Thirteen year-old Daniel McCarty and his family are starving in Ireland at the height of the potato famine. The crop that feeds 60% of the entire population and 100% of the poor has completely failed.
Daniel’s sister dies and his father is killed in a bar fight. The English landowner evicts Daniel and his mother from the squalid hut. The intrepid lad vows to emigrate to America. The journey is far more arduous than anticipated.
The McCartys settle in the dangerous, gang infested, Five Points area of New York. The boy inherits a fishing boat and sails to Norfolk where he becomes involved in the famous sea battle between Merrimack and Congress.
In Richmond, Daniel meets Harriett Hampton, daughter of Abner, who deceitfully arranges for the youngster to be conscripted into the Confederate Army as it prepares to march toward Gettysburg.
Tragedy strikes the lovers at the end of the war, forcing Daniel to head west. In the cattle town of Abilene, all the characters converge in a smoky shootout that provides a startling conclusion to the action-packed story.