In 1861, an orphaned Jewish son of an indentured servant joins the Third Louisiana Infantry. Elias Abrams is on the run after participating in the murder of an old man. As a young gang member in the Cypress Stump Boys, led by a psychopath named Silas Wolfe, he learned how to harass and steal from the citizens of New Orleans. After his first battle, Elias is persuaded by an officer to correspond with a young Jewish girl, Nora Bloom, from that city. After corresponding with her over time, he falls in love.
His past life in New Orleans continues to haunt him as he tries to deal with his long-distance relationship. Events occur that not only complicate his ability to stay alive during the war, but also prevent him from meeting the young girl of his dreams. He also realizes he must clear his name of the horrendous crime that caused him to leave the city. Only his friend John Lee Carlson, a fellow soldier-in-arms, manages to provide Elias with the proper advice to help keep him out of more trouble.
The author is very graphic when describing sexual encounters, and the language can be coarse at times; therefore, this book may not be for everyone. Also, the story is not written to be politically correct, but told as the people actually talked and behaved during the American Civil War. I enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to readers interested in reading about how people raised under difficult circumstances can rise above their current situation and try to improve their chances for a better future.