It is 1864. For the Kingdom of Bavaria, certain war looms on the horizon. The new king, Ludwig II, is young; he shows a lack of interest in affairs of state, and apprehension grows about encroaching military pressure from the Kingdom of Prussia and the Empire of Austria.
Meanwhile, outside the small town of Miesbach, Daniel Fischer is content to tend his family’s orchards. He hates cities and dreams of one day purchasing his own property and marrying Lizzie Chormann, secretly the love of his life.
On the day that Daniel decides he’ll begin his courtship, he is appalled to learn that his older brother, Jacob, the newest member of the watchmaker’s guild, has just become engaged to Lizzie. Moreover, Jacob plans to take Lizzie to America and open his own shop in Philadelphia, a city crowded with half a million people.
Daniel confronts Jacob. The brothers fight. At the wedding, Jacob offers Daniel his hand in peace but Daniel refuses. A week later, Daniel flees Miesbach and enlists in the 39th Regiment of the Royal Bavarian Fusiliers.
Five years later, Daniel is a hardened veteran and believes that he has finally set aside his feelings for Lizzie. And then he learns that she has written from Philadelphia; Jacob is dead.