has no means to travel to Deadwood. Finally, near starvation, he reluctantly joins the U. S. Army of the West at nearby Fort Abraham Lincoln. An experienced horseman, he is assigned to the Seventh Regiment of Cavalry, a unit commanded by George Custer. The regiment is about to depart on an expedition westward to find and confront a large gathering of the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples.
Assigned to C Company, Mac joins a set of four enlisted men among whom he has to confront himself for the first time, and grow. He tries to desert but is brought back by Sergeant Wild who tells him, "Quit running, boy. Make a stand with these men." Together, Mac and the others press on to face the hardships and uncertainties of common soldiers in the 19th Century west. Then, along a windswept dusty ridge above a meandering river in southeastern Montana Territory, they confront the face of battle and death.
Mac narrowly survives. He resumes his search, further into the unknown country, to find Sophia. But what he finds, and who he becomes, is a fully human story.
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