Johnny tells about what life was like while Pa was away at war. Johnny and his Ma had to do almost all the work around the house and food was scarce. On multiple occasions they had to be careful of Union troops in the area and one time they would have lost their wagon and mules if Johnny had not been able to get everything into hiding quick enough.
In order to make some extra money, Johnny would teamster with their wagon. It was not easy work, but it did bring in money, which the family desperately needed. They were poor, but not starving.
Pa comes home from the war after three years of fighting, but it’s only because he got shot. From the time he came home he was badly injured and unable to help much around the house.
For a while, Pa seemed to be healing, but eventually he takes a turn for the worse and is unable to help around the house at all. When he starts to get sicker, he begins to spend more time teaching Johnny how to do things. They also spend time talking about the war.
Pa says that the war is not because of slavery, but rather for states’ rights. He does not believe that the federal government has any right to tell Virginia that they cannot have slaves. He thinks that most people in their area are better off without slaves, but he still felt it was his duty to fight in the war.
Pa goes through phases where he starts to feel better, but ultimately his condition worsens.
Johnny is able to get a lot of teamster work since the Union troops stole the wagons and horses of many other farms. It was not as much food or supplies as he used to carry for those same farms, but he is happy to have any work at all.
After being gone on a three-day delivery, Johnny gets home to find that Pa has gotten much worse. Pa knows he is going to die, so he calls Johnny in to his room and tells him that he did their family’s duty to Virginia. He makes Johnny promise that he will not go off to war. Ultimately, Johnny promises. Soon after that, Pa dies.
After burying Pa, Johnny has to get back to work in order for the family to survive the winter. He runs into Jeb, a fellow teamster who informs him that a wagon train is taking supplies up to Richmond. The pay is good, but Johnny is worried that it might be dangerous enough that it would count as breaking his promise to Pa. Jeb tries to convince him it will be safer by informing him that Mosby’s Rangers will be riding along to protect them. Colonel Mosby was famous for riding around Virginia attacking Union troops. That makes Johnny feel a bit better, but he is still uncertain until the Major told him it is his duty to go along.
Convinced, Johnny tries to tell his Ma that there will be no danger. With 50 Mosbys along and the promise of $400, he is ultimately able to convince his Ma to let him go, though deep down he still feels that his Pa would not approve.