This is the story of Georgia, a young woman living a bucolic life on her father’s prosperous Virginia farm … until the Civil War explodes all around her. In short order the slaves flee; Georgia’s father commits suicide; and her dissolute brother Thaddeus runs off to join the Confederate Army. Jolted from her complaisance, Georgia quickly realizes that she is a traitor twice over: a Union sympathizer and a discontented debutante. Emboldened by tragedy, dreaming of a more meaningful life, she moves to Washington City. There desperation and determination compel her to attempt the unthinkable: reinvented as “George,” she secures a position first as an apprentice telegraph operator, then as a civilian “brass pounder” in the newly formed Union Army Balloon Corps.
Georgia discovers that life as a man has its own injustices when she is drummed out of the Balloon Corps, but her restless search for fulfillment compels her to accept when a general recruits her to the front lines of the Union army. The cost of her convictions is hardship, capture, and cruel confinement in notorious Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. Her sole comfort there is her comrade in arms Archibald, who soon succumbs to death … only after revealing that his heart saw through her deception long before.
Georgia is narrowly rescued from the same fate by her Aunt Flora, a Richmond aristocrat. Weary, wiser, but undaunted, Georgia recovers and returns to Washington City, accompanied by her oldest friend and confidante, the wealthy dandy Borley. He soon secures them a place among the beau monde of Washington, but Georgia still aches for something more. When she rejects his suit, Borley settles a sizeable fortune on her and returns to Richmond, leaving Georgia with the courage of her convictions … finally free to work, live, and love as an equal.