Cush convinces Captain Bartlett not to send Johnny to prison camp since the mules will not listen to anyone except for Johnny. Cush says that they can lock Johnny in the guardhouse when he is not working. Cush then admits to Johnny that he felt bad sending him to a prison camp since Johnny helped him learn how to read. This makes Johnny feel bad for teaching Cush wrong.
Johnny has to take the wagon in a train. The load Cush and he are assigned is kegs of powder, which would explode if they were to be hit by a Rebel shell. While taking a break, Johnny notices some old Union uniforms and decides to put one on. Cush immediately chastises him, pointing out that Bartlett is likely to think Johnny is trying to spy. Johnny realizes Cush is right, so he goes back to try to put on his clothes, only to find that they are gone. Johnny is forced to keep the Union uniform on.
They go toward Petersberg, where some Rebel forces are holed up. There is fighting all the time in that area, and the Southern troops were starting to give up due to starvation. When they approach the battlefield, a shell explodes in the air above their wagon. Everyone dives for cover except for Johnny, who was frozen in fear. Luckily, he is not hurt.
Another shell comes their way once they are closer to the field, but then Captain Bartlett comes by them when they are unloading the cargo. Johnny tries to avoid talking to him, but before too long, Bartlett realizes that he is not a soldier, but rather the Confederate teamster he met before. Bartlett resolves to deal with him later. Cush says that there is a good chance they both get shot.
The battle intensifies and in the confusion, Cush tells Johnny that he had better run. Just when Johnny resolves that is the best course of action, another shell lands right next to them. It hurts Cush’s leg and knocks him out, but Johnny is okay.
Johnny decides to make a run for it, but he puts Cush in the wagon in case another shell comes down there. Cush eventually wakes up and they decide they cannot go back to the army for fear of being shot. They also know that they have to get out of the Union uniforms before someone on either side sees them.
The only option is to take clothes off dead bodies, which Johnny is nervous about. They struggle to find a dead body, so they continue to hide in a barn to avoid being seen. While hiding, they talk more about the war, and this is the first time that Johnny has serious doubts about the merits of the war, though he does not admit it out loud.
Johnny heads west and takes Cush in the wagon due to Cush’s hurt leg. They still have not found clothes, so they travel by night and hide during the day. While they are hiding, Cush brings up Lincoln’s speech again and Johnny regrets having taught it to him wrong in the first place. Because of this, he decides he’s going to teach Cush the right words. Johnny’s excuse is that he was confused before, but eventually Cush catches on that Johnny was lying.
Cush gets mad at Johnny because of this and sets out across the field, despite Johnny’s protests. He does not get very far before Confederate troops spot him. He tries to run back towards Johnny, but they catch him. With Cush being black and Johnny in a Union uniform, he knows things do not look good. Johnny tells them about his Pa getting killed and says that Cush is his slave and that they just took the uniforms off a couple of dead bodies. The troops decide to let Johnny go, but they take Cush with them.