The Texan Confederate army under General Henry H. Sibley, their supply train destroyed by the 1st Colorado Union Volunteers at Glorieta Pass, have only one prize remaining: a battery of Union artillery captured at the Battle of Valverde. The Texans, their force decimated, dispirited by the absence of fallen comrades, are determined to have some glory to show for their terrible losses. But standing in their way are Union Captain Alastar O'Brien and the Colorado Volunteers.
Young quartermaster Jamie Russell, wounded and taken prisoner by Union forces, devises a way to bring the guns to Texas. He escapes, convinces Sibley's brain trust to try his desperate scheme, and his plan becomes grim reality as both the Blue and the Gray are inexorably drawn into the deadly drama that is the Civil War.
Nagle's second novel is the expected sequel to last year's Glorieta Pass, continuing her melodramatic saga of the Civil War in the Southwest. Warfare in the rugged mountains and harsh deserts of New Mexico Territory in 1862 was wretched, and Nagle vividly depicts its hardships and dangers. Her characterizations and plotting, however, are as thin as the high mountain air. Union Captain O'Brien of the Colorado Volunteers is a tough Irish miner who cannot read or write. Caught up in the petty jealous intrigues of other officers and unreasonably despised by his commander, O'Brien must watch his back--and his heart, too, for he is smitten by the beautiful Laura Howland. On the run from her uncle, who has attempted to sell her into marriage, Miss Howland of Boston is out of place in army company, even in the guise of laundress. Plagued by simpering suitors, she has a girlish crush on O'Brien, but her tendency to swoon at crucial moments keeps her from being a convincing or even likable heroine. When O'Brien captures Confederate Capt. Jamie Russell, Laura nurses the ailing young quartermaster back to health. Back on his feet again, Russell is paroled and he returns to the rebel army to harass and confound O'Brien as the two armies march and countermarch across the territory in an exhausting and indecisive ballet of maneuvers. Although the Civil War history is accurate and colorful, the plot is more syrupy romance than compelling adventure tale. A corny side plot involving a Union scout and an Apache maiden adds little to the story but pages. This likely will not be the end, however, for Nagle positions everyone for at least one more sequel.