Johnny heads out for his teamster work after hitching the mules to the wagon and preparing them for the trek. He takes his great-grandfather’s sword with, just in case they run into trouble. He also takes along a book of psalms.
Johnny gets to the teamster camp in the woods after dark. They have to wait there for a couple of days to allow everyone to assemble, so he settles in for the night with his mules. He meets some of the other teamsters and talks to them enough to learn that they are not the brightest bunch. He is also ridiculed for thinking that a sword would do any good against Union gunfire.
He talks with Jeb about the reason for the war. When Johnny says what Pa said about states’ rights, Jeb says that he thinks the fighting is going on since no black man is as good as a white man. One of the other teamsters brings up support from the Bible, though he gets the story wrong. Johnny finds himself confused about the fact different people believe the war is for different reasons.
The Mosbys ride into camp and Johnny is impressed with how fearsome they look. On the third day Johnny was at camp, everyone woke up before dawn so they could head out as soon as the sun came up. There was about a dozen wagons in the train, all pulled by horses except for Johnny’s mule wagon. Johnny thinks that mules are better for a train than horses since they work hard and do not need as much care.
The train moves pretty slowly, so Johnny has a good chance to look around and see the devastation the war had left. He sees houses that have been blown to pieces, barnes burnt to the ground, and a pile of rotting, dead horses.
Midway through the morning, it began to rain, which made the train go even slower. Then, around noon, Johnny hears a gunshot. Johnny is instantly scared and regrets his decision to go with the train. As the gunfire moves closer, Johnny decides to make a run for it, and heads off toward the woods. Johnny sees a church up ahead, and he heads toward it. A fence blocks their way, and suddenly a Yankee soldier is behind him and gaining. Johnny grabs for the sword, but it is too late, and the soldier takes him prisoner.
Johnny is amazed to see that the soldier, in full Union uniform, is black. He knew that blacks were fighting, but he did not expect them to have uniforms. Johnny hated having to take orders from a black boy, but the soldier has a gun, so Johnny does as he is told. When Johnny does momentarily resist, the soldier presses the bayonet into his chest, so Johnny quickly follows orders.
When they get back to the wagon train, Johnny sees that they were absolutely devastated by the Union troops. Many wagons are destroyed and the ground is littered with dead bodies and horses. Johnny is ordered to unload the wagon, then he has to go collect the wounded. Among them is Jeb. Johnny puts Jeb and one other teamster in his wagon. Jeb is hurt, but the other teamster is barely alive.
Johnny drives the wagon as the soldier, named Private Turner (we later find out his first name is Cush) sits in it giving orders and playing with Johnny’s great-grandfather’s sword. They are driving toward a Union prison, so Johnny begins to try to think of an escape plan. He knows that if he is killed or locked in a prison, his Ma and sisters are going to have a tough time surviving.
Johnny is unable to come up with a solid plan, but he hopes that the Mosbys would return to save him, even though he knows that is unlikely. To pass the time while he rides, Johnny begins to read his book of Psalms. Private Turner is impressed by the fact Johnny knows how to read, and declares that he will learn to read one day. Johnny thinks this is silly, since a black person has no reason to know how to read.
The conversation about reading leads to a conversation about the war. Johnny says again that his Pa was fighting for states’ rights, but Private Turner says that Johnny’s Pa was fighting against the Constitution.
When they arrive at camp, Johnny contemplates running again, but he does not see an opportunity. Private Turner says that he can get Johnny food if Johnny teaches him how to read. Johnny is hungry enough that he agrees, but he has the scheme of only pretending to teach Turner how to read, and instead teaching him everything wrong.