By the fall of 1863, Union forces had taken control of Tidewater, Virginia, and established a toehold in eastern North Carolina. Thousands of freed slaves and runaways joined the Union lines, but Confederate irregulars still roamed the region. The newly formed African Brigade, a unit of former slaves led by General Edward Augustus Wild — a one-armed, impassioned abolitionist — set out from Portsmouth to hunt down the rebel guerillas and extinguish the threat.
Sergeant Richard Etheridge, the son of a slave woman and her master has been raised with some level of privilege but is constantly reminded of his place in the social hierarchy. Deeply conflicted about his past, Richard is eager to show himself to be a credit to his race. As the African Brigade conducts raids through the areas occupied by the Confederate Partisan Rangers, he and his comrades realize that they are fighting for more than territory.