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Although Sam Bartlett enjoyed a successful horse-supplying business in Independence, Missouri, he was none-the-less envious of the hundreds of folks who passed through on their way west. Unable to stand it any longer, he convinces his wife, Judith, to pull up stakes, pack up their three-year-old son, Tom, and accompany him on a journey that turns out to be much more than either of them could have imagined.
The trek quickly develops into one of extreme hardship and survival that is further complicated by: dangerous weather, raging river crossings, unique personalities in the wagons, hostile Indian attacks, hunger, water shortage vengeance, courage, romance, and biblical principles.
The determined travelers abilitiy to effectively defend themselves is pushed to the very limits as One Eyes maurading warriors harrass and attack them repeatedly, with devastating results. With four of the trains beloved children having been taken captive, the inner strength of the beleagured pioneers is sorely tested and a handful of the men set out to recover the children.
After valiant attempts to rescue their children fail miserably, they are forced to return empty-handed. Against all that is held sacred, the members of the wagon train are forced to leave them behind while they do their best to evade the heathens and continue their struggle for survival with barely enough water left to keep the animals going.
With all hope of ever seeing their children again now gone, it is the valor and ingenuity of the beautiful Comanche woman, Birsdong, that is yet to be heard from.